Customer Acquisition · Marketing Strategy

What is a Customer Acquisition Specialist vs Marketer? Which to hire to grow a startup?

Angela W UX / UI Designer looking for a co-founding opportunity

July 7th, 2016

I have an online store and sell physical products and I need to generate traffic that converts to my website in order to grow the business. 

I understand that not all traffic converts upon the first visit so I also want non-converting new visitors to not get wasted and would like to drive them to sign up to my email list so I may engage with them and convert them later. I need help with the planning and technical execution so am planning to hire help (currently looking on upwork). 

There is so much jargon out there and I wondering if I should hire a customer acquisition specialist, marketer, sales funnel specialist, digital marketer, online marketer, lead generation specialist, growth marketer, etc? 

Do I hire a general marketer or should I hire a customer acquisition specialist? Is there a difference?

Piyush Nigam MD at The Ark Marine Solutions

July 7th, 2016

Don't worry about the name, check what they have done in the past for other customers and see if that is what you need. Set goals for what you want to achieve in terms of bringing people to the site, signing up for your newsletter and making actual purchases. Ask them what they can achieve and how much you need to pay them for each of those three goals.

Richard Reed

July 7th, 2016

From my experience managing the operations of two ecommerce businesses where we ran paid customer acquisition campaigns, unless you have a lot of in house experience in site optimization to convert visitors into paid customers, you need to have a digital marketer that has experience in driving and converting traffic into paid customers. You are quite right to strive to collect email addresses if new visitors don't convert into paid customers. You can then market to those leads going forward. The reason you probably don't want to limit yourself to a customer acquisition specialist was covered above by Joe, unless your site is optimized for new customer conversion, you will not get a good conversion rate on your inbound traffic. To illustrate, a landing page that is the destination for performance ads will need to have probably 100-200 small changes made to color, copy, photos, offers, pop-up second chance offers etc before it converts well. Similarly, you will probably have to experiment with 10-20 ads before you find one that converts well which will be some combination of text, image and offer. Typically you only find someone with both skill sets in an experienced ecommerce marketer rather than someone who specializes in driving traffic.

Randhir Hebbar VP of Client Servicing, BI and Digital @Convergytics | CRM, Marketing, Digital & Social Media Analytics Leader

July 8th, 2016

Angela - You need a marketer who is also an analytics specialist or get an analytics agency such as Convergytics to partner with your marketer to make sure you are building the most optimal experience for your customers and also not losing visitors who come on the site, but don't buy right away (which is probably the majority of them).

PS: Do check out our ebook on 43 ways to optimize an eCommerce site for ideas on this.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

July 9th, 2016

If you farm this talent out (contract) you lose the benefit of learning how to grow your customer base, and you are forever dependent on this expense. As Piyush stated earlier, it doesn't matter what you call the position, it only matters the list of tasks you want completed. You're thinking in a resume mindset and not in an entrepreneur mindset if you're stuck on a title.

Playing the long game with customer development is called "inbound marketing," which describes utilizing your controlled resources to hold and increase the attention of people seeking your product. The other side, the push side, is called advertising, where you distribute a message to draw interest for your product. It sounds like you're hoping for customers already seeking your product. Check out and do the free inbound marketing training and certification yourself. You can do it in one solid day. If after that you don't have a clear understanding of exactly what you need, then you need to be advertising instead of inbound marketing. If you do learn what you need, you'll have a point by point list of what skills you're trying to hire and be able to evaluate their performance with real understanding of the process.

Joe Rodriguez Product Manager: Lover of Legos, Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets.

July 7th, 2016

I guess I would ask what is your goal?  I am guessing it is not just getting eyes on the site but also getting sales and generating revenue and return customers correct?  What stage is you is your online store in?  Did you just launch or have you been around for a while?  Is your product niche or is it competing with many other stores?  What type of marketing have you done in the past?  What traction are you getting?  Depending on the maturity of your site you might just need a marketing professional who is more of a generalist who can experiment and find out what tools and processes help you get eyes on the site  and convert them in buyers.  There is no one way that works as a cookie cutter solution.  Experiment and see what works best.

Jeff Mason

July 8th, 2016

Typically, a customer acquisition specialist focuses on driving traffic.  Regardless of the title, you need someone who can drive traffic and convert it once it's there.  Since most - not all - but most sites are found via search you need expertise in SEO/SEM.  This involves more than just buying keywords.  It also involves the structure and content of your site, links, and key to all of this is content.  This is why content marketing is so important.  Content marketing is essential to improving search engine relevancy as well as building brand.  Therefore, you cannot just hire an SEO/SEM consultant who can just do a technical SEO of your site and buy some keywords.  Those days are over.  You need these skills along with content marketing expertise.  This holds true whether you are a B2B or B2C company.  And of course, social media plays into this as well - as a mechanism for distributing your content.  The use of social media is part of an effective content marketing effort.  So to summarize and answer your question, you need the following skills:  - SEO/SEM Expertise - Content Marketing Strategic & Tactical Expertise (this includes the ability to create engaging content) - Social Media Expertise (primarily to build audience and move content) The above would be a great start.  Ultimately you leverage these skills to drive traffic, convert to leads, make sales and then you need to give your customers a great product and more importantly a great experience working with you.  If that happens then you develop brand loyalty which will lead to viral spread of word of mouth which is the best lead generation tool of all.   If you would like some help please feel free to contact me on Linked In and I should be able to point you in the right direction.

Sidney Sclar SID the SECURITY PRO at

July 7th, 2016


Kym Vance VP, Business Solutions at V12 Group

July 8th, 2016

I would concur with the other commenters here.  It's important to look at, and plan for, the entire prospect journey.  Because you're an ecommerce site, a digital marketer with end to end (prospect to CRM) and multi-channel (email, display and social - even direct mail, possibly) experience would be the ideal person to fulfill your objectives.

Mrityunjay Narayanan Education Architect

July 8th, 2016

A Customer Acquisition Specialist can create a process by which you can acquire more customers. Whether it's online or a physical store your product needs to match with customer requirements. Regards. Mrityunjay

Angela W UX / UI Designer looking for a co-founding opportunity

July 7th, 2016

So "customer acquisition" only means bringing traffic in but not converting it? How do I find a marketer that can do what I want? Is there any specifics in your skills list I need to look out for?