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Beyond the Billboard: Lessons Learned on Making a Greater Digital Impact

As so many services offered to the public are becoming increasingly digital, it’s crucial for government agencies to keep pace with the private sector. Using traditional public service announcement platforms such as billboards and TV commercials are a great way to reach out to the public, and definitely have an impact. However, due to the overall digital transformation of the world, they can fall short on reaching the entirety of a target audience.

During GovDelivery’s recent online training, Beyond the Billboard: Secrets to Improving Citizen Awareness, two experts came together to provide some digital outreach best practices that agencies can implement in their own organizations. Mary Lynn Perry, Volunteer Coordinator for City of Sacramento, California and Andy Krzmarzick, Vice President of Learning and Development at GovDelivery, offered important insight on how different government agencies can work towards providing citizens with information they need in order to convert them to action.

Among the recommendations were to:

Highlight your goals.

All government organizations and agencies are mission-oriented. Because of this, the public sector is already well-suited to quickly define their goals and begin to streamline efficient processes for achieving them in a timely manner. One of the most important things you can do to reach the maximum number of citizens is to first make clear what it is you are trying to achieve.

Are you trying to increase voter registration? Or get the word out about free flu shots, maybe? Whatever it is that you’re trying to spread the word about, identify this as your main priority, and then you can make the decision as to what strategy will work best for you. Whether you want to increase citizen engagement, or advertise a particular event or promote a service, email marketing and SMS campaigns are proven methods for optimum levels of engagement.

Take advantage of your network.

The GovDelivery Network has over 130 million people in its subscriber network who are interested in learning more about what their local government and other agencies can do for them. There’s power in numbers, and by making use of the full platform of digital services, success is more attainable.

In fact, by making use of such digital services as website overlays and text-to subscribe offers, Perry said that the Sacramento volunteer newsletter is now up to 10,000 subscribers. And from those 10,000 subscribers, volunteers served over 200,000 hours this past summer, completing the same amount of work that over 200 full-time employees would have.  As a government agency, you already have a subscriber-base at your disposal, all you need to do is reach out to them.

Make the first move.

Once you have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve and who you’re trying to reach, it’s time to dive right in with digital communications. Determine the best form of outreach for your citizens, whether that’s email newsletters, text messaging campaigns, or website overlays.

Krzmarzick suggests using A/B testing to determine which form of communication your citizens respond to more. For example, while Perry’s constituents responded more strongly to email marketing tactics, that might not necessarily be the case for your outreach. Keep testing the waters until you find what works best for your agency when undergoing a digital transformation.

Optimize communications.

In order to really engage with citizens, it’s important to have trust at the center of everything you do. “The public sector cannot function efficiently without the trust of its citizens,” Krzmarzick said. So how do you build that trust? You give citizens the option to opt in to receiving text messages, or not.

By making text messaging an opt-in avenue – specifically by asking whether website visitors would like to learn more information about a certain subject via a website overlay – agencies are able to connect with citizens quickly with information they want.

By tracking links, looking at open and click rates, and further harnessing engagement through social media channels, as Perry has, government agencies can really harness the full power of digital communications, and making PSA’s—or any public information—readily available to a large audience.

Want to learn more about how you can A/B test at your organization? Register here for next month’s webinar that will demonstrate 30 tests in 30 minutes.