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Online advertising offers a true opportunity for brand-to-consumer interaction and a direct connection to a company's business model.

We are past the days of pure experimentation with this medium. It is a proven and crucial component of effective marketing programs, providing the “best of all worlds” in regard to branding and direct response impact.

Yet online advertising is not like television, radio, print or even direct mail advertising, and cannot be approached the same way. To take full advantage of its strengths, marketers must be proficient with the analytics of the medium and the concept of campaign optimization.

Online advertising is rich with data, but unless you know how to use it to consistently optimize performance, the information is worthless. Here is a quick look at the basics.

Set and Communicate Relevant Goals

Before embarking on an online campaign, know the average value of a customer, or even better, the average value by customer segment. This number is critical to the marketing plan and becomes the foundation for targeting and calculating true return on investment.

Communicate this information to your online agency or media partner, creating a benchmark to meet and beat.

Know Before You Go: Test, Test, Test

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Melissa Honabach Ms. Honabach is chief operating officer for Atlanta-based Ant Farm Interactive, a leading marketing communications firm specializing in interactive advertising and customer relationship management.