Companies often use push and pull marketing strategies in order to reach their target customers, develop their brands and boost their sales. Push marketing refers to companies ‘push’ their products and services to customers using online or offline advertisements – emails, pay-per-click ads, pop-up ads. Meanwhile, pull marketing is a customer focused strategy in which companies and customers interact with each other on social media platforms or through SEO, blogs or whitepapers in which customers will find them intriguing . My client The British Council in Hong Kong and its competitors The Wall Street English and the TESOL International Association (TESOL) provide English language learning to customers based on demographics such age, English proficiency levels as well as customers’ objectives in learning the language – for work, personal interests, academic use. One point to note is that my client also works on arts, education and society in order to promote the British culture.
Push techniques on websites
The British Council’s customers or interested parties can fill in contact forms and opt in the bilingual corporate e-newsletters which includes all the events and programs of the organization. The tap ‘Newsletter’ is found in the top right corner of the website.
The e-newsletter is available for public. However, the button of the e-newsletter is not conspicuous, at the right side of the ‘Press office’ page.
For specific area of work, for examples Arts will have its e-newsletter targeted their customers.
The Wall Street English provides a bilingual, bi-weekly magazine to its customers or interested parties will subscribe it when filling in their brief contact details. However, customers have to look for the page link of the magazine in the pull-down menu of a tab ‘English tips’. I think a subscription button can be placed in the home page for accessibility.
TESOL’s monthly e-newsletter is found in the pull-down menu of the first tab ‘Read and Publish’ in the home page.
Visitors can find the latest and archives of the e-newsletter in the website as well.
The RSS feed subscription is available in the e-newsletter. I suggest RSS feed also be available in the home page too.
In the British Council’s website, each web banner carousel has a button such as ‘Register now’, ‘Apply now’. Visitors who click through the button will be directed to the event page.
Some promotional buttons are on the home page about events prompting interested parties to click through.
The banner carousels of the English and Chinese websites in the Wall Street English are different. Carousels in both versions are ‘call-to-actions’ of course promotions, discounts, free trial.
Visitors who click on the carousel will be directed to page about course details and registration.
The home page of TESOL has a banner carousel about latest products and event details. A static menu bar is on the right of the carousel. Visitors can choose to subscribe the membership, connect with their staff, visit bookstore or find product or services.
Push Techniques off-sites
Web banners or pay-per click banners
The British Council use pay-per-click ads to promote the English courses.
Trade shows and conferences
The British Council participated in trade show to promote its International Pre-School.
TESOL organizes branded forums and conferences.
Pull Techniques on official website
SEO on websites
The article ‘A Simple Guide to SEO for Local Businesses [Infographics] ‘mentions that websites with targeted messaging in their meta title tags, URLs, company descriptions and keywords can be easily identified by search engines and hence, SEO. The British Council uses targeted messaging across all sections in the website. For example, in home page, the meta title and the URL are British Council Hong Kong and these will be updated when moving on to different sections. For example, the page about English courses, the meta title and the URL will change to ‘Learn English British Council’ and ‘English’ respectively. The organization’s introduction is also concise (48 words). The tabs use wordings that are targeted to customers ‘Learn English’, ‘Take an exam’ ‘Study in the UK’.
The Wall Street English also uses concise messaging in meta title and the URL ‘Wall Street English’ and change them in different sections e.g. ‘MultiMethod’. However, company’s description is not available in the home page but it is under the tab ‘About WSB’. The messaging in the website is not targeted but promotional messages, for example – ‘Course’, ‘Corporate’, ‘Promotions’ in tabs.
I think TESOL has done a good job in SEO. Although the organization does not have a company’s description on the home page. There’s a tag line which is the organization’s value at the top of the web page ‘Advancing Excellence in English Language Teaching’. The messaging in the website is targeted such as in the tabs – ‘Read & Publish’, ‘Enhance Your Career’.
Blogs/ Whitepapers/ Resources
The British Council put their press releases, annual reports, e-newsletters and blog posts available in the same page under ‘Press office’ but the link of the page is found near the bottom of the home page. Visitors may not be able to locate it easily.
The Wall Street English has a page ‘English tips’ which contain blogs and e-newsletters. Visitors can locate the link of the page in its home page.
TESOL on the contrary provides a variety of publications for visitors including journals, bulletins, e-newsletters for members and non-members, annual reports, white papers. Experts of the organization’s bulletins and blogs are available on the home page.
Visitors can also login the site to submit resources about teaching, planning activities etc.
Companies having original content and customers’ voices in their websites will immensely improve their SEO performances, according to articles in Forbes.com, ‘The Top 7 SEO Trends That Will Dominate 2016’ and American Marketing Association, ‘Six SEO Rules for 2016’.
Pull Techniques off-site
Search engines SEO and advertisements
All three organizations’ names are on the top of the search in Google and Yahoo. The British Council and the Wall Street English place advertisements on search engines.
But for The Wall Street English in Yahoo search, the company’s website is on the top of the search and the rest of the results are irrelevant.
All three organization’s websites are mobile friendly. The British Council and the Wall Street English have tailored sites for mobile devices.
Sharing/ social share buttons
Web pages of the three organizations are sharable on social media channels.
Improvements of the British Council’s website from branding perspectives
Improving the brand positioning
The British Council is a registered charity organization in the UK to promote English language and culture of the country. However, the messaging of the organization’s Hong Kong site focuses on learning English and taking IELTS exams. Promotional buttons of these segments are conspicuous and constantly updated in the home page while content relevant to UK culture – arts, education and society are only found in static text boxes with no promotional buttons. I think the tab ‘Our works in arts, education and society’ in the header should be placed towards to left side of the page, alongside ‘Learn English’, ‘Take an exam’, ‘Study in the UK’.Visitors will be aware that the organization’s culture works are as important as other segments.
The sections should change static text boxes to promotional buttons of latest events and programs.
Engaging with customers to build brand loyalty
With customers’ voices such as testimonials, comments and feedbacks as well as interactions between companies and customers, companies can build the bonds with customers and cultivate brand loyalty. In British Council’s website, majority of the content in the website is organizational focused. The organization should create more content of customers’ interests. Its competitor TESOL International Association is doing well in this respect through publishing white papers, blogs and creating a forum for members to upload their resources. This will help improve customers’ online search experiences and develop the brand loyalty in the long run.
Marketing-schools.org, ‘What is Push Marketing?’
Marketing-schools.org, ‘What is Pull Marketing?’
Hubspot.com, Lindsay Kolowich, ‘A Simple Guide to SEO for Local Businesses‘
American Marketing Association, Christine Birkner, ‘Six SEO Rules for 2016‘
Forbes.com, Jayson DeMers, ‘The Top 7 SEO Trends That Will Dominate 2016‘