Will Digital Marketing Replace Traditional Marketing? (Part 1 of 3)

Steven Werley

Many digital marketers shame traditional marketing. I’m hoping with the help of a little research that I can answer the ultimate question of whether old-fashioned marketing will be replaced or not.

I’m going to break this topic up into three major posts. The first is my opinion before digging into the research to show transparency and admit where I’m wrong later. Second, I will describe my findings in detail with the sources included. Third, I will talk about the potential near societal changes that can affect what we learned from the research.

The goal of this is to provide a thorough depiction of the current state of marketing in 2020, understand the trendiest strategies, and the ones falling off. This article should help you identify the best opportunities to invest your time and money for your business, along with the places to avoid doing so.

My Pre-Research Opinions

There are specific traditional methods I’ve always steered my clients away from, and saying others are worth jumping down the rabbit hole.

When it comes to digital marketing, there are enormous amounts of services and software to be able to invest and grow your business, which can not only be overwhelming but deceiving.

Due to this, you see a common problem in businesses (that have been happening since all companies existed). You end up building a whole lot of half-built bridges that lead to nowhere. A half-built website, chatbot, SEO strategy, and marketing funnel will only land you falling into an abyss of confusion and chaos of why things aren’t working the way they should.

The ultimate goal should be to focus on one strategy at a time and close off that bridge. I tend to use this analogy a lot in my meetings, with clients, and workshops.

State of Digital Marketing

With all the tools we have for digital marketing, you think we’d be getting settled in by now, but it feels like we’re so early on in this process.

Some of the most significant areas we’ve seen an increase in 2019 have been conversational marketing, the further development of Google My Business and Reputation Management strategies for local businesses, and getting back to the basics of storytelling in your brand.


Conversational marketing is a way to build trust and sell to your customers. Much of this automatically happens using what we call “chatbots,” which are automated messages that send based on user actions. Very similar to marketing automation with emails.

Chatbots have multiple roles, but there are two big ones I’d like to touch on. The first is on Facebook, and the second is on websites. This can be one and the same.

Facebook Bots

Many people are familiar with them, but if you aren’t, fear not. On Facebook, you can have your Facebook Messenger conversations automated. This strategy is used in multiple ways.

The first is using a menu on Messenger when someone comes on your page. This gives users some preselected options to start a conversation with your page. It could contain different services you offer, asking what your hours are, or how to contact you.

Another way is running an ad that sends to Messenger. The best part of this is you prompt the user to respond using a specific term like “contest” or “Get a quote!” And you can have an automated follow-up sequence collecting their email, phone number, and any other information you need.

The best piece about Facebook Messenger is it already knows a lot of fields such as email and phone. Messenger then pre suggests them to your prospective leads, and you can use that information to populate your CRM (customer relationship management) for further follow up on top of using Facebook messenger.

In conclusion, Facebook bots are a great way to answer your leads’ questions along with attaining their contact information for further follow-up.

Our favorite software to use for this is Chatmatic. We find their pricing to be superior, and if you work on implementing everything on their own, they have their training portal to show you different use cases on what strategies to employ for various industries and situations.

Website bots

Website bots are great because you can attract warm leads to contact you or schedule appointments. At least that has been our best use cases so far.

If someone is on your website, they are digging for information. That person may be:

  1. Learning about your services
  2. Trying to figure out if you can help them
  3. Reading a blog post

If any of these are accurate, it’s good to prompt them to schedule a quick call with you because you’re already building trust, and now you’re making it easy for them to talk to you.

The keyword there is easy. Complicated is never good. The harder you make things on your prospective clients, the harder it will be to attain them as a client and, in turn, increase your revenue.

At the time of writing this post, we use Continually as we like their ability to schedule an appointment right in the message conversation, and we received a lifetime deal from Appsumo.

However, I’d like to mention at the time of writing this, we are relatively new and could decide to switch tools in the future. If it becomes a core part of how our website operates, we will surely write a review on it and let you know. The industry leader right now is Drift.

Bringing Chatbots Together

Overall, the top two use cases we see are Websites and Facebook. Now I did mention these could be one and the same.

I said this because there are many WordPress plugins (our suggested platform for creating websites) to integrate your Facebook bot on your website.

The top reasons to do this are because:

  1. Less tech work
  2. Less time involved in creating bots
  3. Finishing another half-built bridge

The top reasons not to do this are:

  1. Customers have different mindsets on your website vs. Facebook page (website is much warmer)
  2. You have the employees to build out more complex systems (to make it easier for potential customers)

Regardless, conversational marketing should be included in your sales process. It helps ease the transition from not communicating with the prospect of generating blazing hot leads. In my opinion, this is a must-have in 2020.


Maximum Effort Agency’s reputation management service was our most popular in 2019 for businesses that serve a local market. There’s a good reason for it too.

Customers are deciding more and more who they call from a google search and businesses that show up in the top 3 business listings, what marketers refer to as the ‘Google 3-pack.’

This is because if you show up in the top 3 and dominate your competitors in reviews, you will naturally get called. We believe the best reputation management strategies are twofold: reviews management and citation management (which is part of SEO).

Reviews Management

Reviews are the proverbial piece. Most businesses struggle with attaining reviews from their best clients. It’s the worst ones that are the ones who are most likely to leave a review in a lot of industries.

I’ve also heard the dangerous mentality of “No reviews are a good thing.” I don’t know if it’s something some business owners say to make themselves feel better, but one 1-star review and your reputation tarnish until you attain a few positive ones.

We list a lot of statistics on our reputation management service page I linked a couple of paragraphs above, but there’s one I want to state again here:

91% of people ages 18-34 trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

In other words, if you’re the kind of business owner who tells everyone, “We get all of our business from word of mouth,” and you don’t have a reputation management service, I hope you plan on retiring and shutting the business down in a couple of years.

This isn’t the 90’s anymore, and you can’t get away with only old school word of mouth. You need to at least get in the new school word of mouth where Google has replaced Yellow Pages, and better yet, you don’t have to pay to be one of the top 3 options or have your business start with an ‘A.’

You can manipulate where you show up and whether people will call you or not with those glowing 5-star reviews.

The place where you can stand apart is responding to the reviews of your customers. Many potential clients will browse directly to negative reviews and read the company’s response. If it isn’t well thought out and a good show of customer service, you are missing out on a significant opportunity to cash in.

I believe negative reviews make companies more money than positive ones.

Citation Management/Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Citation management involves a lot of moving pieces. Many marketers refer to this as local SEO, which is undoubtedly a valid term for it.

The first step in any citation management strategy is making sure you have citations created on as many website directories as possible while making sure the data is precisely the same as your Google My Business listing.

This means if, on Google, your business address is 43 Madison Avenue, make sure you spell out the word “Avenue” everywhere, do not abbreviate it. Yes, Google is still that picky, and it directly affects your ranking.

The next piece is filling out all the information possible. That means adding pictures, hours, holiday hours, a bio, and arguably, most importantly, the proper categories your business encapsulates.

It is essential to actively track all these listings, monitor for changes, and keep them all current and relevant.

On Google, you should also be taking advantage of the posts that launched not too long ago. You can post deals, offers, or just some quick tips helping your potential customers.

It’s worth noting Google always likes when you use their services so they can directly play a part in your ranking strategy.

Bringing Reputation Management Together

If you’re a local business, this strategy is a must-have. Of course, I don’t need to mention it’s importance in the e-commerce world, and also plays a significant role in the e-courses and consultant world.

Reputation is critical, and best of all, they build trust, which is what needs to happen before you close a sale.

A combined attack of reviews and local SEO will drive your business to new revenue heights in the upcoming decade.


Any other fans of ‘Building a Story Brand’ by Donald Miller here?

I hope so. The book is a must-read and a must-follow company with how they are changing the way we interact with customers, build trust, and help them succeed.

So let’s clear the elephant in the room: What the hell does this have to do with digital marketing?

Well, everything. The reason is that copywriting (the part that sells our products) continues to evolve. We used to live in a very brash, direct selling world a few years ago, primarily digitally.

Now brands are leading with value and trust, which is changing the game. Branding one could argue dictates how we build our sales funnels and marketing campaigns. It shapes what strategies we use and how we tier our products and services.

I don’t think I need to dive super deep into this topic. I love the idea that StoryBrand brings to the table of treating our companies like movie scrips. Have a character (our customers), a guide (us), a villain, a potential victory, and a possible failure.

How you do this can be found in the book or on their online courses.

State of Traditional Marketing

Billboards, direct mail, and networking, oh my!

Naturally, I won’t make this section quite as long as the previous, simply because this is the stuff that’s been happening since the dawn of business. Some notable changes have occurred, but that’s only humans getting better at selling over time, which is the same reason records continue to break in the Olympics every couple of years.

Many people assume that I am anti-traditional marketing. I’m just anti tactics that are unable to be tracked, and that’s not all traditional marketing.


I loathe billboards. Nothing irks me more than businesses who think they’re doing themselves a massive service by spending thousands on something so untrackable and will drive next to no sales to their business.

I think there are certain exceptions. If you’re a larger company and need an awareness campaign, you can use billboards to do that. If you’re a personal injury lawyer, billboards are great if you put it in an accident hot spots (it’s not terrible, it’s smart).

What I don’t like is when an insurance agency plops one billboard up because they feel they need to “get their name out there.”

Here’s a rant: Your customers are on Facebook. No, they’re not too old for it, 68% of Boomers are on Facebook. You can create digital billboards for awareness, choose the demographics you target, and get detailed demographical information of whose interacting with your ad. Then you can take those people who interacted and show them another ad to schedule an appointment. So in most cases, billboards don’t make sense.


It’s kind of hard to hate direct mail. The example I just put above with Facebook ads, you can do similarly with direct mail. You can send ads targeted to neighborhoods with demographics that your target market is, and based on their responses, follow up with them.

This is the same for cold calling too. However, cold calling became a bit more difficult targeting wise due to the fact everyone has a cell phone and keeps the same number they got when they were 15. That means where the phone number was registered is most likely a different demographic than the location one lived at 15 years old.

Direct response advertising works, but it’s so incredibly competitive that just getting someone to open a piece of mail is a huge step. Then you have to have killer copy.

In a way, it’s similar to digital ads strategy-wise, but you’re easily lost in the noise and end up in the trash can.


Yes, the old tried and true way to drive word of mouth referrals to your business.

I’d like to make one thing crystal clear: there are ways to help increase word of mouth referrals, but word of mouth isn’t a marketing strategy. It’s what happens as a result of excellent customer service.

That means if your business relies on word of mouth marketing, you don’t rely on marketing.

Now, with that said, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Daniel Carnegie is the best business book I’ve ever read. I’ve served as VP in a BNI group and President in another referral networking group.

There’s no better way to build trust than in-person while getting to know people. It’s not a necessity, but it helps a great deal.


There’s a lot of power in traditional marketing. It’s obviously not my bread and butter, but I read and study it regardless. It’s because when we do digital marketing, we’re taking principles that we’ve learned through years of trial and error in the print world, and there are ways to make it more convenient in the digital one.

You can’t be a great digital marketer if you’re not a good marketer. Write that down. It can save you a lot of money from the people that take one $2000 course and then try to sign you on a $3k/mo retainer for lead generation or a chatbot.

Traditional marketing isn’t disappearing. You’re not going to receive less “junk mail.” But the truth is, most of it isn’t junk. Many companies need to take a step back and try to figure out why their perception is junk mail.

It’s easy to say, “The campaign is profitable, so who cares,” but that doesn’t mean the process can’t be improved.

My Prediction

Here we go, I’m putting it on the table now so everyone can tell me how wrong I was, and I don’t deserve to be doing this marketing thing.

I get the distinction between traditional and digital marketing, but I hate how much it’s used. I simply want people to call it marketing as a whole.

The reason is that many people consider themselves either digital or traditional marketers and not just marketers. The issue with that is when a company runs both digital and print campaigns, there is little congruency between the two.

The campaigns need to be working together to make the company more revenue and more profitable over time. Results need to be cross analyzed. Did one traditional campaign increase the profit of a digital one? Why?

We live in a world driven by data; without it, it’s easy to make poor decisions that will drive a company into the dirt.

I once read a post/watched a video by an astounding marketer, Noah Fleming, about how Steak ‘n Shake was in the red. They realized if they stopped putting cherries on milkshakes, they could save money – I forget the exact number, but I believe it was $1 million. That $1 million in “savings” cost them a customer service problem that would drown the company even more because everyone was pissed they didn’t get a cherry on their milkshake. And you know how it works, the people who don’t even order milkshakes get upset and then you just went viral for being the bad guy. If they had proper opinions and data on their customers, they could have instead gone on the offensive and made decisions increasing customer satisfaction and ultimately helping their revenue. I just want to state I take no credit for this paragraph; it’s all paraphrasing Noah.


I don’t think you’ll be surprised by this answer: No.

I only see digital and traditional getting closer. I was targeted from a company to run direct mail campaigns to clients by sending these bulky card looking things. When they open it, there’s a little mini screen, and it can play a video of up to a few minutes.

That’s one way you can see video starting to get directly in the hands of people. And oh yea, imagine how great your open rate is going to be on that puppy… pretty freaking great compared to your competition. You’ll also be spending a tad more for it too, so refining your message in something like that is a must with some tests.

What I think should happen is the companies continuing to ditch methods less effective like billboards, and moving their money to the digital world.


Did you know 2019 is the first year digital became the king of advertising over TV?

Why does this matter? It matters because big corporations now understand the value of digital. That will raise the prices of advertising online because, like any sort of advertising besides maybe direct mail, there’s only so much real estate where ads can appear.

We’re still in a golden age of digital advertising because it’s still not unheard of to get 10 to 1 returns on ads. Sure, that’s not every campaign, but if it happens to individual businesses semi-regularly, that’s a hell of a result.

What Comes Next?

This concludes part 1 of “Will Digital Marketing Replace Traditional Marketing?” I’m glad you took part in my opinions and views on how the marketing world is changing. Part 2 covers statistics and research behind the shifts in digital and print, while part 3 covers societal changes that can happen in the future due to the research discovered in part 2.

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