When starting a business, finding the best way to test whether it works and generating sales can be tricky when you have no existing platform (customer-base) to market to. Therefore, you need to ensure that your marketing activities are cost-effective and can be tested as quickly as possible.

Gaining traction can be done through short tests, with clear metrics that show the value of each marketing channel to your business. Not every marketing channel is suited to each business. Some businesses are more suited to certain types of marketing than others, so with so many on offer, it is worth planning your tests.


Before doing anything else, be sure to install Google Analytics and set up e-commerce tracking if you run an e-commerce website, or goal tracking if your website has other aims. When you are happy that you can track visits, source and goal completions, you are ready to test the different marketing channels.

It is important to remember that when gaining traction at the start, the channels and tactics that work may not necessarily be the most effective methods for ongoing growth once your business is established. For example, something that costs £1 per acquisition is better at the start than something that cost £5 per acquisition, initially, but if the £1 per acquisition channel takes a lot of personal effort and doesn’t have a huge amount of scope for scaling up, then it may not be suitable later on. When starting out though, focus on cost per acquisition and enough scalability to grow your customer base enough to grow past the start up phase.

Getting Started

Now, create a spreadsheet with four columns:

  • Marketing Channel
  • Cost
  • Sales Generated
  • CPA

In the CPA (cost-per-acquisition) column, pre-fill the fields with an equation that divides the cost by the sales generated (CPA = cost/sales). In the marketing channel column, fill in the different types of marketing you will be testing out. This can include display advertising, PPC, affiliate marketing, SEO, content marketing, PR and more.

Now you can begin testing each channel. Use a test budget that you are comfortable with, report in the spreadsheet how much you have spent and how many sales can be attributed to that sale. As your spreadsheet begins to take shape, you can then see which channels are worth scaling up and which are worth revisiting at a later date. Remember though, SEO and PPC for example, can take time to become cost-effective.

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