Content and design play a major role in public sector organizations’ ability to engage their constituents in their programs. Recognizable and consistent branding helps agencies make a bigger impact with fewer resources.
This morning, we brought together some of the public sector’s best communicators for our Digital Engagement Breakfast in Washington, D.C. They shared their experiences, best practices and other tips.
Guests include: Julie LePage, Public Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Courts Web Communications Team; Molly Mattessich, Senior Project Manager at Forum One; and Naitik Vyas, a Granicus Federal Account Executive at Digital Engagement Breakfast in Washington, DC.
Getting Your Content Under Control
Every government agency has a specific mission. Whether its promoting and transforming services, enhancing public awareness or improving citizen involvement, your agency needs a unique content strategy to get your audience the information they need. “Each strategy is going to be very different depending on what your agency’s mission is,” Vyas explained. “However, your main goal no matter what your mission is, is to maintain a large and active audience.”
Here are some keys to a good content strategy that fits your mission:
- Have a concise email subscription process: Choose categories and topics that best fit your message and make sure all the topics fit on one web page. This makes sure potential subscribers aren’t overwhelmed when going to sign up for your messages.
- Request details for personalization: Capture demographics like county or ZIP code during sign up. This is when your audience is most engaged and you can use this information to keep them that way.
- Leverage segmentation: Create and save audiences based on interests, engagement, tenure and other insights in order to send the right messages to the right people.
- Map your content to demand: Give your subscribers what they want to read! Use analytics to determine what topics are most popular and send more of that content.
Developing a Stand-Out Design Strategy
Once you have content for your messages, your agency has to decide how you want them to look. One way to do this is with a design system. Mattessich explained, “a design system is a series of components or building blocks that can be reused in different combinations.”
Design systems are useful because they can increase your team’s efficiency, saving your agency time and money in the long run. “Perhaps most important it creates consistent branding across your agency’s communications, reinforcing the content of each message,” Mattessich said.
So, do you need a design system? Mattessich explained your agency could benefit from this design strategy if:
- You have design inconsistencies across your communications.
- You are planning to scale your site.
- You have multiple team members working on single projects.
Case Study: Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS)
During her time at CNCS, LePage was able to grow their subscriber base to 1.2 million individuals and increase their open rate to an average of 15 to 20 percent. This kind of growth doesn’t happen overnight. LePage emphasized that any communications journey starts with some key questions: Who are you sending to? What are you sending? When should you send? Why are you sending? “Don’t just ask these questions once,” she explained. “Ask them often because they are always changing and evolving.”
Once you identify your audience, you can segment out subscribers by lists of different topics. From there you can figure out what type of message you want to send. “Some key messages you may want to include are newsletters, policy updates, success stories and announcements,” LePage explained. “But figuring out what your audience wants to know takes a lot of trial and error. For example, our audience does well with newsletters and announcement blasts.”
Once you know what you want to put in your messages, you can decide how you want them to look. The good news? According to LePage, good design doesn’t require being an expert designer. “People want to click things and see pictures; keeping it consistent and simple allows people to recognize your brand and make your messages better.”
Are you ready to get your agency’s content and design strategies ready for 2018? This guide to Content Marketing for the Public Sector and this guide to Public Sector Email Design are a good place to start. Download them now to start getting your digital engagement strategy on track.