Digital Communication Best Practices Guide Now Available

GovDelivery just released a new guide – Public Sector Digital Communication Management Best Practices: The Critical Role of Email – that details tips and strategies culled from more than 500 state, local, federal and international government organizations. Government Technology recently ran an article with some strategies from this guide.

With all the buzz around social media, why is this guide focused on email? The PEW Internet and American Life Project’s recent survey of internet usage showed that 92% of adult online users using email. It’s clear that email is the central hub of online communication. With this knowledge, it’s critical for government communicators to incorporate email as the cornerstone of any communication strategy or outreach effort.

Pew Internet chart

The guide provides public sector employees with more than 20 pages of comprehensive best practices around digital communications and email, and it’s broken up into three main sections:

  • Effectiveness: building the largest possible base by leveraging existing contact lists and promoting sign-up options across organization websites and partners
  • Efficiency: streamlining and automating complex communications across email, SMS/text messaging and social media
  • Engagement: driving users to online and offline activities that create the most value for the public and the organization, ultimately creating mission value and changing behaviors that will create an immediate or, in some cases, lasting impact

The guide showcases examples from all levels of government – from Louisville, KY to King County, WA to the White House and Driving Standards Agency (UK) – to give you a clear idea of how your peers are implementing some of these digital communication best practices.

Here are a few of the tips that I found most interesting:

Effectiveness: Use Social Media to Get More Subscribers and Launch Email Outreach into Social Media

This may seem counter-intuitive but how many citizens know that your city, county, state, department or federal agency has a Facebook page? Or a Twitter feed? Or a blog? By leveraging social media to promote your email subscription services and vice versa, you reach a substantially larger audience.

Remember, it isn’t about communicating through a single channel. You want to push your information out as broadly as possible to reach as many people as you can.

Efficiency: Automatically Send Email Content to SMS and Social Media Channels

With the brilliance of technology these days, you should be able to automate your communication channels so you aren’t manually posting in several different channels.

This means that you should look for a platform or solution that allows you to create an email update and have that update post directly to social media channels or sent via SMS/text message at the same time.

Engagement: Content Best Practices – Provide a Clear Call to Action

In the business-to-consumer or business-to-business world, it’s easy to have a clear call to action: “buy this new product” or “download this coupon.” In the public sector, this hasn’t been as widely followed. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. This is definitely one of those best practices from the private sector that the public sector can adapt and adopt.

When a reader takes an action from your email newsletter, that is true engagement. And for the public sector, engagement helps drive mission value. For example, in the Midwest, an email update that alerts citizens to snow emergencies and urges them to move their cars off the street so their cars don’t get towed provides a clear call to action that benefits everyone and provides immediate and long-lasting value.

These are just three tips from the guide that I found useful. For more tips, download the full guide at http://direct.govdelivery.com/email-guide.

Does your government organization utilize any communication strategies or tactics that have been highly successful? I’d love to hear them. Share your best practices in the comments.