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When Push Comes to Pull: Striking the Right Balance in Marketing Strategies

Posted on 10.02.2016

:: By Peggy Chen, SDL ::


Today’s digital marketers approach content-saturated consumers using push and pull marketing approaches. Using the push approach, brands send content and products directly to the consumer, like when a consumer gets notifications and content from a smart system. With pull marketing, on the other hand, the user actively searches for content – the user comes to you and returns out of brand loyalty. This strategy looks to target the right customers, at the right time. Here, the customer is voluntarily agreeing to pull them into a meaningful, two-way relationship with any given brand. 

Until recently, push marketing dominated Web strategy. This tactic falls in line with traditional marketing and days of magazines and morning newspapers, and is now often seen in email campaigns. Push Web strategy feels like the best fit for smartphone and mobile devices that seem like the perfect platform for personalized digital experiences that provide contextual content. Push marketing has its advantages – it produces quick results and makes clear statements to customers. The disadvantage to this form of marketing is that it can be expensive and only produces temporary effects. It does not support the efforts to create long-term customer relationships. With push marketing, there are hard starts and stops, meaning you will need to constantly re-engage your audience.

Consumers have now embraced the power of pull marketing and actively initiate interactions with the brands they choose and so the role of push marketing as changed. Today’s push is to know customers and add value to their relationships after a customer has approached. 

A marketing shift

With this shift both marketers and consumers define the future of the digital experience. The constant flow of online data and intimate knowledge of customer profiles, buying behavior, search behavior and more leads to a relevant understanding of customers. An effective marketing campaign now needs to combine push and pull approaches to create the best possible customer experience. A successful strategy today usually will have elements of both the push and pull methods, one that helps to raise brand awareness as well as implements strategies that will encourage a positive, ongoing relationship with the right target audience. 

Responses to traditional push approaches continues to decline, so brands now need to create a balance between push and pull so that they meet, rather than frustrate customer efforts. Today’s technology offers precisely the tools they need since some Web management systems now allow marketers to not only collect customer data, but also shape their content and online activities based on predicted behavior. Ultimately this allows brands to deliver the quality content to their right audiences instead of pushing out high-volume content that may or may not hit the mark. 

Positive push engagement 

The definition of push Web strategy has changed: more relevant, personal and contextual content means benefits to both consumers and brands, across the channels that consumers want to use. Consumers now expect consistent digital experiences across devices that also span devices: what they started on their laptop, they can now continue on their mobile phone or tablet. 

Rather than starting an engagement every single time they want to engage with a brands, they can now continue with their last interaction. This combination of push and pull, customer interaction based on relevant content benefits consumers and brands alike. Consumers get an easier digital experience, while brands retain control over their message. Customer loyalty is increasingly built on these integrated and consistent experiences, which ultimately drives brand revenue. 

Translating customer behavior into a journey

This modern push marketing approach that aligns with pull marketing requires a deep understanding of not only customer profile information, but the way customers use, expect and want content across devices. For many brands, data, people and content are disconnected and managed in siloes. For the data to be effective, brands need integrated technologies that support a holistic view that enables effective and accurate predictions so that they can match their customers’ digital experience with customer expectations. 

The digital transformation offered by technology that translates data into experience enables push Web strategy to yield personal brand experiences with highly engaged customers. Marketers need to able to develop and deliver these personal experiences to build brand experiences across channels and devices. It’s a push in the right direction. 

A positive push

The new incarnation of push marketing offers customers relevance. And this relevance builds relationships. Rather than an invasion of privacy, it uses the data a customer offers willingly to create customer connections at any stage in the journey, from moment of purchase through to reviews and support. By wisely crafting both push and pull approaches, brands now create a compelling conversation with their customers through action. 


Peggy Chen is the CMO of global marketing at SDL, including strategy, branding, messaging, product marketing, content marketing, demand generation, field marketing and communications. She brings with her over 16 years of experience in the software industry, leading product management and product marketing teams and marketing organizations. 

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