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Digital Engagement Series: Increase channels, increase engagement

We recently published a thought leadership piece on how digital marketing leads to better public engagement. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will break down each step to put the plan to work. The following post explores “Step 5” of the series, the art of increasing channels for better public engagement!

Multi-channel Marketing

So what do we mean by increasing channels to increase public engagement? Multi-channel marketing is “the practice of using multiple channels to reach customers.” The key to any successful campaign is to target audience members through multiple mediums to reinforce your message, and that is why multi-channel marketing is so effective. Multi-channel marketing also allows audience members to convert on whatever medium they are most comfortable with, leaving the power to the people you’re communicating with.

In addition, advanced marketers who use multi-channel marketing, as identified by Direct Marketing News, can benefit from this practice by consolidating user data and targeting different demographics according to channel-specific user behavior.

Multi-channel marketing can be executed through direct marketing — like email and mobile marketing — and indirect marketing — like social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and content marketing.

Multi-channel marketing can be conducted on traditional and digital channels, however most organizations find digital marketing more effective. Why? Because the modern-day person lives, breathes, and communicates online. A recent eMarketer study revealed that the average user spends 23 hours a week emailing, texting, and using social media and other forms of online communication. So target where your customer consumes information — online!

Let’s dive deeper into each digital channel that should be in every government organization’s multichannel communications mix.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great channel to engage your target audience for multiple reasons. For one, ROI. Direct Marketing Association reported that an organization sees an average of $40 in return for every dollar spent on email marketing. Think of that in terms of the dollars your government organization saves by transitioning from print costs or the revenue driven from online services and licenses.

Email is also a preferred communication channel for your audience. In fact, the public prefers communication through permission-based email. According to a study by MarketSherpa, 72% of people prefer to receive marketing communications through email. With an estimated 4.3 billion email users in 2016, you can see why it’s important to engage in email marketing as a government organization.

Text Marketing

With nearly 300 million people on mobile devices, mobile-enabled outreach offers unique opportunities to connect with your audience to drive a desired action.

Believe it or not, texting is the third most popular way to communicate today. Text messaging can help you:

  • Extend your reach
  • Accelerate audience response
  • Simplify communications
  • Amplify your digital strategy

There are multiple ways you can reach your audience through texting. One way is through “direct text channels” where you deliver real-time messages – like alerts or updates – to a large audience of subscribers in moments.

Another is “two-way text” where you engage and educate an audience while gathering feedback. This type of texting allows for, as the name indicates, two-way correspondence. An added benefit is that you can gain insight from your audience to leverage for future communications.

The third type of texting is “text to subscribe”. Here, audience members subscribe via mobile device to receive information. They can text their email address or wireless number and will subsequently receive either email or text updates. This type of text messaging is beneficial because you can get people to sign up on the spot for your communications, creating greater audience participation!

As mobile devices grow in popularity, more public sector organizations should incorporate this channel into their digital strategy.

(For more information about text marketing, download our “Making Mobile Work for You” guide.)

Social Media Marketing

Though we think of social media as an outlet of leisure, it is actually an incredible indirect multi-channel marketing source. Social media for public sector organizations can be used to create and share content, and lead our audiences to conversion endpoints.

Additionally, networks like Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tumblr can expand and reinforce your message. But here’s the Catch-22: the free ride is over. Facebook implemented an algorithm called EdgeRank in where it becomes harder for your message to reach your fans without sponsored posts. To override Facebook’s content filtering, you have to pay a price. This is called a “boost” where organizations can pay additional money to push posts to a predefined audience.

Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn all have robust ad platforms when your organization’s organic reach can only go so far. Though many social channels shifted to become paid channels, it is still important to participate in the conversation. Why? Because social cultivates better relationships and broadens your reach, making it the perfect avenue to support other marketing channels.

(For more information about social media, download our “Dealing With Social Media’s Decline in Engagement” guide.)

SEO and Content Marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) is used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high search engine position. The placement of your organization’s search position is in the hands of search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Ask.com, Bing, and AOL – but can be influenced. To do this, optimize your website for frequently searched keywords and producing content that supports semantic search queries. Publish content often, and make sure your email platform offers your email communications as a public landing page.

Though this channel is arguably the most out of your control, it is also one of the most important digital channels. The proof is in the numbers. In 2014, more than a third of all government website traffic came from search engines according to DigitalGov. That means if you want to get important resources into the hands of people currently searching for it online, you need to optimize your web pages. For more information on SEO for government websites, check out these resources on DigitalGov.

All in all, multi-channel marketing is advantageous for public sector organizations to participate in. The key is to create highly choreographed campaigns between channels. Each message must have the same performance metrics (goals) and target audience – this will create consistency across channels.

Do you have any additional insights you would like to share about increasing multi-channel marketing for public engagement? Share your experiences and insight with us, email info@govdelivery.com