Attracting cyber tech with Google tech
Cyber Command is coming to Fort Gordon, Georgia, and four Aiken County partners have been working quietly behind the scenes to attract some of the more than 5,300 who will be moving to the region.
“We see a good opportunity for drawing mid to higher level Army and Department of Defense personnel to Aiken County,” said J. David Jameson, president/CEO, Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, one of the partners. “Plus we expect many of the current support businesses in the Washington DC area to relocate to the region, and maybe even some new businesses,”
Other partners in the effort are the City of North Augusta, the Aiken Board of Realtors, and the Economic Development Partnership.
The group met in July to discuss what could be done to attract some of the Cyber Command personnel to Aiken County. What developed was an online advertising and promotion campaign that launched in August with the help of the Aiken Standard and the company’s online technology director.
Aiken Standard personnel searched Google for numerous topics related to Fort Gordon, such as housing, business locations, schools, office space, etc. The search targeted those living in the Fort Meade (Maryland) and Fort Belvoir (Virginia) region who were searching for resources in the Augusta Metro, Columbia County, and Richmond County areas. From there the Aiken Standard placed ads promoting Aiken County on websites being searched by those planning to relocate to the Fort Gordon area.
“We felt it was important to give those searching the web another option,” said North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover. “Aiken County is definitely a viable relocation option with many amenities just across the river.”
“Many of those expected to move here are intelligence experts coming from the DC area; they are accustomed to long commutes. For them, living in Aiken County would be ideal because Fort Gordon is not far away,” Jameson said.
Will Williams, president/CEO, Economic Development Partnership, sees definite potential to attract new businesses. “Aiken County has positioned itself for contractors for Cyber Command to be able to quickly locate and be operational. With premier office properties, along with easy access to the fort and state and local assistance, Aiken is ready,” Williams said.
Now in its third month, the campaign has shown positive results. It has consistently outperformed campaign goals, remained under budget each month, and resulted in an increase in the partners’ web traffic. As of October 23, the web and mobile ads were displayed to visitors 3,947,485 times, and 10,263 people clicked on them. This is a .25% click through rate – more than three times the display online advertising average rate of .08%.
The online marketing efforts have paid off for the Aiken Board of Realtors. “We’ve had a lot of clicks (hits) on our dedicated Cyber Command page on aikenmls.com. In August we saw more than 600 hits, and in September that number jumped to more than 1,700. We are thrilled so many people from the Cyber Command are interested in Aiken County, and we look forward to showing them our beautiful town,” said Janice Nix, chair, Aiken Board of Realtors.
“We have had great technical assistance and expertise from the Aiken Standard. Not only did they design the campaign, they’re also providing the analytics. They continue to monitor and tweak the campaign for the most effective results,” said Jameson.
A follow-up strategy targeting those who have shown interest in Aiken County is underway.