The Big List of Paid Acquisition Channels

This is a big list of paid acquisition channels that should be helpful when you are looking at which channels to user for growth. Please read the Getting Started with Acquisition Channels guide first, as it provides helpful metrics that will help you determine how to approach acquisition.

Google search (SEM/Adwords)

Use Case

Consumer searches for a Children's Museum in Chicago & finds results that link to individual museum pages

Here’s the top of the search result page (SERP):

Here is the middle of the 1st page:

And the bottom portion of the page:

Notice how far down the “normal” search results show up - they are below the paid ads, below the mapped location, below the “places” box, below the primary Q&A section.

It’s critical that you think about SEO when you’re thinking about SEM with Google. Good thing we cover that in detail later on!

Facebook Ads

Use Case

B2C company runs acquisition advertising campaigns driving people to download their app.


Or, another social platform posts on Facebook using ads to drive traffic - that’s interesting!


Pros

  • Billions of potential people to target
  • Fairly cheap channel to get started in
  • Can drive high volume at a low cost
  • Lots of ad options to try out
  • Built in content & creative A/B testing and multivariate testing will save you time

Cons

  • Complex UX and so many options can confuse you and get you lost quickly
  • Targeting, while often said to be the best platform for accuracy, is often not as great as it seems. 
  • You can burn through money without finding qualified leads, and while the volume can be high, the quality may be low.

Instagram

Use Case

Apparel brand advertises their latest running shoes to users on Instagram interested in athletics (via Facebook's audience targeting)

Or a local fruit company advertises their peaches to members in the feed they target by location (below):


While Instagram is traditionally thought of as a B2C ad platform, keep in mind that many potential customers in the B2B space may also be on Facebook or Instagram at work - and they may engage with your ads from a business perspective. Because Insta uses the Facebook targeting settings, they know if you like or engage with content and ads on the Facebook side of the platform, so targeting is pretty robust. 

Instagram works well in the eCommerce space and compared to Facebook you likely will get higher quality lead generation from Instagram at a comparable price (if not lower on a CAC basis).

Pros

  • Billions of potential people to target (they are owned by Facebook)
  • Handle ad buying from within Facebook’s ad manager
  • Tons of younger audiences are on the platform
  • High impact creative can work well

Cons

  • Gets expensive quickly if you don’t tune the audience and campaigns

Google shopping

Use Case

User searches for Adidas running shoes & sees links to shop urls in the results that bring people to store websites.


Pros

  • Massive potential reach
  • Ability to auto-generate the ads based on a feed of products
  • High search intent from users browsing

Cons

  • Competitive
  • High cost
  • Some friction to get started with feeds

Twitter

Use Case

A well known B2B brand is looking to extend their awareness reach by showing ads in the feed.

Pros

  • Surprisingly easy to use admin interface
  • Much cheaper option to get started
  • Can drive good engagement inside of Twitter

Cons

  • Relatively small audience compared to the major players
  • Targeting is ok but not great
  • It’s hard to drive conversions from Twitter - it’s just not a place people tend to hang out when buying - it’s more social

Quora

Use Case

Mailchimp looking to target potential users within the marketing threads on quora by talking about targeting in their ad


Upwork leveraging the “growth” channel to promote their freelance marketers.

Pros

  • Quora is generally a lower cost entry point for digital advertising
  • It has a robust set of options to choose from in terms of creative and targeting options
  • It’s fast and easy to get started with

Cons

  • Targeting is not great
  • It’s a small network, so you can’t really scale up using this channel
  • The lead quality in our experience isn’t amazing 

Pinterest

Use Case

  • Media brand looking to reach new moms uses craft ads to drive traffic to their blog.
  • Makeup brand reaching people browsing pinterest boards

Pros

  • Highly visual platform with a strong cohort of power users and browsers

Cons

  • Unless you are a visual type brand it may be hard for you to find a relevant target here since it’s a visual platform.

App Search Ads

Use Case

  • Mobile game leverages branded and non-branded search phrases to drive downloads from the app store
  • Consumer app connecting military members with supporters buys branded keywords in app store

Pros

  • 2nd best way to get people in the app store to find you (1st best way is to work in your app store organic placement)

Cons

  • Lower volume of search means your install rate may be low unless you have a ton of traction already
  • Users who search the app store likely are looking for an app they know - if they stumble upon yours they  may have low intent

Bing

Use Case

  • B2B marketing company targeting enterprise companies leverages Bing since it's the default search engine on Outlook, used by many enterprise companies
  • Consumer on desktop using Internet Explorer searches for a product, paid ads come up 1st and 2nd

Pros

  • Very cheap channel - it’s like a mini google
  • High intent searches (like google)
  • Solid for B2B - many enterprise companies require Outlook for email, and you can run Bing ads inside outlook

Cons

  • Completely dwarfed by Google in terms of size of potential market of users
  • Will exhaust the top end of your channel targeting quickly if you try to scale it

Snapchat

Use Case

Consumer brand looking to reach a young audience (under 30) leverages Snapchat

Pros

  • Solid audience targeting
  • Physical location targeting is solid (less than a half a mile radius for stores)
  • Large and growing audience
  • Fairly low cost platform to date

Cons

  • Low intent users so conversion rates will likely suffer if you are a paid product


Youtube

Use Case

A company that offers professional voiceover talent advertises to potential buyers 


Preroll video ad

Pros

  • Surprisingly good for app install targeting
  • Scaleable channel - tons of users
  • Lower cost alternative for display-like and video based ads


Cons

  • Targeting is not amazing
  • Doesn’t work as well for B2B brands

Display Ad Networks

Use Case

  • Used widely for cheaper awareness campaigns and remarketing to potential leads or repeat buyers
  • B2B Hair Extension brand reaches customers via remarketing using display ads

Pros

  • Super cheap way to drive brand awareness
  • Very large audience potential across a wide variety of websites and apps

Cons

  • For most display ads, conversion rates will be very low
  • Targeting is virtually nonexistent or poor at best

LinkedIn

Use Case

  • An enterprise sales intelligence platform reaches CFOs and CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies via sponsored content
  • A business hiring advertises jobs

Example 1

Example 2


Google advertising data security on LinkedIn

Pros

  • Really strong reach for B2B brands
  • Many different ad options including direct email outreach
  • Easy to setup and pretty flexible approval system

Cons

  • Very saturated for B2B
  • Very expensive - we’ve seen budgets blown on day 1 without careful planning