5 Digital Trends for Economic Development in 2017

With a wild 2016 now behind us and an exciting 2017 starting to take shape, digital strategy consultant USDM (usdmdigital.com) presents its five digital trends in economic development for 2017.  We believe your organization should be considering these trends to best take advantage of all the opportunities before your area this year.

Five Digital Economic Development Trends USDM is tracking for 2017:

  1. Workforce/Talent Attraction and Talent Development – One of the most discussed topics in 2016 was workforce/talent attraction and development. With shifting demographics in the workplace, economic development organizations across the country are trying to understand how to attract a more diverse workforce to their area.

Attracting talent, of any skillset, to your area becomes easier and more effective with the implementation of digital tactics and channels.  Limiting to traditional mediums your message about all the great quality of life amenities your area has to offer diminishes your reach to today’s digitally fluent workforce.

Instead, using digital analytics that track online audiences’ specific interests can greatly improve your targeting to the specific geography, industry, or even skillsets essential for all of your organization’s workforce priorities.

  1. A More Engaging Business-to-Business Social Media – Every economic development organization has some social media presence. However, most organizations’ social media pages only serve as a library for the latest census bureau data or press releases. As we continue through 2017, more economic development organizations will use their social media sites as a tool for engagement.

An engaging social media presence can benefit more than constituent services; it can enhance your business recruitment and business retention efforts.  A fully functioning social media program can enhance your organization by leveraging your community’s champions and ambassadors, providing compelling content that creates engagement, and functioning as a lead generation source for your development purposes.  Business-to-Business social media requires a different playbook.

  1. Qualified Website Traffic – One digital statistic most economic development organizations are proud to report is the amount of traffic to their website. Since websites are the centerpiece for most organizations’ digital presence, highlighting the traffic quantity is meant to be the leading indicator of digital success.

However, all that website traffic does not necessarily mean good quality traffic. Diversifying the tactics (mobile, social, search, and digital ads) used to drive traffic to your website can enhance your reach and attract more prospects.  Tracking and analyzing prospect responses allows your organization to adjust your tactics to those most responsive, generating more qualified traffic.

Most economic development website traffic comes from one primary source of traffic – search. But, is your website mobile compliant and optimized for mobile search?  Many of today’s busy web searchers are using the convenience of mobile (smartphone, tablet) devices to conduct their searches. You need to make sure your web site content is optimized, listed and viewable across the multiple mobile platforms.

Moving away from reporting simple web site traffic count to using and reporting on traffic from multiple channels increases your insights, reach, response, and value to stakeholders.

  1. The New (Digital) List Development – Lead generation is the life blood within the industry and each year one of the main trends is how to generate more and better qualified leads. One of the most optimistic trends for 2017 is that organizations can have greater ability to generate their own leads rather than rely on downloaded lists.

Organizations can now forgo traditional list development practices by taking advantage of digital’s ability to collect, analyze, segment and develop audiences based on any unique criteria. Whether your organization is trying to target specific industries or market to companies with a certain headcount, digital list development will be a growing trend in 2017 that can support your organization’s project pipeline.

  1. Millennipreneurs– The “millennipreneurs”, or millennial entrepreneurs, is one of the newest sectors within the field of economic development. This emerging class of business innovators is a desirable market to target because of their typically high level of employment, strong wages, and the diverse number industries in which they are developing new innovations.

Communicating the advantages of your area to “millennipreneurs” requires a different approach then traditional economic development marketing.

These entrepreneurs are young and digitally sophisticated.  You need to have a comprehensive digital strategy that speaks to their values and engages them across multiple digital platforms and social media.

These millennipreneurs are vital and valuable, as they are leading tremendous growth innovations, and disruptions, that are transforming how business is done and how products and services are produced, delivered and consumed.

Whether you look at consumer electronics, autonomous cars, smart houses, artificial intelligence assistants, business productivity applications, big data analytics, social media marketing, or digital information and entertainment – the impact, value and importance of digital technology innovations is growing and accelerating.

The impact can be enormous; enriching for some who embrace, or disruptive for others who hesitate — including economic development organizations.

Regardless of the key priorities before your organization this year, everything around you indicates that 2017 must be the year that you seriously embrace a comprehensive Digital Strategy for your organization.


Public and private sector brands trust USDM Digital® to provide current and future insights, develop digital strategy for business, execute digital marketing and advertising, improve customer engagement, and deliver performance that measurably IMPACTS their business.  Visit us at www.usdmdigital.com 

USDM Digital® is a registered trademark of USDM Digital® LLC.

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