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How Indiana Got 6.5 Million People Excited for a Birthday Party

The Indiana Bicentennial Commission was formed by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels in 2011. It is a fifteen-member body tasked with celebrating Indiana’s Bicentennial year in a way that engaged all 6.5 million Hoosiers. That’s a tall order. The Bicentennial Commission staff undertook that mission and, although the year is not yet over, has measured great success.

In order to market excitement for Indiana’s Bicentennial year, staff had to determine how to reach Hoosiers. With a small staff, things had to be done deliberately in order to minimize manpower and increase reach. The plan developed in two parts: social media and GovDelivery.

With no budget for a digital marketing campaign, the Commission staff went to work creating an organic, grassroots digital marketing plan that could reach its audience of 6.5 million Hoosiers. The Commission created a marketing plan with three main objectives: promote bicentennial celebrations, expand the bicentennial’s reach, and provide marketing and communications support to other Bicentennial committees. These objectives were approached by developing a consistent brand, engaging the audience with exciting and informative content and promoting bicentennial events in areas all across the state. By implementing a fully digital marketing plan, the marketing team was able to reach the Bicentennial audience in a big way without spending a dime.

GovDelivery is a critical tool for the digital marketing campaign. Not only does it house e-mail lists for various audiences, it allows the marketing team to get content to those audiences at the click of a button. This is useful for both the Bicentennial newsletter and press releases. The newsletter started as a small print product, but now that it has moved to GovDelivery there are 1,897 subscribers – a large increase from 1,302 in July. The October newsletter had a 97 percent delivery rate – 457 opens were unique.

The result of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission digital marketing campaign is measurable growth in every aspect. This includes increased public awareness, audience involvement and subscribers. From no social media presence, to an active presence on five platforms the growth of awareness and engagement has increased exponentially.

One of the most measurable successes was the first statewide event Hoosier Homecoming – which was held on Oct. 15 in Indianapolis. This was an event Hoosiers of all ages were invited to. The Commission held fast to the established plan to utilize GovDelivery and social media as avenues to spread the word. Social media toolkits were sent to partner organizations and the event was promoted on all Bicentennial platforms. Invitations were sent using GovDelivery as well as a Hoosier Homecoming themed newsletter on October 1. The turnout was phenomenal. Thousands of people gathered for the afternoon from all over the state. This was concrete evidence that GovDelivery and social media are useful and effective tools for reaching a statewide audience.

The Indiana Bicentennial Commission was one of the 2016 Digital Strategy & Impact Award Winners. To see the full list, visit the GovDelivery Awards Website.