The Super Simple No B.S. Rules of Digital Marketing | Gravitate

The Super Simple No B.S. Rules of Digital Marketing

A common pitfall people make when starting out in e-commerce and marketing is that they try to innovate on something that frankly doesn’t need improvement. Re-inventing the wheel when it comes to traffic and conversion leads to dead ends, wasted efforts and effectively shows that there are definite rules that one shouldn’t follow when putting together a digital campaign. The rules as outlined by the seminal book written by marketing legend Dan Kennedy (link), and give a straight line approach that has been used for years by millions of marketers. 

The rules guide a buyer from first glance of a well crafted ad, to the final steps of pulling out their credit cards to buy. Companies like Shopify and Stripe have brought this direct marketing approach to the digital age, but the same age-old rules will guide you to the height of e-commerce domination. 

The following are the Direct Response Marketing Rules to live by (for the digital age):

Rule 1#: There needs to a concise, well-designed and obvious offer, ALWAYS!

The offer outlines all the key details anyone would want to know about the product or service being sold. It absolutely need to be clear and concise and break down any objections the customer might have about the purchase. A properly constructed offer should contain a headline, which is meant to draw in the attention of the reader so should be concise and targeted. Below the headline a cursory description of product benefits and features should lead into a call-to-action, to either buy, subscribe or connect in some way. All of the components of the offer, when thinking in e-commerce terms, fit in a section we call, “above the fold”. This section also needs to have a hero image, that gives some inspired sense of what’s being sold. 

Here’s a great example of an “above the fold” offer by the shaving line Harry’s: 


Here the call-to-action is to start a free trial, which is effectively their bail to get users into the sales funnel. From this step, you’ve captured your prospect, and applying the rest of the rules, you’ll lead them down the sales funnel to their first purchase!

Rule # 2 -  There will be a signal of scarcity that urges your customer to respond immediately

In traditional direct marketing, this was achieved through pushy sales copy, urging the reader to buy now while supplies last. In print, it’s almost impossible to know when the ad started running and what stock of inventory may be left. In the digital age, this buy trigger gets a upgrade and takes the form of constantly depleting inventory that is updated by the minute on the landing page in a digital timer. There can also be a time trigger, giving until a certain date and time to buy. These triggers give a sense of urgency and are psychologically proven to get people into a buying frenzy. 

The following is an example of using scarcity to urge a reader to respond now:

This deal site is build around the scarcity effect. If the user wants to get the best deal possible, they are forced to respond before the deal timer runs out. Some other examples of the respond now effect are showing how many other people are looking at the item at one time, price slashing and seasonal offers that expire after a certain holiday. 

Rule # 3 - You will give clear instructions

Clear communication is key when marketing anything, and the more directive the messaging, the easier time the prospect will have making a buy decision, and more importantly, the happier the prospect will be with the product once received. There’s nothing worst than getting home and finally getting the package you’ve been waiting for, only to be let down with the contents inside. Clear messaging and instructions will ensure that customers know exactly what they’re getting and are satisfied with the final product.

Rule # 4 - There will be tracking, measurement and accountability

An essential habit when running any campaign is to take a scientific approach to data analytics that give you informed feedback on where you market lies, who your 1 key fan is, and where you should put retargeting efforts. Making decisions based on whims and emotional judgments is a surefire way to fail. When you put all your stock into the numbers, you’re guaranteed to win. The way we measure in the digital age is with a simple line of text called a Pixel. By creating a pixel and associating it with your website, you’re allowing Facebook to gather pertinent data about who engages in your site and how. Once you are certain of who’s buying, you can hone in on lookalike audiences and only target this niched down demographic. 

Google analytics provides dashboards that can give you an infographic measurement of your websites performance.  More advanced tool such as klipfolio (below) allowing you to customize further customize your desired dashboard.

Rule #5 – You will build a brand using social media

This rule has historically been considered brand building, but the modern reboot of the rule is social media building. A brand can easily be built these days using social media and paid advertising. Driving traffic requires great content and the right targeting campaign, and most importantly, a convincing brand story. These forces combine to create a powerful brand and a source of traffic that will constantly generate new sales leads. Gary Vaynerchuk is a classic example of what happens when you set up the right social channels, and shout a convincing brand stay,

Rule # 6 - There will be follow up

Follow up takes many forms in this day and age. The traditional direct response approach musters images of crusty sales people calling from a list of qualified leads, usually annoying the poor recipient on the other line. In the digital world, follow up means auto-responders, sales funnels and retargeting campaigns. Adroll is a handy tool that lets you retarget any customer that’s clicked, engaged or showed interest in your product in anyway. Services like Click Funnel allows you to set up chains of emails that get sent out to your list on a scheduled timeline. An apps offered here at is designed to conduct follow up campaigns on people who’ve abandon carts on your Shopify store.  There are many ways to automate your retargeting and customer follow up, the important thing is that you include it in your marketing.

Rule # 7- There will be strong copy

This rule pretty much ties together every other one, and without powerful sales copy, none of the steps outlined above mean a damn. This includes your headlines, your description of benefits and features, a lead in to a call-to-action and everything else that will keep your buyer engaged. People have incredibly short attention spans in the digital age, so it’s important to keep copy concise and entertaining. Given your readers attention span, copy should also give some visually enticing personification of the product being described and allow their imagination to run wild.


Direct marketing holds the rules of the game to landing a prospect into your sales funnel and engaging them in such a way that triggers a sale. The good news is you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and the rules will stay the same no matter what campaign you put out. Your job is the use the tools, tricks and your personal branding touches to move the funnel forward and cut through the B.S in the crowded marketplace. Happy Selling!

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