An unprofessional website can be a "death knell" for firms, it has been suggested.

In a post on E-consultancy’s internet marketing blog, sector commentator Patrick Oak notes that this is because the internet is generally the first place that a client will search to find out about a business.

Continuing, Mr Oak explains that other elements of a brand’s marketing strategy should also aim to transmit a professional image, including business email addresses, a dedicated firm phone line and a fax number.

"If you’re involved with any industry that’s ‘on the net’, expect that your prospective customers and clients are going to look you up online and make sure that when they find you, there’s something professional greeting them," Mr Oak continues.

Concluding, he notes that once a client or customer is attracted, the firm must deliver as a professional image with no substance behind it is not usually sustainable.

Meanwhile, sector commentator David Shield tells web resource Real Business that firms should sort out their search engine optimization strategy during an economic downturn.