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Connecting the Web Data Dots

When it comes to web data, we are in the midst of a second major transition: one that is significantly impacting the ability of economic developers to identify targeted leads using their websites.

The first transition happened a decade or so ago when location searches moved online and economic developers shifted to move their data and lifestyle information to the web as well. It quickly became apparent that the quality of a community’s investment attraction website was the top differentiating factor in the first phase of a site selector’s search.

This is the second transformation – unmasking, understanding and recognizing the value of the traffic you are working so hard to drive to your website, and then translating this new data into real leads.

Remember when economic developers tried to do their jobs without practical, easily navigated websites full of data?  It’s impossible to do that now.  In the same way, it won’t be long before EDOs realize that they can’t do their jobs without advanced website analytics.

Where do the visitors come from?  What are they interested in?  Until now, EDOs have tried to find such answers in many places – trade shows, delegations to far-off cities and countries, site visits, web forums, social media sites, business breakfasts.  But the fastest and most economical place where answers can be found about interested prospects is the EDO’s own website.

With advanced analytics, economic developers can see who they’ve been able to attract to visit their website, what terms this prospect searched for, which pages they visited, and when they were last there. All this information can be viewed in real time, anytime, from anywhere. It can also be exported in the form of many kinds of reports.

The EDO can use this new information to make calls that are targeted according to what the visitors’ activity on the website has already revealed. When the EDO calls, it is with the intention of engaging the visitor on a topic in which his company is likely to be interested, as indicated by the website visit.

There’s a distinction to be made between advanced website analytics and mere monitoring or tracking of web activity.  A service like Google Analytics will tell you how many visitors have come to your investment attraction site, but you have no idea who they are.  Analytics software such as Prospect ID connects the web data dots so that you can see patterns, revealing who the true leads are.

The automated tools within the application analyze data in seconds to reveal such things as:

  • What businesses from which sectors are most prominently visiting your website;
  • Which marketing campaigns are producing the best targeted results;
  • The size of businesses that are visiting your website most often.

This kind of data makes it possible to think about your website in a whole new way.  It is a lead generator, not merely a way to provide or exchange information.  And it is invaluable to assess and validate your marketing strategy and campaigns.

Is your strategy attracting the sectors you want?  Are you allocating budget funds to reach the kinds of companies that are actually investigating your community?

EDOs who have this knowledge at their fingertips have a clear competitive advantage.  They can respond with confidence to questions from those in control of finances who want to know what return they are getting from investments in economic development.  To be without such answers is not in the best interests of an EDO.  Budgets are too constrained now, and expectations too high.

This second data transformation in the economic development world will lead to a significant advance in the productivity of economic development departments and the recognition they receive.  The advent of advanced website analytics means that the days when EDOs made untargeted calls to unqualified prospects will soon be gone.

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