Your web strategy today has to be based on a day by day, hour by hour focus on tracked conversions to a goal or set of goals, with results forming the major part of your marketing person's job performance. If it isn't, rub butter in your hair, because you might as well be toast.
This is not a subject left to webmasters, ad agencies, or lower level folks in your organization. It's the entrepreneurial leaders' task.
Do you know how to measure web comparisons from others in your business? (Hint: look here for one example). Do you know what comparable spending on web related advertising is per dollar of sales in your business?
Do you construct and apply daily tests for response (or sales) and, if collecting responses, measure the eventual outcome by source?
Do you know how your competitors traffic ranks compared to yours? Do you know why?
In the "good old days" of direct marketing, this was all done by mail or telephone nd responses took weeks and months. People tracked results seasonally, and adjusted and refined on the same basis. It was more accurate at an individual level because of the individual nature of tracking.
When I was running one of the largest database marketing companies in the retail business, we would've given anything for this kind of analytical firepower because of the ability it would've given us to turn on a dime and apply smarter, better strategies faster.
Now, results are virtually instant. And that means that every competitor has access to a better toolbox.
It's possible to split test ads and all of the facets of your business and adjust each day. Yes, there's a bit more approximation at the individual level, but the exponential leap in the speed of cycles dwarfs any loss of specificity (in my opinion.)
What "white paper" gets downloaded most? Do those who do so respond more favorably to follow ons? Do they request information, quotes, or so forth on their own?
If you are selling on the web, what is the most likely product purchasing path? What is your abandonment rate in your funnel? (There are millions of variations; you need to determine which fit you best.)
None of this is new. Google (and others) have been facilitating these opportunities for quite some time.
And in more challenging sales environments, being in this game can make a huge difference in your success. It's not an optional add on to a good sales force, marketing campaign, or print catalog.
It's a requirement for any business with a website. Any business. Including yours.