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This is how your customers test you online

I have an odd little trait. If I am to do business with a company on the internet, I will often send them a test message to see if there is someone there. If I get a response the same day, I can be pretty sure that they take their internet presence seriously.

Many of your future customers will test you in the same way. They will ask questions about the same thing to lots of companies that deliver the same thing as you deliver - it's easy to do so online. When they've done it, they will wait and see what happens. One thing you can be sure of - the one that responds quickly are more likely to pop up in the customer's mind later on when it comes to buying.

However, it's not always easy to prioritize e-mails. I don't know why, but it's probably because phone calls and meetings with people in real life are more tangible. It's only when you discover what a great source of business e-mail is that you will begin to take it seriously - and some companies never take the chance to discover it. Good for you if that’s one of your competitors.

A good start is to establish an e-mail policy for you and your employees. Here are a few thoughts to give your business better chances.

The only thing you need to do is consider a few points:

1. How quickly will you respond to e-mails? Are there different priorities? Which ones?
2. What e-mail address do you have that will get all the spam? Who is responsible for the letters forwarded from that address?
3. What happens if someone is sick or away? Will you be able to read each other's mail or is each employee responsible for using his/her own auto-responder features?
4. Is everyone allowed to write and respond freely to e-mails or are there special reasons for having a common tone and shape to all letters written?
5. What are the rules when you send and receive files? What do you get and what can't you send and receive from your company via e-mail?

It's all pretty simple, really.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.