The Kilgore News Herald – through its digital arm, KNH Marketing – launched a new Web portal for the community Nov. 15.
In development since summer 2012, WelcomeToKilgore.com aims to highlight the myriad of different aspects of the city of Kilgore, from dining, shopping and leisure to educational opportunities, community service, information on local government, history and area attractions.
“Ideally, when people search for Kilgore, this will come up very near the top of the list in their search engine,” said Kilgore News Herald publisher Bill Woodall. “It really gives you a great feel for the wide variety of things that are of great interest to visitors.”
From the East Texas Oil Museum to the world-famous Kilgore College Rangerettes, Kilgore Independent School District, the East Texas Public Organ Festival, Kilgore Chamber of Commerce, Kilgore Main Street Program and the Kilgore Public Library, the site puts local attractions side-by-side with organizations, businesses and retailers to provide a dynamic, ever-evolving snapshot of the city of Kilgore.
“Virtually anything that you can think of that might be of interest to out-of-towners will be listed on this Web site. It's one more opportunity for us to sell Kilgore to people who are looking for the community online,” Woodall said. “From a commercial perspective, WelcomeToKilgore.com affords local businesses one more entry point for their customers – and their prospective customers.”
It's custom-tailored tourism, KNH Marketing Director James Draper explained.
“We have a lot of organizations doing a lot to bring visitors to town, and we want to make sure those people can see, at a glance, all of the great things this community has to offer – the events, the attractions, the businesses, the charities and more,” he said. “For the people who are already here – the residents and workers – it helps to keep them up-to-date on what's going on, and it gives them a fast way to find a phone number, Web site, directions or other information when they need it.”
The site utilizes a simple, push-button interface: some link directly to Web sites to increase local online traffic while others point to landing pages with short explanations about the featured group or event as well as contact information and links.
Optimized for desktops, smartphones and tablets, each time the page is loaded, the buttons – with new entries being added regularly – shuffle randomly.
“No one is always at the top of the page, no one is always on the bottom,” Draper said. “It's a different site every time users refresh – we hope they'll come looking for information about one thing, find what they need and take a moment to learn about something new.”
A navigation menu also enables visitors to find specific pages quickly in basic categories.
Events, attractions, charities, civic groups and similar organizations receive free promotion on the site, which is supported by the $25-per-month fees of for-profit merchants, businesses and other entities.
“We want to keep the site as inexpensive as possible so more retailers and companies will take advantage of the chance to advertise alongside all of Kilgore's different draws for visitors,” Draper added. “For an organization that doesn't have a Web site, Facebook page or other online profile, this gives them a Web presence. For those that do, it drives Web traffic.
“We've already seen a great response from businesses signing up, enabling us to add more no-cost, tourism-related elements that will help bring people here and point the way to places where they can have a good time, eat a good meal and spend some dollars in this community.”
KNH Marketing invites residents to contribute to the site as well, he added, so that, over time, the Web portal will be an all-encompassing reflection of a thriving community.
“We launched the site with more than 80 entries, but we have scores of ideas to roll out as time goes by,” he explained. From events and attractions, big and small, to off-the-beaten path excursions, the site looks to grow regularly. “When you factor in all of our local businesses, merchants and organizations, we expect the site will eventually have hundreds of categorized listings, all about Kilgore, and we hope our readers and others will submit their own ideas and photos so we can be sure that the entire community is represented.”
Submit ideas along with relevant details – time, date, place and Internet links – to knhmarketing@welcometokilgore.
The site was a natural evolution of the newsprint product – the Kilgore News Herald already stays on top of local events and developments and can feed portions of its twice-weekly content toward WelcomeToKilgore.com to ensure locals and visitors have more reasons to return and stay up-to-date on community happenings while advertisers use it promote themselves.
“Part of our job is to help our customers communicate in any way possible and in any way we can facilitate, with their customers and their potential customers,” Woodall said. Business, after all, is all about entry points. “This provides yet another entry point. My vision is that it just is an incremental success for our customers. You measure your steps one increment at a time and I hope this adds another incremental value with their relationship with the News Herald and incrementally increases the ability for their customers to communicate with them.”