It’s a common scenario: your Board asks for a report on economic development activity. Think fast! What metrics do you give them? How do you confidently communicate how well you're telling your community's story?

Your EDO website is one of your most important marketing tools, if not your most important. So why not supplement other metrics you report on with metrics from your website?

Your next questions: What do you measure? How do you measure it? How in the world does your website help you get a grasp on prospect activity?

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Using your website to gather data is a responsible use of the funds you’ve spent to develop it.

With just 30 minutes per month, you can use your economic development website’s reporting tools to cover your bases. Here are some economic development website metrics that you should report each month, along with how to get the data.

Summary5 Ideas for Measuring and Reporting Prospect Activity

  1. Website visits
  2. Website contacts/inquiries
  3. Real estate searches/views
  4. Data downloads
  5. Companies that visited your website

Website Visits

  • Where to find this metric: Your Google Analytics dashboard
  • What it tells you: How many times your website is viewed during a given timeframe

This, the most basic of website metrics, is probably already on your list of data points. What I like about reporting this metric is twofold.

First, it’s a “vanity metric.” This means that when you show your Board that your website received 2,500 visits last month, you’ll probably raise a few eyebrows.

Second, it’s easy to measure. When you open up your Google Analytics dashboard, it’s right there in front of you. All you’ll need to do is adjust the dates you want to measure, and voilà!

I’d highly recommend not just reporting a website visit number out of context. Make note of this and other metrics in a spreadsheet monthly so you can tell the story of how your website visits are increasing month-over-month, or at least give a 3- or 6-month average.

Advanced tip: Make sure you filter out visits from your office and local government center so your numbers will be accurate. To do this, ask your  IT team to give you the IP addresses of the local government center as well as your office. Once you have those, follow these instructions to install a filter in your Google Analytics account.

Website Contacts/Inquiries

  • Where to find this metric: Your Google Analytics dashboard, call tracking software dashboard
  • What it tells you: How many times prospects filled out an email form or called your office as a result of looking at your website

It’s rare that I see EDOs reporting on the number of inquiries and contacts they receive from their website monthly, but it’s a surefire way to measure prospect activity.

Not only do I recommend reporting on the number of contacts you get from prospects filling in email forms on your website, I also recommend reporting on the number of calls you generate from people who visit your website then call your office.

While both of these tracking capabilities require some website coding knowledge, once the tracking is in place, it’s easy to report these numbers.

To understand how many contact form completions occur on your website monthly, I recommend Google Analytics Event tracking. If you have multiple forms on your website, you can track them separately so you have those extra data points.

Phone call tracking is probably new to you. Vendors like CallRail offer low-cost options to track phone calls that you’re getting each month. Here’s how it works. Your call tracking vendor will register a new phone number that rings your office line. As it hands off the phone call, it will register the caller’s phone number, call length, and even record the phone call if you’d like to review them each month.

These tracked phone calls can also be fed into a marketing automation system like HubSpot so you have a complete view of how many times a prospect has called and what web pages they’ve visited.

Real Estate Searches/Views

  • Where to find this metric: Your Google Analytics dashboard
  • What it tells you: How many times prospects search for properties on your website

Do you know how many times economic development prospects search your website for properties?

If you have Google Analytics on your website and a real estate section, you can measure how many searches you’re getting by looking at the Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report and narrow the search to include just pages in your real estate section.

This will give you the number of times those pages were viewed, but not necessarily the number of searches. To get this, you’ll need to have Google Analytics Event tracking installed on the search buttons of your search form. You can then measure how many times those buttons are clicked in Google Analytics > Behavior > Events > Top Events.

If you want to go a step further, you can also report on your top 5 or 10 most-viewed properties monthly. This doesn’t require any special coding. Simply go to Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content > All Pages and narrow your search to include just the pages that contain property detail. Using this report, you can also look to see which types of properties have the most demand in your community.

One caveat here. If you’re in Virginia or any other state that provides a real estate search tool that you can “include” in your website, you can probably only measure the number of times that page is viewed. If you search for properties and click through several pages and the web address stays the same, this is the case.

Advanced tip: Using Prospect tracking (see below), you can pair a company name with real estate searches so you know which specific companies are searching for specific properties or types of properties.

Data Downloads

  • Where to find this metric: Your Google Analytics dashboard
  • What it tells you: How many times prospects download data sheets or reports from your website

Many EDOs have Excel spreadsheets with data points for download on their websites. Still others have the ability to customize and download reports or custom proposals from their websites.

In either case, you should measure monthly the number of downloads or reports generated from your website.

This will require a little code knowledge.

If you have Excel files for download, you should tag your links to these spreadsheets with Google Analytics Event tracking. This will enable you to go to Google Analytics > Behavior > Events > Top Events and see how many times data was downloaded.

Tip: If you tag downloads in a descriptive manner, you’ll be able to see which spreadsheets were downloaded from your website.

If you have a report builder or proposal generator on your website, I’d argue that you should require people fill out a basic form with their name, email address and phone number before they download the report. In addition, though, tagging your report builder’s action button with Google Analytics Event tracking (this requires code knowledge) will enable you to go to Google Analytics > Behavior > Events > Top Events and see how many times reports were generated and downloaded.

Companies That Visit Your Website

  • Where to find this data: Marketing automation software
  • What it tells you: A full list of the companies that are viewing your website, how many times they’ve visited and what pages they have visited

Yes, it’s true that you can see which companies are visiting your website each day. To review these reports, though, you’ll need some powerful marketing automation software like HubSpot. Google Analytics simply can’t provide this information for you.

The good thing about reviewing companies that visit your website is you’ll know which ones might be interested. You’ll also know which pages they visit on your website.

Imagine seeing a company visit your website for information on available industrial space. Days later, they call your office. Because you’ve been looking at Prospect reports, you’ll know they’ve been to your website, what they’ve looked at, and can have a much more relevant conversation with them.

As you can see, reporting on some of these key metrics means adding some custom tagging to your website. This is probably best left to a professional web expert who can understand your reporting needs and install the code.

Once that code is in place, your economic development website becomes an information-rich feedback tool that can help you report on prospect activity in about 30 minutes per month.

Free Guide: 9 Things Modern Economic Development Organization Websites Need to be Successful