Avoid sunk costs and instead choose the acquisition channels best suited to facilitate growth at scale.
For example, many companies start with SEO after performing keyword research and finding that the volume is high enough to warrant investment for their specific market.
- Think about your research logically. For example, if you sell shoes, webinars and content probably aren’t the best channels for you - the cost of creation outpaces the marginal rewards of the channel - but you could possibly make paid acquisition work.
- Keep your business model and goals in mind, and consider factors like return on investment and scalability once your business starts to grow.
- Consider factors such as channel maturity and potential for scale. Some channels are inherently more scalable than others. For example, viral marketing might work for you in the beginning, but might not be as scalable as SEO or paid advertising.
Use a tool like SpyFu, Ahrefs, or SEMrush to research your competitors and find out what channels they’re using.
Get a quantitative look at their SEO and PPC strategies to find out what’s working for them. Chances are, it’ll work for you too.
Don’t shy away from channels you think won’t work, especially if they work for your competitors.Treat the process as the application of agile marketing and experimentation to the channels themselves, rather than just a website or product.
In this framework, you judge a channel by factors like:
- Build/Buy/Partner: the type of channel - do you build it, pay for it, or partner with someone?
- Scale: overall potential for reach
- Targeting: ability to target narrowly
- Input Time: time to get launched
- Output Time: time to see results or feedback
- Control: control you have over the channel over the long term
- Maturity: how new or saturated the channel is
This is more art than science, though stack ranking based on factors like the ease and estimated impact can help you prioritize the order of channels you’re testing. For example, if the scale of SEO is incredibly high but so are the resources required to compete, you may choose to prioritize paid Facebook ads, which are less expensive to test but offer similar scale.
Set expected goals or desired results, set a time period for your test that allows for appropriate feedback cycles, and determine success, failure, or investigate further. Cycle length will vary depending on the channel. For example, SEO requires a longer feedback cycle than display ads.
- This can also help you better determine their scalability. Keep an eye on each channel’s return on investment and scalability - if you have a high ROI and the channel is scalable, then it likely works for you.
- Continue testing high-performing channels and monitoring their performance as competitors may bid up the cost of the keywords, or you may begin to face audience fatigue. Ads typically become less effective with time and repeated exposure.
- Not all channels can scale up and maintain their ROI. If you notice your ROI slipping after some time, consider modifying your strategy or focusing on a different channel.
Jumping on an emerging channel gives you a clear advantage and might pay off in the end, especially if the channel takes off and you’re one of the early adopters.