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Increasing Website Traffic at ONS: Webinar Recap Part 1

2014-07-01 12_09_39-direct.govdelivery.com_ons-triple-your-reach-webIs your organisation looking for new ways to drive website traffic? You’re not alone. In a recent webinar, Alison Davies, Web Analytics Manager at ONS and Amish Patel, Senior Client Development Consultant at GovDelivery Europe, detailed the process of outlining a new Web traffic strategy following declining Web visits after launching a new site. Hundreds of government communicators across the U.K. and Europe registered and attended the webinar, and we were flooded with questions during the session to learn more about ONS’ revamped digital strategy and use of GovDelivery.

The question & answer period of the webinar was quite lively, which we’ve broken into two blog posts. Part 1 is below. If you’d like to hear more, you can watch the full recap of the webinar here. (The questions and answers have been edited for brevity.)

Can you give some specific examples of ONS driving Web traffic to the site? I just managed a website refresh project and would be keen to hear alternative methods to the ones we’re using.
Amish: The key component in getting people to go to your website is increasing awareness of what you’re doing so people know to visit the site. One way to accomplish this is by getting people to opt in to alerts from you, which is a key component of how ONS used GovDelivery to drive Web traffic. In the case of ONS, its popular topics like economy updates, population, and labour market help to pull people in and get them opted in to the updates they’re interested in. By delivering those updates in a timely manner through email, ONS gives people a way to receive information as soon as things change. It’s a sure fire way to pull people into the content and drive them to the website.

Have you experienced any drop in Web traffic after the Google update in May?
: No, traffic is back up to the levels where it was before we changed to our new website. We do usually see a slight decrease in Web traffic around May/June because a lot of our traffic comes from student and academia. But our traffic is generally going up and up lately. For example, we put out an interactive quiz, Know Your Area, and traffic has gone through the roof. We saw 300,000 visits to us in just a few days. We’re getting information out there, and GovDelivery has played a massive part in that. Overall, our traffic continues to go up and that’s what we want to see.

Can you explain the GovDelivery Network and whether you actively cross-promote or share content from other GovDelivery clients in the Network?
Amish: The GovDelivery Network put really simply is effectively all our government clients joined up together. People who subscribe to a county council’s alerts can subscribe to the likes of the Met Office for weather warnings or traffic updates from the Highways Agency. It’s a method of engaging with more people. Like Alison demonstrated with ONS, they’re getting a lot of subscribers coming through from different councils and agencies. Those subscribers can find information from various agencies and councils in one place; by signing up for alerts in one area they are exposed to a whole host of other alerts. The Network really helps to build the audience and drive more people to various agencies’ content.

Alison: From our side of things, our audience comes in from a variety of agencies and sources to sign up for our messages. So we’re able to talk to and share updates with people who may have originally been just signing up for updates from the U.K. Parliament or a city council and then saw us and signed up for our alerts. A lot of organisations in our area are using GovDelivery, so we have the potential to do more networking.  There probably is more we could do down the road with this.

What were you using before GovDelivery?
Alison: We were using MailChimp. It did the job at the time, but we had issues with sign-ups through the website. GovDelivery was more appealing and had the GovDelivery Network behind it, which is what has really made the difference for us. Without that we’d probably still be at our older subscriber levels (about 1,150 people). It really comes down to the power of the Network.

Have you found any limitations using GovDelivery?
Alison: I’ve got to say we’ve found absolutely nothing. It was the easiest thing to put on our website. Both sending emails and the general interface have been easy to navigate. Support is amazing. The limitations we’ve had are basically self-inflicted from our organisation. Our own organisation strips out images for security and limits our access to social media. So it’s harder for us to test links and see how others are going to view our messages. Our leadership helped us establish a work around by getting tablets in the department to test the look and feel of our emails on.

How have you promoted the GovDelivery service within ONS? We are encouraging our internal teams to use bulletins to distribute their information, but it’s a slow take up for us at present.
Alison: We are still promoting the service internally as we go. We put articles on our Intranet service. We make sure to include website statistics, social media statistics and GovDelivery statistics on the Intranet page to get people asking questions and starting conversations. It’s taken awhile, but people are coming around and starting to see the benefits of telling us what’s going on in their departments so we can get that information out to our wider stakeholder audience.

For the full presentation and Q&A, watch the webinar replay here.