Push and Pull Marketing Strategies and How They Translate to Digital Marketing


There’s a lot of terminology in the world of marketing, even more once you get into the specifics of digital. Often, several terms can refer to the same thing.

Good examples of this are “push marketing” strategies and “pull marketing” strategies. You may also know these concepts as “outbound” and “inbound” marketing.

In this article, we’ll quickly explore what these terms mean, then dive into the specifics of how we translate this into digital marketing – specifically which channels are push marketing and which channels are pull marketing.

What are push and pull marketing strategies?

Simply put, push marketing is all about getting your message to your target audience, while pull marketing is all about creating the right assets to get your target audience to come to you.

This is why it is also known as outbound and inbound marketing.

In push marketing, or outbound model, you use types of marketing techniques that go out and find your potential customers and put your assets in front of them wherever they are at the time. Comparatively, with pull marketing or the inbound model, you are looking to use tactics, build resources, and build assets that will attract your audience.

So what does all of this mean when looked at through the lens of digital marketing?

Push marketing through digital channels

Every time you pay to put a message in front of someone, you are choosing a push marketing strategy. The following digital marketing channels are all examples that fall into this category:

Programmatic display is perhaps one of the best digital examples of push marketing. Finding users who have similar attributes to your existing customers and putting your brand in front of them, potentially introducing them to your product or service for the very first time… It doesn’t get much more outgoing than that.

Digital responses to pull marketing

On the other hand, we have an attraction marketing strategy. As you’d expect, while push marketing is entirely paid, pull marketing in the digital space is entirely organic. The types of channels we would look to use to achieve attraction marketing include:

Pull marketing is at the heart of search engine optimization (SEO). When it comes to organic rankings, Google is increasingly prioritizing content that gives users what they want. As we focus on answering user questions and providing them with a good experience, it’s now natural for organic search strategies to take a pull approach. If you create content that your target audience craves, you expect organic search to draw consumers to your products and services.

Choosing between a push or pull marketing strategy

When it comes to choosing the right approach, there are a number of factors that should impact how you think. Before we get too deep into this line of thinking, it’s worth noting that the question itself is a bit problematic. You don’t necessarily need to choose a push strategy Where an attraction strategy, but we will come back to this shortly.

With this in mind, the most important factors to consider include:

  • Aptitude – What digital channels can you run in-house? Where you can’t execute, do you have partners who could deliver for you?
  • Spectators – Where does your target audience spend their time online? How are your users currently interacting with your digital presence?
  • Budget – What is your budget? What other costs are there – for example the hours of your team or external partners?

Often when people go through these factors, the pull strategy starts to look more appealing. Push marketing focuses on investing in paid media channels and being able to activate campaigns on those channels. It’s falling into the age-old trap of viewing attraction tactics, like SEO or content marketing, as “free.”

While they may be free from a media spend perspective, the cost comes in the form of resources and capabilities. Additionally, there is a stark difference in the timeline.

When you activate a push marketing campaign, for example on paid search, you will see results quickly. When you launch a pull marketing campaign via SEO, it will take a few weeks before results start showing and even then those results will be incremental rather than instantaneous.

Why “push or pull” is the wrong question

First of all, choosing between a push marketing strategy and a pull marketing strategy, or an inbound model or an outbound model, means putting yourself in a box and limiting the channels and tactics available to you based on that label.

In the world of digital marketing, where we have the ability to be nimble, flexible, test, learn, and pivot to what delivers the results we need, deciding to follow a push or pull strategy can cut you short. channels that might actually offer you better results.

Second, it’s a false dichotomy. When we look at how digital works today, it’s increasingly difficult to draw a clear line between inbound and outbound.

Let’s take our previous example of push marketing channels. If we’re running a paid social campaign, looking to acquire new leads and grow the audience engaged with the brand, we might see some users converting directly off the back of those ads. However, we’ll likely see even more users return through other channels – like organic search – during their journey and choose our offering based on the brand awareness gained from previous touchpoints.

The common adage is that you have to eight points of contact to close a salebut what is even more striking is that Google discovered that the the average customer journey now involves between 20 and more than 500 touchpoints.

So what does it mean for our question, when a user can start their journey with a channel that is part of a push marketing strategy and end their journey with a channel that is part of the marketing strategy sweater? That means we’re looking at a nuanced, real-world view of how the digital marketing landscape works.

Or, to look at it another way, we’ve answered the question. We don’t want to push Where pull. We want them to work together in a way that facilitates our target audience’s user journey and gives us the result we need.

Let’s talk about your digital marketing strategy

If you’re thinking about your digital marketing mix – which channels you should be active on and how they work together – then we’d love to help.

Contact us today and talk to one of our friendly experts about your digital marketing strategy.


Comments are closed.