Which Is Better, Influencer Marketing or Traditional Marketing?

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Which Is Better, Influencer Marketing or Traditional Marketing?

“Influencer Marketing vs Traditional Marketing”; this debate has been going on for decades, and the verdict has been inconclusive. Almost every person you meet will have a different opinion. That’s probably also because it depends on the types of business, products and/or services that are in question as well.



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Consumers used to be marketed via the traditional forms of mass media such as TV and radio advertisements, fliers, and billboards etc. But with the advent of technology and social media, consumers are spending more time looking down and swiping their social media accounts on their phones as compared to consuming content from the traditional media platforms. With the rise of social media content consumption, influencer marketing has gained a tremendously strong foothold today. Influencers on these social media platforms start to gain more followers and have more influencers over their followers’ buying decisions as well. But is this really the case? 

“Influencer Marketing vs Traditional Marketing”; this debate has been going on for decades, and the verdict has been inconclusive. Almost every person you meet will have a different opinion. That’s probably also because it depends on the types of business, products and/or services that are in question as well. But in short, the main distinction between influencer marketing and traditional marketing can be summed up as such: online vs. offline. 

Traditional marketing, as the name implies, is the traditional form of marketing and includes running ads on prints like newspaper, magazine, flyers, billboards. as well as on traditional media platforms like TV, radio, phone marketing etc. These were the main ways marketing was done before the days of the internet and social media. In fact, many big brands still invest a big proportion of their budget on traditional marketing. For example, Pepsi, who has spent close to $224 million dollarsfor their marketing efforts in 2019 alone, has been using traditional marketing as their main marketing strategy to increase their sales and revenue in both the USA and the international market. 

Influencer marketing is also in its name; it refers to the use of influencers to shout-out and promote a brand’s products and/or services to their own followers. It is a branch of online marketing that gained traction only in the past decade or so. While it is relatively young, its market share is massive! According to a report, influencer marketing has a market share of $13.8 billionin 2021 alone! 

Now that we have a better understanding of what each type of marketing entails, let’s dive deeper and attempt to dissect each type, and see which is the better out of them!

1. Ability To Reach Your Target Audience

Traditional marketing is usually targeted at the mass market, and not particularly zoomed in on a particular age group or niche. It is also not exactly the best way to reach out to younger consumers because most of them do not really have the habit of consuming content from traditional media platforms anymore.

On the other hand, with influencer marketing, brands can now have the opportunity to be more selective on the types of audience they want to reach out to. This is because these influencers have been engaging and nurturing their followers in a specific niche over a long period of time already. Their followers typically share the same interests and are usually highly passionate about the topics under this specific niche as well! Furthermore, these influencers also tend to have detailed audience analytics of their account following, which enable brands to analyze and predict the potential audience outreach more accurately. So, when brands engage these influencers to deliver their message or talk about their products and/or services promotions, the message can be more targeted and delivered to the specific group of target audience that brands want to reach, hence giving a better “bang-for-the-buck” on the marketing budget invested. 

2. Budget & ROI

Typically, Traditional marketing requires brands to fork out a bigger budget due to the extensiveness of marketing materials that it will be preparing. So, if you do not have deep pockets, traditional marketing may not be so suitable for you. In fact, according to this article, the average cost per lead generated by traditional marketing campaigns stands at $370!

On the other hand, influencer marketing is suitable for all kinds of brands and businesses with different levels of budget. In fact, in some cases, especially if you are working with micro or nano influencers, the collaboration may be free as well! But usually, the typical influencer marketing rate is approximately $1000 for every 100 thousand followers. 

Now, let’s talk about ROI. It is also extremely challenging to measure and monitor the ROIs for traditional marketing, simply because you cannot be sure which ad was the one which triggered and convinced the customer to buy your product. Basically, it has inconclusive ways that allows brands and marketers to measure the ROI. On the other hand, the availability of analytics tools on most of the major social media platforms has allowed influencers to be able to provide deep and accurate insights of the marketing campaigns to brands and businesses. According to this research done by Tomoson, brands and businesses are able to make back $6.50 worth of sales for every $1 invested in influencer marketing! That’s a pretty attractive statistic for sure! And because of this impressive ROI, it is likely that influencer marketing is here to stay for the long term, perhaps even surpassing traditional marketing as the go-to strategy for most businesses. 

But with all these being said, there is probably a reason why traditional marketing is still in existence; because the reality is, it still works! It is still a dependable strategy for businesses, and likely has been so for many years. However, for influencer marketing, the results are also largely dependent on the influencer, and you may not necessarily fetch the same ROI every time with every influencer collaboration as well.

3. Trustability

One of the key attractiveness of influencer marketing is because these influencers have very strong control and influence over their followers, so much that they can influence their followers’ buying decision. This boils down to one key word: Trust. The constant engagement and interaction have allowed influencers to build trust and rapport with their followers. According to this report, 92% of consumers say that they are more convinced to buy a particular item when it is reviewed by these influencers. 

Now, let’s compare to traditional forms of marketing such as TV ads, commercials, billboards etc. the truth is, people are rather immune and sick of watching paid actors reading scripts and promoting certain products and services. It has been perceived as inauthentic and fake, so much so that people have stopped noticing them. There is even a term to describe this phenomenon. It is called “Ad Blindness”. 

On the other hand, influencers, especially the nano and micro influencers, who are just like any other everyday consumers, are likely to be heard because of their more unbiased and unfiltered product reviews and recommendations. Such types of influencer campaigns appear to be more organic and authentic, and appear on the user’s social media feed naturally, and not disruptive like how ads do. 

4. Content Creative Direction

For this point, it is indeed hard to say which is better. Proponents for Influencer marketing argue that by getting influencers to take charge of the promotion of creative content production, we can tap on and leverage on these influencers to create high-quality, trendy and creative content. Compared to traditional marketing companies, these influencers can also create content far quicker than them, which, by theory, also help make your content more trend relevant as well. Trends come and go so quickly, and since influencers are active on social media, they are usually quite in sync with the latest trend. Hence, it might be wise to leverage on this strength. Also, influencers supposedly know and understand their followers the best, hence it might be more suitable to let them be the ones to create the content because they will be able to create specific and target content that has a higher tendency to be able to appeal to the audience. 

When it comes to traditional marketing, you will either have to depend on the creativity and ideas of your in-house marketing team, or that of the marketing agency you engaged in. Furthermore, it will usually take a longer lead time to push through the traditional marketing campaigns. That being said, some brands and businesses may want more control over the creative direction of the marketing campaign. They may not want to leave the fate of their campaigns on the hands of the influencers. They may also want to set the tone of the marketing message, which would be hard if done so by the influencers because these influencers already have their own established tone and way of communicating with their followers. So, for such businesses, traditional marketing may still be preferred.


Traditional marketing, as the name suggests, has been how marketing was done traditionally. We must admit that there are still strengths and a certain level of attractiveness when we talk about traditional marketing. But one thing’s for sure; it would be wise not to neglect Influencer marketing. It is here to stay for the long term, for sure! More importantly, you must remind yourself to adopt an unbiased view when evaluating different marketing approaches. Consider your marketing objectives and the level of resources you have before deciding which marketing strategy to adopt for your next marketing campaign.