A well-built website can be a powerful lead generation tool. With clear copy, compelling calls-to-action and a keen eye on keyword optimization, your website can make a strong first impression and help fill the pipeline with qualified prospects. For many economic development entities, who have historically relied on in-person visits with site selectors, global trade shows, and recruitment-focused travel, ensuring your website is up-to-date is more important now than ever before. While it can’t replace all in-person marketing activities that have been paused due to COVID, it can fill in some gaps and make an initial introduction to your city, state, county or region.
Update your messaging
Times have changed. In-person can’t take the lead. As you review and refine the messaging on your website, consider:
- (How) Has your value proposition changed?
- (How) Can people take a remote tour of the community and its top assets?
- What information is most important to audiences now – AND will be in the near future?
- (How) Can you make your website more personable? (It’s not going to give a nice, firm handshake and greet people with a warm smile, but you get the idea)
- What calls-to-action are relevant today? Which former calls-to-action need to be paused or replaced?
With clear messaging that reinforces what makes your community unique, be it for entrepreneurs to launch or for stage two companies to scale, your community’s value propositions will take center stage. And, of course, you’ll want to include…
What do you want people to do with the information they have just consumed? Share a virtual tour video with a colleague? Schedule a Zoom with your team to learn more? Connect with local business owners to gather first-hand insights?
A content-rich website is great – but it can’t achieve its maximum potential if you don’t make it easy for people to engage and take action. Now, this doesn’t mean you need a call-to-action button and/or pop-ups everywhere one’s eye gazes. It’s important to be strategic and include the calls-to-action that are most relevant to your target audience(s).
Video, video, video
HubSpot reports that 81% of businesses are using video as a marketing tool. Animated explainer video company Wyzowl notes 88% of marketers report a positive ROI on video. And, Cisco predicts 82% of all consumer Internet traffic will be for online videos by 2022 – that’s 15 times higher than 2017.
There’s no denying the power of video. Whether it’s drone footage from above a major development project in your community or iPhone footage taken at a local event, video makes an impression on consumers and it’s a content format that many crave.
From an economic development marketing perspective, video can provide value in many formats. Think a sizzle reel from major community events, iPhone footage of a major groundbreaking, interviews with local business owners talking about why they chose your community and the list goes on. Among the keys to a great video are:
- Clear and concise talking points
- Easy to follow story line
- Emotion (I’m not saying make it weepy – I’m saying forge a connection with the viewer(s))
Your economic development video can live on the website, be used in social advertising, serve as a follow-up tool for the lead gen and outreach teams, and much more. Simply put, video is a smart marketing investment and one that is even more valuable in a predominantly virtual world.
Fill in the gaps
The impact of COVID on every industry is hard to ignore. How is your community supporting local businesses during these turbulent times? How is the local tourism industry faring? What innovations and developments were born out of the pandemic? How is the community demonstrating resilience? What’s next?
A strong economic development website contains timely information. And, in a COVID world, that may mean talking about accessing your community’s assets from home and supporting local businesses from afar. It could also mean talking about innovations, businesses who have recently relocated, and that trendy word – pivot. Most importantly, consider how your website can fill in for things that target audiences typically experience in-person.
Websites are dynamic marketing hubs. Ensuring content is up-to-date and that key messages remain relevant are important components of maintaining an effective website. As economic development organizations work to redefine business recruitment and retention, as well as attract tourists, in an era defined by COVID, websites play an even bigger role in one’s marketing program.
As you audit your website and identify opportunities to strengthen its role in lead generation, as well as business retention, focus on delivering content through a variety of formats that are educational, engaging, and, most importantly, actionable.