5 key ways to think about paid acquisition

Paid acquisition should be a great channel for your startup. One of the most critical decisions early stage companies have to make is how to invest for growth. Each dollar is like oxygen, and you need that dollar to come back to you within a predetermined amount of time. This is why I always recommend focusing on measurable channels as much as possible.

If you can’t track it, don’t invest.

A few good Montreal startups have used paid acquisition with monster success. Beyond the Rack, Frank & Oak and Lightspeed all have mature paid programs that generate great returns month in, month out.

I’ve outlined 5 key ways to think about your paid program and how to approach it diligently.

Start with strategy

How much you invest has a lot to do with your market and its maturity. You will need to secure a budget, allocate resources and more importantly, tie the investment to your core KPI. You should treat it as investment decision and set growth targets as well as a payback period.

Pull beats push

Always go where your potential customers are. People search products & services on Google & Yahoo. Your customers identify their interests on Facebook. There is no secret that Google & Facebook are the first places you should invest (9 times out of 10). That doesn’t mean they are only ones. Twitter, Pinterest, Bing and other niche properties can also drive results. After all, you should only care about your LTV and CAC metrics.

Testing for life

If done properly, testing will always drive incremental results. This is why testing needs to be baked into your program each week. Ad copy, calls to action and landing pages are good places to start.

One caveat that needs to be mentioned: sample size is super important. You need to have enough users to obtain a statistically significant result.

Investment decisions should be challenged daily

What was the ROI of your campaign yesterday? Last week? Please make sure that you don’t waste money on campaigns that are not working. Allocate your investment based on results and shift towards what’s working. To do this properly, proper metrics need to be in place. LTV, CAC and attribution need to be well understood.

Bring in outside help

Eventually, you may need to insource your paid acquisition. Until then, try to connect with freelancers and agencies in Montreal that can help you increase your maturity and performance. The very good ones are rare, thus your network here is important to understand who the best people are.

This is also tied to how much you invest and when does it become economically feasible to hire head count versus hiring an external firm.

Ultimately, don’t become overly reliant on your paid program. Customers gained by organic channels tend to be more valuable over time. Furthermore, investors frown upon startups that employ paid acquisition as their primary acquisition channel.

Paid media is a great weapon in your arsenal to drive growth. You’ll need to better understand each platform and their differences. I love this quote that summarizes ads well: “‘everyone hates advertising in general but love advertising in particular.” Staying relevant is the key to success.

Nectarios Economakis is the Founder of , aspiring entrepreneur, ex-Googler, souvlaki lover, startup investor and fitness junkie. You can shoot him a question or comment at nectar@thepnr.com

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