A Fresh, New Website to Drive Interest in San Diego’s Downtown Commercial Real Estate Market
increase in website traffic
increase in traffic over six-months
average open rate of email marketing program
new user-friendly and mobile-first features to improve accessibility
In 2020, NST was tapped by the Downtown San Diego Partnership (DSDP) to restructure its existing CreateTheFutureSD.com website. The DSDP team sought to better highlight downtown office space, residential opportunities and amenities, and provide an online home to its new Downtown Innovation Center, an in-person resource to highlight the benefits of Downtown San Diego.
In the discovery and planning process, NST hosted a two-hour workshop to establish the shared goals for the revitalized website, goals for a perception research study and desired outcomes for the marketing plan to launch the website. The workshop served as a deep dive into technical specifications, content and design needs for the website, and provided an opportunity to discuss current and past outreach strategies that were historically successful.
As part of the planning process, NST conducted research to assess perceptions of Downtown San Diego’s commercial real estate market and business environment through one-on-one phone interviews in three target segments: commercial real estate brokers, current commercial tenants and potential commercial tenants. The team developed criteria, interview discussion guides and identified candidates best suited for these interviews, with the help of the DSDP, which would help inform user paths and prioritize content for the new site.
Before developing a new site map, the team conducted a comprehensive audit of CreatetheFutureSD.com to understand its current structure, functions, and primary user pathways, and identify any content gaps. With a finalized site map, NST developed a content outline detailing how the site’s updated content, functions, and content management system would meet the organization’s goals, be easily understood by target audiences, and achieve high search engine result locations for target keywords.
In the website design and development phase, the team drafted a creative brief outlining a user-centric, ADA-compliant and modern design approach; a mobile-first responsive theme; and a consistent look-and-feel across smartphones, tablets and desktop browsers. Once approved, NST rebuilt the website in a WordPress CMS – which provided the DSDP the ability to make updates to the site’s pages easily and efficiently through fully customized editable buckets and streamlined user paths to provide clear options for its two audiences: residents and businesses. From there, NST updated the site’s design and front-end functions and worked with the DSDP team to update the website content. Two new features were added to the website: a customized, mobile-friendly map of available commercial space and a webpage dedicated to the new Downtown Innovation Center with an online booking form, which successfully drove referrals.
To ensure the revitalized website not only looked great to humans, but also to search engines, NST kept SEO best practices in mind – using SEO-friendly URLs, document structure, meta tags, markup and sitemap.xml support. Google Analytics was integrated into the backend to track site visits and other metrics.
NST used the findings from the perception research study to inform relevant web content page gaps, messaging updates and the development of a detailed marketing plan for the launch – which outlined how to best use the newly launched site to increase overall awareness for the Commercial Enhancement Program – which provides additional benefits to specially assessed commercial properties and availability of commercial space downtown.
Since its launch, NST meets with the DSDP twice monthly to ensure website content and pages are updated in a timely manner to showcase the vibrancy of the Downtown San Diego economy. The team also conducts ongoing keyword research to ensure content is tagged appropriately and is referenced with the appropriate relevant keywords for target audiences. NST reviews Google Analytics data quarterly to gauge website performance and measure traffic, users and their behavior, and adjusts as needed.
Revitalizing and rebuilding the CreateTheFutureSD.com website resulted in a more than 2,000% increase in website traffic in the first year. Over the next six months, an additional 190% increase in traffic was logged as a result of further updates – including two new added features to improve accessibility. On average, the site currently generates more than 4,000 page views per month. In 2023, NST navigated the change from Google Analytics to GA4 and developed new dashboards and training to provide the most updated metrics for monitoring and understanding website performance.
With the success of the website, the DSDP continues to choose NST to add additional value to its efforts – including further enhancement of website pages to better showcase living in Downtown San Diego, the launch of a monthly email marketing program targeting its commercial audience, the development of social media photo and video content, and more. Six months into the successful email marketing program, NST notes an average open rate of 44% and a click rate of 6% – well above the industry average of 22% and 2%, respectively.