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Posts Tagged ‘Web Strategy’

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.
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Introduction to Website Analytics for Economic Development

 

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.

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Attract Attention to Attract Talent!

As economic developers focus increasingly on the critical need to attract and retain talent in their local economies, a three-step process has emerged as a best practice: Develop the strategy first, create the appropriate products to implement it, then promote them effectively and continuously (please see “Talent Attraction – A Strategic Approach,” published July 3, 2012).

This applies first and foremost to talent attraction portals.  Launching a portal is not enough.  The portal is a product, and like any product it requires active marketing and promotion to be successful.

The City of Calgary in Alberta really gets it.  It’s a booming city driven by the energy industry but is hindered by a chronic labor shortage and experienced a high level of out-migration.  To combat the situation, Calgary Economic Development established its talent attraction portal, “Live in Calgary” and launched a complementary marketing campaign called “Be Part of the Energy.”

Headlined by Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who made several trips to Eastern Canada along with leading members of Calgary’s business community, the campaign raised awareness about Calgary as a center of business through a combination of initiatives including media relations, public relations, advertising and social media engagement on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Everything is correlated with the interactive portal www.liveincalgary.com.  Along with comprehensive lifestyle information – “more days of sunshine than any other major Canadian city and less than an hour’s drive from the majestic Rockies” – the portal features video vignettes of business leaders from a variety of sectors discussing Calgary’s well-connected business network and entrepreneurial culture.

The combination of portal and supporting campaign did the job. Whereas Calgary had a net loss in migration of more than 4,000 in 2010, it rebounded to a net gain of 9,600 in 2011. (more…)

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 #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…)