Living in a metropolitan area, I ride the bus and other major transportation a lot. It’s convenient, cheap and a great way to escape the cold Minnesota winters for a few blocks. And it also happens to be a good model for optimizing a successful digital communications strategy in government. Think about a bus route for a minute. It’s easy to find bus stops—they have consistent signs in close proximity to one other. Buses usually don’t stop every few feet to get to a destination, they have well-placed stops spread out throughout their routes. And they keep running that route over and over again so you know exactly where to hop back on again.
Like a bus, you want to make it as easy and convenient as possible for your stakeholders to find your stop (or organization), go through the route (communication sign-up process), and return for another ride (engage with your organization). With small budgets and large audiences, government organizations are under a lot of pressure for their digital communication efforts to be a smooth, fast ride. So how do you optimize your digital communications process along each stop to make sure you’re building and retaining an audience for your communications?
1: How Citizens Find Your Bus
You can’t ride the bus if you can’t find the bus stop. Similarly, stakeholders won’t engage with your organization if they can’t find you (or don’t notice you) in the first place. In the article, “3 Ways to Supercharge Online Marketing Returns,” author Neal Cabage says organizations need to look at a few metrics to increase marketing effectiveness, including:
“Is your message resonating? … If not, try different versions … until you find a winning combination. Try different messaging, images (if applicable), and targeting (keywords, devices, demographics). Cull whatever isn’t working as you add new testing scenarios and you’ll eventually realize significant improvements.”
While Cabage’s advice is specific to online advertising in private companies, it also extends to a broader communications strategy in government. Try out different types and themes of content on your website, blog, email, and social media. Then, measure where subscribers come to you from so you can optimize your content to what will drive activity.
2: Limit the Number of Distractions
Imagine how frustrating it would be to ride a bus that stopped every 20 feet, or circled every block before continuing on. Similarly, when you grab a stakeholder’s attention to your message, you don’t want to make it difficult for them to sign up to receive communications from you, register for an event, or any action you want them to take. Cabage suggests to,
“Think in terms of trying to guide kindergarteners on a straight line from point A to point B and you have the basic idea: remove all distractions and tell them clearly what you want them to do.”
This might mean putting a newsletter sign up button on the top of your webpage and keeping that registration page simple and streamlined. In the GovDelivery Digital Communication Management (DCM) platform, newsletter sign-up pages deliberately feature only one call-to-action (a box for the subscriber’s email) on a clean, basic webpage to limit distractions. Decreasing the steps to sign up for more information from your organization increases the likelihood that the reader will subscribe.
3: Keep Running the Same Route
It wouldn’t be any fun if the bus decided to drive different routes on a whim. You want to make the campaigns that attract new subscribers consistent so they know what to expect from you and where. You also want to make the messages you send to your subscribers consistent for the same reasons. In the private sector, Cabage says that “the net revenue potential of an existing customer is roughly double that of a new customer.” The same rule applies to the public sector; it’s easier to keep your existing subscribers engaged in your organization mission than start at the beginning and move new subscribers through the process. Your communication strategy should contain consistent messaging with a balance between attracting new subscribers and retaining current subscribers with relevant, engaging content.
As you optimize each of these areas in your communications bus route, each tactic will start to build on the next to amplify the results you see from your digital communication campaigns. Do you have any tips or tricks on how to optimize successful communication strategies? Let us know in the comments below.