How might you get your new salesman to work so hard? And how much should you pay for "said salesman"?

You might be wondering, how you get your new salesman to work that well? It will take a little more than your smart nephew in his garage, unfortunately.

A well oiled site and online conversion tactics takes strategy, personas, tested site architecture, copywriting, design, search engine optimized (SEO), maybe a good content management system which would mean coding it in such a way that the web crawlers see it…and the list goes on.

The internet is fast becoming the most accessed form of media, and websites have become the most essential marketing tool for businesses. It's no longer a question of whether or not you have a site -- it's all about having an effective one. One click from a customer is a valuable opportunity that can make all the difference. If created properly, a website should instinctively lead visitors where you want them to follow. And Personas and a mental model can help with that.

Despite the known value a good website can bring, take a moment and think about just how a bad website might serve you. Try putting yourself in the shows of a consumer, I'm sure this will be easy, as we have all been a consumer once in our lifetimes. So as a consumer you are considering buying a pair of shoes for your nieces birthday, and you just got home from work and it's too late to hit the shops. Like many you hit the computer, to do your much needed research, and you go to a site with the idea that this is the item you want, you've selected the item, and says it's in stock. Now you are forced to fill out a lengthy form to purchase the item, you hit submit and you missed something, ACK! it's cleared your form and you have to re-fill it out again. After 2 attempts., you quit out of frustration and buy a pair of shoes from another site. BOOM lost customer.

There are many poor websites you encounter every day. While not every business needs its site to be a high-budget, multimedia extravaganza, every business does need its site to be effective, and properly targeted to its audience.

Certainly no one sets out with the goal of producing an ineffective website. Why, then, are poor websites so prevalent? The answer is almost always that there was not enough time spent planning. (The harsher reality is that many do not even have a plan at all.) People rush into putting up a quick site because they think it will hold them over until they get around to the big launch.

Website design

This is a fallacy -- it is almost always far more difficult to rebrand an existing website than to start with a good one. In many industries there seems to be a huge gap between resources devoted to "old-world" marketing strategies and newer forms of media. Make no mistake about it -- great websites result from an ideal combination of marketing, branding, fresh content, and matching the right technology to the right design.Time and time again my team is asked what it takes to successfully rebrand a website. All too often we're asked specific questions, such as "should my site be programmed in Flash?" or "are drop-down menus a good idea?" Sadly, questions like these do not get to the heart of the issues that need to be considered when building from scratch or rebranding your website.

The biggest -- and most common -- mistake we see is that people begin their redesign without clear goals for the initiative. Most sites are redesigned for purely cosmetic reasons, which overlook the more crucial content, navigational, and marketing challenges that lie underneath.

So how much should this effective website cost if it's your most valuable sales person?

THE SHORT ANSWER: Basically a web site should always be designed to convert visitors into prospective customers.

So, perhaps consider the cost of your website in the context of what you pay your salespeople? That is the amount you should invest in your site and online conversion tactics.

THE LONG ANSWER: Look at your annual media budget and set aside at least 50% for your site and online conversion tactics. Test regularly to see what works. Tweak and repeat until you see the desired return.