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Trials and Testing: The Best Ways to Zero in on a Satisfying Citizen Experience

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In an increasingly mobile world, the challenge for all organizations – not just those in the public sector – is to find clear and effective ways of reaching and growing audiences.

In Elevating the Citizen Experience Norm, a recent GovDelivery webinar featuring John Simpson, GovDelivery Digital Engagement Specialist; Stephen Morris, Small Business Administration Online Media Coordinator; Raymond Drake, Citizen and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Web Content Editor; and Ori Hoffer, former U.S. General Services Administration employee, discussed the best ways to not only reach a wider audience through web, social media and email channels, but create a cohesive and satisfying experience for all involved.

In a recent GovDelivery survey of more than 1,100 government communicators at the local, state, and federal levels in the U.S. and U.K., 45% cited driving audience engagement with content would be their biggest challenge in 2016 and 40% said driving customer satisfaction with online services would pose a problem.

With limited budgets and resources, how does an organization figure out which channels to use and how to use them? Although there is no magic formula for the best digital communication strategy, there are ways to test which types of communication are effective and which are hurting your organization.

Identify trends to help improve digital communication

The recent GovDelivery report identifies four key trends that will help any organization prepare for and achieve top priorities for digital communication in 2016.

First, look to improve the citizen experience online. A good citizen experience is the difference between participation in programs and services and not knowing what you offer. It also means the difference between losing website views and retaining an online audience. To improve the citizen experience, understand the journey a citizen must take through material to find just what he or she is looking for and then make that journey as enjoyable as possible.

Second, use advanced communications to reach more people in less time. Personalization is king, and the GovDelivery Communications Cloud offers a solution to not only segment your audience based on interest or location, but also do it automatically. The Communications Cloud also offers options to A/B test messages and see which ones perform best with your audience.

Third, unlock more open data; then make sure it’s easily accessible and your audience knows it’s available. Cross-promote available open data in different channels and update you website regularly to help remove barriers to access. Create infographics and other sharable widgets to organize data into easily understood bites that quickly demonstrate the value of data to your audience.

Finally, provide ongoing learning opportunities for your internal and external audiences. Advanced online training tools and learning management systems, like those offered by GovDelivery, help agencies deliver a modern, on-demand education experience to employees and citizens.

Finding your “magic” formula

With all the flavor-of-the-month social media channels, it’s easy to lose sight of what has been working for your organization in the past. Raymond said although plenty of new options are available, email has always been the most reliable. Not everyone uses Twitter or Snapchat, but everyone has an email address. Although it’s not the flashiest, Raymond said email communications have allowed DHS to target specific audiences according to their interests and figure out just what those seeking information are looking for, further allowing them to tailor a homepage that is relevant to their audience.

Audiences can also be targeted through specific zip codes. Stephen said the SBA has seen great results from personalizing communication according to location. Although there are guidelines to follow when asking for personal information, getting permissions to ask for and store information will allow you to get the message out to those it will directly effect and improve participation in relevant programs.

Another way to reach an increasingly mobile audience is to create content specifically for mobile devices. Emails and webpages should be made to fit smaller, mobile screens like smartphones and tablets. Text messages reach mobile users immediately and parse information into easily digestible bits. Plus, keeping communications short allows you to send them frequently, which keeps audiences interested and provides more data points, giving you clear information on what’s working and what isn’t.

Analytics can be accessed through multiple services, including Google Analytics, ForeSee and DigitalGov Search, and can help put together a complete picture of the results of each communication. A/B testing, available through GovDelivery, also provides a way to test new forms for messages and which types of communications are most successful.

After considering all data collected, you can start piecing together an improved communications strategy that will reach more people and create a better citizen experience. To learn more, download the new report, or watch the replay of this week’s webinar.