When entrepreneurs start a business, their websites is usually a source of great excitement and pride for them. Unfortunately, the creation of that websites is often treated as nothing more than an item to be checked off their To-Do List. The site is built, the word is spread and then it’s left to sit. A website is not something to “set and forget.” Website visitors form an opinion of a site in zero to eight seconds; if a website is little more than a static, web-based ad, opportunities are being turned away at the door. Even worse—lack of website planning can actually damage the reputation and future of your business before it’s begun.

Websites need to be engaging and active if they are going to help convert leads into clients—here’s how you do it:

WOW: A websites is the virtual headquarters of your business. It needs to be cus­tom-built to impress and must represent your brand compellingly. The styling and functionality you put in place have a direct impact on your potential client’s opinion of your brand; make sure it’s a positive impact. Bad User Ex­perience/User Interface (UX/UI) leads to negative opin­ions. If your site has poor-quality and amateurish design, is disorganized, dysfunctional, out-of-date or devoid of personality, you are metaphorically building your headquarters down a shady back alley, and potential customers might not feel secure in doing business with you. Instead, make sure your UX/UI is the best on the block! Present your visitors with a site that is well-designed, strategically planned, mobile responsive, smoothly functioning and creatively branded, and you will project the credibility, competence, and attention to detail that will engender trust in your enterprise.

WOO: Once you get your customers’ attention, how do you convince them that the products you are offering will be of lasting benefit to them? Just listing them on your site isn’t enough. You must demonstrate the benefits they’ll receive from your products and services. Do this by implementing well-crafted content that helps familiarize them with the core values and personality of your business. Blog posts, customer testimonials, case studies, free webi­nars, free gifts for subscribing, whitepapers, and special promotions are all tools you can use to deepen their interest. They’ll make return visits, and over time you’ll convince them of your worth.

This is also where your social media accounts come into play. Social media is well-suited to keep customer engagement high, but in order for it to be of real value, it must generate leads. Platforms like Facebook, Twit­ter, and Pinterest act as regional sales managers for your business. Each manager is responsible for relaying information, keeping customers and potential customers engaged, but they must create leads and funnel them back to headquarters because that is where the final deals are made.

WORK: After you’ve got potential clients seriously interested, is your website ready to work with you to close the sale? Do you have sales funnels in place on your home page? Clear calls to action? Thorough search engine optimization? Adequate contact information? Newsletter opt-in forms? Additional incentives to get visitors to buy? Converting is always the hardest step in the process; be sure you’re ready to make it as easy for your potential clients as possible. Set your website to be your administrative assistant. Let it gather all the information you need to be in the best possible position to win over new clients.

People buy with their hearts, not their minds. More often than not, customers make their final decisions because something just “feels right.” By implementing the above strategy, you will attract people to your site who resonate with your brand’s core values and per­sonality. They will feel comfortable, and as a result, will be willing to invest their hard-earned money to­wards your success.