Take Bettcher Manufacturing, for example. The Brook Park-based precision metal stamper went from an outdated brochure-like site to one that allows potential customers to request a quote. The result has been 15 to 30 sales leads a month.
"I knew we needed to update because the old site was very antiquated looking," says Jerry Lynch, Bettcher's president. "I knew we had all bought stuff off the Internet, but we really had no expertise in it.
"I was stunned at the response. I was also surprised at the response from the Web site about what people thought about the site. We won some work from it and were getting feedback that it is a really nice Web site."
The old site provided nothing but basic company information, a general phone number and generic e-mail that got dumped into the sales department.
"The site now goes into a lot more detail on what the capabilities are by location and process," says Lynch. "It also gives us the ability for the person to submit a quotation right to us and have them send the prints and requirements we need to give them a price quote. They just submit a form with the company name, materials and volume, and can send it right to us.
"The new site really saves us a lot of time. The difference is night and day because the way we handled it before it went into a general mailbox."
Someone at the company had to remember to check it, then start attempting to connect with the person requesting more information.
"It's probably went from weeks to a day," says Lynch. "Now once it comes in, it goes directly to a person via e-mail for review to verify there is enough detail, and then it goes directly to the quote department."
The site went from being an afterthought for sales to being a sales leader.
"We used to get a very minimal amount of stuff off the site in terms of contacts," says Lynch. "Now it is our No. 1 method of getting new contacts."
Of the 15 to 30 sales leads the site generates each month, a minimum of 50 percent submit a quote.
"In comparison, our sales force might generate four to five interested people a month," says Lynch.
The site got more than just an aesthetics upgrade. The company also put an emphasis on appearing on search engines for certain key words, including directing attention to the company's Reynosa, Mexico, facility.
"We do a lot of work to stay up in the main search engines," says Lynch. "We try to stay in the top 10 of all search engines. If you type in "metal stamping Mexico," we are in the top two."
Lynch says the company doesn't spend money to buy positions on search engine sites, but just tries to keep the site fine-tuned so Bettcher stays toward the top.
The Web design and the work to keep it ranked on the search engines was outsourced to allow Bettcher to focus on what it does best: manufacturing. The upgrade process took four to five months, and included input from the sales and marketing team as well as an outside sales consultant.
"It's actually amazing the people that have contacted us that never gave us a second look when using traditional methods," says Lynch. "We could have sent them letters and knocked on their doors forever and they would never answer. I laugh about it. They now contact us." How to reach: (216) 267-0850 or www.bettcherllc.com
Jerry Lynch, president of Bettcher Manufacturing, says one of the lessons he learned while overhauling the company's Web site was not to try to do it piecemeal.
"Just put your ideas together and go the whole way," says Lynch. "That's the way we ended up doing it. It probably cost us a month of development time because we wanted to do one piece and see how it would go. About halfway through, the guy that was doing the development for us convinced us we were going the wrong way.
"You are better off just biting the bullet and doing it all at once. We don't have any plans to add anything new; we'll just upgrade the graphics to keep up the interest and make sure we stay high up in the search engine results."
Being high up in those results is something Lynch made a priority.
"We were way way down the list," says Lynch. "When I first interviewed for the job in 2001, I went to look up the company on the Internet and kept counting the pages down until I finally gave up. Even for me, when I buy something on the Internet, I hit maybe the first two or three pages and then don't go any lower.
"For us, contacts are what we need to survive. The more contacts we can make, the more opportunity we have to get new business. The thing that is the most important for us about the site is that it helps us get contacts without having to lift a finger."