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Differences & How to Use Them

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Differences & How to Use Them


The main difference between push and pull marketing is that push marketing focuses on pushing a product to customers, whereas pull marketing focuses on getting customers to come to you.

In this guide, you’ll learn some examples of push and pull marketing, which is more effective, and how you can combine both strategies together for your business.

What is pull marketing?

Pull marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on getting your target customers to discover your brand, products, and services.

Pull marketing tactics

Here are three examples of pull marketing tactics.

1. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Customers turn to Google whenever they’re looking for an answer to a question or solution to a problem. Along the way, while searching, they discover many brands, products, and services.

If you want your brand to appear for these queries, you’ll have to do SEO. SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and its webpages to rank higher on search engines.

Broadly speaking, SEO involves:

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  1. Discovering the words and phrases your customers use to 1) describe the problems your product solves and 2) find your brand or products similar to your brand.
  2. Optimizing your website and its webpages to stand a higher chance of ranking for these keywords.
  3. Getting people to link to your pages, either building them or earning them organically.

If you want to learn more about SEO, I highly recommend watching this course in its entirety.

2. Word of mouth

Customers who like your product will tell their friends and family about it. And research from Nielsen shows that 83% of people trust recommendations from their friends and family.

Getting more positive word of mouth is mostly out of your control. However, you can attempt to influence or encourage your customers to tell their friends about you.

This means creating a great product, building a likable and well-respected brand, and regularly engaging with your customers.

Recommended reading: Word-of-Mouth Marketing: A Simple Tried & Tested Guide

3. Social media

While paid advertising on social media is considered push marketing, the organic side is pull marketing. That means:

  • Creating fun, engaging, and helpful content.
  • Building a following.
  • Interacting with your audience.

Recommended reading: What Is Social Media Marketing? 

What is push marketing?

Push marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on placing your products or services in front of your target customers.

Push marketing tactics

Here are three examples of push marketing tactics.

1. Cold emailing

Cold emailing means sending an email to someone with whom you have no previous relationship to get something from them. This can be promoting a new product, acquiring links, and more.

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This is typically done by building up a list of prospects, finding their emails, and then reaching out to them.

2. Direct mail

The offline, traditional version of cold outreach. Instead of an email, marketers send physical mails to actual homes in order to introduce a new product or offering.

While a simple mail can be used, other variations like lumpy mails (i.e., mails that are not flat) and mails with actual money have also been sent to capture attention and prevent the mail from being thrown into the wastepaper basket.

3. Advertising

Whether it’s a physical billboard or an advertisement on Facebook, ads are considered push marketing because they “interrupt” you to show you a product or service.

Nobody goes around looking for ads; ads are usually shown when someone is in the midst of doing something.

Pull vs. push marketing: Which is more effective?

Neither push nor pull marketing is more effective than the other. Both are legitimate marketing strategies.

Which one you use depends on your customer profile, your goals, and the business stage you’re at.

Here are three scenarios to guide you in the right direction:

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Scenario 1. You’re launching a new product/startup

In this scenario, no one knows who you are. You have no brand, no customers, and no base of content. Therefore, at this stage, you likely have to do things that don’t scale. You have to go out there and get customers.

Typically, these involve push marketing tactics such as cold emailing other businesses (Intercom, Birchbox), attending events (Pinterest), going door to door (Airbnb, Alibaba Group), and even flyers (Groupon).

This isn’t to say that pull marketing won’t work for a business at this stage. But it does take time for a company to build its brand, its content, and rank high on Google for queries that matter.

Ideally, you should be executing both strategies at the same time—acquiring your first customers and also building your brand for the future.

In fact, research shows that most companies will achieve the greatest marketing effectiveness if they invest around 60% into brand-building and 40% into sales-boosting campaigns:

Line graph showing effects of short- and long-term focused promotion. Line for long-term generally goes up over time. Line for short-term goes up and down repeatedly over time

Scenario 2. You’re promoting a one-time offer/short-term campaign

Pull marketing tactics take time. The campaign may be over even before its effect kicks in.

In such a scenario, you may want to consider using push marketing tactics like ads or influencer marketing.

Scenario 3. You’re building for the long term

Pull marketing tactics tend to compound over time. Take SEO, for example. For as long as your articles rank on Google, you’ll receive consistent, passive, and organic search traffic.

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Line chart showing spike in traffic followed by passive search traffic

The reason is most pull marketing tactics work like a flywheel. In the beginning, you won’t see any huge effects as the flywheel is getting “pushed.” But as you go along, it becomes much easier to get results.

Here’s an illustration of how word of mouth works like a flywheel:

Flywheel cycle: Attract fans, optimize funnel & reward loyal fans, launch media campaigns, build press relationships and get coverage, boost coverage

Comparatively, if you’re using a push marketing tactic, e.g., advertising, traffic stops the moment you turn it off.

Thanks to the compounding effect, pull marketing tactics are often cheaper in the long run. For example, our website gets an estimated 1.2 million search visits per month.

Site Explorer overview of Ahrefs

If we had to acquire this traffic via Google Ads, it would cost us $1.3 million per month. Considering that our content marketing team isn’t paid $1.3 million in salaries, it’s reasonable to say pull marketing tactics are cheaper and a better long-term investment. 

Pull and push marketing: combining them together

The best businesses use both pull and push marketing to complement each other. After all, if both strategies work, why wouldn’t you want to do both?

Here are some ways you can combine both pull and push marketing together:

1. Generate leads with pull marketing and close them with push marketing

This is a strategy used by many companies like HubSpot. The idea is simple:

  1. Create content that ranks high on search engines for their target queries (pull marketing)
  2. Get these readers to sign up for an email list, usually via an incentive
  3. Later on, sales team will reach out to these prospects via email or phone (push marketing)

For example, HubSpot’s post on writing an effective email gets around 28,000 search visits per month and ranks for over 1,700 organic keywords:

Site Explorer overview of HubSpot's article

When someone discovers the article and begins reading it, HubSpot encourages them to sign up for its email list via a “content upgrade”:

Excerpt of article showing CTA to sign up for HubSpot's email list via “content upgrade”

Once the prospect has handed over their email address, HubSpot can now contact them via its sales team.

Of course, its sales team doesn’t reach out to everyone. There are just too many people, and not everyone is willing and able to buy. What HubSpot does—and many companies do too—is “score” these leads.

Basically, each prospect is given a score based on the actions they take. So someone who is downloading a beginner’s guide to email marketing is probably relatively new to marketing and is not an ideal prospect to reach out to right now.

Of course, they may be a good prospect in the future if they continue to consume HubSpot’s content and download more and more advanced guides.

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Comparatively, someone who opts in for HubSpot’s free marketing dashboard tool is more likely to be a prospect who makes a purchase:

Excerpt of HubSpot's Marketing Analytics & Dashboard Software

Learn more about how to execute this strategy step by step with our guide on inbound marketing.

2. Run social ads to promote your content

Your content is not going to promote itself. You need to help people discover it by, perhaps, putting it right in front of them.

And one of the most reliable ways to do that is to run ads.

That’s why we run ads for most, if not all, of our blog posts. Since we take an average of 10–20 hours to create each piece, it’ll be a waste if no one sees it.

Here’s one of our Facebook ads promoting our post on the best marketing Facebook groups:

Ahrefs' ad on Facebook

If Facebook ads are too competitive for you, remember there are also other ad platforms you can consider. For example, we also promote our content via Quora and Twitter ads:

Excerpt of Quora Ads manager

3. Target your ads to lookalike audiences built from your “pulled” audience

If you’re using tactic #2 and want to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your content, you can consider creating a lookalike audience.

A lookalike audience is one that shares similar characteristics with whichever “source audience” you upload on the ad platform.

Page to set up lookalike audience

Since your “pulled” audience is made up of people who are actively seeking out the type of content you’re creating, they’re perfect as your “source audience.”

4. Send outreach emails to boost awareness of your existing content

Links are an important ranking factor. And one way to get more of them is to build them. This means reaching out to other websites and persuading them to link to you.

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To start, you need a list of websites to reach out to. One way to find these websites is to find ones that cover the same topics as you. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Content Explorer
  2. Search for a term related to your article
Graph showing trends for "pages over time" in Content Explorer. Below the number of pages found after plugging in search term "home workout"

For example, searching for “home workout” gives us 290,125 pages. But that’s too many pages to look through, so let’s add a few filters to narrow things down:

  • Set Language filter to English (or the language you write in)
  • Set a DR filter to a range of 30–90 (or a range you’re comfortable reaching out to)
  • Set a Website traffic filter to 500+
  • Set a Words filter to 500+
  • Filter explicit results On
  • Check Exclude homepages
  • Check Exclude subdomains
  • Check One page per domain (we don’t need to reach out to each site more than once)
Excerpt of results with filters applied

This brings us down to around 9,000 pages. If you want to narrow the list down even further, play around with the filters.

Once you’ve done so, find the email address of the website owner. Then reach out to them to see if they can link to you.

We have a video that covers the link building process from start to finish, so I recommend watching it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5ddo63kHHI

Final thoughts

Neither strategy is better than the other. Depending on the scenario and your goals, one can be more suitable than the other.

But the best businesses don’t discriminate between the two strategies. Instead, they combine the strategies for greater effectiveness.

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Did I miss out on anything about pull marketing? Let me know on Twitter.





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Step-By-Step Guide To Earning Your Google Ads Certification

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Step-By-Step Guide To Earning Your Google Ads Certification

In a world where many people offer services like SEO and Google Ads management, it is important to stand out and be as educated as possible.

Seasoned veterans and new professionals alike can both benefit from Google Ads Certification.

As an industry standard with content tied directly to the Google Ads platform, it is the most trusted credential and source for training in the industry.

What Is Google Ads Certification?

Google Ads certification is a process by which Google recognizes marketers as experts in online advertising.

After passing Ads certification exams, individuals get a personalized certificate and – if affiliated with a company – can contribute to the company’s Google Partner credentials.

Like many Google products, properties, and initiatives, the program has evolved over the years.

The certification program was standalone and had a cost attached to taking exams.

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That changed with the creation of the Google Partners program and has further evolved with the migration to the Google Academy for Ads in 2018 and, more recently, a rebrand to Skillshop.

Individual certification still works the same way it has for the past several years with training content and exams.

Over the years, the certification has become a minimum or expected requirement for entry-level search marketing roles for agencies and corporations.

Even when I hire someone who will go through our training program, I know that they are willing to invest time and see the importance of taking the step of getting certified is crucial.

Having that base level of subject matter exposure from Google is much more specific than what a school textbook can provide on how Google Ads works.

On top of that, there’s value in being able to affiliate with an individual who is already certified with my agency’s Google Partner account.

This step-by-step guide provides a walkthrough of how to get Ads certified, as it can be a confusing process when doing it for the first time or when coming back only annually or occasionally for recertification.

Step 1: Get Started In Skillshop

Navigate to the Google Ads Certification platform within Skillshop.

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In the top right corner, click “Log In.”

Now, we’re at a critical step right away. We want to ensure that the account you get certified through is the specific one you want to be certified.

If you work for an agency or a company, you’re likely to be required to use your work email address.

Regardless of agency, corporate, or whatever status, you likely want to link your certification to the address you manage Google Ads to keep things simple and clean.

If you haven’t managed Google Ads yet and don’t have an account, you can easily create a new account here to get started.

If you’re a returning user, be careful to find your Skillshop profile and ensure your Google account is still properly linked, so you don’t accidentally take exams in a new account versus recertifying your current account.

The account management piece can be confusing and frustrating as there are separate profiles yet linked accounts between this system and Google’s accounts and Ad management systems.

If you’re interested in your certification counting toward a Google Partners badge, be sure to use your company email address that you use for managing ads for your Google Partner company to link things properly.

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If you’re interested, I encourage you to learn more about the Google Partners program details, requirements, and logistics for getting set up.

Step 2: Select Your Exam

If needed, navigate back through Skillshop to the Google Ads Certifications again to arrive at the page with the list of exam topics.

Screenshot from skillshop.exceedlms.com, July 2022

Here you can find the specific certification you want to start with and click on it.

Within the specific certification, read the overview info.

When you’re ready to dive in, click the Get Started button.

Step 3: Prepare For Exams

Google provides both basic educational info and more extensive training content.

The specific Google Ads certifications include:

  • Search.
  • Display.
  • Measurement.
  • Video.
  • Shopping Ads.
  • Apps.
  • Ads Creative.

If you’re brand new to Ads and the certification exams, I recommend starting with the Google Ads Search Certification first.

Search ads are typically the most common type of ads a company will run.

But if you are more focused on something like just shopping, then start there.

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Google Ads Search CertificationScreenshot from skillshop.exceedlms.com, July 2022

Training content is tied to each of these specific certifications.

When you click on any of them, you’ll be presented with options to get started, including a quick knowledge assessment and other resources.

You’ll need to plan on investing at least a few hours to go through the training content specialization.

If you’ve been managing Ads campaigns or have deeper exposure, it’s still a good idea to go through the modules – even if you do it faster.

The sample questions are quite helpful; they are written in the same format as they appear on the actual exams.

Unless you have previously been certified and/or have a moderate level of Ads experience, don’t skip the training content!

Step 4: Pass The Assessment

To become certified, you are required to pass the assessment in any of the respective certification specialties.

Your certification will then be awarded for that specific product focus area.

You can stop with one specialization or continue by going through additional specializations until you have mastered and achieved all of those relevant to your desired credentials.

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If you’re an overachiever or love standardized tests, there’s nothing that says you can’t take them all.

Note that if you fail to pass an exam, there’s a waiting period before you can retry. That’s the only real penalty for not passing.

When you have passed one or more assessments, I recommend downloading the digital certificate(s) and saving those, so you have proof of your certification.

Additionally, you can create a public profile page that showcases your mastery.

You can turn the public profile on (if you haven’t already) by clicking in the top right corner of the page and then on “My Account.” You’ll find a toggle switch for “Public” to turn on if you choose by following the prompts.

Conclusion

Google Ads Certification provides a base-level credential for new professionals managing ads.

It also provides an ongoing opportunity for industry veterans to maintain their status and show longevity by keeping certified and staying on top of the platform and best practices changes over time.

Whether seeking your first job in the industry out of school or leveraging the certification for a Google Partners designation, I recommend the program for learning and maintaining education and standard credentials.

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There are other excellent training and education programs available from third parties.

However, the Google Ads Certification still holds weight in the industry and is a common expectation for paid search practitioners to have.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock

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