A blog about digital government, communications, citizen satisfaction & engagement, GovDelivery, and other e-government issues

Paul Smith, the author of the best-selling book, Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire, presented to over 450 people tuning in via webcast and in person as our federal digital communications event keynote speaker. In his keynote, Paul explained just why government communicators should use stories in their work, and when they could do it to have maximum impact. Here’s a quick synopsis of his keynote speech:HiRes

Why tell stories?

  1. Simple: anybody can do it.
  2. Timeless: it has always worked and always will. Storytelling transcends the fads of communication.
  3. Demographic-proof: it works with kids, adults, CEOs, and new hires. While not all communication strategies work with every demographic, everyone can understand storytelling.
  4. Contagious: you tell a good story and it will travel on its own, without you having to send communication over and over again. It travels via word-of-mouth.
  5. Easy to remember: facts are easier to remember if they’re embedded in a story.
  6. Inspire: when is the last time you heard someone say, “wow, you’ll never believe the PowerPoint presentation I just saw”? People become enthralled with what you’re saying when you’re telling a story and want to share what you’ve said.

When should you tell stories?

Stories themselves are not a great management tool, but they are a great leadership tool. If you’re looking to determine your vision or goal, a story won’t get you there. However, once you’ve determined your plan, you need to convince the rest of your organization to understand, be motivated by, accountable for, and to deliver that plan. It is then that you need a good story.

While interviewing CEOs and executives around the world, Paul looked for leadership challenges where stories are used. The main examples Paul found when it is pivotal to use storytelling are:

  1. Helping people find the passion for their work: If people are not coming to work passionate about what they do, they’re probably not doing their best work. What you can do to motivate others is to find the stories about your role that make you feel passionate and share them. It will help you and others find passion. Or, if you find yourself not particularly enamored with the work you’re doing, try to think of the people you’re doing it for.
  2. Making recommendations: Instead of using facts and figures, a story will tell how you got to your “aha moment” and bring your audience along with you.
  3. Challenge people’s assumptions instead of their conclusions or recommendations: If people think it was their assumption that was flawed not their actions, they will be more receptive to your constructive criticism and you’ll find greater success in the delivery of your message.
  4. Teaching: Get the message out about exactly what you need people to learn. When you have a message that you need to convey, think of a story to share. It will work out better than being lectured to.

Storytelling is similar to any other skillset, it can be learned. Invest some time in learning about it and you’ll be able to use this skill in daily communication.  Apologizing or asking permission to tell your story delegitimizes your message and gives the idea that you don’t think it is as important as what was being discussed. Go one step further and simply don’t state that you’re going to tell a story. People who are great at telling stories do it without the listener knowing and will be more entertaining, memorable, and even more effective in delivering their message.

In 2014, new office holders and their communications teams will find new opportunities and challenges when they leave the campaign trail or the nomination hearings and take office.

As you begin your new positions, you can expect to be flooded with action items, but what about your communications? You’ve spent months reaching out and connecting with stakeholders. If done right, you can easily get a quick win by capitalizing on this momentum and carrying these outreach tactics over to your administration. To do this effectively, you need a powerful tool and proven strategies for success.  If you’re an elected official at a public sector entity that’s already using GovDelivery, you can rest easy knowing that you have that powerful tool in place.

Whether you, personally, are one of the new names, or you’re part of a team transitioning into a new administration, we’ve put together some guidance to help you capitalize on this important time and jump-start your communication efforts for the coming term.


Step 1: Take Steps to Start Building Your Audience

You may already have a base of people that you can reach through digital channels.  Typically, elected officials choose to leave these databases as part of a campaign or external organization.  Applicable laws should be reviewed before uploading data from a campaign into government-owned systems, like GovDelivery.

However, many new officeholders choose to take the following steps to build their “post campaign” outreach:

  1. Setup a sign-up option that is prominently featured on your website.  There should be a direct sign-up box embedded in a visible location on all pages and you should consider using an “overlay” that will ask all new site visitors to sign-up. Here is an example from our test environment.
  2. At events and in emails sent to your campaign lists, you may be able to direct people to sign-up at the website you’ve put up for the office once it is launched.
  3. Make sure you are offering updates on specific topics.  “Updates from the Mayor/Governor” are not nearly as popular as “Transportation Strategy Updates” can be.

Step 2: Provide Great Content

contentexamplesThe most common emails we see from elected officials are general newsletters, but you have so much more going on: events, legislation, initiatives, and more.  Use video, blogs, pictures, and topic-oriented communication to draw in more sign-ups to your information and to engage users with what you send out.

Each touch point strengthens citizen engagement.

Mayors can send pictures from press meetings or visits to local businesses. City Council members could send video from local parks, promote summer recreation leagues, or document a new bridge being built, and state senators can send updates on new or pending legislation. Any activity or initiative that illustrates helping your community can be packaged and shared digitally.

Elected officials can also keep the media informed and drive awareness around press events. Storing media contacts and using private lists is a great way to quickly disseminate timely and accurate information to radio, television, newspapers and new media such as bloggers.


For public sector organizations using GovDelivery, any content, such as pictures or videos posted to your website, YouTube, and other digital properties can automatically be distributed to your subscribers without you lifting a finger. Learn more about our Automation functionality here.

Step 3. Keep Track of Your Progress

How do you keep improving if you can’t measure the impact of what you’re doing? Individual and aggregate reports within GovDelivery provide insight into which pieces of content are the most engaging among your constituents. Metrics allow you to see what’s working, and what isn’t. Monitor these on a weekly or monthly basis to measure your progress over time and make necessary changes for better results.

GovDelivery provides an Account Performance Report, giving you a 360-degree view of the performance of your communications program. The best part? You can email a copy to anyone in your organization that contributes to, or cares about, your communications. Learn more about our Analytics functionality here.


Step 4: Continue to grow your audience.

As your time in office continues, it’s critical to continue building your audience, so audit and make use of what you already have. Transportation groups typically have lists of subscribers for road closures and weather alerts. Parks and Recreation departments have contact information for those who have registered for events or community sports leagues. These untapped resources are your “Pot of Gold”, and they can also be sent an invite to sign up for information from you and your organization.

GovDelivery is already setup so that anyone new signing up to updates from any topic within your organization can automatically be shown the updates from your office (For example: just like Amazon cross promotes products, someone can sign up for the “Mayor’s Newsletter” and the “Mayor’s Transit Initiatives” right after they sign up for “Snow Emergency Alerts” from Public Works).  In addition to cross promoting signing up to your office’s content to people visiting your organization’s website, GovDelivery makes it possible to collaborate with other government organizations to reach even more people through the GovDelivery Network.

Your potential outreach may be much larger in this new position, and we hope some of these tips help you capitalize on the opportunity to reach more people and communicate in a world-class manner in your new role as office holder or staff member. By using GovDelivery to get the word out and keep your stakeholders informed, you can cross “successful digital communications” off your list… before you even take office.

Check out our Email Best Practices Guide and our Digital Outreach Guide to gain more best practices.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t help but be a fan of reality competition shows. Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, Big Brother…you name it, I’ll probablyYoung girl in living room with flat screen television admit to watching it. The “secret sauce” in these shows that makes them so addicting for me is the component of audience participation. On Dancing with the Stars, I can send a SMS/text message to keep my favorite celebrity dancing another week. On The Voice, I can send a tweet within only a few minute window to “instant save” a contestant from the chopping block. On Big Brother, I can check a box on a web form to say what house guests will eat for a week if they lose a competition. The idea that I can directly participate in the show, often in real time, makes it enjoyable and exciting for me.

The entertainment industry isn’t the only place that fosters more and more audience participation. Retailers like Modcloth have a “Be the Buyer” program that lets consumers vote on which clothes should be sold on their website, Doritos features fan filmed commercials as their Super Bowl ads, and brands across industries have social media teams to engage with stakeholders’ complaints, questions, comments, and more around the clock.

So it’s no surprise that when citizens interact with government organizations, they have different expectations than 20 or even 10 years ago.  Technology and participatory marketing are a part of everyday life—that trend has changed expectations for the public sector. If citizens can send a text message to keep their favorite celebrity dancing on TV another week, why can’t they send an SMS or email to alert their cities of a pothole? If they can check an airline app for their flight status, why can’t they do the same for their hunting license status? As technology continues to permeate every area of citizens’ lives, both personal and professional, expectations for citizen to government interactions are shifting.

So how do you not only accommodate these expectations, but do so in a way that fosters a better citizen experience with your government organization?


Featured Speaker: Ruthbea Clarke

We’re hosting a webinar on January 28 at 12 p.m. CST featuring Ruthbea Clarke, Research Director of the global Smart Cities Strategies program at IDC Government Insights, to address this idea of building a successful citizen engagement strategy using digital communications technology. Ruthbea will provide quick tips that public sector organizations can use to achieve greater citizen engagement and subsequently, satisfaction.

You can register for the Citizen Engagement in the Digital Era webinar here. In the meantime, if you have any tips to share about how your organization (or maybe just your favorite competition show if you’ll admit to it too!) is fostering audience engagement, write in the comments below.

After reading through what may have been my hundredth list of government communications, social media, and technology predictions for the new year, I came across one prediction that warranted a break in my obsessive trend reading: “numbers no longer matter.”

In the Huffington Post’s list of 12 social media predictions in 2014, author Penny C. Sansevieri says:

“There was a time when we all clamored for a huge number of followers… Now it seems that while big numbers are great, engagement is better.… Think of it this way, what if you were speaking to a huge crowd of people but they all fell asleep during your presentation. Rude? Maybe. But also perhaps an indicator that you need to be more engaging or, at the very least say something to keep them from falling asleep.”Numbers

This prediction doesn’t tell the whole story in the public sector, where the number of people you reach with a message can have a profound impact on citizens’ lives. Government communicators work to reach the maximum amount of people with important messages—like to take shelter from a winter storm. The number of people following or subscribing to that organization to get notifications on that impending snow storm is incredibly important, as is how many of those people go on to engage with that message by forwarding, retweeting, or sharing it.

So, to better apply Penny’s observation in the public sector, I suggest this update: numbers are no longer the only things that matter. Citizen engagement and interaction with your messages has a direct impact on whether you as a government communicator can reach your organization’s mission goals. One of your most important tasks is to inspire action in citizens. Whether it’s to get a flu shot, complete a tax form, or file for a fishing license, citizen engagement with your organization’s messages is crucial to meeting mission goals. You can’t achieve these mission goals if citizens don’t engage with the messages that encourage participation in your programs. (But again, you also can’t complete your mission goals if citizens never hear from you in the first place.)

So how do you increase engagement with the messages your organizations sends and posts so as the article says, “you keep [your audience] from falling asleep”? Here are a few engagement tips:

  1. Keep your message clear, brief and interesting. It’s more likely to be read and engaging for readers when they don’t need a dictionary on hand to understand what you’re saying. Check out this post on fighting jargon in your organization for guidelines on writing in a more plainspoken style and this top 7 Reach the Public post on writing creative, engaging content.
  2. Don’t ignore the analytics. Check your email, social media and website analytics often. Measure which messages see higher engagement rates and resonate more with your audience and then adjust accordingly. Make sure you’re sending out the type and style of content your audience wants, instead of just the content you want them to have. Read through this post on analytics and segmentation for more tips.
  3. Optimize for multiple platforms. There’s no easier way to make stakeholders ignore your messages than to not allow them to read it. Optimizing your emails and websites so that stakeholders can read your messages on desktop or mobile devices is imperative to ensuring you’re providing the opportunity for engagement. Check out these tips on optimizing your website  and emails with responsive designs to accommodate every platform your audience may be reading your messages on.

Do you have any additional tips for optimizing engagement? Do you agree that numbers are no longer the only things that matter? Comment below!

Successful public sector digital communications is born from a commitment to reach a large and relevant audience. The largest audiences are built on direct contact channels such as email and text messaging as well as indirect channels such social media. Here are a few tips on how you can expand your reach and drive more engagement in 2014 wherever the general public can consume your content – especially on mobile devices.


Add Subscription Options to Mobile Apps. Promoting your email/SMS subscription options through your app is an effective way of growing your audience. Many government organizations allow app users to enter in their email address or phone to receive proactive communications.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), created a mobile app that provides users with tax tips and allowed them to sign up to be emailed with this information ongoing. By promoting their email list directly within their app, they received 14,000 additional subscribers in just a 3-month period.

The good news? There are many ways to connect mobile applications to GovDelivery through application programming interfaces (APIs), making it simple to automatically upload email and wireless addresses from online sources directly into GovDelivery for ongoing outreach.

Make Use of Text to Subscribe Functionality.  In situations where an individual may not be near a computer or may have limited access to the Internet, traditional methods of signing up for email updates through an online process might be inconvenient. Setting up a text-to-subscribe program gives your audience the ability to send a simple text message with their email address and a keyword in it to receive email updates on a specific topic.

The City of Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board wants to keep local golfers informed of course news, events, adult golf leagues and schools, junior golf, and more. To capture golfers on the go, they offer a text to subscribe program to give course-specific deals throughout the golf season. Golfers can subscribe to receive emails from their favorite course, or sign up for news from all seven courses. GovDelivery makes launching a program like this easy by offering mobile functionality to capture subscribers using inbound text messages. Learn more here.

golf emails

Bonus: While capturing email addresses through a mobile opt-in helps grow your audience, you should also be building a list of wireless subscribers by offering 2-way SMS text messaging. In King County, Washington, people can text “KING” plus their zip code to 468311 to get information about healthcare enrollment. By using a short code, a subscriber’s phone number is captured when they text in their information.

Text messaging programs like this aren’t just about convenience either – it’s about equity. Young, low-income people use text messaging more than any other demographic. Where the Internet and traditional media fall short, text messaging fills in the blanks. GovDelivery can reserve custom short codes, like the King County example below, for a branded mobile experience.

king county

A great communications program is born from a large audience.  In 2014, continue to build and expand your digital communications strategy with more tactics from GovDelivery. Download the entire Digital Outreach Best Practices Guide for free here.

By Michael Bayliss-Brown, Public Sector Sales Consultant

How the Ministry of Defence (MoD) can streamline digital communications to engage the public, increase efficiency, improve effectiveness and achieve cost savings.

Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The Guardian recently hosted a live chat regarding digital transformation at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to uncover the innovation, transparency and citizen engagement at work within the walls of Whitehall. Jon Thompson, permanent under secretary for the MoD, said before the chat: “Defence has long enjoyed digital pre-eminence in the battle space, but we have lagged behind in the way we exploit digital to make our business more efficient and effective”.

This is not the first time you’ll hear government referred to as “a business”. Government and industry leaders recognise the need for a solid business case and process underpinning their digital communications strategies at both the central and local government levels.

According to Liz Azyan, Digital Strategist and Social Media Marketing Consultant, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is setting an excellent example of putting users first with its business tax dashboard:

 Giving small business customers the ability to perform several transactions with the department on a single platform and providing them with the tools and library of information that they need to complete those transactions, puts the customer first. It’s supporting users in a way that says, ‘We care and we want to help you in the best way we can’. And sometimes for users, that’s the best type of support you can ask for – the visibility of thought and care to their needs and also, the ability to give feedback to improve”.

Roger Hutton, director defence strategy and digital leader at the Ministry of Defence stated:

We’re now (as it says in Digital in Defence) concentrating on better understanding the user requirement, developing digital awareness among the department’s senior leadership and skills across its workforce, re-examining our principal interfaces with citizens (particularly for veterans and potential recruits) and improving ICT capabilities for business delivery.”

Currently MoD is leveraging a variety of innovative communication channels to engage with audiences inside and outside the department. Social media is enabling the digital team to quickly gauge public sentiment on subjects and provide important material via new mediums, like photography and video.

There is no doubt that social media is a powerful communications channel, and digital teams should leverage that channel to reach the public. However, according to a Pew Research survey in the U.S., email is the most popular online activity for adults, so it should be the channel of choice for government organisations, complemented by social networking sites.

MoD would benefit from observing the digital technology already in use in other departments as a blueprint for its own digital programme. Many government organisations are solving users’ challenges by simply enabling citizens and stakeholders to receive information proactively and allowing them to subscribe to news that is relevant to their daily lives.

According to Liz Azyan, sharing with and learning from digital leaders at other departments is necessary for government to thrive in a digital environment. During the discussion, panellists cited HMRC and Norfolk County Council as examples of digital transformation at the central and local levels. While local authorities tend to focus on increasing external customer engagement and reducing the cost of that engagement, both central government and local authorities are leveraging technology to engage the public, enhance customer satisfaction, and achieve cost savings using online channels.

According to OFCOM, UK’s independent regulator and competition authority for communication industries, 94 percent of adults own or use a mobile phone, while 55 percent of adults with home internet use social networking.  It’s tempting to assume that social networking sites will ensure engagement with citizens. However, a more effective tactic for reaching and engaging internal employees and the public would be a hybrid approach, utilising direct email and social media to proactively connect with audiences.

A Pew Research survey in the US found that 92 percent of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web, including 59 percent who do so on a typical day. Among online adults, 92 percent use email, with 61 percent using email on an average day. Since the Pew Internet Project began measuring adults’ online activities in the last decade, these two behaviours have consistently ranked as the most popular. Even as early as 2002, more than nine in ten online adults were emailing.

Over 60 UK government organisations at the central and local levels are leveraging GovDelivery’s digital platform; successfully cross-promoting services and news across various departments and geographies. Organisations are able to provide a resident in Southampton, Norwich or Devon the option of subscribing to Met Office, HMRC, Department of Health, or GOV.UK alerts. These government organisations are streamlining communications to integrate with websites, social media and SMS channels and allowing the public to access messages and updates at their convenience. Nearly three million UK residents currently subscribe to government news via GovDelivery alerts. If MOD were able to tap into this existing network, it would help to expand its reach, complement existing communications efforts, and increase engagement.

If MoD can focus on delivering digital services that put users’ needs at the heart of its mission—making it easier, quicker and more efficient for the public to engage and connect—then it would be doing the public and other government departments a huge service.

It’s the beginning of 2014 and, no surprise here, everyone has a different opinion on what should make the “best of” and “worst of” 2013 lists. Whether it’s the best tech innovations in government or the worst social media gaffes, everyone has something different to add. It’s not easy to sum up an entire year’s worth into a neatly pre-packaged list, and there isn’t often a clear-cut winner or loser. But there are usually some common themes that run through these lists. Our top seven most read Reach the Public blog posts from 2013 are no different.

A few trending digital communication themes touch our seven most read blog posts. Government communicators face increasing pressure to manage communications across devices and platforms—from their websites to social media to emails to mobile friendly designs—and the most read blog posts stay true to these trends. The following seven posts sum up tips to update your website, implement responsive design for mobile users, send more engaging emails, and what technology trends are in and what ones are on their way out.

So take a minute to relive what you and your peers in government read the most from GovDelivery’s Reach the Public blog last year for some key takeaways to bring into your 2014 government communications strategy.


7) Top 10 (Easy) Ways to Make Your Emails Work for Mobile

Ranging from scaling back email column size to text size, this blog post summarizes 10 quick and easy ways to optimize emails for mobile devices. With more and more people accessing their emails on multiple devices, including mobile, this post is definitely worth another look to boost your mobile email strategy.

6) Need To Brighten Up Dull Content? Take A Cue From 1-800-GOT-JUNK

Optimizing emails and websites to achieve higher engagement with citizens is important—but so is the actual content in those emails or on those webpages. If you want a refresher on updating your communications so that your stakeholders not only receive your messages, but read and take action because of them, check out this post on transforming your average business content into something new and exciting.

5) Great Government Websites – Benchmarking The Best

A good website isn’t just a bonus for government organizations anymore, it’s a necessity. If you know your website could use a little sprucing up, you should start by reading, or re-reading, this post. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) regularly benchmarks websites according to Americans’ overall level of satisfaction in a variety of industries. This blog post takes a look at a few local, federal and international public sector samples of high quality websites.

4) Is There A Best Time To Send An Email?

It’s no wonder that email is still the cornerstone of most digital marketing practices—more than 144 billion emails are sent around the world every day. So optimizing your emails to be sent at a time when they are more likely to be opened, read and incite action has been a top of mind topic for many of our blog readers. Check out this blog post again to learn more about the research that has gone into determining best response rates.

3) Do RSS Feeds Still Matter?

When Google announced it was closing down Google Reader, many bloggers were quick to declare the demise of the RSS feed. Moving into 2014 nearly a year after the Google Reader shutdown, RSS feeds are still a thriving component of many communication strategies in the public sector. This post takes a look at how some government organizations use RSS feeds to provide an automated, simple way to reach more people with their messages.

2) How To Make Your Website Mobile Friendly With Responsive Design

One of the recurring themes in our most read blog posts, and a possible nomination for the buzz word of the year, is the phrase “mobile friendly.” Making your emails and website available to be viewed and interacted with in as many ways as possible is a no-brainer. Take a look at this post for some specific tips on making your website more accessible to your stakeholders.

1) Need A New Look? 2013/2014 Website Trends That Matter

Our top read post on Reach the Public stayed true to the themes our readers have been interested in all year: optimizing communications across devices and emerging digital communication trends. The website trends covered in this post even do a little predicting—reviewing what digital best practices are likely to become commonplace in the new year. Take a little time to double-check that you are implementing, or at least aware, of these digital trends so that you’re providing a consistent experience that citizens have come to expect when interacting with any website.

So there’s our top seven list of most-viewed blog entries in 2013. What do you think? Did any of these posts stand out as particularly useful in your organization? Or do you have another post to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

Good government communicators are chameleons. As communicators, you adapt quickly and effectively to changing situations every day, whether it’s internal (like last minute change to an email campaign) or external (like Chameleonthe recent government shutdown). You adapt as needed to engage the public amidst changing legislation, budgets and projects. But how well does your organization adapt to developing trends in digital marketing? The journey to digitize government organizations is not always a quick & easy fix, nor is it the same for every organization. It’s important to remember that going digital isn’t a static process. There is no beginning and end, only a beginning and continuous improvements. We at GovDelivery strive to help make that ongoing process as smooth and painless as possible for you. By reviewing some of the latest private sector digital marketing trends, we weed out what’s likely to stick versus what you can ignore, so you can more efficiently push your organization’s communications with smarter, forward-looking decisions.

So what should you look into incorporating in your evolving digital communications strategy? We took a look at one of the trends highlighted in Epsilon’s Email Trends & Benchmark Report: the rise of the “triggered message.”

Incorporating the  “triggered message” in your communications strategy

What’s a triggered message? Sometimes called a transactional message, it’s an automated message sent out to a recipient. You probably get them all the time from private sector organizations (online receipts, registration confirmations, birthday coupons, etc). But transactional messages are very powerful in the public sector as well. Take, for example, property tax statements. Since tax statements contain very specific information, sending a mass communication without personalized information would not be beneficial to the end recipient, but printing and mailing that individualized information is expensive and time-consuming.

That’s where the transactional message comes in. With advances in technology, you can easily personalize communications that are either triggered by an action (i.e. you request a change in your license and you receive a confirmation of your request) or by a deadline (i.e. your property taxes are due and you can pay them online through a secure portal.) Robust communications platforms can pull pertinent information from your internal database or system and send out a personalized message to the recipient with their information.

Ultimately, triggered or transactional messages simplify communications that used to take days and lots of stamps. Plus, by moving these kinds of communications online, your organization can track whether the citizen or your stakeholder received and opened the email to ensure deliverability.

It’s not hard to see why these targeted messages would increase click-through rates for the recipient—it’s personalized, relevant and engaging information. If you’re interested in learning more about the robust opportunities for government organizations using transactional messaging, download this white paper.

Overall, by adapting to the trends you see in the wider email marketing world, as well as those trends you measure in your own organization, you enable your organization to develop a communications strategy that better reaches citizens. As citizen needs and expectations evolve in an ever-changing public sector landscape, government organizations should be willing to shift strategies to better reach citizens.

Does your organization use triggered messages to make your digital communications more efficient? Let us know in the comments below.

SMSSMS (text messaging) marketing is a growing strategy in the private sector. And we shouldn’t count out mobile in the public sector either. There are over 5 billion mobile phone users around the world. SMS messaging plays a large role with those billions of mobile phone users. In an infographic released by Text Sprout, an estimated 96% of smartphone users utilize SMS text messaging. They also read 98% of their text messages—a level of engagement that most email marketers only dream of.  On top of that, according to the infographic, the average person is also looking at his/her phone 150 times per day! There is real opportunity for the public sector to capitalize on the use of mobile and SMS to get their subscribers to pay attention to their messages.

So if you are utilizing (or thinking about utilizing) a digital communication tool with the ability to send marketing messages over SMS, what tips should you follow to make sure those messages are read?  MarketingProfs recently released an infograph reviewing the top tips for SMS marketing. We’ve summarized them here from a government organization’s point of view.

  1. Don’t forget your name As a public sector organization, you have likely already solidified yourself as a trusted source of information in the subscriber’s mind. But just because your subscribers opted to receive communications from you doesn’t mean that they will remember your number. Make it clear who you are when you’re sending the message so the reader doesn’t think you’re sending spam.
  2. Get their attention In SMS messages you don’t have the same design capabilities that you might have in an email. Fear not, you can still grab the attention of your reader through the use of catchy language (call out whether it’s breaking news, weather alerts, emergency notifications, and so on).  You can also use caps locks to call out the title and make it stand out from the message—but make sure you use it sparingly; otherwise it becomes more difficult to read.
  3. Tell them what to do As with any marketing message, make sure you have a clear call to action. Do you want your subscriber to read an article? Take cover indoors from bad weather? Or another action? Be clear about exactly what you want the subscriber to do after reading your message.
  4. Keep it concise, but limit the acronyms You only have 160 characters so you will be forced to be concise, but that doesn’t mean falling into your best teenager text speak and losing that brand voice you’ve worked hard to develop. Limit your acronyms as much as possible. You don’t want your message to get lost in translation.

If you’re looking for a real-world public sector example of SMS marketing, take a look at this blog post we did awhile back on a GovDelivery client who  knew the power of being able to send information to the public wherever they are instantly: Washington State. Washington State uses email and SMS alerts to provide information on traffic incidents, road conditions and construction alerts.

Have a suggestion for tightening up your government SMS marketing? Questions about how to implement SMS in your organization? Let us know in the comments below!


As we wrap up 2013, we’re excited about what’s around the corner in 2014.

It’s the time of year where everyone puts out predictions for 2014, but at GovDelivery, we want to know what you think. Instead of listing out all our predictions for the new year, we’re interested in learning what public sector trends you think will make an impact on your organization.

Click here to take our short survey

All responses will be kept confidential. Once we’ve compiled them, we’ll share the results here.

Everyone here at GovDelivery wishes you and your family all the best this holiday season!

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