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The Joy of Marketing with Data

All economic developers understand how important it is to publish data on their websites that will attract and inform site selectors.  There are many examples of Economic Development organizations that have excellent websites: visually engaging, interactive, full of relevant information and providing viewers with all kinds of useful data.

Great websites theoretically drive great traffic and great results. But which Economic Development organization knows who actually views their engaging visuals, interacts with their website, reads their information and scours their data? Not many.

While many EDOs have come to understand the value – in fact, the necessity – of using the web to display data and seek out interested audiences, many have not yet realized that the role of websites has evolved (once again) to a new advanced level.

This newest evolution means that investment attraction sites are no longer just conduits for broadcasting or answering questions.  Website analytics now make it possible to turn the same excellent websites into generators of investment leads – Now, isn’t that good news!

Relevant Information About Your Website Traffic

Most economic development strategies include the identification of target sectors.  The organization assumes that website visitors will come primarily from those sectors, and organizes its web content accordingly.  But are those assumptions correct?

It is now possible to actually identify the sectors, and the companies within those sectors, from which your website visitors are drawn.  You might be surprised at the results.  Maybe the site is not drawing the interest that you expected.  In that case you can take steps to improve and refocus your content.

But maybe, just maybe, you will discover that people are searching your pages from sectors you haven’t identified as strong targets.  This is potentially very good news, but such opportunities could easily go unnoticed if you can’t tell who is actually visiting your website.

Reporting and Accountability

Every economic developer knows that the investment cycle takes a long time.  But the boards and politicians you report to want results now.  They want demonstrable and continuous return on investment from what they see as the “cost center” of an economic development department.

This has always been a source of difficulty for EDOs.  With the new website analytics now available, however, it is possible to demonstrate what kinds of programs and initiatives represent the best allocation of marketing dollars, based on the responses gathered on the site.

With new advances in website analytics software, traffic can be analyzed in easy-to-read charts that are suitable for presentations to councils and committees.  You can say: “We launched this campaign by e-mail and social media on this date, and in the two weeks that followed we saw our inquiries from target companies’ increase substantially.  We are following up in our contacts with those companies.  You can see that this type of campaign works for us.”

Identifying Marketing Projects

Compare the goals of your marketing strategy to the data presented by website analytics.  Are visitors under-represented from some geographic areas, or types of companies, or certain social-media sites?

Having this information enables you to take corrective action and demonstrate initiative.  You can identify what marketing projects could be undertaken to better align your program to the goals of the strategy.  If you need to make a case for change, to your council, your board or staff, data from website analytics can support you in delivering to a solid business case.

Knowledge is Power

In summary, marketing with real-time data means knowing who is visiting your website, when they are visiting and which pages they looked at. This kind of data provides the gift of critical insights to your marketing program – insights that have simply never been available before. The results are powerful:

  • Identifying prospects;
  • Measuring media and marketing effectiveness;
  • Being able to continuously improve programs;
  • Improving communication with boards, councils and committees.

Perhaps best of all, these tools give you up-to-the-moment data, turning traffic into prospects and inquiries. No longer do you need to hope that your campaigns and personal contacts will one day result in qualified leads.  Your website will tell you as soon as it happens – if you’re watching.

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