What Is Push Marketing?

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It appears as though the marketing sphere is becoming increasingly diverse with every passing year, especially in an age of integrated campaigns that combine a significant number of on and offline channels.

This is reflected in part by the numbers, which showed that despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on these shores, the total ad spend in the UK still amounted to £23.46 billion in 2020. 

Sure, this was down by 7.2% in comparison to the previous year, but it should be noted that the digital ad spend actually increased by 5% during the same period.

In the current climate, ‘push’ marketing remains one of the most popular options for businesses. But what exactly does this method entail, and how can you develop a viable plan that makes the most of this technique?

Getting Started – What is Push Marketing?

Let’s start with the basics, as it can be argued that push marketing does exactly what it says on the tin.

More specifically, this refers to a marketing strategy that’s centred on ‘pushing’ your products or services to a target audience, rather than attempting to draw customers in and engaging them to learn more about your brand.

The latter technique is referred to as ‘pull marketing’, which incorporates methods such as search engine optimisation (SEO) and is widely used by established brands or those that target customers who already know exactly what they’re looking for.

This highlights the clear distinctions between push and pull marketing, with the former focused on placing products in front of the mass market with a view to building awareness and optimising turnover within a limited period of time.

We’ll touch more on the primary objectives of push marketing a little later in the piece, but in general terms, this advertising technique enables you to cast as wide a net as possible when attempting to build a viable consumer base.

This also touches on one of the primary benefits of push marketing, as it negates the need to target carefully segmented demographics or drill down into individual customer profiles.

Another crucial benefit of push marketing is that it tends to provide quick results, thanks in part to its goal of reaching as large a target audience as possible. 

Similarly, your overarching objective will be to put your products and service in front of as many customers as possible, enabling you to utilise accessible and high-traffic channels such as social media and television.

While there are few disadvantages to push marketing, it can be argued that this only delivers short-term or temporary benefits from the perspective of creating awareness and driving increased revenues.

After all, the lack of detail with regards to targeting specific demographics and understanding the deeper needs of customers may prevent the cultivation of long-term relationships, making it hard to create sustainable gains or build consumer loyalty through individual campaigns.

Some Key Examples of Push Marketing 

As we’ve already touched on, there are several media channels that are synonymous with push marketing, so utilising these successfully will be key to the success of your individual campaigns.  

We’ll explore these channels in further detail below, while looking at some of the best examples of effective push marketing in recent times!

TV Ads

Historically, television represented the ultimate push marketing channel, and it remains the most effective driver of online activations and conversions to this day.

Sure, TV is less effective than it was in the digital age, thanks largely to changes in viewing habits, the rise of on-demand streaming services (many of which don’t carry ads) and the saturation of television channels and subsequent audience split.

Still, TV remains an excellent way to target a large group of customers at specified times of the day.

Out-of-Home (OOH) Media

In many ways, OOH media and channels such as billboards have superseded TV, especially when it comes to building brand awareness and placing products directly in front of a target audience.

Certainly, OOH media is more cost-effective and far better at driving engagement through social media channels, while it’s also ideal when targeting large numbers of younger customers and millennials as they go about their daily business.

Radio Ads

Like television, radio isn’t as popular as it once was, with this channel having been directly challenged by the rise of podcasts and digital broadcasts.

However, radio shows can be used to target specific demographics en masse at different parts of the day, while it’s relatively easy to understand the profiles of audience members who engage with specific shows and broadcasts. Listening figures are also easy to obtain, so you can time your ad to reach the largest number of people possible.

Email Ads

Despite being an increasingly saturated push marketing channel (which can make it hard to effectively engage customers), email enables you to target up to 3.9 billion users across the globe.

Similarly, email marketing is one of the most generative promotional techniques imaginable, with every single pound that you spend on the practice capable of delivering an average return of £42


Last, but not least, we come to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. This is an increasingly popular form of push marketing, and one that enables brands to place banners, display ads and search engine ads across a range of sites and digital channels.

These ads typically pay a nominal amount of cash each time a user clicks on them, while they enable marketers to target relevant channels and relevant demographics with their content.

OK, we hear you ask, but which brands have leveraged such channels and push marketing techniques to achieve success?

Here are some of the best push marketing campaigns waged in recent times:

Nintendo (2019)

At the E3 trade convention event in Los Angeles, 2019 (where 66,100 gathered to discuss the most pressing gaming trends), Nintendo hired 250 brand ambassadors to work at their booth. 

These individuals worked by showing new games to attendees, while also answering key questions and showcasing precisely how new consoles and gaming systems worked.

This significant investment in people and temporary staff enabled the brand to promote and push their newest products more aggressively, while introducing a distinctly human and engaging market element that helped customers to bridge any gaps in their knowledge. 

Saks Fifth Avenue (2019)

This US brand leveraged its native app to drive its recent push marketing campaign, in order to push mobile notifications and promotions to customers in real-time. 

These notifications were focused on a number of core products and events, from new releases, sales discounts and limited-time, in-store events.

These were used to target both new and existing customers, utilising data and the power of mobile technology to leverage real-time marketing and create a sense of urgency amongst their audience.

Of course, this also helps to keep customers engaged with the brand, aiding awareness and recognition on a mass scale.

Whole Foods Online (2016)

Whole Foods has become a seismic online brand, particularly following its high profile $13.7 billion cash acquisition by Amazon back in 2017.

Prior to this, however, the brand was utilising push marketing to excellent effect, primarily through the deployment of perfect times web push notifications as a tailored marketing tool.

Built on the accumulation of data and the identification of hours when its customers were most active online, Whole Foods set about creating tailored content for web push notifications as a way of optimising engagement and conversions in real-time.

This produced excellent results for the brand, while highlighting the value of push marketing when used strategically.

The Next Step – How to Develop a Push Marketing Plan

Now that you understand push marketing and some of the most effective channels, the next step is to begin developing your own plan of action!

We’ve created a brief, step-by-step guide below, while exploring some of the thought processes that can help to inform your various decisions.

Research Locations and Consumer Demographics

As we’ve already said, you don’t need to target niche audiences or create detailed audience profiles when utilising push marketing techniques.

However, you will need to do some cursory research into a broad target audience, primarily by utilising general characteristics such as age, sex, socioeconomic status and individual consumer preferences.

In many instances, you’ll also need to understand the basic behaviours of your target audience, especially in terms of how they consume media and the locations in which they reside.

Gathering this type of broad and diverse data enables you to open up every potential push marketing technique, from those that are digital (such as social media) to others that are location-oriented like billboards.

From here, you can determine the best possible channels and create a truly efficient marketing mix as part of an integrated campaign!

Identify the Best Channels for Targeting Your Audience

There are general rules that will govern your choice of push marketing techniques, which can be applied to different aspects of your audience and the information that they present to marketers.

For example, older customers and demographics are most likely to watch television (especially traditional and terrestrial broadcasts), making this a viable marketing channel if you can drill down deeper into their viewing habits and preferred programs.

Conversely, OOH media and billboards are far more effective when marketing to millennials, who are typically cynical of online marketing channels and spend up to 70% of their time out of the home.

Given their tendency to engage with advertising that’s non-intrusive and blends seamlessly into the surrounding environment, billboards can be particularly advantageous. This type of channel can also be cost-effective and highly generative, especially when utilising metrics to measure customer movements and understand their behaviour.

The key is to match your key demographics to the right locations and push marketing channels, in order to optimise your spend and eventual returns.

Design Your Ads to Suit the Audience and the Media

The next step is to invest in the design of your ads, according to both your audience, preferred push marketing channel and a few universal rules.

To begin with, let’s say that you’re targeting a young professional, millennial consumer base and want to utilise a billboard to target them as they commute to and from work. In this instance, location is obviously key, but so too are the ads core design principles and individual elements.

For example, you’ll definitely need to give careful consideration to typography, especially when advertising on large scale, 48 and 96-sheet billboards.

More specifically, your font size should increase by at least one inch (or 72 pt.) for every 10 feet of viewing distance, while ensuring that you use capital letters sparingly (as the use of all-cap text can diminish readability by as much as 10%).

You should also look to utilise concise messaging and a Sans-Serif font where possible, in order to optimise the space at your disposal and create an ad that’s as readable as possible at a distance.

On a fundamental level, we’d also suggest paying attention to the rule of three when developing visual billboards and similar ads.

This means capping the number of distinct design elements in your ad to three, while utilising intersections to segregate these elements and achieve the optimal visual impact. 

In most cases, we’d recommend using an example of photography alongside a headline and your brand’s logo where possible, utilising these as focal points for your ad and to inform the more minute design details.

Finally – When is it Best to Use Push Marketing?

Last, but by no means least, we come to the best applications of push marketing and the instances in which you should consider this type of promotional technique.

We’ve outlined some of the most compelling objectives below, while asking why push marketing is well-suited to achieving them.

When Trying to Create a New Sales Channel

Every business thrives on its ability to successfully leverage viable sales channels, and push marketing can be an excellent way of promoting such an endeavour.

For example, if you’ve recently created a dedicated promotional landing page or new website, you can use push marketing channels such as billboards and social media to bring these to the attention of customers along with the associated products and services.

When Boosting Short-term Revenue

Businesses often utilise sales and limited-time promotions to optimise revenue, usually within a short period of time.

This relies on reaching a large number of consumers rather than specifically targeting individual audiences, making it an ideal application for push marketing techniques.

Make no mistake; these channels can help to bring as much attention as possible to such promotions, helping you to increase your subsequent revenue in the process.

When Working in a Niche Market

Sometimes, your business may operate in a niche or relatively unknown marketplace, and one that doesn’t have the attention of a large target market.

Similarly, you may be a brand that seeks to sell relatively niche products or services, creating the need to educate consumers and advocate your key selling points as a supplier.

This is where push marketing techniques can be worth their weight in gold, especially when you utilise channels such as social media that can connect you to millions of customers in real-time.

When You Want to Build Brand Awareness

On a final note, you can also successfully use push marketing channels to build brand awareness.

This rule is particularly relevant when applied to OOH media channels like billboards, which can be strategically placed to capture a vast and targeted audience at a time when they’re most likely to engage with branded messaging.

Small and medium-sized firms are particularly well-placed to use push marketing and build awareness within the local areas, while simultaneously reducing their spend and optimising any ROI on their marketing spend.

The Last Word

As we can see, push marketing is a highly effective way of getting your brand, products and services out in front of customers, while also building brand awareness and optimising the efficacy of promotional offers.

As always, however, the key to success lies with execution, as you’ll need to understand the various channels synonymous with push marketing channels before creating the right marketing mix to achieve optimal results over time.

So, try to build an understanding of your broad target audiences and their behaviour before building your campaign, while understanding which push marketing techniques are the best to achieve your objectives.

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