By Jennifer Kaplan, Product Marketing Manager, GovDelivery
Like many of you, I started 2013 with lofty goals. Exercise more! Organize my desk! Finally finish my to-do list! I’ve come to realize, like many others have, that a list of important objectives is never-ending. It’s daunting. However, instead of taking on all of these tasks at once, sometimes we can achieve success (and gratification) faster by tackling one or two crucial goals that directly affect our mission.
If you need to communicate with people through online channels like email, SMS, or social media, having a good group of people to communicate with is a crucial goal.
Building an audience online is one of the most important things you can do. Your message to the public won’t matter if no one sees it! Whether it’s getting more people to get flu shots, register for a deer hunting license, apply for more grants, or join your neighborhood watch program, the size of your email list correlates with your level of success.
At GovDelivery, we’ve heard many success stories recently of how Federal, State, Local and UK Government communicators are not only achieving this goal, but blowing it out of the water. For example, a state agency we worked with recently grew their email subscriber list by adding thousands of citizens in just a few days. This is your proverbial “pot of gold”.
The best part? Their strategy for success is something you can easily execute THIS MONTH. Here’s how…
The agency I mentioned above uncovered over 20,000 email addresses from a department who did a huge promotional push for an event 2 years ago, but never did any follow up with the email addresses after the event. Because the agency had already established a relationship with this group, they were able to send them an invite and covert those old email addresses into newly engaged subscribers. This was all done with minimal effort: just a few conversations and an email invite.
To find your pot of gold, start talking internally with other departments. Make connections with other offices, programs or individuals in your agency who also communicate or interact with the public online. You may uncover a wealth of untapped email addresses.
Here are some places where you might find your pot of gold:
- Parks and Recreation departments collecting email addresses online for classes, activities and events.
- Property Records or Taxpayer Services receiving e-payments.
- Department of Natural Resources typically get email addresses for hunting, fishing or other license renewals.
- Libraries may have email addresses for library card registration or book availability notifications.
- Any programs or agencies receiving grant applications.
- Water or other services collecting utility bills.
- Departments who oversee driver’s license or tab renewal.
- Departments receiving passport applications.
- Any other area of your website with online form submission or that collects online payment!
*Bonus tip: If you can tap into other demographic information, such as first name and zip code, you’ll be able to easily execute other strategic email communications tactics. For example, an urgent email with a subscriber’s first name in the subject line might be more likely to grab their attention. Or, you can use a zip code to target certain email addresses with a relevant email about a new park opening near their location.
You can also work with your GovDelivery Client Success Consultant to determine if you can upload existing lists directly to GovDelivery or if it is preferable to invite people to sign up. In most cases, you can create new topics in GovDelivery that map directly to the outreach you are already providing. GovDelivery can also help by supplying potential invite templates.
I must say, I can’t take all the credit for the term “pot of gold”, as Alan Ferguson at Central Bedfordshire Council first drew the comparison recently at our UK Digital Communications Event. Alan told the story of how their agency made the switch to digital communications in order to encourage a channel shift towards citizen interactions online. Alan’s team heavily promoted their new email communications through social media, website, staff and elected officials. Through this promotion, they were able to discover that one department (Adult Education) had a database of over 8,000 email subscribers that they had collected separately outside of other departments. Alan’s team was able to import this list and convert many of these people to subscribers of their other digital communications. The entire presentation is fascinating, but fast-forward to the 6:53 minute mark to hear his experience related to email:
Finally, if you’ve already asked around and haven’t uncovered your pot of gold, don’t worry. There are plenty of other things you can do to grow your lists! Check out some of the other tactics used by Federal, State and Local government agencies here: http://www.govdelivery.com/insidethered/2012/01/the-lucky-7-ways-to-increase-your-outreach/