Editor’s Note: “The Economic Development Side” originally appears in the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce’s weekly member e-newsletter. It is written by Rhonda Dishner, the Economic Development Alliance’s executive assistant.

A new business prospect can be only one mouse click away.

That’s how fast a decision-maker can get information on the Internet. That’s why the information they are seeking must be the information they find as they click on digital advertisements or quickly visit websites. And that’s why the Economic Development Alliance plans to continue its search engine marketing and digital media campaign in 2018.

Search engine marketing can be a very effective method of gaining web traffic and visibility for a community’s data. More exposure on search engines increases the likelihood of capturing the attention of a site selector or corporate executive, who would then click on an ad to “Learn More” and visit the local website referenced in the ad.

The Alliance has developed advertisement designs that are focused on targeted audiences and targeted areas of the country. These ad banners pop up randomly on websites and search’s nationwide and when decision-makers look for specific information about industrial sites, buildings, workforce, business climate, etc. The ads also “follow” viewers around the web.

Since its inception several years ago, the Alliance’s digital campaign has performed well and is getting better each year. The numbers for 2017, through the third quarter, reflect a total of over one million impressions, which are ads viewed nationally. When fourth quarter numbers are added in a few weeks, that total is expected to increase significantly.

A more important number right now, however, is 3,004. That’s the number of viewers who actually clicked on the ads for more information in the first nine months of 2017. This is a click-through rate of 1.01 percent, which is ten times the national average click-through rate, according to the firm that helps manage the Alliance’s program. It is a rate that also documents that people who see the ads are clicking on them and coming to the Alliance’s website.

The objective of the Alliance’s marketing plan—and the search engine component—is to generate quality prospects for Jefferson County that lead to new capital investments and job creation.

In the not-too-distant past, site selectors may have written or telephoned to request preliminary information about a community. Then came the faxed and emailed requests. Now, they use the Internet, where research can be accomplished with the click of a mouse. What they see in these quick searches is up to the individual communities.