February 15, 2016
How Real is the Big Flip to the Push Internet?

The Big Flip - is it really happening?

The digital experience industry is undergoing a sea change due to increasing usage of mobile devices and the Internet of Things. But while these new approaches are creating a market for push-based content, not everything is moving in that direction. What's important to recognize is that there is no "big flip" from pull to push, both still have relevance in today's digital experiences. 

I Am an Apple Watch - It's a Push Internet

There's no denying there's an evolution towards push experiences. This evolution comes from mobile, social and wearables like the Apple Watch, fitness devices, etc. The term push simply means the content is sent to the user. In a pull scenario, the user browses for content. If you get weather alerts on your smart watch, it's a push. If you go to weather.com on your browser, it's a pull. 

Mobile is also primarily a push-based channel. Users get notifications from the apps they download on their phones, location-aware applications leverage beacons to send push messages via SMS to alert users they are close to stores, restaurants, etc. Users can also sign up for text message notifications of sales, discounts, banking notifications and so on.   

In reality, we've always had "push" channels - email, direct marketing - these have been push-based since day one. Today, there is simply more "push" channels to deal with.  

While the idea for push-based content has been around for a long time, push content has never really taken off in the traditional sense. You can argue that social media is largely push-based, website personalization has push elements, and of course email is a push platform. But the importance of push-based channels does not discount traditional web browsing experiences. The web browser, where we consume most of our content, is still predominately a pull-based content experience.    

I Am a Website - It's a Pull Internet

Email is still the primary channel used for inbound marketing, but the website is the primary home of the brand, where almost every other message across every channel is encouraged to visit.  

The website provides product and service information, company information, as well as resources like blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, webinars and more. It's where users go to learn more about a brand, or find answers to their questions.  

Inbound is at its core, pull marketing. It's designed to bring customers and prospects to you, to your website to learn more about you.  It's why SEO and SEM are still key marketing tactics (and also pull-based tactics).   

When people are looking for solutions to their problems, they research the web; they don't wait for industry experts, or vendors to reach out to them. You can say the same for social media. People sign up to the social media accounts they want to follow, they search social media for people who have the same challenges they have, have the information they might need to make better decisions. This is why search aids strongly in the pull model.  

The web isn't going to a push model anytime soon. As a result, content strategy isn't going to change that much.   

But some things are changing.

It's Not a Flip - It's a Lever

We should not think of Push and Pull content as being at odds. It is not a flip, it's more like a pulley or a lever. Push and pull work together. There is a symbiosis between the different approaches to marketing where both are required and need to work cooperatively together to support the best marketing strategy.

Push or Pull Internet Marketing

Which strategy you use depends a lot on where you are in the marketing funnel. Pull is typically top of the funnel where most of your demand comes from. Push approaches are bottom of the funnel, where your customers are highly engaged and want personalized, contextual experiences from you.

We Need Push and Pull Marketing Strategies

We need both push and pull marketing and content strategies. And we need a content platform that enables marketers to do both easily. Marketers must create experiences that cross channels because you can't limit a person to only using a single channel. Customer journeys typically leverage more than one channel and device.  

A person might start a shopping experience on their desktop over their lunch hour, do more research on the bus ride home on their smartphone and then make the decision to purchase while using their tablet or laptop at home. Marketers can take advantage of this multi-channel approach to the purchase journey using a combination of push and pull marketing.   

For example, if the person is known to the brand and is doing some shopping on their website, the brand can track that. Later, taking advantage of beacons, the brand can send the person a push notification on their mobile device that they are close to the store if they want to look at a product in person. If the person abandons a shopping cart on the desktop, they can receive an email notifying them they didn't finish their purchase and maybe offer a discount to sweeten the deal. The options to leverage push and pull together are only limited to the marketer's creatively (and possibly a few laws).  

What's important to recognize is that the traditional web experience platform in a box doesn't support this multi-channel push/pull world. A decoupled architecture that separates the management of content from its delivery can support a range of push and pull channels and experiences.  

A version of this blog originally appeared in CMSWire

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