31 August 2016
By Sarah Richards
In my last blog post about my D&AD judging experience, I talked about ‘push’ and ‘pull’ content and how they used different skills. I want to go into a bit more detail here.
When you go to a site – you are ‘pulling’ the content. To get to a page at all, you have to decide what you want to read about, get some words in mind, type them into a search engine, choose from the results, and then get to a page to read the information/watch the video etc. Or you might see a link on another page/Twitter etc and decide you want to read that info.
All of that takes effort. All of that means you actually have to do something. That’s ‘pull’ publishing. You are pulling the content to you.
If you see a poster while waiting for a bus – you are choosing to look at it but it is there. It’s in front of you. You are not really pulling it. The effort is minimal. Your eyes just happened to hit it. Similarly, if you publish a press release and send it to everyone you know – that’s push publishing. You are shoving it out and you are hoping someone will pick it up.
So the real question is: how pointless is push content? Well, there is a massive poster industry that says it is not pointless at all. Same with press releases – sometimes they are picked up and turned into news stories that are pulled by an audience. So push just turned to pull.
And that’s the trick. Turning push to pull.
Anything that’s push content can be turned to pull. All you need to do is find what your audience actually wants.
The push: Look at this shiny thing! If you buy it, I will make a stack of cash.
The pull: this shiny thing does this, this and this (and will make your life easier etc) and this is how easy it is to give me money so you can have it.
Turning push publishing to pull is easy: give the audience what they want and not what you want to say.
Push publishing is also known as vanity publishing. We’ve all seen company sites where a board of directors grin inanely at you from most of the homepage with jargon-heavy, self-serving text that doesn’t tell you what they do, what you can get from them or anything useful. Most of the time, you wonder how you managed to make it onto that page at all and skip out as quickly as you can.
Sometimes you need to know who is on the board of directors. Most of the time, the first thing you need to know is ‘am I on the right site?’
Vanity sites hardly ever do that. And that’s what makes a bad website. All push and no pull usually ends up with low results.
Example number 2
The push: this is a photo of a guy with a massive psycho grin
The pull: this person is human, has a background, is trustworthy and it’s worth you working for his/her company or giving him/her your cash
Take a look at some new, funky digital agency website. They’ll probably have an ‘about us’ page that’ll include pics of parties, people on beanbags etc. Not only are they introducing you to the team, they are showing you into their lifestyle. It’s not portrait shots. And of course, you had to actively choose to go to the link that tells you about the team. They are not slap-bang on the homepage.
Is it worth having on your homepage? Depends what you want your audience to get from you within seconds of coming to your site. If you push information to your audience they don’t want, chances are you’ll lose them.
Love your audience
You can take a piece of pull information and turn it to push if you:
- use the language your audience is using – that will allow them to find you in the first place
- think of what your audience wants to know first and not what your company thinks it wants to say first (that’s the crux of user-centred content and design – there’s a blog post coming about that soon)
- pull in your audience by making them the centre of your attention: make your content easy to read, payment easy to do and the overall experience a good one
Next week’s blog post: why editors need to care about design
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