IEDC on Digital Economic Development Marketing

Almost every EDO now has an online presence, but getting the most out of your website requires a high degree of marketing savvy. Over the last few weeks, economic development practitioners have been tuning in to IEDC’s Digital Marketing Webinar Series, presented in partnership with Atlas Advertising, to up their game. Here are some takeaways from our presenters.

The importance of analytics: Atlas’s Guillermo Mazier explained how to generate, track, and capitalize on digital leads. Successfully generating leads depends on knowing three things: 1) who is visiting your site, 2) what are they looking at, and 3) how long they’re staying.

Economic developers call these metrics, but in the world of digital marketing, they are known as “analytics.” Analytics include many technical measures such as total impressions, click-through rates, and opt-in conversions. Google Analytics is a useful tool that both analyzes website performance and explains to the lay person what the data mean.

Turning analytics into economic development results: Website analytics need to be connected with metrics such as jobs created, capital invested, and community wealth generated, according to Mazier. For this reason, many digital marketing campaigns concentrate on getting the attention of the site selectors who seek data about doing business in a community. Smart EDOs are building attractive, user-friendly maps and databases to present the best their community has to offer. Some examples cited include:

  • Choose New Jersey, which has an incentive calculator on its website for companies looking to expand or relocate to the state.
  • The Halifax Partnership in Nova Scotia, which created an entire website—the Halifax Index—to integrate federal, provincial, and local data on the city into one site.
  • The Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates one of the world’s largest property databases. The average viewer spends more than 10 minutes on this site, practically an eon by online standards.

Yet site location consultants often shy away from EDO websites, according to Calandra Cruickshank of software firm StateBook International, because they don’t always trust self-reported data. To ensure credibility, EDOs can license software that places third-party data on their websites. Some software suites allow EDOs to supplement this data with graphs and pictures, which help to paint a more complete picture.

Capturing international attention: Marketing to international businesspeople must be highly strategic, according to presenter Robert Payne of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. With limited marketing budgets, organizations must take advantage of free tools and maximize partnerships with other organizations.

For example, Canada’s Technology Triangle Inc. (CTT) in Southern Ontario pushes its content to organizations such as the Canadian Chambers of Commerce for exposure to Hong Kong and Taiwanese markets. CTT also contributes marketing materials to the Consider Canada Alliance, Canada’s FDI attraction body.

A particular challenge of international digital marketing is overcoming language barriers. While Québec International sends a weekly newsletter in French to its local partners, it also sends a targeted quarterly newsletter in English to key international prospects. Presenter Julie Carrier of Québec International noted that her organization must be strategic in deciding what content to translate for its Twitter feed, LinkedIn groups, and mobile app to support FDI and international workforce attraction efforts.

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