As budgets flatten this year for advertising and marketing, it is obvious tha all of us as businesses will need to ensure we get maximum bang for each marketing buck that is spent. With the ever-changing search landscape too, where 2009 is likely to be the year where searchers find their results becoming more personalised and search engineers find it more difficult to measure results with the likes of ranking and PR, it is going to become increasingly more important to not just attract visitors, but to keep them on your site responding to calls to action, or to harvest contact information so you can engage with them when they leave.

This is going to be the year where small businesses in particular realise that the number of ‘hits’ their site receives is totally irrelevant if none of those visitors at least start a meaningful, and hopefully long term, relationship with the business.

How you extract value from your visitors is dependent on the purpose of your website, and your business model. However, whether you are looking to build your brand, sell products or services, or impart information, you need to consider carefully what you are offering your website visitors in return for their click and attention.

The ideal has to be to develop a long-term relationship with those visitors by offering good value, including freebies, and best quality products and services. You need to differ from your competitors with a unique selling point, unique content, and outstanding customer service.

The value you gain from your visitors is in reducing the cost of customer acquisition, building relationships whereby your loyal customers help to spread the word about your products and services, and continue to support you even when the going gets tough. Whether this is from regular and informative email newsletters, from special offers for loyal customers, or from ensuring that each and every customer has a worthwhile and satisfactory purchase experience from you, the value extraction has to be two way.

Your potential and existing customers need to be treated extra specially well during the economic downturn that is occurring, and now, as the New Year approaches, is the very time when you should be looking at your website rather than, for instance, monitoring your PPC bids to ensure that you are catering for those who will buy from you, now and in the future – YOUR WEBSITE VISITORS.

Make sure your website delivers to those people, and make sure all your backend systems, processes and responses are in good order to deliver the best possible service your customers will expect from a business that is in good fettle, trustworthy and likely to survive the economic recession. Building trust with your customers and showing that you are in it for the long term will bring more business than just spending more on PPC keyword bids.

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ClickThrough is a digital marketing agency, providing search engine optimisation, pay per click management, conversion optimisation, web development and content marketing services.