Building a Best-in-Class Economic Development Website

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Atlas Creative Director Peter Brown's presentation on everything you need to know about building a best in class economic development website.

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Building a Best-in-Class Economic Development Website

  1. 1. Northland Connection<br />Website Review and Agency Capabilities<br />Building a Best-in-Class Economic Development Website<br />
  2. 2. About Atlas Advertising<br /> We help economic developers reach national and international prospect and site selection audiences<br /> We deliver branding, website development, GIS mapping, research, social media, and creative services<br /> Our agency is led by a former economic development practitioner and has worked with 50+ different economic development clients in 30 states<br /> Our campaigns generate an average of three to ten times the response of other campaigns<br />
  3. 3. Featured Clients<br /><ul><li>State of Ohio
  4. 4. Indy Partnership
  5. 5. City of San Francisco
  6. 6. Greater Phoenix Economic Council
  7. 7. Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership</li></li></ul><li>Outline <br />Overview<br />Website development – project approach and process<br />Eight components of a world class Economic Development website<br />Site Selectors & social media usage<br />Conversation / your questions<br />
  8. 8. Overview<br />Taking on a website redevelopment project is a huge commitment – today you’ll take away the knowledge to:<br />Understand and avoid the potential pitfalls of a web development project<br />Understand the importance of “good” design and how it can effect the performance of your website<br />Know what tools, content and features are key to a successful site<br />Keep your site updated and engaged, giving it a successful, long lifespan<br />
  9. 9. Your platform<br /><ul><li> A platform for publishing, communicating, organizing, and serving your customers and prospects
  10. 10. Today, there is very little in economic development that can’t be facilitated or made more efficient by treating your website as a platform for most of your media delivery
  11. 11. Think of it as the starting point for your new, online community: It’s about connections--connecting people to each other, to ideas, to communities and to possibilities.</li></ul>So, how do you do it?<br />
  12. 12. Web development process<br />Phases:<br />Discovery<br />Design and Content Development<br />Technical Development<br />Launch<br />Maintenance<br />
  13. 13. Discovery PhaseYour website starts with a purpose and a design, but it is powered by the content you create.<br />
  14. 14. Discovery<br />Goal: Setting the tone for a successful, on-time, on-budget delivery<br />Audience identification and hierarchy<br />Only one audience at the top of the hierarchy – don’t muddle<br />Positioning<br />Positioning statements help establish and differentiate your product and service in the eyes of your customers. What is the service/product? Who is it for? How is it different from the competition? What makes it unique? <br />Project Purpose – creating a common guideline for everyone to follow<br />A reference point for all design and IA decisions as we move forward <br />Effective Information Architecture<br />What are the needs and wants of your main audiences? How are their needs translated into a hierarchy of information?<br />
  15. 15. Information architecture<br />Information architecture (IA) is the design of the structure, hierarchy, and navigation of a website (sitemap)<br /><ul><li>Effective IA bridges the gap between research and the visual design, and the process helps an organization understand itself better
  16. 16. We’re concerned with creating an architecture and hierarchy that gets users to their content more efficiently – ideally within 3 clicks
  17. 17. Intuitive navigation doesn't happen by chance and it must reflect the way people think in order for it to be effective
  18. 18. Good IA can lead to smarter development processes, lowered maintenance costs, less internal documentation, and scalability</li></li></ul><li>Information architecture<br />
  19. 19. Design PhasePeople don’t just visit your website; they experience and interact with it.<br />
  20. 20. Design<br />Goal: design an original, intuitive website that attracts and retains users until they find the information they need. Create a resource to entice return visits. <br />10 second rule <br />“Am I in the right place?”<br />“Do they have what I am looking for?”<br />And sometimes, “Does better content exist elsewhere?”<br />How to engage? <br />Emotion, Differentiation and Authenticity<br />Help users make decisions – guide them<br />Eye tracking studies<br />Calls to action (purpose of the site)<br />Clarity of navigation in design<br />
  21. 21. A well-designed homepage<br />Design is mostly about structure and hierarchy<br /><ul><li>People process visual information 60,000 times faster than narrative information</li></ul>Design is not necessarily just about the visual aesthetics – it is about the facilitation of an information gathering process<br />The visual representation and online brand is very important, but our first priority is getting users to the information they need – all other experiences are secondary<br /><ul><li>Your online brand is more than your logo, images and color palette, it’s also:
  22. 22. the speed at which your pages load
  23. 23. the ease of navigation
  24. 24. the tone of your content
  25. 25. how quickly you respond to queries from your prospects</li></li></ul><li>A well-designed homepage<br />Lexington, KY<br />Uses local imagery and representational palette<br />Connects the region with useful business messaging<br />Backs up the positioning with fact-based information<br />Provides map for quick locational reference<br />Appeals to both the left and right brain<br />
  26. 26. A well-designed homepage<br />The Right Place<br />Bold imagery, vibrant campaign language<br />Marketing speak backed up with facts and figures on home page<br />Balanced design pushes below the fold elegantly<br />Provides map for quick locational reference<br />Homepage caters to existing businesses as well<br />
  27. 27. Design Tips and Takeaways<br />OK to design below the fold<br />Limit your use of Flash<br />Understand typical eye-tracking patterns<br />Contact information on the top of every page<br />Present maps on the homepage<br />Understand that your brand is more than your design<br />
  28. 28. Writing Effective Content for Your Website"If your target audience isn't listening, it's not their fault, it's yours.”Seth Godin, Small is the New Big<br />
  29. 29. Online content<br />Once you have your sitemap and your agency is beginning the design phase, it’s time for your biggest task in the process. <br />Most users scan instead of read<br />Your content writers need to be trained in online content writing<br />Write in “usable content formats”<br />Scannable, written and designed in chunks<br />Update often to keep it relevant<br />If you write it well, your users will return to the resource you’ve created<br />
  30. 30. Online content – pre-launch<br />In order for this phase to be successful, you can count on:<br />Spending up to 2 months full time getting the copy written, edited and uploaded to your new website (approx 3 hours/page)<br />Creating an effective editorial calendar, because when you launch, you’ll be:<br />Reviewing and updating various portions of your site weekly<br />Posting to social media outlets daily<br />
  31. 31. Online Content – Post Launch<br />Periodically review your content<br />
  32. 32. Do you believe the hype?<br />Here’s a look at Google search returns for “content strategy":<br /><ul><li>2006: 5,930,000
  33. 33. 2007: 8,340,000
  34. 34. 2008: 137,000,000
  35. 35. 2009: 337,000,000</li></li></ul><li>Eight components of a world-class ED website<br />
  36. 36. Eight components of a world-class ED website<br />Authenticity of place branding and messaging<br />Clarity of navigation <br />Depth and quality of content<br />Use of search marketing approaches<br />Use of email marketing and news sections<br />Frequent performance tracking<br />Use of maps and GIS technology<br />Use of social media<br />
  37. 37. Authenticity in place branding<br />Communicating a true positioning of the region<br />Utilizing recognizable national elements<br />Capturing users’ attention--inspiring them to use the site<br />
  38. 38. Outstanding branding <br />
  39. 39. Clarity of navigation<br /><ul><li>A prospect-specific section placed prominently
  40. 40. Utilizing IEDC data standards
  41. 41. Providing the top ten most requested pages
  42. 42. Keeping all valuable content three clicks or less from the homepage</li></li></ul><li>Top 10 pages requested nationally on ED websites<br />About Us (about the organization) <br />Programs (that the organization offers) <br />Data Center<br />News <br />Relocate and Expand<br />Find Property <br />Site Selection Services <br />Workforce Data and Information <br />Database of Companies or Largest Employers <br />Maps of the Area<br />
  43. 43. Great content strategy<br />Scannable - bullets and chunks<br />Using a content management system that enables publishing of pages, downloadable documents, and data<br />Weekly updates<br />Devoting half of your budget to content<br />Offering prominent contact info<br />
  44. 44. Great content strategy<br />
  45. 45. Effective search marketing<br />Ranking #1 organically for “your city/region economic development”<br />Ranking #1 organically for “your organization name” <br />Utilizing paid search (PPC) to drive additional traffic<br />
  46. 46. Top 10 search terms that drive traffic to ED websites<br />Your organization name<br />Your city/region name “economic development”<br />Incentive type offered in your region (depends on community)<br />Resident company name (i.e., Boeing)<br />Region name (if different from city)<br />Organizational url (without .com/.net/.org)<br />Campaign name (initiative or fundraising)<br />City/region name “maps”<br />City/region name “counties”<br />City/region name “industries”<br />
  47. 47. Effective search marketing<br />
  48. 48. Best search engine marketing<br />Location Georgia<br /><ul><li>Optimize their website around top terms
  49. 49. Use PPC to broaden search terms “Georgia Demographics”
  50. 50. Over half of their traffic comes from search engines
  51. 51. 500% traffic increase by using effective search marketing</li></ul>www.locationgeorgia.com<br />
  52. 52. Effective use of an email newsletter<br />Monthly email newsletter to investors, prospects<br />Tracking performance of those newsletters<br />Posting newsletters and news items to your website weekly or monthly<br />
  53. 53. Outstanding email marketing<br />
  54. 54. Effective performance tracking<br />Review report once per month<br />Track unique visits, referrers and downloads<br />Benchmark your performance against other EDs<br />Integrate tracking of advertising, web and PR effectiveness<br />
  55. 55. Effective performance tracking<br />
  56. 56. Effective use of maps and GIS technology<br /><ul><li>Use maps with various layers (transportation, education, etc.)
  57. 57. Use integrated real estate searches/GIS mapping software
  58. 58. Generate dynamic demographic and business reports</li></li></ul><li>Effective use of Maps and GIS technology <br />
  59. 59. Best use of Maps and GIS technology<br />Indy Partnership<br /><ul><li>Use maps to place their region in the global geography
  60. 60. Fully integrated property and business GIS search
  61. 61. Geospatial reporting
  62. 62. 1 property search and 1 business search per web visit, on average</li></ul>www.indypartnership.com<br />
  63. 63. Effective use of social media<br /><ul><li>Link your website and your LinkedIn profile
  64. 64. Keep an active Twitter account
  65. 65. Create a blog and update it four times per week
  66. 66. Incorporate “Share It” features on your site</li></li></ul><li>Do you believe the hype?<br />Here’s a look at Google search returns for “social media” over the past few years: <br /><ul><li>2005: 9,150,000
  67. 67. 2006: 41,600,000
  68. 68. 2007: 165,000,000
  69. 69. 2008: 359,000,000
  70. 70. 2009: 1,230,000,000 </li></li></ul><li>Effective social media strategies<br />
  71. 71. Best use of social media<br />Metro Denver EDC<br /><ul><li> Outstanding blog, mostly written by their Executive VP
  72. 72. “Insider” tone
  73. 73. Outstanding use of Twitter – 2,700 followers
  74. 74. Tweeting 4-6 times a day</li></ul>www.metrodenver.org/blog<br />
  75. 75. What you can learn from Metro Denver<br /><ul><li>You can grow your sphere of influence by using social media
  76. 76. Your executive should be involved
  77. 77. Your blog should be open and honest
  78. 78. Use a tone that is personal and connects you to your stakeholders
  79. 79. Take a leadership role in getting information out about your community</li></li></ul><li>7 things you should be doing with social media today<br />Start blogging to drive traffic and increase conversation<br />Develop a dialogue with your workforce and residents with Facebook <br />Use Twitter to engage your investors and community stakeholders, and to share information about your community <br />Integrate Social Media and sharing into your websites<br />Use a variety of tools to recruit Site Selectors and prospects to online meetings <br />Develop a dedicated approach to using LinkedIn for prospecting <br />Keep and eye on new platforms, such as foursquare<br />
  80. 80. The Atlas Report: Social Media Use by Site Selectors<br />
  81. 81. Who we interviewed<br />Estate Inc., New Mexico<br />Mike Barnes Group, Inc., Texas<br />Colliers Location Agency & Incentives Practice, Indiana<br />McCallum Sweeney Consulting, South Carolina<br />Koll Development Company, Texas<br />CB Richard Ellis, Washington<br />Studley Inc., Pennsylvania<br />Greenfield Development Company, North Carolina<br />CB Richard Ellis, Arizona<br />The RSH Group, California<br /><ul><li>Moran, Stahl & Boyer LLC, Florida
  82. 82. Sherwin-Williams Co., Georgia
  83. 83. Trione & Gordon/ONCOR Intl., Texas
  84. 84. Colliers International,  Toronto CANADA
  85. 85. Little & Associates Architects, North Carolina
  86. 86. Palm Inc – Sunnyvale, California
  87. 87. Visa – San Francisco, California
  88. 88. Foote Consulting Group – Glendale, Arizona</li></li></ul><li>What social networks or tools, if any, do you use?<br />71 % use LinkedIn<br />Just over 50% use facebook<br />
  89. 89. How frequently do you use each?<br />72 % use some form of Social Media at least weekly. <br />
  90. 90. What is the applicability of Twitter to your profession?<br />63.6% say Twitter has no/very little applicability to the site selection profession. <br />
  91. 91. What is the applicability of LinkedIn to your profession?<br />52.6% say LinkedIn has good application to the site selection profession. <br />
  92. 92. Today’s opportunities<br /><ul><li>Content is king: the more of it you have, and the better it’s displayed, the better your organization will do online
  93. 93. You should have control of your page, data, file, and photographic content
  94. 94. Integrated GIS makes the experience seamless for your users and delivers 300% more property searches than other tools in many markets</li></li></ul><li>Today’s opportunities<br /><ul><li>Never forget your brand or how far it extends on your website
  95. 95. It will deliver more than 10x the experiences of any other marketing you do
  96. 96. Search engine marketing is the most cost effective, targeted way to harvest new leads
  97. 97. It can increase traffic by as much as 1000% within targeted groups
  98. 98. Social media is a vast, untapped opportunity
  99. 99. Direct users to your LinkedIn profiles, blog, Twitter account, and let users share pages and content</li></li></ul><li>Parting thoughts…<br /><ul><li>Your website is an outreach of your community—think of how you extend in-person greetings to your prospects, and try, as hard as you can, to deliver that message and tone online
  100. 100. Your site is not static, it’s living and breathing—it takes incredible attention and detail, but it will deliver incredible results
  101. 101. Your site is your platform—for first impressions, for storytelling, for capturing attention and most importantly for starting a conversation</li></li></ul><li>Thank you! Questions?<br />Peter Brown<br />Director of Creative Services<br />peterb@atlas-advertising.com<br />Download this presentation: http://blog.atlas-advertising.com<br />Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AtlasAd<br />
  102. 102. Contact Atlas<br />Contact information:<br />2601 Blake Street, Suite 301<br />Denver, CO 80205<br />Contact: Ben Wright<br />t: 303.292.3300 x 210<br />benw@Atlas-Advertising.com<br />www.Atlas-Advertising.com<br />

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