In today’s survival-of-the-fittest business environment, you don’t have time or money to invest in anything that doesn’t contribute directly to your bottom line…

So, what’s your website doing for you?

Does it directly contribute to customer acquisition and retention? It can, if you make it a vibrant extension of your organization’s business strategy.

Start with business goals

You know that any sales or marketing initiative must be the product of your specific revenue goals – what you need to accomplish – and of your corporate strategy to achieve those goals. Therefore, step one in creating your web presence should be to understand where the Internet fits in your overall strategy.

You could strategically implement a website in one of two ways. You can establish it as a static placeholder, like an annual report. That’s easy just fill it up and forget it. But if you go that direction, you can also forget about the interactive power of the Internet, because a passive, web-based brochure will systematically eliminate every opportunity to pull visitors into your site and your organization.

Or you could do it right create and maintain your website as a dynamic publishing platform that actively supports your goals and converts prospects to clients. With the proper care and feeding, your web presence can become a living, breathing communications vehicle. As a vital and vibrant component of your sales and marketing strategy it will contribute directly to your ROI.

Build on the right technology

The second consideration in creating an effective website is its underlying technology, especially the content management system. The right CMS is a powerful, intuitive tool for changing content. The logical content managers for your website are communications or marketing professionals, so using a tool that is fundamentally similar to Microsoft® Word gives them confidence to control your site.

Otherwise you face a painful sequence of events you may already have experienced: “Here’s what I’d like changed; Get that to the developers; They put the changes into html code; They let you look at it; You request changes; They make them; Repeat…etc.” Eventually something ends up online, but, just like having someone else write a memo for you because you’re not allowed to touch the keyboard, the process is painful and ineffective. The right CMS can change that overnight.

Take charge of invisible content

The next level is the invisible content – metadata, meta-tags, keywords, page titles – things not seen by users, but tracked by search engines and tools that compile information about the Internet and websites. You’ve heard the phrase Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is based upon the direct relationship between keywords buried in your site’s code and the content of a specific web page. To be most effective, the ongoing management of invisible con” tent must correspond to every enhancement in visible web content.

Make content work for you

Visible content – what you might previously have considered the entirety of your site – is really the fourth consideration in the care and feeding of your web presence. It begins with the site’s organization, which directs the visitor’s experience and is critical to the site’s usability (ease of use).

Of course your site will come alive with graphic design and content.. . But what are you presenting? And more importantly, why? Visitors come to your site for specific reasons, so what do people want to know about your product or service? Make those valuable resources readily available to them and your home page “sticky” (engaging and current), and they’ll be drawn in. Better yet, they’ll return, take time to explore, and contact you for more information.

Measure success; apply what you learn

Measurement is the next important component in the care and feeding of your Internet presence. There are powerful, free statistical website analysis packages available use them to determine how people interact with your site. You won’t know who’s visiting, but you can tell how many, where they are from, how long they spend, how many pages they visit… phenomenal amounts of information from which to extrapolate a profile of your users, analyze traffic and evaluate their interaction.

Keep it fresh

Make your website the termination point for all eCommunications – mass e-marketing, signatures on one”to”one emails, blogs, Google AdWords, every” thing – and the final consideration in the care and feeding of your web presence logically becomes promotion. Promotion drives traffic to your site, and constantly updating its content keeps visitors coming back. Never stop “feeding your website,” not if you want it to be an active agent in the acquisition of clients for your company’s products or services.

So, what’s your website doing for you?

Your website can be much more than a high level marketing effort if you make it a priority and consistently maintain its message as part of your organization’s overall business strategy. A “well fed” website can convert visitors to prospects, and open the lines of electronic communication that will lead directly to your bottom line.