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Archive for the ‘Top 7 Best Practices for Economic Development Online’ Category

Best Practice #7: Measuring Results for Economic Development Web Strategies

Many economic development departments throughout North America have become as adept as private-sector companies in adopting the variety of marketing tools and technologies available on the web. There’s one area in which the ED sector lags, however — measuring results.

Whereas a company selling products from its website will instinctively install tools for reporting conversion rates or sales by region, many ED organizations do not regularly measure or analyze their web statistics. Lack of time is a frequently cited reason. Also, managers may be reluctant to see their programs evaluated primarily according to numerical scores, since the process of investment or tourism attraction takes a long time and often produces results indirectly.

The EDO’s Purpose of Tracking Data

But the purpose of gathering website data for an ED organization is more subtle. It’s not the same as in the private sector; you aren’t trying to report how many shirts you sold this month. What you are trying to accomplish is continuous improvement in your marketing methods, and a continuously rising return on your investment of resources.

As we have discussed, the Number 1 best practice for economic development online is to develop and maintain a cohesive, focused, goal-oriented and measurable web strategy (see “Best Practice #1: The Economic Development Web Strategy”, published (more…)

Best Practice #6: A Practical Website Content Update Program

Readers of this series about best practices for economic development web programs will have noticed a common thread – the web is becoming ever more complex, and new methods are needed to manage the complexity in a holistic way.

Content Upkeep is Increasingly More Complex

That certainly applies to content updating. It used to be sufficient for the content of an economic development website to be updated “frequently” or “regularly.” But that’s not a sufficient guideline any more. There are just too many types of content needing attention.

The types of content managed by modern, competitive economic development departments ranges into social media, news releases, calendars and announcements, statistics and “soft” content such as stories, testimonials and quality-of-life information. Any of these can involve not just texts but the design of pages, posters and brochures or the production of videos and webcasts and podcasts.

Fresh Content Improves Website “Stickiness”

Any type of content can get old before you realize it, unless you have an effective content update program. And old content makes you uncompetitive. Why? Because of the powerful influence of search engines: Search engines love new content and tend to ignore (more…)

Best Practice #5: Mobility and Accessibility in Economic Development Websites

Does it sometimes seem to you that the web is like a strange creature from mythology that keeps growing more heads? That’s perfectly understandable – the web really has changed so much that it can hardly be recognized as the familiar old WWW.

Compared with the old days when all you had to manage was one simple website with the same appearance for everyone, today’s web requires continuous monitoring and assessment because of rapid and major changes to the nature of the beast.

In this current series of Tech Trends we have been discussing the proliferation of web-based communications including specialty websites and portals as well as social media sites. Economic development departments need a web strategy that takes all these into account.

But there’s more. It is becoming more and more important for EDOs to be aware of the need for websites to be mobile friendly as well as accessible.

Mobile Access

By “mobile friendly” we mean that the website should display properly on a mobile device. Your messages should be clear and your data (more…)

Best Practice #4: Specialty Websites and Portals

Not long ago, investment attraction websites were designed with the idea that one site fit all. But that’s not true any longer.

Creative Economic Development Web Initiatives

Multi-channel web marketing has come to the forefront quite quickly in recent months. This has led to some remarkably creative initiatives by economic development departments all over North America. But, it’s also causing some headaches.

As mentioned in our article of August 5, 2010, EDOs are finding themselves managing several websites in part because of the need to build web properties for social media purposes. But there’s another reason.

Multiple Target Audiences Drive the Need for Specialty Websites

In today’s creative economy EDC’s must deliver messages with carefully defined purposes. Their targets are people as much as they are industries; people with specific questions on their mind. They won’t be attracted by a general purpose website containing much information that (more…)

Best Practice #3: Put Social Media to Work for Economic Development

There was a time not long ago when the term “social media” was unfamiliar to many economic development departments and needed explaining. Today social media services are well understood but it is not always clear what they mean to an economic development web program.

Back in June 2009 one of our Economic Development Tech Trends articles predicted that by the time the recession had ended, investment attraction websites would have a different appearance – a new “social dimension” would be added.

Well, the recession is over, at least in theory, and we do see that the majority of investment attraction sites prominently display icons inviting networking, collaboration and evaluation by visitors using social media. A 2010 survey of Canadian economic development trends by technology company YLM found that 60 per cent of Canadian economic development teams are using social media and another 18 per cent are planning to have them in use by the end of the year.

While such media do help to create a “buzz of economic vibrancy,” as predicted, their use has become so widespread that they no longer differentiate one investment attraction site from another, or demonstrate the place-making advantages of a community by their (more…)

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