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Your First Step in Building an Online Strategy



The first step any business should take when starting to build an online marketing strategy is simple: Listen.

You won’t know how to best approach the market and the online audience until you have listened properly. It’s the same rule as for professional sales: Listen first and find out what the needs are, then apply the appropriate tactics and resources to efficiently get the message across.

You listen by researching Twitter, Tubmlr, Facebook, and any other online community where you can imagine that your customers are having conversations about your company and products. Sometimes you will see that there’s an existing fan base already, basically providing free marketing for your company. Other times you might find mainly complaints and dissatisfaction.

Make sure to properly understand the conversation before you get involved. When you fully understand the existing conversations, you will be better prepared to develop an effective approach for your online marketing efforts.

Guidelines for Online Interactions



There are a few basic guidelines which you should always keep in mind when it comes to eMarketing and your approach to online interactions. These are Authenticity, Transparency and Real-Time Response.
 
Authenticity
Today’s customers and visitors are smarter than ever before and are looking for authentic, value-adding content and communications. As a company you need to keep this in mind at all times. Having no content at all is better than content with no or very limited value. The same is true for communications; an apologetic reply to a dissatisfied customer needs to be sincere and lead to real action to have a positive influence on the customer satisfaction.

Transparency
Bring all discussions related to your company’s products and services out in daylight and accept that not all comments will be positive. Whenever negative feedback is received you should take the chance to create a robust and public company-customer dialogue. Criticism that is handled properly makes a much better impression than a one-sided conversation or no conversation at all.

Real-Time Response
We live in the age of iPhones and 24-hour connectivity and customers expect immediate response from most companies. If you are in a B2B relationship this can also have a direct impact on your customer’s own business. Accept that office hours are not respected the way they used to be and take on the response-time challenge to stay competitive.

eMarketing in 4 Steps

 

This article is based on resources and guidelines from quirk.biz, however interpreted by myself.

The development of an eMarketing campaign is a process consisting of 3 main parts: Think, Create and Engage. Each part should then be improved in a continuous process in the 4th step: Optimize.

Think
Perform the necessary market research and make sure to understand what your potential customers need, what the competition is like and in what direction the market is trending. Also write down a strategy clarifying your objectives, how you will provide value to your customers, and how to approach the marketplace.

Create
Now it’s time to start executing: Hire photographers and video makers. Design and publish websites and Facebook pages. Produce content for blogs and Twitter. The key in this part is to know and understand your audience, so that you can optimize your design and content for your customers.

Engage
So you have a website, a Facebook page, and a blog with great content? For these to do any good you need to build and engage an audience. This means Google Ads, Search Engine Optimization and many other things. The key in this part is Value: An ad can draw first-time visitors to your Facebook page, but to keep them and maybe get a Like as well you need to give something in return in terms of content value.

Optimize
What’s your numbers in terms of click-rate, bounce-rate and regular visitors? What’s your conversion rate on your email campaigns? By continuously analyzing and improving your numbers you can maximize your return on investment.

Note: This article is mainly to provide a “thinking framework” for anyone looking to get into eMarketing. However, any comments regarding specific tools and methods are welcome. I might use such information in future posts related to this topic.

Co-Founder Screening Call




One way to find co-founders for a start-up is by advertising on online boards and networking sites. To find out which respondents to pick for face-to-face meetings some of the standard recruitment questions will be very useful. First have a quick look at the candidate’s CV and make sure his or her skills are relevant to your business, then pick the phone up and find out about the candidate’s availability, location and track-record.

Availability


Are you currently working or unemployed? Are you involved in other start-up projects as well?

You need to find somebody willing to invest full-time in your start-up, which probably means 8-12 hours a day. In relations to availability you might want to ask about personal commitments as well, such as children or other dependents. I would however recommend asking more personal questions at the face-to-face meeting.

Location


Where are you currently located?

Working next to each other in an office gives a great boost to productivity and morale. Some distance start-ups have been very successful, they are however exceptions. If you are living in the same city you should consider renting office space as soon as you have decided to work together.

Track-Record


Do you have a portfolio showing previous work?

You don’t want to spend time and effort on meeting up face-to-face and then realize that the candidate’s previous performance isn’t living up to your basic standards. Even students with no work experience should have personal portfolios proving their skills.

Make sure to ask the above questions, spend less time on time-wasters, and spend more time on getting the best co-founders aboard.