In government communications, every message sent counts—sometimes it can be a life or death situation. But even when it’s less urgent than that, it’s important to make sure your messages are reaching the right people.
Is this something your agency struggles with? Then it may be time to reconsider your comms strategy, especially the way you’re targeting people.
Below are a few helpful hints for getting your strategy in check.
First: Assess the tools available
The say is that “the medium is the message.” And that’s true: The method you use to distribute your message is intricately tied with how that message is perceived by the audience. A tweet is not an email. A phone call is not a text.
It’s important to determine: Who exactly is your audience? What are the ways they gather information? How will the method you use to communicate with them shape how they view that message?
Among some platforms to consider:
The beauty of email is its versatility. It can be used to send newsletters, quick alerts, a call to action, or just about anything else. That’s useful during periods such as, say, a hurricane, when a city or county might want to provide updates about shelters, weather updates, post-storm debris collection, etc. Citizens can easily opt into the topics that they’re interested in getting, which makes targeting them much easier.
Text messaging doesn’t only help government organizations reach younger, more mobile audience — it helps them reach a more diverse audience as well. Ninety-seven percent of text messages are read within the first 15 minutes of sending. On average, people look at their phones 150 times daily. For these reasons, text messages are a great way to reach people. But they also have limits – they’re intended for quick messages only. And they’re probably better for alerts or other time-sensitive messages rather than general marketing.
Nearly everyone is on social media—especially platforms like Facebook or Twitter. It’s ephemeral – so your messaging should be focused on the “now,” but that comes with the unparalleled ability for it to be distributed and commented on by its recipients. Some platforms come with character limits, so it’s best to use it either for short alerts or providing a quick description with a link for more information.
Next: Target and test
Once you’ve chosen the platforms you think best match your message and audience, it’s time to get down to targeting your audience through testing to see what breaks through.
Here are a few ways you can do that:
Segment your audience
Sometimes your audience tells you the content they want – like when they subscribe to a specific email list. Other times, you it might be up to you to figure it out. Demographics can sometimes help point in the right direction: An under-30 job fair probably can just be sent out to young people (and maybe their parents). Meanwhile, the schedule for senior activities at the community center probably doesn’t need to show up in the inboxes of a 30-something soccer mom. A person on the coast might need a different warning about a hurricane than someone 50 miles inland. Platforms like Granicus’ GovDelivery Communications Cloud offer powerful segmentation tools. Being mindful of audience attitudes and interests can help you shape your content and identify the best ways to reach them by testing various options.
Segmenting your audience is also useful to determine when your audience might be online. Since posts a few hours old get buried in news feeds and may never be seen by the intended audience, it’s helpful to time your postings to coincide with peak usage times, which also varies depending on the audience.
Put your best foot forward
Making participation easy means meeting people where they already are. It doesn’t matter if you have the best content if you can’t get subscribers to open your messages. Don’t underestimate the importance of your subject line and pre-header.
Time Your Interactions
When it comes to reaching your target audience, timing is important on a few different fronts. First, it’s important to reach them with the information they want/need when they need it. It’s also equally important to reach them when they have time to engage. Keep in mind that most people in your audience have tight schedules and, therefore, short attention spans.
All of your communications/outreach assets should communicate your value proposition. It helps you to set (and meet) audience expectations. Use a consistent voice and don’t stray from your core messaging.
Finally: Measure your results and make change as needed
Your work isn’t done when the message is sent out. In fact, you’re only halfway there. Testing is important to tell you where and what you should target. But you need to also be constantly measuring your results to make sure what you’re doing is still effective.
Be sure you’re looking at your open and click rates, and check to see if your calls to action are being heeded by checking website analytics tools. Make sure your social posts are gaining traction. When something seems off, it’s another opportunity to test new ways to reach your audience.
Remember: You can’t keep improving if you can’t measure the impact of what you’re doing.
Want more information on how to reach your audience and target them more effectively? Check out our webinar on the topic. And if you want to talk to someone at Granicus about how we can partner with you to improve engagement, reach out to us today at email@example.com.