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Effective Public Sector Communications Makes Better Lives for More People

This week, GovDelivery hosted the first of many Digital Engagement Days with a kick-off in Austin, Texas that brought public sector communicators together to share their insights into the important work they do to transform the citizen experience.

These types of gatherings are so important as we come together to solve the unique problems we face in the public sector: retiring workforces, tightening budgets, and rapidly changing technology which is forcing government to change the way programs and services are delivered.

What does that mean for government communicators? In the face of these challenges, it has never been more important to connect with citizens with the right message, when they want it, and how they want it. In a digital world, citizens are expecting more information from us in more personalized ways. If we don’t keep up, we could lose engagement completely which directly impacts the success or failure of public programs.

The formula for engaging citizens and changing behavior to accomplish mission critical outcomes is nothing new. It looks like the traditional marketing funnel that has been used to drive sales in the private sector of many years. We have modified the marketing funnel to help our government communicators drive real life outcomes that ultimately result in better lives for more people.

Define Your Outcomes

natalie-1It starts with defining your outcomes: Do you need more people to get their flu shots? Are you trying to attract more visitors to use your public parks? Or maybe you’re trying to increase the number of people registered to vote?

In general, there are three types of objectives:

  1. Enhance Public Awareness
  2. Improve Citizen Involvement
  3. Promote and Transform Online Services

Identifying your primary goals is the first step in
understanding how you define and measure the success of your digital communications

Expand Reach

According to the latest Benchmark Report, reach – or the number of people in your audience – is the most important digital metric that the public sector should be tracking.

In order to maximize citizen engagement, a larger audience is better than a smaller audience. While it may seem obvious, it’s often forgotten. Ask yourself and your team: How many people are listening to us? This part of the funnel is all about increasing your audience to maximize your impact.

In digital communications, the GovDelivery Network allows citizens who subscribe to updates from one organization to be offered signup options from related government organizations as a final step in the signup process. This is one tactic that is unique to government – we can help each other achieve our outcomes.

Overlays are also an amazing tactic for increasing subscribers. According to the recent benchmark report, overlays increase subscriber rates by an average of 174 percent. Some organizations have seen 500 percent – or even a 4,000 percent increase in their subscriber rates.

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Choose the Right Channels

Having the right tools in your toolbox can make all the difference. Identify where your audience is and determine what avenue would work best for your strategy.

Also try doubling up your messages on multiple platforms – email, web, text messaging and social media are all effective tools for different audiences and will ensure your messages never get missed.

Then, test for optimization. What tool had the highest engagement or click rate? If you’re using email, be sure to compare your stats to your peers with the latest Benchmark Report: Improving the Metrics that Matter.

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Choose the Right Message

Converting your audience with the right message is critical. Once you’ve identified your outcome goals, have built an active audience, and identified the right tools for connecting, start thinking about what type of message will help accomplish your outcomes.

Digital messages typically fall into one of the following categories:

  • Welcome: If you haven’t already, start using ‘Welcome New Subscriber” messages to make a strong first impression. When a citizen first subscribes to any of your topics, they receive a welcome message from your account. GovDelivery’s standard, out-of-the-box version of the welcome message may be exactly what you need, or you might want to make it more exciting. Either way, consider using them to get going.
  • Interactivity: Strong calls to action have the best result in terms of converting your audience to a desired outcome. Interactive messages require that your audience takes some form of engagement with your message – whether it’s signing up to be a volunteer, or scheduling their flu shot – it’s all about making clear, defined action steps to make it easy.
  • Reminders: When it comes to digital communications, reminders are just as powerful with one of the highest open rates across all digital platforms. Check out this guide for examples of how you can be using reminders at your agency.
  • Event-Driven: Whether it’s an appointment, a community meeting or a celebration, driving citizens to events is one of the ways that many organizations use to engage with citizens in a very personal way. If your organization uses digital messages to drive people to events, check out this post on 5 ways to drive attendance.
  • Re-engagement: One of the most powerful ways to re-enlist sleepy subscribers is with a reengagement campaign – a series of messages that work to remind subscribers of their interest in your content, and convert them to action. Sometimes, people just need a friendly prompt to spark their interest in completing a transaction, other times they might need an incentive. Try a few options and see what works for your audience.

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Drive Outcomes

At the end of the day, we are here to improve people’s lives – it’s at the heart of everything we do. When we talk about real-world outcomes at GovDelivery, we are talking about using digital tools to enhance the citizen experience that enables them to live better lives. Whether this is understanding important vaccination information for their families, or getting to work on time with more informed traffic information, people need information from government more than they realize. We’re here to make that experience better, which will lead to strong families, healthy economies and thriving communities.

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Natalie Fedie is Vice President of Customer Success at GovDelivery and oversees the company’s client-services operation.