List of online marketing channels with their pros and cons, from most effective to least effective. Pros are market with + / Cons with .

Online Marketing Channels

Affiliate Marketing

CPL, CPS, CPA and revenue share deals (CPC and CPM deals are not really affiliate marketing).

+ You pay only for results, so almost no wasted money if done right.
Often transparent and fair.
Sometimes it’s difficult to reach a big audience, in case no one wants to advertise you.
Difficult to begin co-operation with some affiliate networks.

Email marketing 

+ Very cheap.
+ Works even with no targeting whatsoever.
There has been a huge black-washing campaign since the dawn of the internet to harm the reputation of email marketing.
Spam-filters, spam-boxes, and various useless organizations are fighting against email marketing, or how they call it” spam”.
Lots of low-quality email databases for sale.
Has experienced massive inflation with results since it was born.

SMS marketing

+ Relatively cheap.
+ Has much higher open and click-rate than emails.
+ No spam-boxes for your SMS; every SMS gets delivered to the inbox folder.
+ Less competition; still not many are doing SMS marketing today.
+ Easier to get data than for email marketing, because there are not so many fake phone numbers around.
+ Works even with no targeting whatsoever.
Local mobile operators are starting to block marketing SMS (but still not as much as email providers).

Other Direct Marketing

Direct messaging on social media, instant messaging apps, forums etc.

+ Cheap.
+ You can benefit from social media exposure without spending a lot of money on social media campaigns.
Many platforms block advertising messages very aggressively and ban accounts.
Often cannot be fully automated.
Is often viewed as spam.

Influencer Marketing

Direct deals with social media page owners or blogs.

+ Often cheaper than Social Media Ads or dealing through Ad Networks.
+ An endorsement can boosts sales more effectively than simple ads.
+ Some people may agree to promote you for free product samples.
Can be time-consuming to find influencers and to negotiate deals with them.
Well known influencers ask for insane prices.
Some influencers can refuse to promote you if they don’t like your products.
Some amount of scammers.


+ Can bring a lot of high-quality traffic.
+ Once established, effects are long term.
Extremely hard to get high-quality backlinks.
It may take years to achieve significant results.
Can turn out to be very expensive.
Risk of being punished for black hat techniques.
You depend on Google, which changes search engine algorithms all the time, so it’s possible that after hard work and some initial success, your page will drop down significantly.
Very hard to calculate ROI, since it takes so long for results to appear.

The borderline of profitability. Marketing channels that are below this are rarely profitable.

Social Media Ads 

+ Good targeting options.
Requires a lot of optimization and testing.
Difficult to master.
Everyone is doing it, so the competition is huge.

Google Ads

Very expensive.
 Requires a lot of optimization and testing.
Difficult to master.
Everyone is doing it, so the competition is huge.
Some amount of fake clicks.
Lacks many targeting features.

Other CPC/CPM based ads

Display ads, banners, pop-up/pop-unders, etc.

Usually highly overpriced.
Traffic quality is often very low.
Sometimes requires optimization.
Can be a lot of bot traffic and fake clicks.

Offline Ads

TV, radio, newspaper and street ads (mostly brand marketing).

Nearly useless for online business.
Not possible to integrate links.
Almost no targeting options.
Virtually not possible to get any data on the success of the campaign.

P.S. If I didn’t write some obvious points, it’s because all of these channels have them, and therefore it is not necessary to mention below each of them.

Did I miss something? Write your thoughts in the comments!


Filip Poutintsev, the Chief Editor of Honest Pros and Cons, is a long term business writer, who has been featured in various online publications such as Forbes, CoinTelegraph and HackerNoon. Now he writes exclusively for Honest Pros and Cons.