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Municipal Websites Play Key Role in Holiday “Shop Local” Campaigns
Vision Internet Content Management Tools Help Cities Keep Shoppers in the Know
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- With the holiday shopping season ready to shift into high gear next week, Vision Internet, innovators in online government, is supporting the “Shop Local” movement with content management tools that make it easier than ever for municipalities to promote “Main Street” merchants and events on their websites.
“When residents do their holiday shopping and dining in their hometowns they support their neighbors, local business people and important municipal services funded by local sales taxes,” said Ashley Fruechting, Vision Internet’s director of strategic initiatives. “Our easy-to-use content management system allows cities and towns to post retail promotions, holiday coupons and special in-store events on their websites in real time. Clients who are using our latest version of visionCMS™ love its new responsive design functionality that makes holiday promotions available and formatted for easy retrieval by shoppers on the go via their mobile devices as well.”
Research by the Institute for Local Self Reliance shows that a “buy local” campaign can significantly increase sales for local independent business owners. Communities that embraced buy independent/buy local campaigns in 2012 reported year-over-year sales increases of more than five percent.
In Decatur, Georgia, Tourism Bureau Executive Director Linda Harris sees her City’s Vision Internet-designed website as an important part of her overall campaign to promote shopping and dining in downtown Decatur. This year will be the second for the City’s “Keep it Indie-Catur For the Holidays” campaign, including Terrific Thursdays featuring special in-store events and discounts, and a Holiday Shopping Kickoff Deal in which shoppers get a $20 restaurant gift card for every $200 spent at Decatur shops in the month of November.
“Our Go Local campaign is multifaceted, including our City website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, news releases and our newsletter which are all linked to the website,” said Harris. “Holiday promotions are fast-moving and Vision Internet’s content management system allows me to update the site with new retail information and promotions from wherever I am.”
The City of North Port, Florida, located in the booming metro area between Tampa and Ft. Myers, also is using its Vision Internet website to promote businesses and economic development throughout the City. When new stores and restaurants open, North Port posts the news on the City’s website and uses Vision Internet’s eNotification tool to deliver the news to citizens’ inboxes before distributing the news to the media.
“Our mission is to be the number one news source for our residents and our website is our main tool to get business and event news to them,” said Erin Bryce, North Port’s community outreach manager. “We also work very closely with the North Port Chamber of Commerce and link to their shop local campaign on our website. But shopping local is not just about the Mom and Pop shops in North Port. Our new Cocoplum Village Shops include independent businesses and several larger chain stores that are, for the first time, making North Port a destination for shoppers throughout the region. That creates jobs, brings new dollars into our City for businesses and adds revenue that can fund new sidewalks, parks and other community improvements.”
A Vision Internet customer since 2008, North Port plans to upgrade to the company’s newest content management system in this fiscal year.
“We’re very excited about responsive design and the automatic upgrades provided with visionLive™. This will be a huge project for us this year. We realize that our City’s website is not just a tool to communicate with our residents, but also is an important tool in our economic development efforts.” Bryce said.
Shop, Dine and Enjoy are prominent headers on the Village of Mount Prospect, Illinois “Experience Mount Prospect” website, which is dedicated to encouraging residents to “taste, mix and mingle” in their hometown. Public Information Officer Marianthi Thanopoulos said they are aiming to keep the site true to its central mission while also evolving with emerging technology and residents’ needs. She likes the simple, clean design created by Vision Internet for the site, which conveys a friendly hometown feeling.
“It’s a project that began as an idea a few years ago and just took off,” Thanopoulos said. “The website is integral to the success of our local businesses. Every local business can submit a free promotional ad to our website and newsletter each month. Customers who visit the businesses and mention the ads get special deals. We monitor traffic to the site, and it’s clear that Mount Prospect business owners who take advantage of the Village’s free marketing tool get more clicks than those who don’t. This website is a nice example of how different groups within a community – independent business owners, the Downtown Merchants Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Village -- can work together to enhance community awareness and business success.”
For more information about Vision Internet’s transformative government website technology, call 888-263-8847 or visit visioninternet.com/inforequest.
About Vision Internet
Headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., Vision Internet is a national leader in government website development with more than 500 government, non-profit and education clients in U.S. and Canadian communities with populations that range from less than 1,000 residents to more than 5 million. The company creates cost-effective solutions that increase government efficiency, transparency and interactive communications with citizens. Over the past 17 years, the company has earned hundreds of prestigious awards for its unique websites, including numerous 3CMA Savvy Awards. In 2013, Vision Internet launched visionCMS™, a powerful, easy to use content management system developed with feedback from hundreds of municipal clients.