Digital Engagement Series: Automation is your friend
Digital marketing is the keystone of public engagement for public sector organizations. For this reason, we published a series featuring eight steps to public engagement through digital marketing. If you are a regular on our blog, you will see that we published detailed posts about aligning measurable objectives to your campaigns, identifying your core audience, and building your brand. While these strategies are fantastic for baselining your communications strategies, you need to execute on scalable tactics to truly improve outcomes.
Once you have built a base, it is time to convert your audiences into loyal readers, subscribers, and advocates… And a high yield way to do this is through automation.
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is a way to systematize communication efforts to target audiences. Think about it: modes of transportation, machinery, processes in factories, and telecommunication networks leverage automation on a daily basis. Luckily government communicators can benefit from automation as well. With automation, it’s all about the use of applications and tools to create a process with minimal or reduced human intervention.
The Benefits of Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is all about personalizing a message based off of previous actions taken (or not taken). Here are some of its primary benefits:
- You tailor your message to each audience member, allowing for high personalization.
- You provide useful content to convert audiences toward a desired action.
- You enhance efficiencies and help streamline the marketing process.
- You save time, energy, and money by repurposing existing content.
Automation helps maximize efficiency for greater returns. A March 2014 study by Regalix found an overwhelming percentage of marketers saw benefits from marketing automation. The survey participants saw improved lead management and nurturing, more measurable results, and enhanced targeting and personalization through automation efforts. These results translate well into public sector marketing goals like engaging audiences to drive changes in behavior and increase usage of online services.
Examples of Marketing Automation
Two examples of marketing automation are email drip campaigns and triggered messages through lifecycle campaigns.
An email drip campaign is a set of marketing emails sent automatically on a schedule – for example, an email sends when someone signs up for your email list, and another three days later. Or, the emails deployed can vary based on behavior taken like sign ups, interacting with a piece of content, or clicking somewhere on your website.
With triggered messages for a lifecycle campaign, you can send out event-triggered emails to target specific audiences at the right time. Here’s an example: You are a state municipality with the goal of increasing licenses, so you create a “new buyer welcome cycle” offering resources to individuals who have signed up online. Appointment and enrollment reminders are also great content for form-triggered messages.
The key word in lifecycle campaigns is “lifecycle”. It is not a churn and burn marketing technique, rather a practice where through automation, you can hit your audience from various stages. Whether it’s 30-, 60-, and 90-day renewal reminders, or an organizational update email, you can personalize the messages that you send, allowing for greater conversion. In fact, HubSpot’s Pamela Vaughan writes that 39% of marketers who segmented their target lists experienced higher open rates for their email campaigns.
Web Content Automation
Web content and RSS content automation offer a chance to leverage existing content as distribution engine. While lifecycle marketing and drip campaigns center around email, this type of automation centers on your blog, website, and mobile content.
Through this form of automation, you create a seamless publishing workflow. Let’s say your organization publishes a new article on education legislation. If you use a digital outreach platform like GovDelivery, the platform can grab the story from your RSS feed, package, and send the content to your audience via email, text, and social media. This type of automation informs your audience in a way that is convenient for them and for you. Plus, it is consistent with your website.
Not only does this keep your audience engaged with new web content, but it supplements content creation by repurposing already existing content posted on your website.
Here are additional examples of how web and RSS content campaigns can be automated:
- Photo or video of the week triggered from a social channel
- Events triggered from an online calendar
- Crime tips or reports triggered from a public safety website or database
- Meeting agenda, minutes, or updates triggered from a government transparency system
- Legislation, rules, laws, or regulation changes triggered from a regulatory website or database
Purchase Renewals and Reminders
A large sum of your public-sector organization’s revenue likely generates from purchase renewals…. As an environmental agency, your conservation funding depends on license, permit, and registration revenue – all driven through email reminders. As a civic service organization, your goal is to increase purchases from renewals and lapsed buyers – also driven by renewal and reminders.
Believe it or not, purchase renewals and reminders are both forms of marketing automation. With purchase renewals and reminders, you create specific cases for each email subscriber and assign them to receive information when they are due to renew.
All About the Technology
Marketing and technology go hand in hand. Without a robust technology platform that supports your marketing automation efforts, the job becomes insurmountable. Take time to understand your communication objectives as an organization, and select the right tool(s) to support them.
All in all, the more automation that occurs, the better use of resources within your organization AND the easier it will be to drive results through engagement. Have you tried marketing automation for your public sector engagement efforts? If so, share your successes and tweet us @GovDelivery.
… And stay tuned for the last step in our digital marketing for better public engagement series on analytics!