It’s not enough just to have a website. Anyone can do that. But a great website? That can make all the difference in the world. Your website is visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to people all over the world. It’s your most powerful marketing strategy. Treat it as such. Here are 10 ways to elevate your biggest marketing tool.

1. Successful design and branding boost your sales numbers.
Your website needs to look good! It needs to look like you’re really in business and not that you’ve designed this on the fly to “make money.” If your site is over-crowded by ads, pop-ups, and buttons, you are making it really tough for your ideal customer to achieve their goal of buying from you. This does not mean that all of your effort need to go into a fantastically designed website, but your site needs to support your other branding efforts. Can your ideal customer recognize and link your website to your social media marketing? Can they be sure they’re in the right place when they link from an ad? Can they find the items or services you want them to purchase? If you’ve answered “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to re-evaluate your site.

Your website design must enable sales.
When you are selling products or services online, you need to drive traffic to your website. Good design and branding will do this. If you have an unattractive or boring website, it is generally a sign that your products or services will be equally unattractive or boring, whether or not that is actually the case. Or if your site is poorly designed and organized, your ideal customer may be too confused while navigating it and may assume your products or services are just as confusing. Make it easy. Help them see that the products or services you provide are fantastic by having a site that’s as fantastic as what you’re trying to sell.

3. Brand it, but don’t over-do it.
Your logo is a HUGE part of your branding efforts, but you don’t need to scream it on your site. They’re there. They came to you. Remind them that they’re in the right place, but your website isn’t the place to use a giant logo. In fact, if your logo takes up the majority of the “above the fold” space on your site, you’re wasting prime real estate where you could be educating your ideal customer about the benefits you provide.

4. Create a great customer experience through design and branding.
Keep in mind that all this design and branding stuff is ultimately to boost sales. Don’t lose site of this ultimate goal. If a customer comes to your site after being familiarized or educated about your products or services, then they’re coming to buy. The hard part is over, they want to give you their money. Make it easy for them to do that.

5. Give them something of value for FREE!
Everyone loves getting a valuable resource, something they would normally pay for, but are able to get from YOU, the expert, for FREE! It should go in the top portion of your page, usually on the right or left sidebar. Make it easy for your ideal customer to see – above the fold – so that they know it’s there. This is your opportunity to bless them with something that only you, as the expert, can give them. It’s also your opportunity to increase your list. When they sign up for your Freebie, you have a way to keep them abreast of new products, services, and any other important information you have to offer.

Make sure to freshen up your site on a regular basis.
Are you launching a new product? Are you speaking at an area conference? Are you offering a free training? Let your ideal customers know. And let them know that you have fantastic new things coming all the time, to check back frequently. More traffic equals more sales. And more sales are good.

7. Be sure you haven’t over-leveraged yourself.
Have you committed to host ads on your site? Have you signed up for lots of affiliate programs that require buttons on your home page? Is your website just becoming a billboard for others? Go to your site. Re-evaluate. Look at it with fresh eyes. Would your ideal customer feel like they’re looking at a college ad board listing too many things, but never really saying anything? This may be the time to re-think your commitments to others and start thinking about your commitment to yourself and your business.

8. Administering changes on your site should be pain free.
What if you wanted to change out a graphic or add a promotional page to your site? Can you do it? Or do you need to contact a web designer for every misspelling or new post? If you don’t have control of your site, you need to re-claim it. You rely on the success of your business. You need control of how it looks, what it says, and how your customers can purchase from you.

9. Be sure the buying experience is easy for your ideal customer.
If you have something people want, make sure they can get it. If your shopping cart is terribly complicated and requires a dozen pages before your customer receives a payment confirmation, you’ll lose them. Ensure that the buying experience will be simple. Most people expect to jump through a few hurdles to make an online purchase, but it shouldn’t feel like donating a kidney.

10. Always have good content.
Create a relationship with your ideal customer. This is your forum and opportunity to prove that you are the expert. Provide them with invaluable information. Educate them. Enlighten them. Empower them. And always, inspire them.

Your website is a dynamic tool you can use to acquire and service your clients. Aesthetics are important, but so is usability. Be sure your site has both. What are some of your favorite sites? Post your website or some of your favorite sites below in the comments section.