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The Economic Development Website of the Future: 5 Important Features to Include for Success

Recently, we featured a blog about my biggest pet peeves with economic development websites. As we know, one of the most important tools when it comes to digital marketing for economic development organizations is their website. Seventy percent of development decision-makers wait until they’ve developed their short list before contacting an EDO. Sixty-two percent are using website information to finalize their searches for site locations. If it’s time for your economic development website to get refreshed, the following 5 features are a must-have for relevance in a competitive market:

1. They include the basics.

You may think your economic development website already includes the basics but take a closer look. Site selectors want to see the following, basic information (listed in order of importance):

  • Incentive information
  • Demographic information
  • Searchable database of available sites and buildings
  • Workforce statistics (be sure to include depth of labor per a recent Project Podcast!)
  • Comparisons to competitor locations
  • Major employer list
  • Quality of life information

This is core information for every site selector as they evaluate a city. Most likely, you have this information—make sure you include it in an easy-to-find and engaging way on your website.

2. They keep information specific.

Good economic development websites get to the point by providing corporate executives, site selectors, local stakeholders and businesses a clear path of navigation. Specific call-to-actions based upon the needs of the end user are going to drive stronger results.

3. They use new technology.

The most successful economic development websites are those that bring in new technologies. One we like is geotargeting. This important feature allows you to share custom content by visitor location. Not only does it make for more strategic marketing, but it is also a better use of time and resources.

In addition, new technologies can help with identifying specific companies visiting your site. Incorporating this type of technology into your website is a wise investment for any economic development office.

4. They bring data to life.

Data is important to economic development marketing and bringing to life is the wave of the future for B2B digital marketing. Presenting data for your locality in an easy-to-read format makes it understandable and engaging.

Labor statistics, demographics, major employers, and rankings present a clearer picture when presented in pie charts, tables, and graphs. Don’t get too carried away—stick to relevant information and place it on the right pages.

5. They report meaningful metrics.

Economic development websites of the future focus on meaningful measurement. Large numbers of pageviews may appear exciting when in reality, they are simply pretty, or vanity, metrics. Count what matters, including:

  • Awareness—Where is your site traffic coming from and what’s driving it?
  • Engagement—How many people are signing up for the e-newsletter or downloading the free e-book?
  • Conversions—Contact outreach and big, CTA items are key to measuring conversions.

 Bonus Tip

In addition to the five tips listed above, here’s one more that is incredibly necessary for maintaining relevancy with your website:

Economic development websites of the future monitor and adapt to change.

This is essential in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing digital marketing world. Monitoring what’s happening in the global web community not only keeps your finger on the pulse but helps you guide your own website updates. In the end, it’s a win-win as you continue to improve this vital B2B marketing tool and protect its own relevance in the eyes of Google.

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, today.

Economic development marketing is competitive and requires a strong website that produces strategic results. Investing in the professional development of your site is a wise decision in today’s digital B2B marketing world. Showcase the best of what makes your locality the place for the right development by improving your website 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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