Several times a week, I speak with perplexed business owners who understand they need to do a better job with their online marketing; these owners want to create qualified leads and generate more revenue but find online marketing to be overwhelming. I even speak with long-time marketers who find certain parts of online marketing difficult to grasp.

The confusion is understandable. Keeping up with changes in online marketing is a full-time job. The big players like Google, Facebook, and Linked in regularly move the goalposts. And new technologies emerge every hour. I want to simplify and demystify online marketing by providing these keys to successful online marketing.

One. The Business Model is THE Fundamental. Your business model is the foundation of your marketing. Simply saying, “I want more business” won’t achieve the results you want. Successful online marketing begins with a clear vision of the direction of the business and the revenue goals.

Two. Use Direct Marketing. Yes-building and maintaining ‘brand integrity’ is important but getting people to buy what you sell is much, much more important. So this means using a direct response approach to selling. Yes-there’s room for creativity and fun but you must apply the fundamentals of direct marketing if you want your online marketing to produce a significant ROI. If you know everything there is to know about direct marketing, proceed to key #4.

Three. Learn Everything You Can about Direct Marketing. Attend seminars. Read books. Hire a direct marketing expert for a day. Understanding direct marketing is one of the best investments you can ever make in your business.

Four. Only Work with Direct Marketing Specialists. If you’re hiring internally, find employees who really understand direct response. If you’re hiring consultants or an agency, make sure they’re card carrying members of the ‘direct response’ party.

Five. Get the Strategy Correct. I’m all for companies plunging in and getting started right away. Eventually, you have to base your online marketing on a sound strategy.

Six. Measure Everything. Test. Find out what’s working and what’s not and move forward based on real data-not hunches.

Seven. Get Traffic but Don’t Overspend. You can generate website traffic through pay per click, search engine optimization, online advertising and, get this, the mail…but don’t overspend. Again…measure everything so you allocate resources to what works. Understand the havoc Google’s “Stupid Tax” can wreak on your marketing budget.

Eight. Use Old School Tactics. Guarantees. Testimonials. Upwelling. Downselling. It’s all extremely effective.

Nine. Get Current Customers to Buy More. Getting customers is hard so work to maximize lifetime value.

Ten. Build and Maintain a Huge Database. You may not be able to get people to buy immediately. That’s life. But get them to opt into a database and nurture the leads.

Eleven. Remember that Content is King. When you provide information to current and prospective customers, make sure the information (the content) is extremely valuable. Investing in superior content is a relatively inexpensive way to separate yourself from the competition.

Twelve. Study and Emulate the Greats. The great ‘offline’ marketers quickly became the great ‘online’ marketers by taking the same strategies that worked in print and applying them to the online marketplace. Study the big names of the online world and emulate them.

Thirteen. Make it Simple. Make your website easy to navigate. And make it easy to buy. Many companies spend small fortunes on their online marketing only to see it fail-because the website is difficult to use.

Fourteen. Use Social Media to Generate Leads and Traffic. Social media is not a strategy. It’s one of many tools to generate leads.

Fifteen. Enjoy the Online Marketing Journey. Getting it right is a lot of fun and I enjoy helping clients succeed. Follow the proven principles knowing that you’ll succeed.