Here's a little secret: Almost all digital communication is actually measurable (direct) marketing. And, if done correctly, it will fatten the bottom line.

Just like old-school direct marketing, digital thrives on data; it can be measured and tested, and we can learn something from each campaign that we successfully complete, offering hope for ever-improving results as we move forward onto our next marketing/communication effort.

As a seasoned direct response marketing guy who has also done dozens of digital marketing campaigns, I've put together a checklist to keep in mind as you create your next digital marketing masterpiece.

1. Establish credibility from the onset

People are more skeptical today. They do not want to click on your banner ad, visit your landing page, open your email, watch your video, or read about your product or service in social media channels. Understand that.

Customer/client testimonials are a great way to establish credibility; but, better yet, be consistent in always approaching your messaging from the angle of what common problem most of your prospects have that your product/service can fix. Now don't laugh... but, to see how it is done, watch several well produced long-form and short-form infomercials.

2. Give your prospects a reason to act

What compels a prospect to click your ad after seeing? You need to prompt the prospect to take the desired action you are seeking, in a soft-sell kind of way. If you can give them a reason to act, your campaigns will work better.

Keep in mind, as you determine how to get them to take your desired action, that most people hate to be sold to. However, a lot of those same people love to buy. It's all in how you position it. Think about the ads that you click and why you do so.

3. Think and write from the prospect's point of view

It's not about you, the advertiser or marketer; it is all about me the reader, your prospect. Use "you" in your copy and talk more about them and less about you. Lose the jargon and simplify things. People today crave simplicity, so keep your prose simple if you want to succeed.

Imagine sitting across from your prospect at their kitchen table and having a conversation with them. If you can write from that vantage point, you'll be able to simply articulate the features and benefits of your product/service.

4. Segment

How you would market to a married mother of four is different from how you'd market to a single dad of four, right? In B2B, how you talk to the CEO is different from how you communicate with the IT director, correct? Then why does so much digital marketing treat the space like mass media properties? I refer to this approach as the mass media mindset. As digital marketers, we need to lose this mode of thinking—fast. The digital space is the most segmentable of all media; to be the most successful, take advantage of that fact.

Begin by profiling your current customers and modeling your prospect universe from both an offline and an online vantage point. Doing so will give you more information in the event you decide to turn a single-channel campaign into a multichannel campaign. See what segments emerge and understand what story your data is telling you. By understanding each key segment, you can create message relevancy more quickly and thus lift results and ROI.

5. Your media mix is crucial

Talk about options... Today we have so many media choices, to say it is overwhelming is an understatement. Determining your optimal media mix is the key to the outcome of your campaigns. As in direct marketing, start small and add one media option at a time, whenever possible, to determine what's working and what is not.

Keep in mind that the media mix will likely vary by segment, and that's a big benefit that digital offers over more traditional media: uber-segmentation and customizable media plans based on the behaviors of each prospect group you uncover.

6. Ask for the sale, or at least have a call to action

Do not be afraid to ask the prospect to take the next step. Clickthroughs rarely matter; it's the conversions that count. If you do not have a call to action or you don't ask for the sale, you are leaving money on the table. At the very least, get them to visit one of the landing pages you set up and ask them for the order there.

The measurable marketing playbook says to ask for the order and then ask again. For inspiration, I refer you once again to infomercials and good direct mail copy.

7. Test

As marketers we should be excited at all the testing options that digital provides us, combined with the ability to read results and adjust in real time. We have creative tests, copy tests, messaging/offer tests, media tests, landing page tests, and on and on.

Yet, we still do not test enough. Testing is what allows us to determine what is working the best and to do more of it.

We can act faster than ever today thanks to digital. So test away and learn and grow.

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A Seven-Item Checklist for Measurable Marketing in the Digital Age

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image of Grant A. Johnson

Grant A. Johnson is the founder of Johnson Direct and Digital. He has been a measurable marketer for nearly 30 years. Reach him via

LinkedIn: Grant A Johnson