Push Vs Pull Marketing – What Should be Your Brand’s Marketing Style?
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Every marketer has faced this quintessential dilemma of push vs. pull marketing- which one to follow? We quite feel your pain, but what if we say that you don’t need to sweat over it anymore? To reach the bottom of this problem, how about we discuss both marketing styles and address a few questions along the way. We assure you that you will gain clarity on how to go about marketing your brand by the end of this post.
What is a Push Marketing Strategy?
A Push marketing strategy also known as a promotional strategy refers to a marketing approach that involves taking your brand or products directly to your potential, future customers.
It allows you to play a more dominant role and inform your prospects about your brand. In simple words, it’s literally like pushing yourself into their world like those salespersons who make cold calls to sell credit cards or go door-to-door selling discount coupon booklets! As is evident, push marketing is often considered interruptive. You aren’t the pamphlet they hoped to see plugged inside a magazine. You aren’t the radio jingle they wanted to hear or the billboard ad they expected to see on the highway or at the bus stop! Yet you are there.
Push Marketing Examples:
- Point of Sale display (POS)
- Direct Marketing to customers in showrooms, trade fares, etc.
- Direct Mailers
- Display Ads on any online platform like social media, Google Ads Network, etc.
What is a Pull Marketing Strategy?
A Pull marketing strategy is more along the lines of inbound marketing where you implement a strategy that draws customers towards your brand or product. Through a pull tactic, you try to encourage customers to engage with a medium through which they ultimately end up finding you.
You allow the consumer to think they are in charge. But, mind you – it requires as much effort as the push marketing drill. For instance, let’s say you are a real estate agent. You have a website and a blog. You want people to know about you and hire you to house hunt and sell for them. Now, for your customers to know who you are by themselves, you will need to make yourself discoverable. For that, you will rely on search engine optimization.
Pull Marketing Examples:
- Optimizing web pages for SERP (Search Engine Optimization) to appear searches when users search for relevant keywords or phrases
- Blogging: getting your blog content ranking on Google is a primary marketing and sales channel for many businesses
- Social Media Marketing through how-to videos, influencer marketing, product videos, etc.
- Word of mouth
Push VS Pull Marketing
If you notice, the two marketing strategies differ in the way you approach your customers. And, this brings us to the next question.
Which is More Effective – Push Marketing or Pull Marketing?
Customers today don’t want to be ‘sold’ to. They want to make purchase decisions on their own. So, naturally, when you reach out to them with sales-laced messages — in the form of ads or other traditional means of push marketing tricks — it totally turns them off. The aftermath? They turn you down and head in the opposite direction!
So, What Changed Over the Years?
Why is it that people are not as responsive to push marketing as they used to be? The simple answer is that consumer behavior has evolved. Today, a customer’s journey is longer and non-linear. They are no longer buying anything off the shelf merely after having read or seen an ad.
According to a study by Google and CEB, titled “The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing” customers reported being nearly 60 percent through the sales process before engaging a sales rep, regardless of price point. More accurately, 57 percent of the sales process just disappeared.” This suggests that they prefer to take their own sweet time to research and then decide if they want to buy from a brand at all.
In fact, prospects find custom, educational content like blogs, case studies, etc. (pull content) more useful than salesy messages. They also seek their friend’s advice and suggestions before making any purchase, read online ratings and reviews, and do tons of other things than just giving in to your cold call!
Does That Mean Push Marketing Is Dead?
Certainly not. However, Demand Metrics suggests that “Staples of the outbound marketing approach are no longer found to be effective.”
However, let us be fair and add that pull marketing might score better than push, you still need to both push and pull levers depending on where the buyer is in your marketing funnel.
It can help you overcome your biggest challenge of generating traffic and quality leads. Brands like Nike and Dunkin Donuts, among numerous others, are proof that a combination strategy pays off. They advertise heavily offline as they do online.
Push VS Pull Marketing in the Marketing Funnel
To better understand how you can follow suit; let’s discuss each stage of the marketing funnel, the corresponding buyer’s persona, and which strategy you should ideally go for.
It is the top of the funnel where people are aware of their problems and still looking for solutions. Considering your brand is unheard and unknown, it works best if you begin with a push strategy. You will be able to get people curious and create a demand for your product.
Start with a classic push marketing strategy i.e. run a PPC campaign and purchase ads but not without a plan. By that we mean, you need to do your homework and figure out where your prospects hang out (LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Twitter, SlideShare, etc). Only then should you target your future customers. In fact, you can also think of affiliate marketing and push people from other connected or complimenting businesses towards you.
Moving on, if you are an established brand you can use the pull marketing strategy to your advantage. Tailor valuable content for your prospects so that they can find you and eventually trust you for your knowledge.
Start with interactive content as it is engaging, educational, and popular with the masses. Since your prospects are still at the top of the funnel, create quizzes and calculators that make them aware of your business.
Example of Interactive Content:
Let’s suppose, you are a travel consultant. You can easily create a ‘Which European City Could You Visit During The Eurovision?’ quiz or ‘The Ultimate Summer Quiz’. You can then link the results to your blog so that they can learn more about what you do.
Pro Tip: For more interactive content ideas and examples you can use our Idea Generator Tool!
You can also bank upon eBooks and guides as they are considered to be high-value. Gate them and ask people for their email addresses in exchange. This can easily help build your email list and through an email campaign, you can show them the way further/deeper into your marketing funnel. HubSpot has an entire section on the website with eBook listings! Time and again, they can show the world why they are an industry thought leader.
You can perhaps also create educational webinars and ‘how-to’ videos to showcase your expertise, just like Search Engine Journal.
This is when people, who’ve found you through some medium, are evaluating and ‘considering’ you as a solution provider. They are still researching whether or not your product or service fits their needs. To convince them that you are indeed ‘the’ one, use pull marketing tactics.
Begin with case studies and highlight how you were able to help your customers accomplish their goals. By publishing your success stories, you will make a strong case for your brand. A lot of brands including Outgrow use case studies to do the same. See below.
In fact, we also publish case studies to gain our prospects’ confidence. Here’s one where we talk about how Macroscape collected leads and achieved a conversion rate of 36% using an interactive quiz they built on our app.
You can also use two other pull content types: product-specific webinars and e-courses. Both allow you to subtly persuade them to choose you. See the screenshot of a product-specific webinar by Microsoft. They use it to not only capture leads but also demonstrate their product!
Next, and once again, we’d recommend you use interactive quizzes and calculators to pull in prospects in your favor. Continuing with the travel consultant example, you can perhaps create a ‘Should I Re-do my Summer Travel’ quiz? As a call-to-action on the results page of the quiz, you can link them to your blog on ‘Which Countries You Should Avoid During Summer’. It’s one way of getting them to engage with your blog and evaluate your knowledge as a travel consultant.
Another excellent way of gaining confidence and propelling prospects to buy from you is through testimonials. We particularly love how Piktochart has a section called ‘User Stories’ on its website. They’ve explored both video and written formats. Anyone who may be ‘considering’ PiktoChart is likely to vote in their favor and subscribe to their services. See for yourself.
So, you see, the vital thing is that you engage your prospects in a conversation. Go full-throttle on getting more content created, published, and distributed on your website, blog, and social media channels. Don’t forget the online communities at Quora, Reddit, social groups, etc. where you can spark off a discussion, give advice and then carefully introduce your brand.
This is where you need to give one last and final incentive to your qualified leads. Since pull marketing works perfectly, you can send them a discount coupon or recommend a free demo or a free trial. Why? Because they have come this far in their journey of finding a solution, they must be genuinely interested in your products and services. You can send them these offers through newsletters or use them as a pop-up on your website. Seeing these lucrative, special deals they are likely to give them a shot and eventually turn into buyers.
Outgrow offers a free trial that not only helps them generate quality leads but also helps its users get a hands-on experience of their platform.
BuzzSumo entices its prospects with its seven-day free trial. This free trial gives users a better understanding of how useful this tool can be for them. After seven days, they may feel the need to continue, and voila – BuzzSumo has prospects converted to customers!
See how Zapier takes its pricing page to another level by introducing the “Free Forever” plan. It’s an interesting way of asking people to compare the ‘free forever’ plan with the sign-up for the 14-day trial proposition. They will notice the additional features in the latter and register for it. This helps Zapier get their leads closer to finally buying from them.
Now that we have discussed how you can use pull and push marketing tactics across the buyer’s journey, we must also address another important issue, which has to do with the post-purchase phase.
How do you Retain your Customers?
The post-purchase and sale phase is rather crucial if you want to repeat business. And, that’s possible only if you give your current customers reasons to come back to you. But, how do you keep them hooked in the first place?
You can do so through pull tactics like sending them relevant blogs or newsletters. Remember the travel consultant example? Let’s suppose your prospect availed your service for their summer trip. They may not need your services immediately or for the next couple of years, but you can still ensure they remember you by sending them blogs like ‘Exotic Winter Holiday Destinations’. Through these timely tips and advice that you send them through email drip campaigns, you will remain relevant to their current life in a small rented apartment.
It’s equally important for you to know that some customers may slip away too. Perhaps you did not communicate with them too often or you overdid it. This is to suggest that you keep monitoring where you’re falling short and look for best practices to optimize your CRM. Unless you don’t get better at relationship-building, you will never fix the leak in your funnel.
You can find help from experts or if needed, take advantage of good CRM software.
Related Read: 70+ Lead Generation Tips To Boost Your Marketing
Push VAS Pull Marketing – The Final Verdict
What we have discussed so far, shows that Push vs Pull Marketing has no clear winners. You need to follow both these outbound and inbound marketing strategies to get the best results.
Whether your brand should use a pull or push marketing strategy will largely depend on which stage your prospect is in. So, essentially your efforts should be concentrated on identifying that first and accordingly pulling your marketing cards.
If you’re already pushing and pulling, then do tell us about the major breakthrough for your brand.
I’m Soumodip Roy, the SEO and SEM specialist who helps businesses climb to the top of the search engine mountain, and when I’m not doing that, you can find me exploring the real mountains of the Himalayas.