I have recently been asked by more than one person what are the "best places" to acquire customers, i.e. advertise. I must say there is no immediately right or wrong answer here. Is Google better than Facebook? Should you try Twitter or LinkedIn? Is TV only for big companies?
Ideally, by the point you are ready to scale (get more customers/upsell or cross sell) you have been able to get enough insight on your customer segments to know things like basic LTV (lifetime value), where they hangaround, what devices they use, what websites they look at daily, what magazines/newspapers they read, influencers they respect, what they love, fear, their dreams, hopes, insecurities and desires.
Depending on the objective of the marketing campaign you will have different channels that will work better due to their nature. To illustrate with an example, let us imagine you are at the research stage (in the lean loop terminology this is usually called the learn state), considering that everything else is the same (budget, effort,..) you should pick the one that is the most flexible "operationswise" (that you can turn on or turn off as you please). That way you can get customers in, turn off, measure, improve/change the product based on customer insight, turn back on, re-measure, compare the results.
That being said, sometimes we still need a list of common channels to inspire us. Even your users won't know many times what influences them.
Channels with high cut through and close to the purchase decision, that you can turn on/off, low cost per acquisition/risk.
- Direct Communications - It says it all, talk to people, that being over Email/Newsletters, phone Telesales/SMS or directly/door-to-door.
- Partnerships with similar non competing businesses - To leverage on their existing customer base.
- Forums/Specific industry events/Places or just coffeeshops - Where your customers might hangaround.
- "Small" startup PR comms - Includes social. See the startup PR list.
- Paid Search/Display - On search engines, social media, blogs, specialty websites or even physical locations (A4 posters).
You can start stepping away from the purchase decision and going into the desire, interest, awareness stages (also called above the line).
- Expand paid search/display - Promote seasonal campaigns, content such as guides, howto's, complementary assets.
- Affiliates - Might have an initial high setup fee and even canibalize your sales, so be careful and make sure you know you offer something similar in your website and have a robust financial model before breaking any deals (ex: affiliatewindow, affiliatenet, groupon, livingsocial, wahanda...)
- Retargetting - To increase customer life time value (Google Doubleclick, Display, Criteo, Adroll, etc..)
- Content (SEO) - Takes time to build, but might be very cost efficient. To keep an eye on if it's your primary channel. Changes in Google's algorithm might affect your business a lot.
- Broad PR - Starting with a soft launch (lets say specific to the tech community, i.e. techcrunch) and moving to a wider audience (The Evening Standard, The Metro, The Sun, The Times).
- Other above the Line - Consider building a strong brand using typical off-advertising (sponsorships, outdoors, billboards, hosting events, TV, )
You might also want to read:
- Smart Insights - The Big List of Channels
- Above the Line Advertising
- Affiliate Lists
- Rate Cards for The London Tube