The paid vs. organic battle has been going on for as long as eCommerce has been around. In an ideal situation, any marketer would choose both, but if there can only be one choice the decision becomes much tougher. They both provide benefits and obstacles of their own.

For instance, paid helps retailers show in top positions, without spending the time they would have to spend with organic. Building organic traffic can take several months, or even a year to see significant results, but paid results can be seen within a couple of days or a week.

On the other hand, paid can get pricey, which can get tricky with a low budget. If the cost per click or CPC is too high, it may not be cost-effective to run campaigns if there is no ROI behind it, unless it’s only for brand awareness or market share.

There are also other factors to consider, such as usual purchasing journey, device, and user experience. With mobile devices, there is a much more limited amount of real estate that listings can take. This small space tends to give paid a prime spot, especially for shopping ads. This type of Google ads brings in more than 50 percent of all Google paid search clicks across devices.

Let’s discuss the subject more in depth and evaluate the options to find out which would be the best fit for your business.

Define Your Goal and Timeline

Ask yourself what your goal is and what your timeline is to evaluate if you should consider trying paid or organic first. For instance, if you’re trying to test an MVP or Minimal Viable Product to show investors that you have a valuable eCommerce business, paid would be your best choice. It will allow you test your product or idea in a short period of time and enable you to quantify your cost per acquisition to know how much investment you actually need.

For example, if you spend $1,000 in paid advertising and get 10 purchases, you’ll know that each new customer will cost you $100 to get. From there, you can calculate the budget you would need to get x more leads.

On the other hand, if you already have a product that is selling, and you’re just trying to increase your market share, organic may be the best choice for you. It will allow you to have multiple listings and take up more real estate than paid advertising. Keep in mind that this strategy will take longer to yield results. 

Resources and Budget

Other things to keep in mind are resources, budget, and your level of expertise. As we’ve mentioned before, organic takes a good amount of time to yield results, which requires resources and patience. You’ll need to do eCommerce SEO efforts, such as creating blogs and optimizing website copy, which can be very time-consuming.

A blog, alone, can take many hours to create; then it has to be revised, proofread, and published on the site. That has to be done multiple times over the course of months to see results. Without a writing resource or an SEO expert, it would take too much time away from the core activities of a single business owner.

Improving organic traffic with SEO also takes a certain level of expertise and careful strategy. You have to be on top of the latest SEO trends and learn how to do every single task in hopes of seeing some kind of results within weeks or months.

On the other hand, the issue with paid can be your budget. The cost per click may be too expensive to afford as a startup and, in that case, organic may be the best choice. It also requires a good level of pay per click or eCommerce PPC expertise to be able to get the most out of every marketing dollar.

However, errors can be detected fast, and it requires less upkeep than organic. Once campaigns are optimized, you can just spend a couple of hours per week checking that everything is running smoothly, and you may not need extra help to handle it.

Analyze Your Competition

Last, but not least, is analyzing your competition. Are your competitors advertising heavily or just doing organic? If they are just doing organic, you can get the upper hand by advertising. Vice versa, if they are putting all their efforts into paid, you may want to invest a small amount in paid and invest more heavily in improving your organic rankings.

Also, consider your competitor’s resources and budget. If you’re competing with a big eCommerce company for products similar to yours, they are always going to have more budget and resources. Therefore, you need to find a different product approach, or maybe a different advertising channel. For instance, if they are just advertising on Google Shopping, you can get creative with a social media campaign.

Final Words

Personally, if I were to make a choice for eCommerce, I would choose paid. You’ll be able to get faster results, get a chance to test different targets, and increase your reach. However, the absolute best results are obtained when both organic and paid are combined. For instance, if you attract a potential buyer through a paid campaign, but they are not ready to buy, you can convince them to come back to your eCommerce store with organic posts.

Use the information above and consider your particular case scenario to make the best decision. Just keep in mind that, whether you use organic or paid efforts, there’s always going to be a monetary, time, and resource investment attached to it.


Organic efforts don’t really end up being free, because they always require some type of other investment, and sometimes your time can be more valuable than an advertising budget. Now, over to you: What has been your personal experience? Have you had more luck with organic or paid? And which type of paid advertising is your favorite? Comment below!

Ron is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of Visiture. He is supported by a team of creative geniuses that strive to help clients achieve new levels of success. His passion is helping eCommerce business owners and marketing professionals navigate the search marketing landscape and use data to make more effective decisions to drive new traffic and conversions. Follow me @Visiture_Search