Does Paid Advertising Scare You? Here’s Some Advice.

October 26, 2022

By Chris Franks

This is the eleventh post in a blog series about how to launch an eCommerce business years 1-3. You can view the previous week’s post, “From Social to SEO: Mastering Organic Site Traffic” here.


Last week, we talked about getting the most out of organic (ie. free) tactics for driving traffic to your site. Now we enter the murky waters of paid advertising. This is not for the faint hearted, and it’s not for those who don’t want their assumptions challenged. But as the saying goes, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

This is often the point where we as growth marketers can step in and add some value to the process. It’s super helpful to have experts on your side when trying to make decisions about how and where to spend your ad dollars.



If you search “Dentists in Denver,” the top results will say “AD” in the upper lefthand corner, signaling that someone has paid to have their site shown first.

Arguably the most effective form of paid advertising, PPC also tends to be the most expensive. It’s not uncommon to pay $20 per click using this tactic, compared to between 40 cents and $3 per click on social media.

The benefit of PPC is that you can feel confident the viewer is in the market for your product or service at that exact moment in time. You’re not blasting your ad out to people who couldn’t care less.

Because of its high price tag, and how tricky it is to get right, we almost never start here. PPC advertising is not for the beginner, but it will be very valuable down the line.



Paid social media allows businesses to target a highly specific group of people, like divorced dog-walkers in Detroit or married morticians in Maine. You can also spend as little or as much money as you want. Because the barrier to entry for this form of paid advertising is super low, and the options for micro-targeting are super high, this is often a great place for new business to start.



Say you’re reading an article about fake plants on Forbes, and low-and-behold an ad pops up for fake plants. Creepy? Yes. Effective? You betcha.

Programmatic ads are paid ads that appear on various websites that relate to your product. The idea is that people who are interested in a topic will then see your ad and be motivated enough to click on it and be driven to your website, where you can then work your conversion magic.



Honorable MentionMASS MEDIA

Mass media ads can get wildly expensive, and they are definitely not the place to start for eCommerce companies. But you shouldn’t write them off entirely. I’ve seen a CBD business make a killing using low-cost radio ads in rural communities. 

TV can work well if you’re serving a certain city or region, but not so much for eCommerce companies. 

Podcasts can be super effective, but there are so darn many, and the ones with a sizable listener base are expensive. But hey, if you’re selling a product for people who love hearing about serial killers, the podcast game might be your best bet.



Starting an eCommerce business is like building a rocket in your garage and expecting it to take you to the moon—it might not work, and even if it does, there’s a good chance you’ll get hurt along the way. 

The good news is you’re not the first person crazy enough to try this. There are many others (myself included) who have tried, failed, and tried again. By learning from our many (many) mistakes, you can launch an eCommerce business that makes it safely to orbit and beyond.

In this blog series, you’ll get a step-by-step guide to creating and launching your eCommerce business years 1–3. We go over how to create a functional brand, set up your website, and develop an advertising strategy that scales with you. We’ll go through the various pros and cons, so that you can feel empowered to make the best decisions for your business.

My name is Chris Franks, and I’m the founder and CEO of CleverFunnel, a digital marketing agency that focuses on using straightforward, data-driven strategies to drive real results for our clients.

I’m also an avid lover of indie music, fly fishing, baseball, and sunscreen (although that’s more of a genetic necessity). I wrote this with the hope that my story could help other young entrepreneurs achieve their goals, without losing their savings (or their sanity) in the process. If any bit of this helps you, it’ll have been worth it.