What's the first thing you do when your company needs a product or service? You go online, of course—and so do your customers. "Your prospects have a huge array of websites to choose to visit—and buy or learn from," writes Sonja Jobson at MarketingProfs. "You have to give them good reasons to choose yours." Here are five ways to do that:

Start a blog. A blog serves a number of useful purposes: Establishing thought leadership; opening direct lines of communication; gathering feedback from customers; and improving search engine rankings. But to accomplish all this, you must publish valuable content on a regular basis and engage your readers in dialogue.

Encourage contact. Highlight your contact information where a visitor can easily find it. But it's not enough to look accessible—you must also be accessible. "Having a website that encourages communication and then not following through is a bad idea," she notes.

Show some personality. Does your website look and feel like every other website in your category? If so, you can't blame a prospect for assuming your customer experience will be equally bland.

Become an essential resource. You don't have to give everything away. But it never hurts to provide free content that keeps visitors coming back.

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