GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Ben Wright, CEO of Denver-based Atlas Advertising, speaks to the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. His firm built the Greater Rhode Island website with the help of Newport firm Recokner Group.
It will take more than passing visits to the Greater Rhode Island website to generate the type of leads that translate into actual economic growth, but according to proponents, the building blocks are now in place.
The new economic-development website that launched on Nov. 25 was the main attraction at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, attended by more than 740 people. The site is a marketing tool that offers statewide data on population density, demographics, property, the workforce and other information that can be downloaded or managed in custom reports.
However, in the week and a half that followed, not one lead had popped up through the site, said Scott Gibbs, president of the Cumberland-based Economic Development Foundation, a partner in the website-building effort.
Converting website visits to economic-development prospects is the end-game, says Ben Wright, CEO of Atlas Advertising of Denver, but getting there takes coordination, diverse marketing, fresh and timely updates and continued website monitoring, as well as sheer time. His firm built the site with the help of the Reckoner Group of Newport, which contributed conceptual design.
“The [marketing] to statewide businesses as well as businesses outside the state has yet to be done, so that’s what comes next,” said Wright. “There are going to be hundreds of people on the site each day. We believe in the Rhode Island and Providence product as a place, and there are going to be great stories told about the community and I would expect those stories will appeal.”
About 90 percent of all business relocations start with some kind of online search, Wright said, describing the impetus for the website during a phone interview following the Chamber’s annual meeting, where he was a speaker. The Chamber, the foundation and the R.I. Economic Development Corporation are partners in greaterri.com.
Wright’s firm, Atlas, conducted a national survey of 220 economic-development organizations and found that while 175 website visits typically convert to just one “conversation” with a company, a 120-to-1 ratio is what Atlas clients can expect to achieve – based on 42 percent more conversations generated by its clients, compared to average economic-development organizations.