Traditional and digital marketing during COVID-19. How has the pandemic affected the world of marketing?

Sep 8, 2021

COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on traditional and on-field marketing activities, primarily due to lockdowns and travel restrictions across the globe. However, the crisis has also opened opportunities for digital marketing as consumers shifted towards digital mediums much faster than expected.

How has this pandemic affected the marketing world?

What’s the difference?

The main difference between digital and traditional marketing is how an audience encounters a marketing message. While conventional marketing uses traditional media like magazines, newspapers, billboards, and printed media, digital marketing uses digital media, such as social media, google advertising or website optimisation.

The pros and cons

Traditional marketing 


  • Printed marketing materials are more permanent.

    How often did you pick up a magazine or a newspaper whilst waiting in a hotel lobby or even in a salon? These prints can be kept, collected, and recycled.

  • Easier to remember.

    When you’re stuck in traffic or sitting in your favourite cafe, you are more likely to pay attention to billboards or posters. Often, it’s more eye-catching and easier to remember a message.


  • More expensive.

    If you’re just starting out, chances are, every cent counts. Simply put, even if you would love to advertise your brand in a very well-known magazine brand, chances are, you won’t know just yet!

  • No direct interaction with the consumer.

    Unlike digital marketing, call to action and customer engagement are far more challenging to measure due to a lack of tracking who interacts with your ads.

Digital marketing


  • More options for engagement.

    You can interact and see how your customers and potential customers perceive your brand, products, and services through social media channels in real-time.

  • Easy to measure your campaigns.

    Analytics are a huge part of almost every social media channel, and it’s giving you in-depth insights into how your brand is performing and what you need to improve on.


  • Digital ads can be deemed as spam.

    Simply put, you just had a chat with a friend over a messaging app about a product that interests you, and minutes after, whilst scrolling through your social media feed, you’re bombarded with ads for the same product.

  • Constantly evolves.

    Digital marketing is constantly evolving every day, and if you do not have a team and excellent services and providers to help you, your brand will always be left behind.

So, what should I use?

Short answer: a balance of both.

Detailed answer:A balance of both, as both marketing methods have their pros and cons as listed above. To identify which marketing method is best for your brand, you need to consider your customers’ needs, your budget, and the impact the pandemic has had on the way consumers interact with your ads.

COVID-19 and its impact on marketing

Since the pandemic, businesses have had to pivot many aspects of their operations to thrive in the new normal. The way brands advertise to their customers with marketing is no exception. Many physical businesses have closed— small and big amid COVID-19, and several online companies have popped up. Many traditional companies transitioned digitally, too! As a result, digital marketing activity has sky-rocketed and is rapidly evolving.

As the customers’ response to traditional marketing approaches has decreased, the consumers’ engagement with brands and marketing activities through the digital channels has increased considerably. This increase in engagement has hugely contributed to the development of various digital marketing tools.

Digital marketing tools used in today’s digital age

  1. Search engine optimisation.

    SEO is the process of improving the visibility of and increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to the website or webpage organically (i.e., unpaid results) by optimising the search engine.

  2. Search engine marketing.

    Unlike S.E.O, search engine marketing is a paid process in which the marketers pay the search engine to show their website link on top of the search list whenever the purchased keyword (or group of keywords) are searched.

  3. Social media marketing.

    Utilising social networking sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, etc., to promote products and services. This tool may include both organic and inorganic efforts.

  4. Video marketing and micro video marketing.

    This is a technique whereby video streaming platforms like YouTube and micro-video streaming platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels are utilised by the brands to promote their products and services to the customers.

  5. Email marketing.

    This is a tool used by marketers to target customers directly through emails. Emails are used to send promotional and other kinds of messages to potential customers and create demand for the product or service so promoted.

  6. Influencer marketing.

    This is one of the most popular and in-demand tools of digital marketing today. Social media influencers such as YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. stars, are tapped to partner with businesses and companies in promoting their products and services on their respective platforms.

Challenges brought by the global pandemic

COVID-19 global pandemic has forced brands to reflect and re-evaluate their thinking and strategy towards current and future marketing campaigns to maintain a sustainable business and income. While brands currently seek to uncover the right tone during a global crisis, the future predicts market remodelling and alteration, increased competition and demand for creative and dynamic marketing practices.

As businesses and companies wrestle with what the future will look like, several challenges have been identified:

  • How to sustain the brand when markets and industries are reshuffled?
  • Whether to develop new products and services that align with a “new normal”?
  • How to deal with the transition when consumers’ spending habits are radically changed?
  • How can brands approach consumer concerns about health, wellness, community, and personal fulfilment and meaning?

Content is king now more than ever. Consumers have been utilising social media platforms and websites online, which sky-rocketed the digital channels while working from home. Most businesses have refocused their spending on purpose-driven marketing, mission-based marketing, and cause-related marketing to satisfy consumers’ increased media consumption effectively. For example, 45 per cent of global consumers are devoting more time to social media. Online video streaming has increased by 26 per cent; online gaming traffic has increased exponentially on one telecommunication company’s servers. In addition, the number of consumers using online food delivery and essential goods delivery has risen dramatically.

As a result, many brands and businesses will positively optimise their marketing practices and strategies to reflect better the increase in online transactions, communications and engagements with consumers.

Today, digital marketing is at the heart of all brands and businesses. It is an essential tool in the hands of brands and marketers for implementing marketing strategies during the new normal. Whilst the field of marketing, in general, was drastically reshaped, the branch of digital marketing has seen an enormous boost. COVID-19 has put digital marketing on a pedestal and paved the way for further innovation and enhancement of digital marketing activities and changes.


There is no doubt that COVID-19’s impact on marketing— both traditional and digital- is tremendous, and digital marketing is undoubtedly favoured for most of the part. However, in the future, when we’re back to “normality”,— businesses, marketers, and advertisers must sustain and constantly improve on the current digital opportunities to keep the customer base acquired during the global pandemic era, focusing on maintaining a stream of income, and customer engagements.