Why you need to know the constraints of each customer acquisition channel3 min time well spent

3 min time well spent

Each customer acquisition channel has its own constraints. Knowing how long it will take to get results, the costs, the amount of customers, if you’re in control and how detailed the targeting is can be a great factor in deciding what channel to pursue. If you match the constraints of each channel, with the needs of your business, it suddenly got a lot easier to decide which channel could work.

This is why I’ve put all the channels into a matrix for you to learn about the constraints and make it easier to pick your next channel to experiment with.

The constraints explained:

  • Time: this is the estimated time it takes for the channel to get a customer. It’s low if it takes just a few days, high if it can take months.
  • Targeting: how detailed is the targeting you can set up? High if you have very detailed targeting, low if you can only reach the general audience.
  • Scale: how much customers could you get via this channel? Low if you’ll quickly run out of customers, high if it has an almost infinite amount of potential customers.
  • Cost: how expensive is it to use this channel? From low (cheap) to high (expensive).
  • Control: can you easily “switch off” the channel? Low means you can’t and high means you can. 

Here it is:

* Whether these are all “channels” is up for another discussion
** These are definitely not the only chanels for customer acquisition


The channel matrix consists of the overarching channels. E.g. email marketing is part of inbound marketing. Speaking at events is part of events, facebook ads are part of onine ads, etc.

Now, what are we going to do with it?

Identify your own constraints

First, identify your constraints, then pick a channel to experiment with. E.g: 

  • Need cash quick (time = ‘low’)? Turn to social ads and don’t even think about SEO.
  • Recently got bad press? Only do things of which you have high control so your efforts won’t backfire.
  • Low on money? Invest in low-cost channels.
  • Do you have a niche product? You’ll probably need to begin with channels high in targeting.
  • Already in the scale-up phase? Only invest in channels high in scale in order to grow. Only start-ups can still invest their time in low scale channels.

Identify if the matrix is the same for your company 

Most of the parameters (high, medium, low) are general. They still are different for every company. For example:

  • SEO, in general, has high scalability. However, if you operate in a new market/product category, it might be that no one searches for your solution. In this case, the scalability of SEO for your company is low. 
  • Influencer marketing and social organic have high scalability if you’re a generic fashion brand, but very low if you operate in a niche.

To make the best decision about channels, I challenge you to check the constraints of each channel for your own market. You can always reach out to me if you need an extra perspective/pair of eyes.

Now pair your own constraints with your new updated company channel table. What channels suit your ‘needs’ at this moment?

I hope this overview helps you in making decisions in picking the next channel to experiment with.

The content of this article is mostly inspired by two articles of one of the best people in growth. Andrew Chen’s ‘There’s only a few ways to scale user growth, and here’s the list’ and Brian Balfour’s ‘5 Steps To Choose Your Customer Acquisition Channel’. I highly recommend to read them both if you’re interested in the topic.

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