Website Best Practices for Economic Development Organizations

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Recently, we did a deep dive into the country’s 25 fastest-growing communities, specifically, how their chambers and economic development organizations represented themselves through their virtual front door: their websites. While each approached their websites slightly differently, those economic development organizations that were most successful in driving interest and outcomes for their regions had similar attributes. We’ve outlined those attributes here in a list of best practices to consider for your chamber website and/or economic development website for enhanced outcomes.

Share Insight About What You Offer vs. Who You Are

The most impactful chamber websites and/or economic development websites focus on the benefits and differentiators that your region or your organization offers. Businesses seeking information want to know how your organization can help them relocate, accelerate growth, and/or enhance capabilities and workforce. Plan for the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should consider the following:

  • How will my business benefit from moving to your region and/or becoming a member/investor of your organization? Be specific. “We will help your company grow” doesn’t mean much. What are your attributes and differentiators that will set you apart from other regions? For example, does your region have strong logistics, transportation capabilities or an exceptional fiber network?
  • What does your region or your organization offer to assist with the growth of my business? For example, does your region provide a strong workforce pipeline (and if so, prove it)? How can your organization assist with local/state government challenges?
  • Are you showcasing your impact with authentic stories? “Show and tell” your story through testimonials of current businesses and those which have recently moved into your market. No one tells your story better than those which have benefited from your organization. Ensure you have plenty of diversity in size of company, type of industry, and challenges that you helped them overcome. Also, be sure to share outcomes for the business. 

Communicate with Current Businesses

The most effective economic development organizations spend as much time focused on connecting and communicating with businesses already in the market in addition to drawing in new businesses. Keep in mind that how you treat your current “customers” can be – and is – viewed by those you are trying to drive into your region as well.

Ensure your chamber website or economic development organization website is dedicated to celebrating local business wins/growth, sharing workforce initiatives, providing professional development opportunities, and other activities that current businesses can utilize to grow – and potential new businesses can see as a benefit when relocating to your region. This strategy also helps to ensure that your current businesses seek to grow there vs. another community.

Showcase the Lifestyle

While your organization is all about business, make sure that part of your website also is focused on how citizens live, work, play, educate, and worship. Businesses seeking to grow or relocate want to know they can attract and retain employees. Your site needs to showcase how and why businesses can draw and maintain their future employees.

Share photos to help businesses envision their team members enjoying life outside of work – and provide them tools to help them excite their future employees about the opportunities.

Develop Your Navigation with the Visitor in Mind

Minimize the website navigation to allow your visitors to find and travel effectively through your site. We found that many economic development websites or chamber websites overload their virtual front door with too much information – trying to be everything to everyone.  Develop your navigation based on how and what your visitors are seeking, not what you want to share. What are the most-asked questions new or current businesses ask of your chamber or economic development organization? Create your navigation based on those themes.

Implement an SEO Strategy

You may have a beautiful chamber website or economic development website with easy navigation, but it’s only impactful if it works for you. One of the biggest game changers you can implement is an SEO strategy. Recently, my colleague and our First Impressions Officer Elizabeth Lazdins shared insight on the impact of conducting an SEO audit. Among the key takeaways is this nugget:

Your site should be working well technically and providing the best user experience possible for your new and existing clients. This means ensuring that the backend of your site is running efficiently with few to no errors. On the front end, your site should provide a positive user experience written in a language your customers understand and use. All of this will help improve your rankings in search engines. An SEO audit will help shine a light on any issues and illuminate areas that you’re already doing well.

Those chamber and economic development organizations that are having the most impact for their regions have a strong website. If you feel the need to strengthen your site, contact Chartwell today – we’d welcome the opportunity to enhance your outcomes.