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Active marketing vs passive marketing

Article originally published in June 2024 by Stuart Brameld. Most recent update in June 2024.

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Active marketing and passive marketing are two different approaches businesses use to attract and engage customers. Here we break down how to think about them, and how they relate to channel and acquisition strategy.

What is active marketing?

Active marketing involves proactive and direct efforts to reach potential customers. It requires a hands-on approach to engage with the target audience and promote products or services. Some key characteristics include:

  1. Direct Outreach: This involves actively contacting potential customers through methods like cold calling, email campaigns, and direct mail.
  2. Engagement: Active marketing often includes interactive strategies such as social media campaigns, live events, and webinars to directly engage with the audience.
  3. Immediate Results: It aims to generate quick responses and immediate leads or sales. Examples include paid advertising (PPC), promotions, and sales blitzes.
  4. High Effort: Requires significant time and resources to implement and manage.

What is passive marketing?

Passive marketing, on the other hand, focuses on creating a presence that attracts customers without direct outreach. It relies on creating an environment where customers can find the business on their own. Key characteristics include:

  1. Indirect Outreach: Involves methods like content marketing, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), and branding that make it easy for customers to discover the business.
  2. Awareness Building: Passive marketing aims to build long-term awareness and credibility through blog posts, social media content, and informative videos.
  3. Gradual Results: Results from passive marketing are often slower to materialise but can lead to more sustainable and long-term growth.
  4. Lower Immediate Effort: Requires less direct interaction with potential customers and can be more cost-effective in the long run.

Differences between active and passive marketing

There are pros and cons to both approaches, though at Growth Method we tend to prefer passive acquisition channels and strategies as they tend to result in a calm, more sustainable culture for the marketing team, and a better experience for customers and prospects.

AspectActive MarketingPassive Marketing
ApproachProactive, direct outreachIndirect, creating a presence
Typical channelsCold calling, email marketing, paid search adsContent marketing, SEO, social media presence
EngagementHigh engagement through direct interactionLower engagement, relies on audience finding content
ResultsImmediate, quick responsesGradual, long-term growth
Effort RequiredHigh effort and resourcesLower immediate effort, more sustainable long-term
GoalGenerate immediate leads or salesBuild long-term awareness and credibility
CostOften higher due to direct marketing costsGenerally lower, focused on organic growth
MeasurementEasier to measure short-term resultsHarder to measure, focuses on long-term metrics
Customer InteractionDirect interaction with potential customersIndirect interaction, customers engage at their own pace
Content StrategyPromotional, sales-orientedInformative, value-driven content
TimeframeShort-term focusLong-term focus

Some of our favourite passive strategies include SEO, email automations and product-led growth.

Key takeaways

When developing your marketing strategy, it’s essential to consider both active and passive marketing approaches to create a balanced, comprehensive plan that addresses both short-term goals and long-term growth.


For most teams we suggest a 70/30 split to balance passive and active marketing strategies and channels, with 70% of time spent on passive marketing and 30% on active.