As the 2017 conference/trade show season starts ramping up into full swing, it’s worth reviewing our economic development checklist for your website. Today we’ll look at Part 1 - keep an eye on this space for Part 2 in coming days.
I know you probably think you’ve heard it. We have all sat in conference session after conference session about websites. What’s needed? What isn’t? How to do it? We leave with great thoughts on what we are going to do when we get back to the office but work, projects and deadlines all seem to get in the way of making any progress.
So, these are basics - the bare minimum that any EDO or community website who works to recruit and retain industry should have.
- DIRECT contact information. DIRECT. That means to your phone number, not an 800 number. To your email, NOT firstname.lastname@example.org. I was in session just a few weeks ago and the panel of site selectors said exactly this. They want your direct information to contact you about a project, and yet too many websites don’t not allow the people we are trying to reach get in touch directly. There is no good reason not to have your direct contact information online if you are in economic development and want projects in your region.
- NO FORMS to submit. Look, we see those “Contact Us” forms on every shopping website, news website etc. these days. I don’t want to do it; my guess is that you don’t want to do it. I KNOW site selectors don’t want to do it. So why have it? Anyone looking at your website on a confidential project isn’t going to fill out a form and submit it. We know you are trying to capture who is on your website, but there are other, more sophisticated ways to do this.
For example, GIS Planning's new Lead Gen ID analytics, bundled with full edition ZoomProspector Enterprise, will actually tell you not only what company is on your website, but which property and/or report(s) they are looking at. Every page for every visit! Reverse IP lookup technology means you track the company (but not the individual user), and valuable intel on the searches they do with your online data tools.
- WHAT STATE ARE YOU IN? Seriously. I see this all the time. Do you know how many Washington Counties are there? 31! Jefferson Counties? 26! Franklin Counties? 25. The list goes on and on.
You spend so much time, money and energy promoting your region, why would you not tell me where you actually are? Investors and businesses may be coming from anywhere in the world, not just your state. Put your geographic location on your website, your business card, and find a place to insert this into your pitch. I practiced economic development for the Southwest Riverside County Economic Alliance. Do you know what region I represented? What state I was in? So, about 17 years ago, back before “branding campaigns” were all the rage, we decided to rename our region to do just that. Educate people in our name as to where we were. Thus, Southwest California Economic Alliance was born. No, it’s not sexy but it would tell you where I am. I used it in my elevator speech, on my website, on every marketing piece I did, I would say we were 45 minutes north of downtown San Diego. Bam! You immediately have an idea of my general location. My business card had my area highlighted on the State. When you left my website, a brief conversation with me, or even looked at my business card when back from a conference, you knew where I was located.
- MOBILE-FRIENDLY website. We’ve all heard the term "Responsive Design," but may not know that it means your website will adapt to fit the screen of whatever device visitors are using. If I open a website from my laptop, it will be regular size, but if I visit the same site on my smartphone, it will adapt to fit into that smaller screen. How many times have you tried to zoom close up to read a non-responsive website on the small screen of your phone, or struggled because you had to enter information in some tiny box and then spent five minutes looking for the button to get you to the next page, all the while, hoping your fingers aren’t too big to hit the right button? It's so frustrating most users give up and click away to another site.
So close your eyes and imagine you are on a tradeshow floor chatting with a prospect. They share with you their site requirements and you know you have the perfect property for them. You pull it up on your tablet or smartphone and struggle to make the photo bigger so they can read the information. They squint to look at it, then ask for you to just send the information to review later. A potential missed opportunity.
GIS Planning's online data tools are all 100% mobile-friendly. They display perfectly on smartphones and tablets, offering all the same features and functionality as the desktop version, with no squinting or resizing necessary. These powerful data tools and microsite templates offer the ability to save and email out property information, reports and data on the fly, and even provide turn by turn driving directions! Visit PittsburghProspector.com on your laptop, then again from your mobile phone to see for yourself!
You can also check out Part II of the Ultimate Guide to Economic Development, where we’ll offer the down low on all things data for economic development, and Part III, where we tell you what economic developers need to know about website analytics and mobile.