Online Customer Acquisition Channels

eCommunityepromotionsgetting started

There are three fundamental means for acquiring eyeballs on your commercial proposition online:


  • Pay
  • Content
  • Social


Broadly these come under the categories of:


  • Pay Per Click / Pay Per Conversion
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Social Media


Each one has it’s place and can be the driver for commercial success online. Frequently for any given niche, one or two will stand out as the low-hanging-fruit.


Paid For Referrals


Paid for referrals are invariably the starting point when promoting a new commercial site, and are frequently the driver for the entire online business. They are great for bringing in potential customers and building up a pipeline rapidly, but have the highest associated costs, especially in established markets.




  • Affiliates
  • Sponsorship
  • Banner Campaigns
  • PPC - Pay Per Click
  • PPC - Pay Per Conversion
  • These all have defined costs and the success or failure of a campaign can be relatively easily costed
  • Fast acting, normally the customer acquisition driver when starting up
  • Advanced tools provide automation
  • Established market and professional services
  • Some niches will have very low costs per click / conversion with high conversion rates
  • Great for A/B testing on marketing messages
  • The site can be focused on conversion and not search engine optimisation (not always compatible)
  • Every click potentially has a cost, not great if you are not converting
  • The moment you stop paying is the moment that the campaigns cease
  • Competitors can drive up the cost of acquisition
  • Requires constant tuning to get the best return on investment
  • There is no organic or viral growth


Content Driven


Content driven Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) campaigns take far longer to establish than paid for campaigns. They do however have a long-term pay-off and are the basis for organic growth. They are the foundation for engaging with communities by providing expert content and timely news and analysis.




  • Organic growth
  • Content can be sourced from within organisation
  • Diminishing costs with scale
  • One-time investment can have long-term benefits
  • Great for niche products and services
  • Innovators can establish powerful market presence




  • Potentially heavy investment in content
  • Potentially heavy investment in outreach (directory listing, site promotion)
  • Commercial listings may be important driver in mature markets, with corresponding costs
  • Requires corporate commitment
  • Requires appropriate technology
  • Corporate politics may prevent effective content from being created or presented


Social Media Engagement


The newest channel of the three, although rapidly reaching the same level as the other two. Social Media Engagement means interacting within established communities online such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked In or YouTube. It also covers the development communities which are driven, sponsored or owned by the organisation.




  • Established Leaders can generate a high volume of referrals quickly
  • Essential for engaging with potential customers where they interact online
  • High rankings on search engines for key social sites
  • Real-time communications channels
  • Gives direct access to customers
  • Established Communities (if owned or lead by organisation) can generate high levels of goodwill and in turn leads
  • Requires appropriate technology




  • Huge content volumes mean only small number of voices and communities are heard
  • Requires very high levels of commitment for sustained growth
  • Continuous evolution required to meet needs of community
  • Emerging marketing approach, missteps can be very costly


Which Strategy To Pick?


Broadly speaking it’s worth pursuing all three strategies to a greater or lesser extent. It is essential to have effective conversion metrics and to invest appropriately. This means that you might start off with a PPC campaign, but once your SEO and SM campaigns gain traction there may be no need to pay for incoming leads. That said, PPC is a great area for testing your marketing messages and refining your sales proposition.


For any particular niche it’s essential that you look to see what the cost of entry is for each approach.


Key Questions to Answer:

  • What niches are you targeting?
  • What are the key words / terms for each niche?
  • What’s the taxonomy?
  • What’s the cost per click for your key words on Google Adwords?
  • How many companies are competing for the same key words?
  • How many search results come on up Google for your key terms?
  • How established are these pages, what is their page rank?
  • What communities exist in each niche, how many members do they have, are the members loyal (or is it mostly a spam community)?
  • What are the established directory sites, what are the costs for listing?
  • What news sites are there in the niche?
  • What’s the cost of advertising in these sites?
  • How much content do they require / generate?
  • What are your competitor doing?
  • What resources do you have in-house for paid, content and social campaigns?
  • What budgets do you have?
  • What are your customer acquisition goals?
  • What are your conversion rates for any campaign?
Once you have these answered overall and where relevant for each niche you’re serving you might come up with a specific campaign, for example:
  • Establish basic landing page and online store
  • Run PPC to refine key word strategy and marketing message
  • Sponsor key news site to establish presence
  • Engage with existing communities to establish presence
  • Keep tight focus on conversion rates and on refining site to maximize conversion
In practice your choice of strategy will be the best fit for your organisation and the existing market environment. The key will be to be fully committed and to iterate rapidly to optimise your effectiveness.
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.
Affino 8.0.15 - The Reputation, Directories, and Monetisation Release

Affino 8.0.15 - The Reputation, Directories, and Monetisation Release

Affino's Next Level Search Engine

Affino's Next Level Search Engine

Affino 8.0.12 - The Performance Release

Affino 8.0.12 - The Performance Release

Did you find this content useful?

Thank you for your input

Thank you for your feedback

Blog Navigation


Affino 8.0.15 - The Reputation, Directories, and Monetisation Release

Affino 8.0.15 sees breakthroughs in reputation management, from individual and company profiles through to editions, speakers and moderators. Altogether there are over five hundred updates in this release with improvements across the board.

Affino's Next Level Search Engine

Affino’s site search raises the bar on how users can find and drill down into all the content they are looking for.

Driving business at some of the world's most forward thinking companies

Procurement Leaders
Ocean Media
Shard Media Group
AOP - Association of Publishers
The Stage
Law Business Research
Internet Retailing

Our Chosen Charity

Humanity Direct

And delivering industry leading awards

2016 British Media Awards - Technology Provide of the Year - Silver
2014 PPA Connect Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Event Brand of the Year
2014 PPA Digital Publishing Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Digital Brand of the Year (Again!)
2014 PPA Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Brand of the Year (Again!)
2014 AOP Digital Publishing Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Best Business to Business Website
2013 PPA Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Independent Publisher Digital Product of the Year
2013 PPA Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Brand of the Year
2013 PPA Digital Publishing Awards - Procurement Leaders awarded Business Media Digital Brand of the Year

One Alfred Place
1 Alfred Place
off Tottenham Court Road
London, UK

Registered Office:
55 Bathurst Mews
London, UK
W2 2SB

© Affino 2019

Get In Touch

Contact Us
+44 (0)20 3393 3240
Let Us Call You Back
Contact Us
Request A Demo