You can improve the effectiveness of your website by making it more interactive, and by making sure that you're not having a one-sided conversation with your customers.
But, most small businesses don't have the time to answer tons of email while delivering their product or service. Or, you at least want to be able to take evenings and weekends off while still having your website make basic contact with potential clients who visit.
The answer is to use an autoresponder, which is a little program that automatically sends a response email when a website visitor submits their email on your site.
You've seen autoresponders in action when people use them to send out their vacation auto-replys (you know, "I'm out of the office and won't return until next Tuesday…")
On your website, you can program an autoresponder to give your clients more information – to send them an article, information about your pricing, a link to an MP3 recording or video clip – there are tons of possibilities.
Why put this in an autoresponder instead of on your site? Because if it's in an autoresponder, people will have to give you their email address in order to get the information. And then you'll have their information, and you'll know how to follow up with them to keep the conversation going later on.
Or, you can subscribe them to your email list to keep in touch (just let them know that they're signing up for your email list when they give you their email address.)