Posts Tagged ‘Economic Development Organization’
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.
If you are in the business of attracting or retaining business for your community, chances are your customers – whether site selectors, business owners or creative people who invent new products and services – are active on social networks and sites.
How widely are such sites used in the economic development world? We don’t really know, because research just can’t keep up with the rapid changes. The most often cited statistic is that 57 per cent of members of the International Economic Development Council surveyed by the IEDC and Development Counsellors International (DCI) said they were using social media tools. But that was in 2009, a lifetime ago in Internet years.
More recently a survey of 3,800 marketers from all industries, carried out for the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report published by SocialMediaExaminer.com, found that 83 per cent of respondents said that social media was important for their business. The survey also found that the Number 1 reported benefit of social media marketing was generating more business exposure (reported by 85 per cent of marketers), followed by increasing traffic (69 per cent) and providing marketplace insight (65 per cent).
Economic development organizations, too, probably employ social media to an almost universal extent, but they are missing out on one of its most essential benefits – finding out about themselves.
Is your economic development website successful?
You could answer that question from many points of view – design, content, ease of use, visitor response – but the real answer depends on whether the site helps your department find new sources of economic growth for your community.
To determine your site’s success on that basis, and to improve your lead generation success rate, you need tools to help you understand your website’s traffic patterns.
If you can’t track your website interactions, you can’t determine if your website is working. You have no idea if it’s performing to capacity (or not) and whether the money you have spent is producing any results that matter.
Your website, by its very nature, can be a bottomless source of data about existing and potential economic drivers in your community and the effectiveness of your organization in meeting their needs. Mining this data, however, can be very challenging for EDOs with constrained budgets and staff. Various software options exist and it’s useful to understand the functionality and limitations as they apply to the economic development function.
Have you heard of GrowFL? If you are interested in economic gardening, you almost certainly have.
The Florida Economic Gardening Institute at the University o f Central Florida (www.growfl.com) has become an integral part of the State of Florida’s economic development strategy. Created in 2009, it became one of the earliest and most prominent organizations in the post-recessionary movement toward economic gardening. GrowFL has helped more than 400 companies create 1,400 new jobs statewide. (more…)
Economic gardening helps to foster an entrepreneurial culture in communities and create jobs. There is a great deal of evidence to support this, such as research that found that companies participating in Florida’s economic gardening pilot program each created an average of 5.2 new jobs within the first 18 months.
What has not been documented so well, but is becoming apparent, is that economic gardening strengthens the capabilities of economic development organizations and helps them build stronger ties with their business communities.