Push vs Pull Marketing, and What's Best for your Business

6 min read

When it comes to marketing, brands are constantly juggling: You need to grab customers' attention and drive sales, but you also want to build a reputation and brand loyalty. To pull it all off, you have a little of both. This marketing multitasking is known as “push” and “pull” marketing. Push and pull marketing accomplish different goals, but they’re both essential. And they can be complementary. We’re here to help you make sense of it all.

What is push marketing?

Let’s start with push marketing. That’s when products or services are being “pushed” in front of a consumer. A brand is introducing itself or offering something to consumers and – hopefully – they’ll engage and take action. That could be a purchase, a store visit, or a website conversion.

Here’s an example:

A furniture retailer is opening a new location and wants to drum up buzz and start sales strong. The owner launches ads on digital audio, TV, and print introducing the store and touting big deals for opening weekend. It also sends out targeted emails to customers who have shopped at its other locations. These are examples of “push” marketing to build brand recognition and incentivize shoppers.  

What are popular push marketing strategies?

Push marketing is designed to produce short-term results. You launch the ad campaign and hope for a fast response. Push marketing strategies can be traditional ads or in-store promotions, like sales, samples, and giveaways. The goal is to engage consumers and direct customers to your website or brick-and-mortar location. Remember the furniture store? Its push marketing goal was to kick-off sales and get established in the market.  

What are popular push marketing tactics?

The great thing about push marketing is you can use digital and traditional media – or both. It’s a good idea to activate more than one platform to “push” your message out most effectively. That way, you’ll reach different audiences. With push marketing, more is more.

Digital Audio: Thanks to its loyal, engaged users and advanced targeting capabilities, digital audio is a highly effective push marketing channel. Digital audio is good for push marketing because it gets into users’ ears. They’re a captive and receptive audience, and they’re often listening at home (near their computers), in the car, or on the go (near the point of purchase).

With Digital Audio, advertisers can access targeted data to reach the most interested consumers. As an added bonus, digital audio can even narrow targets based on gender, age, location, and behavioral targets, increasing effectiveness.

TV and AM/FM radio: Broadcast media’s “one-to-many” delivery is a great way to cast a wide net and reach a mass of consumers. It’s like having a microphone in front of a massive crowd – even if only a few people listen, you’ve gotten the word out.

Email marketing: If you have an email list of potential clients, you can send targeted emails with promotions and announcements out to interested users. Be sure to include relevant links and promotional codes to encourage conversion.

Social media marketing: Marketers can use social media to create buzz for – or “push” – new products and drive users to sales and events. Social media is great for creating a sense of immediacy and encouraging sharing between consumers.

What is pull marketing?

Now let’s talk about pull marketing. In contrast to pushing out information, pull marketing is designed to bring the consumer closer and build loyalty. Marketers “pull” users in with consistent information and subtle reminders. Pull marketing is intended to build consumer awareness and loyalty. That way, when someone needs a product or service, your brand is top of mind. . Pull marketing brings the consumer to your brand.

To effectively “pull” in consumers, you need content. Content establishes your brand as an expert in your field. That could be blog posts, videos, social media marketing, email newsletters, and white papers. These efforts increase your SEO standing. When a user goes on Google and enters keywords, if original content matches, you’ll appear higher in the results. That sends users to your digital assets and you hook them with expert content.

To illustrate pull marketing, let’s use another example. A major Midwestern hospital is launching a new surgical center. To establish the business, they launched a strategic pull marketing campaign.

The campaign won’t feature traditional ads. Instead, the hospital will create content to educate consumers on surgical centers, what services they’ll offer, and the top-notch medical experts that will staff the center. The hospital produces blog articles, email newsletters, video interviewing surgeons, as well as related social media posts. By educating and informing users, the content “pulls” the consumers closer. And, since Google rewards sites with original content, it also raises the hospital’s SEO results in search. When it is time to book a surgery, a patient will remember the new surgical center and book it. They’ve been pulled in.  

What are popular pull marketing strategies?

Pull marketing is also known as promotional marketing. It is intended to create demand for a brand and helps burnish a brand’s reputation and authority. Pull marketing goes out to potential audiences and hooks interested users with relevant content. Unlike push marketing, it isn’t tied to an event or launch. Pull marketing is at the top funnel when consumers are seeking information, but before they’re ready to act or engage. Pull marketing typically utilizes digital media.

What are popular pull marketing tactics?

Host-read ads podcast ads: Podcast listeners are devoted to their favorite hosts and they trust them to recommend products and services. By using a podcast host to voice an ad, you’re connecting your brand with a trusted source, therefore elevating your brand’s status to the podcast’s listeners. Influencers like podcasters have sway with consumers.

Digital Audio: With the ability to reach highly-targeted groups of listeners, digital audio ads are effective for pull marketing too. Brands can create spots that introduce their products or service or even speak to issues, such as public health or education. Audio ads can help establish a brand as an authority or expert.

Email marketing: Good old fashion email is still a powerful marketing tool. With emails, marketers can customize and personalize messages. For pull marketing, brands can use emails to establish their authority and expertise in a vertical.  

SEO (search engine optimization): Most search results come from Google, which rewards websites that post original content and update it regularly. By sprinkling keywords throughout your content and consistently post fresh content, you can maximize your SEO. When users search for relevant terms, you’ll appear in their results, increasing your chances for conversion.

So what’s more effective, push or pull marketing?

Good question. But the short answer is both. To maximize your marketing dollars, both are necessary. They just differ in use and execution.

If your immediate needs are sales or, say, you have an event coming up in 2 months, then push marketing can help ring up sales or fill a venue. Push marketing is immediate.

If you’re taking a long view, that’s when pull marketing comes into play. Pull marketing is about bringing the consumers along your journey. You create content that informs consumers and plants seeds about your brand.  Done well and, eventually, they’ll become customers.

There are some downsides. Push marketing can be expensive and it doesn’t have a long shelf life. Pull marketing isn’t good for producing immediate results and returns. The key is to establish your priorities and try to balance both. Digital audio ads can help.  

We’ll give you an example using podcast advertising for push and pull marketing. Healthy Living food is launching a new protein bar, and they want to buy digital audio ads to reach young female consumers interested in health and wellness podcasts. That’s an easy push strategy. But digital audio analytics indicates that men 18 to 34 listening to sports and comedy podcasts are also interested in health food, so the advertiser buys time there too, extending their potential customer base. That’s more push marketing.

To build customer loyalty, the podcast’s host – an influencer in the health and fitness industry – talks about her own wellness journey and what’s worked and failed. She mentions the new protein bar, but it’s part of the discussion, not an overt plug. This is an example of pull marketing.

Buying time on podcasts allows the brand to push the product and pull consumers closer.

If you strike a balance between push and pull marketing, your brand can maximize its advertising efforts and grow short-term results and long-term ROI.