You need to engage me. Insurance is a hard thing to make me interested in. I'll visit my bank's site every day or so because there's a regular stream of transactions in and out of my account. I'll visit the online supermarket because my weekly shop is part of my normal routine. When I get an urge to buy a book or a CD I'll visit Amazon. But insurance? The only time I hear from my insurance providers is when they want money, and that's about once a year. So there is little reason for me to keep on going off to the website to "see what's changed."

Most intermediaries create sites that try and be all things to all people, with the result that they rarely are. Instead of putting the corporate brochure online, identify the four or five most profitable client groups and try and meet their needs. If they're company directors they might welcome regular updates on changes in liability insurances or case studies of how risks can be better managed. If they happen to be customers of your radio car insurance scheme then they might welcome a bulletin board to share ideas, organise races or sell spare parts.

Also consider what additional benefits being a customer brings. Your updates on risk management might be valuable to customers, but they are also valuable to potential customers. Offering cut-down versions or "back issues" is one way that you can encourage those who might become customers to keep coming back to you.

With the website up and running you need to pay careful attention to how you deal with the business it generates. During a recent exercise I contacted around a dozen intermediaries who offered motor quotations via "web forms." Basically I filled in a form, it got sent to the intermediary, they punched the data in to their systems and emailed the quote. Only three bothered to reply, none sent me a proposal form.

Think about what the customer is going through when they approach you for a quotation. They will have received a renewal notice giving them 14 days notice of renewal. In reality they'll have lost a couple of days with a weekend and the time the notice spends in the post. Then they'll take another couple of days to get round to asking for quotes, so they might have only five or six working days before renewal.

To help the customer out, do the quotation when you get it, not as part of a batch once or twice a week. Send the quote out by email, but back it up with a proposal form in the post. If I get an email with a quote and a message saying "please call to discuss" the chances are I won't - my insurance just isn't important enough to me. Get a business reply service (freepost takes longer to work through the mail) so I don't have to pay for sending it back and you don't waste money on stamps. Fill the proposal in for me so all I have to do is check it, sign it and put it in the envelope.

People are using the Internet because it's convenient. It's there when they have the time, so don't hold them back by making it too hard for them to do business with you.

To make going online a success, you should: register your site at every search engine you can think of; put the website and email addresses everywhere that a phone number and address appears. If you want your site to stand out you need to understand the needs of the profitable customers; make life easy for them to do business with you and tell them you exist.