PULL MARKETING, DIGITAL STRATEGIES, SEO | READING TIME: 8 MINUTES | 11 SEPTEMBER

Pull Marketing vs. Push Marketing: Key Differences in Strategy

Traditional marketing has relied on Push strategies, casting a wide net or attempting to stimulate demand – this often results in marketing messages falling on deaf ears. Pull Marketing is a much more effective approach, wherein marketers communicate to recipients with existing demand.

We want to challenge the current state of digital marketing and argue that the future of digital marketing is Pull Marketing. Consumers and B2B buyers alike have shifted their purchasing processes to be more informed and autonomous. The Mad Men era of marketing and advertising is over, and we are left with data-driven decision-making and user experience topping ad budgets and “neat” slogans.

Companies must adapt to this new paradigm wherein customers are researching products and services on their own.

What is pull marketing?

The difference between push and pull marketing lies in who initiates the marketing communication. For instance, interruptive advertising, such as traditional tv ad spots or billboards, will reach anyone who happens to be in their way. As such, push marketing can be used by organizations that want to inform or stimulate demand. On the other hand, pull marketing is communication that reaches an already interested audience.

Instead of trying to reach as many people as possible in the hopes that someone will be interested with push marketing tactics, companies utilize pull marketing to reach only those who are interested.

Pull Marketing means communicating with individuals with existing demand for the products or services you offer. However, there are more concrete ways to answer what pull marketing is. For example, pull marketing is used when companies position themselves on search engines via SEO (search engine optimization) and SEA (search engine advertising).

Individuals searching for products and services online have shown both initiative and demand – if they search for a product or service, they do so because they have some need regarding it. Thus, companies use SEO in their pull marketing strategy to communicate to these searchers via showing up in search results.

Being a source of high-quality information available when buyers do their research contributes to positioning your company as a thought leader, and every instance of you being the source of information they use improves this status.

What is modern SEM, and what works?

SEM (search engine marketing) strategies like SEO/SEA aim to make your company visible among Google’s search results. The key to this is being visible on relevant search phrases to reach a relevant audience.

There are two ways for companies to increase their visibility on Google:

  • “Organic” visibility, achieving ranking through being perceived as relevant and trustworthy by Google’s algorithms (SEO)
  • Paid visibility, paying for ad space on the search engine results page for specific search queries (SEA)

While there are other search engines, and the above strategies apply to those as well, Google’s domination over the search engine sphere is akin to a monopoly, so Google Search can usually be used as a synonym to search engines in general. However, it remains to be seen how long this will last, with Microsoft-backed Bing growing in revenue and privacy-focused Google alternatives like Duck Duck Go gaining traction.

The majority of purchasing processes begin on Google, B2B included. Sales and marketing are more effective when they occur on the customers’ terms. Potential buyers are receptive to marketing messaging when they are researching an upcoming purchase, making search engines the optimal marketing channel for complex products and services.

The inherent “outside-in” perspective needed to succeed in pull marketing is incredibly beneficial to customers, as companies are encouraged to provide the most high-quality content and present it in the best possible way. Rather than spreading one’s message through interruptive push strategies, pull marketing is about helping potential customers find answers to their questions and meet their needs. The entire brand and purchasing experience (UI/UX) is directly linked to SEO performance and sales.

Companies spend billions on SEA every year, and SEO is underinvested by comparison. On the other hand, buyer behavior shows a preference for organic search results – a disparity indicating growth in the SEO sector.

Paid or organic search – what drives growth?

Google Search is generally a trusted source of information, and its users expect to be shown relevant, high-quality web pages when they use the search engine. Because of this, visitors favor the organic search results over the paid results. However, investing in paid results can target searchers closer to making a purchase.

There are significant differences between the different results for organic results, with the first result driving drastically more traffic than the subsequent results. Almost no traffic comes from being on the second page of results.

Why Pull Marketing?

Pull Marketing allows companies to grow by focusing on the low-hanging fruits – prospects with existing demand. Targeting an audience that would benefit the most from your offering and focusing on being visible in channels where buyers look for products and services will naturally improve the return on investment for all marketing initiatives. Instead of reaching and educating everyone, pull marketing is communicating to those already interested and informed.

Who should use Pull Marketing?

Since purchasing processes are changing to favor user-centric communication, Pull Marketing is industry-agnostic. However, it is the most useful for companies with long or complex sales processes.

An example profile could look as follows:

  • A company with a complex products or service
  • A modern company aspiring to be a marketing leader in their industry
  • Customers who do extensive research in their purchasing
  • An inefficient sales organization stuck in a traditional sales mindset (cold calls, industry fairs, etc.)

“Data should guide your strategy; any strategic development project needs to begin with a thorough analysis.”

When is Push Marketing more effective?

While pull marketing lets companies capitalize on existing demand, this demand must also be self-realized for the potential buyer to take action and expose themselves to pull communication. Whereas this represents a significant portion of the buyers worth investing in, push marketing can be effective in reaching companies that will not initiate their purchasing processes themselves.

Some instances where push is an effective complement to pull:

  • A new company that wants to increase brand awareness
  • A disruptor educating the market about a new solution
  • A company wanting to establish themselves in a new market
  • A campaign targeting specific companies or segments

While push and pull marketing differs in whether the recipient has expressed a demand, both pull and push marketing needs to be data-driven, and strategies needs to rely on relevant communication with messages that the receiver feels are valuable.

Pull Marketing Analysis

Getting a complete picture of the current situation requires a comprehensive analysis of the company’s resources and the purchasing processes of potential customers. The importance of data-driven decision-making in strategic endeavours is evident to us, so all of our partnerships begin with a digital marketing analysis that guides us in providing the most value to our clients.

Some headings in a standard GO MO analysis:

  • Keyword and topical market analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • Technical on-page analysis
  • Content on-page analysis
  • Off-page analysis

Even if the above represents a significant undertaking, there is a simple SEO analysis you can do right away: Google yourself. By searching for keywords and search phrases used by your clients, you can get an indication of how you are performing online. It’s important to use the right keywords – your potential clients are likely not searching for your branded products/services but for general products/services. Try some variations and see how visible your brand is.

Another fundamental part of being data-driven is tracking and analyzing user behavior data on your website. This is easily done with Google Analytics. Some key statistics to start with:

  • Traffic – how many visits does your website get?
  • Traffic source – where do visitors come from?
  • Session duration – how long do visitors spend on your website?
  • Bounce rate – how many visitors turn away right away?

Outside-in perspective in digital marketing

Marketing communication works best when adapted to recipients; this is the main benefit of Pull Marketing strategies – they are always inherently outside-in. By basing a marketing strategy on trends in the market, the communication will likewise be based on client needs and wants. This is particularly true for SEO, where content is specifically tailored to how potential buyers search for solutions to their problems.

Let’s give an example. A Swedish B2B company that wants to invest in digital marketing might begin its research phase with a general search for what they want, in their own language: B2B digital marketing. Being visible among these search results is invaluable for a company offering these services.