Delivering a great citizen experience starts with building an audience to receive it. Fortunately, numerous digital channels and strategies exist to help you grow your reach and make an impact – here are just a few.
Public sector organizations are using digital communications to transform the citizen experience in a variety of ways, whether that’s sending out health insurance enrollment reminders over email or providing public transportation updates via text message. By proactively sharing information with citizens, your organization can increase overall satisfaction and move more people to take actions that improve their lives.
But a winning communications strategy is only as strong as its reach. After all, if the experience you’ve created to help inform and engage citizens doesn’t have an audience to reach, how can your audience make good use of it? That’s why the first step in creating a great digital experience that drives action, is to build your reach.
More government organizations are taking advantage of a growing mix of digital channels, such as websites, email and text messaging, to reach the right audience, at the right time to drive ongoing engagement. Here, we take a look at seven strategic areas that you can focus on to build more direct connections with the individuals that you serve, often tapping into tools that may already be right at your fingertips.
1. OPTIMIZE GOVERNMENT WEBSITES AND PORTALS
Turn anonymous visitors into engaged members of your digital audience.
Today, government organizations are putting more effort than ever into building dynamic and engaging websites, but the opportunity to provide information to your visitors may be limited to their visit. To offer the best service to website visitors, provide opportunities for them to sign up to receive clear, compelling and ongoing communications from you about the topics that matter to them. Leverage your websites as a channel to attract visitors and convert those visitors to subscribers of your information. This is done best when website visitors are presented directly and repeatedly with opportunities to sign up for updates on specific content of interest.
2. LEVERAGE PUBLIC SECTOR PARTNERSHIPS
Capitalize on the digital outreach efforts of other government organizations.
Today’s advanced digital communications enable public sector organizations to cross-promote their services, offering citizens better information from a variety of logical partners with common characteristics. For instance, if you share similar services, close physical locations or provide general public service opportunities (flu shots, tax forms, health risks, elections, etc.), you can connect to cross-promote content and create an essential network of government expertise.
3. UNCOVER EXISTING SUBSCRIBERS
The lists are already there – all you have to do is re-engage.
When people sign up for information you’re sending on their topic of interest they open the door to an ongoing relationship with your organization. But as your organization evolves over time, you likely add programs or initiatives that may not have existed when citizens first signed up. This results in new opportunities to promote updated content from your organization. Whether you’ve recently launched a digital communications program or you’ve been sending digital communications for years, you likely have a list of existing subscribers that you can re-engage to deepen your relationship.
4. INTEGRATE WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Use social media as a supporting digital channel.
While email should be at the core of your digital communications program, social media also presents a unique opportunity to connect with citizens and engage with them in highly interactive ways. Keep in mind, though, that only 6% of the people who like you on Facebook will see all of your posts (Source: Ogilvy). Likewise, Twitter feeds contain a dynamic flow of real-time information, pushing your content down almost as soon as you post it. While social media can work well as an engagement tool, it can also be a powerful tool to get more citizens to opt in to your direct communications.
5. TURN OFFLINE MOMENTS INTO DIGITAL OPPORTUNITIES
Want to help your audience go digital while you’re in the field? No problem.
Providing information to stakeholders isn’t always a solely digital experience, as many government organizations still look to offline or in-the-field activities to encourage stakeholder engagement. Events, community meetings or initiatives can be optimal situations to reach citizens and engage them with your communication efforts.
6.USE MOBILE TO REACH SUBSCRIBERS ON THE GO
Reach your audience wherever they are.
Expand your reach and drive more engagement with the general public wherever they can consume your content – whether that’s from a desktop computer or a mobile device. The promotion of email/wireless text messaging subscriptions through apps, text messaging and mobile optimized emails has proven to be an effective way to build a digital audience. Text messaging in particular is a convenient way to cast a wider net for subscribers. Many low-income, rural and youth audiences are more likely to have a cell phone than internet access. Where the internet and traditional media fall short, text messaging fills in the gap.
7. NURTURE AND RETAIN SUBSCRIBERS
You’ve got subscribers. Now what? Welcome them.
Citizens start a relationship with you as soon as they opt in to receive your communications. Follow up soon after they join a list with a triggered welcome message. A great welcome message provides a personal note, additional resources and should set the expectation around what types of information the subscriber will receive from you.
Bonus! MOVING FORWARD: KEEP YOUR GROWING AUDIENCE…GROWING
Already implemented these best practices? Great. Let’s build momentum.
Growing your reach is one of the first and most critical steps toward building a great communications program. If you’re already putting a lot of these best practices to work, then it’s time to see if you can uncover even more results from your efforts.
We believe that even your best digital communications could perform better, and no one understands more than our professional services team how to leverage the right tools to amplify your organization’s reach. GovDelivery’s Audience Acceleration builds on the success of the GovDelivery Network and takes subscriber growth to the next level by promoting priority campaigns, programs and events in the GovDelivery Featured Network.
If you have a specific question on implementing any of these tactics and are a current GovDelivery client, contact your Client Success Consultant or any member of the GovDelivery staff for more information or visit our client support site. If your organization isn’t currently partnering with GovDelivery and you’d like to know more about how we can help, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more tips like these on engaging people in your community? Sign up for ongoing updates from GovDelivery. Over the next few weeks we’ll expand on the 7 strategies above with even more tips and tricks to help you grow your digital audience. If you have a tip you think we should cover, let us know in the comments!