News & Views

My Biggest Pet Peeves with Economic Development Websites

With its long lead times, economic development marketing is tough, not to mention competitive (Amazon HQ2 anyone?).

With limited time, staff, and resources, economic development professionals must think smarter when it comes to B2B digital marketing. Consider this, an incredible 65 percent of site selectors will visit an economic development organization’s website during their next site selection search. And only 2 percent of leads originated from traditional lead generation, like cold outreach.

Chasing corporate executives and hosting site visits is expensive. Stop chasing them and take a closer look at why they aren’t chasing you. Chances are your website, the foundation of your marketing, is outdated and unhelpful. Here are just some of my pet peeves when it comes to economic development websites that lack quality data and user experience.

Take a look and see if any of these resonate with you.

Negative Traits of Economic Development Websites

  1. They are generic. If your website looks like “anywhere USA” and doesn’t distinguish the unique features of your locality, then your site is too generic. Stock photos literally make me cringe and so does bad photography—neither portray a “sense of place” that’s true to your city, town, or region.
  2. They are built on outdated frameworks. Corporate executives are rich in choices and poor in time. Websites that are built on outdated frames are often hard to navigate and slow to download graphics. A poorly supported website reflects badly on a locality as the corporate executive may fear the locality itself doesn’t care about upkeep and trends. Outdated frameworks also hurt you in the eyes of Google.
  3. They withhold information. Dangling a carrot with the hope that it will entice a site selector to call for more information is again, a waste of their time. Save everyone time, yours too, by making important information available and relevant.
  4. They target the wrong audience. Your local elected officials and town/city residents may demand your website says one thing, but developing the content with them in mind is the wrong approach.
  5. They use vanity metrics to measure success. Vanity metrics highlight the pretty numbers of your website. This includes raw pageviews, downloads, and registered users. Actionable metrics produce a more realistic picture of the website’s active users and engagement.

Correct the Course of Your Economic Development Website

It’s never too late to correct the course of your economic development website. Shift your marketing focus from traditional efforts to improving the digital marketing power of your website.

Your locality isn’t anywhere USA, it’s unique and special to your community. Invest in quality photography that captures the beauty of your place and provide strong site development information.

Identify your target audience and market your site in that direction. And most importantly, concentrate on actionable metrics and not just what sounds good for your elected leaders.

Let Us Help

I have collaborated with a wide range of economic development organizations to custom-tailor their websites to focus on generating results and creating engaging user experiences. If you’re interested in how I can help you improve your economic development website experience, contact me, Susan Brake.

Your economic development website is one of your most important marketing tools for two reasons: It provides local companies with the resources they need in order to grow and it provides key information for companies located outside the region looking to expand.

Let me help you develop an economic website that reflects the best of your locality and that serves as a helpful tool for site selectors. Go from their “no list” to their “short list” by improving your economic development marketing today.

Written By

Susan Brake

Susan Brake is Vice President at DCI overseeing the digital media strategy for all the firm's economic development clients. Since joining the company, she has effectively leveraged traditional and social media tactics to reach target audiences for her clients large and small.

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