As consultants, we rely heavily on our website to represent us. But if we don’t ask what it can or should do we could miss out on its full potential. By posing the questions in these posts I hope to get a handle on how to make our website – and our business – better. can you engage the visitor and hold her interest?

You expect your website to attract potential clients, you surely hope to engage them when they get to the site, but are you able to share something with them – in exchange for a way to keep in touch – before they leave?

Your prospect needs to hear your message several times before she can grasp what you do. One visit to a website, even a brilliant one, is not enough. The time between the first visit and when she selects a vendor could be a long time – maybe several months. Will she return to your site five, six or seven times? Since it is unlikely that a first time visitor will pick up the phone to ask for a quote, you will need to nurture that contact over time.

Although conversion – where the website visitor completes your call to action – usually occurs at the end of the visit, it’s where planning needs to start. What can your prospect do while visiting your website? Register for an event? Use a tool that makes their work easier? Download information? Preview your eBook? Adding a call to action and a method to capture your visitor’s email should be part and parcel of your overall marketing strategy.

Not really interested in adding a call to action? Remember this: If your website does not offer something of value to your prospects, you will struggle to build an online presence, and you will have a difficult time developing leads for your business. Hinge, a marketing firm, has an outstanding library of research and ideas to get you started (also note the site’s skillfully implemented calls to action).

When a new marketing idea strikes, be in the habit of implementing something that triggers a response and a way to capture information. For business development, that’s where the action is.

The Washington, DC, area is a haven for consultants, many of them new business owners after years of working in government agencies or for government contractors. Most of them are familiar with search engine optimization (SEO) and online marketing, but not how to apply what they know to their own website. So, when my colleague Paula Tarnapol Whitacre invited me to participate in Effective Online Marketing for the group Consulting Women, I gladly accepted. This is the first of a 4-part post from the panel discussion.

Part 2: Be a Hero!

Part 3: Think Local

Part 4: Watch Your Language