Marketing Pull and Push
Succeeding in marketing is all about getting the most bang for your buck. The company that wins isn’t necessarily the one with a marketing budget that’s 50% bigger – it’s likely going to be the one that gets twice as much done with a smaller amount of money.
Those of us in online marketing love companies with this mindset. These are the companies that probably realize the vast potential of the internet, and the relatively inexpensive cost of online marketing and SEO. At the same time, that forces us to work extremely efficiently, and consider marketing reach and ROI. To be efficient, we must choose which people we’re going to target very carefully. Let’s look at Google Adwords and when to implement a Push or a Pull strategy before we extend the concept to organic SEO.
Google Adwords and most other PPC platforms offer countless demographic targeting options, but the most important one of all isn’t something that they list: user intent. If you’ve got an ecommerce site selling pink androids, you’re going to want as many visitors on your site as possible who want to buy these androids (sorry, but I’ve gotten tired of countless SEO articles talking about “blue widgets”). These visitors with intent to buy are going to have a much higher Expected Value per Visit than a visitor who doesn’t yet know that she should get a pink android.
This is marketing Push vs. Pull in a nutshell – “Pull” is pulling customers to your website or company who are already in the market and want to buy what you offer. “Push” is trying to get people to decide that they want your product in the first place. “Pull” is taking advantage of pre-existing market demand, “Push” is creating demand.
Marketing Push takes a lot more effort.
Small businesses should always start with a Pull Strategy, assuming there’s already a demand for the products they sell. If you have a 20% conversion rate with visitors who enter the site with intent to buy, and a 2% conversion rate for visitors that enter your site from an informational query, it should be obvious which visitors you should be spending your $2.00 per click on in Adwords and your organic optimization time on (at least initially).
Larger businesses should build a base of the same Pull Strategy – they want a high ROI as well – but sometimes it’s just not going to be enough, and they’ll attempt to create demand in the marketplace for their products. They’ll also expect a positive ROI, but in my experience, in general, the more Pull-based the strategy, the higher that ROI is. Think it through for your business and make sure you’re not one of the exceptions (Orabrush comes to mind).
How to Determine User Intent
Some users are easy to categorize; others take experience to spot (or in place of experience, reading this article and subscribing to my feed goes a long way).
The most obvious purchasing user intent signal is a search for “buy android pony”. “Android pony price” is similar but not quite as absolute, but once “buy”, “price”, “discount”, “free shipping” is mentioned, it’s highly likely that they’ve already done their research and are ready to buy. That’s usually as far as a beginner online marketer gets, but that is by no means a comprehensive list, so you should dig deeper. Leaving our imaginary product alone for a bit, let’s look at a more realistic product example. A visitor who enters your shoe store website on the search phrase “red and white nike air running shoe” is also likely ready to make a purchase very soon.
Searches tend to get more and more complex and specific the closer the searcher comes to purchasing. Customers searching for “running shoes” will still need to decide on a brand, “nike”, narrow it down to a product line “nike air”, and then choose a color scheme “red and white”. By now, a significant portion of these visitors are ready to buy. Spending money or time in attracting these ready-to-purchase customers is vital for a high ROI.
Branded searches are also likely to purchase, especially if you’re utilizing offline advertizing. Visitors searching for “Android Pony Inc.” probably already know about your product and are considering purchasing from you. Although this is important to know when tracking your ROI, it’s not extremely relevant to this article, as these visitors need neither push nor pull.
How do I optimize for a Pull Marketing Strategy?
Pull Strategy page optimization means optimizing for the long tail, with only a few tweaks. Each landing page should have enough descriptive words and variety to be considered relevant to even the most specific queries. Pages targeting the shoes mentioned above should not skimp on describing the brand, product line, color, price, any features, and any other relevant descriptions. An editor’s review about “comfort”, running a “marathon”, and the fact that the shoe is “breathable” would all be helpful. This is good SEO in any case.
What often gets overlooked are the purchasing keywords that were mentioned previously – “buy”, “price”, “discount”, “shipping”, and so on. Sprinkle these in your page (naturally of course) and you’ll see your Adwords Quality Score (their measure of relevance) increase for searches with purchase intent. Rankings for organic searches with purchase intent should also increase.
This High ROI Pull strategy should be the foundation and first step of almost any SEO or PPC campaign (again, there are exceptions, so think it through). Focus on ROI from the start and you’ll hopefully hear these wonderful words: “let’s increase our online marketing budget next month.” After all, few companies will voluntarily turn down profits.
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