18. November, 2020

[Case Study] Push vs Pull marketing – What is best for your strategy?


Author avatar
Martin Petrov
Marketing @ Morningscore.io

Push vs pull marketing is an often discussed topic when considering a strategy. With that, we also talk about the two types of traffic – “push” and “pull.” In this Morningscore article, we explore those two terms and how implementing each of them will benefit your company. Traditional marketing is not enough anymore, and most companies nowadays rely solely on digital. In the digital world, however, there are plenty of marketing channels which can influence your strategy – Facebook Advertising, Search Engine Optimization, Google AdWords and many more.

Because of that, you might have also heard that push and pull channels are also called outbound and inbound marketing channels. The data presented here is collected from a survey we ran about what traffic costs, and what type of traffic is the most relevant to use when planning your marketing strategy. Keep in mind, however, that this post serves as an overview – results are not black and white, and yours will probably differ from ours.

Channels in push and pull marketing


Push and Pull Types of Traffic

Alright, you say, let’s dive right into it. But first, what’s the difference between the two? Push and pull of marketing differ significantly in the way you approach your customers. Push marketing means you are trying to promote a specific product to an audience you find relevant.

Pull marketing implies that you implement a strategy that will draw consumers towards your products – often creating loyal customers or followers. Generally, social media is considered a “push” channel, while search engines and databases like Google, Bing, Youtube, etc. fall into the “pull” category.

Push vs Pull Strategies – Which Should You Use?

Push marketing:

In push marketing, you are trying to bring your products to your customers. Just as the name suggests, you are trying to “push” a particular product on your target audience. “So,” you ask, “when do I implement this push marketing?” Typically, businesses use push marketing in the following scenarios:

  • When launching a new product
  • When operating in a niche market

In both cases, it’s tough to reach your target audience without any “push” marketing efforts. To get a better idea, let’s look at John. After years of R&D, his company has just developed a new frying pan that makes you a wizard in your kitchen. But John’s ultimate problem is that no one knows about this amazing pan. This means before he gets the “Best Pan Of The Year” award, he’ll first have to raise awareness around that new product – and here’s where push channels work like a charm.

Pull marketing:

In pull marketing, however, things look a little different. Your customers know what they are looking for, and they often look for the benefits themselves. In this case, the user engages much more with the product pre-purchase, and goes out and searches information actively. This can, for example, be car dealers, lawyers, and products such as household appliances, beds, computer screens, etc. Businesses will use pull marketing:

  • When the user knows what he or she is looking for
  • When branding is of great importance


Push vs pull marketing

Push vs Pull Marketing Performance

So how do these two types of marketing perform as pay-per-click campaigns? While search terms are oriented towards users who actively look for information online, social media channels like Facebook push products based on audiences’ interests. By knowing this, we can understand our target market even better. Chances are, after fulfilling his or her end goal, a user moves on (i.e., after the purchase). This means that for most purchase-oriented searches there will constantly be new people being exposed to your campaigns.

Most of the times, however, niche audiences are sort of fixed. Users get to see your ad several times bringing them to a state of fatigue. With this saturation, businesses are forced to push new and different offers and ads towards the same audience. And this behavior is part of what drives the price difference between the push and pull types of traffic.

Push and Pull Strategies Price Difference

Okay, so we understood the difference and some of the factors influencing the prices. And while an actual price can’t be determined until you bid, this will give you an idea:

  • Push traffic is typically cheaper per click. – i.e., $0.5 per click is not rare. This allows for fast testing and adapting.
  • Pull traffic is more expensive and especially dependent on the competition in the niche/branch (i.e., lawyers). To paint a better picture, the most expensive search keyword costs more than $25 per click!
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    Marketing Strategies Case Study

    Now that you understand those concepts, let’s look at some numbers. Our study across industries shows that pull traffic converts at 68% higher than push traffic (source). That number makes it clear why businesses are ready to pay a higher price point for “pull” growth strategy and shows the importance of branding.

    Push vs Pull Traffic Distribuiton in %

    The latest major US survey shows:

    Websites got more traffic from social media (43%) compared to search engines like Google (35%) in 2015.

    This, however, does not apply everywhere. Moreover, we are talking about some 200,000 news outlets. This means the trends are not necessarily the same when websites have other purposes than building buzz around news. For that reason, we decided to test the two channels for Danish companies. You can see our findings below.

    percentage distribution in push vs pull promotional strategy

    Traffic Distribution For Danish Companies

    We conducted research that shows how the traffic division looks like among Danish firms in 2017:

    • Search engine (pull): 48,7%
    • Social media (push): 8,2%

    So what’s the push and pull distribution in those marketing campaigns? It is clear from this graph that Danish companies are way more dependent on search engines like Google (pull) than they are on social media (push) marketing. Source: 30 Danish (anonymous) companies with revenue between 1-100 million DKK (15 B2B and 15 B2C)

    facebook vs google marketing morningscore survey result

    Purchase-Ready Google Traffic Increases (Pull)

    You might have heard some comments recently that Google won’t last long. But this can’t be further from the truth. Google is not headed down. On the contrary, the purchase-ready Google traffic has skyrocketed with 65% more searches in just two years. (source)

    65 percent pull traffic

    Why use combination of push and pull strategies?

    So what’s the logic behind using both strategies? The idea is that you want to reach your customers across multiple channels to increase your chances of conversion. This is also called omni-channel marketing. To decide how much of each promotional channel you should use, you need to be clear about a few things first:

    – What is my product/service/offer?
    – Is it a brand new/revolutionary product I’m offering?

    – Is it a one-time-only or time sensitive promotion?
    – Is it a very limited offer?
    – Is it a seasonal sale?

    Target Customers:
    – Who is my target customer?
    – What are my target audience’s favorite websites?
    – What is my target group’s preferred Social Media?
    – At what point in their lives do customer think about buying my product?
    – How do customers learn about their problems that my product solves?

    – How much money can we spend on that promotion?
    – Do we have a team that can produce the content needed?
    – Do we have a digital marketing specialist to set up and control the promotions?

    It’s very important to answer those questions because then you will see what the potential for your product is on each channel.

    Recommended Read: Top 6 Ways To Promote Your Blog For Free

    What companies are using push and pull strategies in marketing?

    Now let’s look at some examples of companies using those marketing strategies to reach their customers. It’s important to understand that budget will often time have the biggest say in your decision-making when it comes to which channels you want to implement in your case/company.

    That being said, most of the time you see companies using BOTH inbound and outbound strategies, and that’s especially true for bigger businesses.

    For the sake of simplicity, let’s examine the inbound and outbound marketing campaigns of the hardware/electronics company NZXT.

    NZXT Inbound & Outbound Strategies

    Push Channels:

    For this example we are going to use Facebook’s own functionality added in 2018 that allows us to inspect a company’s current live advertisements.

    To do that, we will go to the “Info and ads” panel of NZXT’s Facebook page. Here’s what we find:nzxt examples with sales promotion on facebook companies using outbound strategies

    You can see that NZXT is running ads in 10 countries as of April 2019.

    After selecting one of the countries, you will be able to see all of their active advertisements. Here are a few examples of the promotional offers they are trying to show:

    nzxt company example using push strategies on social media for their outbound build a pc campaign company example number 2

    NZXT Push Marketing Example 1

    nzxt using outbound channels for their push marketing their sales promotion campaign build a pc on social media example of company using marketing number 3

    NZXT Push Marketing Example 2

    They are heavily promoting the “build your own pc” ad – possibly with different types of target audiences.

    Pull Channels:

    In their pull channels, however, things look slightly different.

    nzxt using pull strategies to reach customers through inbound channels for different sales promotions company example 4

    NZXT Pull Marketing Example 1

    You can see that the company ranks both for searches like “build your own pc” but also for plenty others where people generally take longer to make a decision. Additionally, NZXT also ranks for hundreds of informational searches, meaning they pull in a lot of colder audience which they focus on converting at a later point.

    NZXT Analysis

    Now one thing becomes very obvious. You can immediately see how NZXT uses a mix of both strategies to get the sale. Their pull channels are performing very well for keywords the users are actively searching for (“build your own pc”). However, since that is often times a time-sensitive decision, their outbound approach comes as a supplementary channel. Frankly, this approach works vice-versa as well, depending on the targeting of their push ads.

    Event marketing – How much “push” or “pull” should I use?

    When trying to decide what promotional strategies you should use for your event marketing, you especially need to take into considerations the “checklist” we just mentioned.

    The thing with event marketing is that it’s a very time-sensitive event, it’s usually (very) local and therefore you have many constrains that you simply can’t get around if you’re using pull marketing.

    In this case, it’s better to focus on push marketing, including word of mouth.

    Pull marketing strategies can sometimes work well, however, here are two primary issues with both SEO and Google Ads:

    A) SEO will be best implemented when there’s plenty of time for your website to rank high in Google

    B) Google Ads will often bring results much faster — but you often have the limitation of low monthly searches (especially for niche/private events)

    Additionally, the initial investment into SEO might not make sense because after the event is done you will likely have to take the page down.

    The best way you make use of “pull” tactics for events is to submit your event to “event search engines” like meetup.com and help it rank there.

    In any case, however, events usually rely primarily on “Social” rather than “Search” — meaning it’s essentially better to focus on push marketing.

    What Does This All Mean For You?

    Now that you understand the current trends shaping those strategies, it’s time to conclude with several take-away points. For the future, consider:

    • Increased traffic does not equal more sales and revenue – but the conversion rate for pull traffic is on average 68% higher than push traffic
    • It definitely pays-off to invest in high purchase-oriented PPC prices on Google
    • Facebook ads and similar channels don’t necessarily bring purchase-ready traffic directly.
    • Push traffic is an almost infinite amount which makes it an excellent supplement to pull traffic (which in some cases can be completely sucked out with less than $200 per month).

    Start off the right foot, by knowing your platforms before you begin your work. Many are preconditioned towards a channel and jump the gun based on what they think. The facts, however, show that it depends 100% on your industry and your advertising goal so that either one of the platforms fits best for your company.

    Additionally, you can often times find hidden gems that will allow you to reverse engineer competitors (or any company for that matter) and see their approach to both inbound and outbound marketing.

    For outbound marketing, you can often times find enough data in the channel you’re interested in — Facebook has several tools that allow you to do that kind of research. For pull campaigns (SEO), Morningscore gives you the complete picture.

    Ready to implement SEO? Take the guesswork out of it, and create a strong process with predictable and replicable results. Check out this long tail keyword research guide on how to get started.

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