Insights | April 10, 2018

Organic Customer Acquisition & Top of the Funnel Lead Generation

Whether you have a typical services business, a marketplace business, media, e-commerce, SaaS business, or some other business model, at some point you are going to start thinking about customer acquisition.



There are a lot of options out there for acquiring customers such as direct sales, indirect sales, industry channels, resellers, partnerships, display, search engine marketing, social media, e-mail, etc.

But the best option–if you can pull it off–is to own an organic customer acquisition channel that is large and self-sustainable.

In my experience, I have seen numerous companies have very large, organic and sustainable top-of-the-funnel customer flows. Many of these companies use a number of customer acquisition techniques, but they start with the organic channel and optimize it with their service and product development efforts.

Here are a couple examples:


A free, online educational website focusing on technology, job training, reading, and math skills. But because it has been offering free learning curriculum for ten years now, it was the first organic result I got this morning when I typed “free learning” into Google. GCFLearnFree is the “Wikipedia of learning” and because study sets are free on the web and mobile, they have a huge organic flow of new users every month. This organic flow is the primary customer acquisition channel for these offerings.


The first place most small businesses go to solve their multi-channel commerce needs. There are upwards of 500 million stores on the Shopify platform. This platform is a huge attraction for users and consumers on web and mobile. Shopify has three subscription offerings, and the organic channel is still the primary acquisition mechanism for these subscription offerings. Most of the consumers who arrive on Shopify purchase from the seller who brought them to the platform, but some stay longer and shop from other sellers too.

Below are three subcategories of organic acquisition we can look at to clearly show interesting new ways marketers can gain more control over how they leverage organic marketing in an effort to drive demand;


This one is pretty well understood. There are technologies out there that help you win the Google search game by pointing out opportunities to optimize your content and get more traffic. This is a very valuable effort for marketing to focus on, as organic traffic converts higher than other types of traffic.


If you think about it, social media has given us additional search engines. In fact, after Google, YouTube is the second most used search engine. That’s why it makes sense that there are tools that can help you optimize the content you post on social sites to drive the most engagement and click-through to your website.

Influencer / Referral Marketing

Technology that can help you connect with your influencers or advocates in a personal way, at scale, is very appealing. In fact, it gives marketers control over organic acquisition for the first time ever. The opportunity to have advocates drive a steady stream of new business into your pipeline without having to use traditional paid channels is a very exciting prospect.


These are only a few of numerous options available today. One of the things I look for in a marketing lead generation engine is a free and sustainable flow of customers. This big top-of-the-funnel concept may not be the only way a management team will choose to build their business, but it can provide a great foundation to build on. And the Life Time Value to Customer Acquisition Cost ratio is infinite!