Increasing citizen engagement with digital media content is the number one priority for over half of government agencies in 2017. Sounds like a straightforward enough goal, but do you have a plan to get your agency there? Granicus’ Federal Account Director Kelda Stetson and Account Executive Matt Macy, recently shared their tips for expanding your agency’s reach through a six-step process: identify, reach, grow, engage and convert your target audience.
Identify Your Audience
It’s unlikely that “everyone” is going to be your agency’s target audience, but it’s possible to uncover who is by assessing already-existing subscribers. Look at the types of communications they have responded to in the last 90 days, noting not only the topics that get the most attention, but also how people prefer to get their information. Is it via email, social media, or text message? The information gleaned from the data you already possess will help you develop a dynamic messaging strategy. Discerning your target audience is perhaps the broadest and most impactful decision you can make in terms of communications, because once they are identified, you can move on to crafting relevant, engaging content and finding the most effective means of delivering it.
Reach Your Audience
Understanding the best methods to reach your audience is critical. Some channels will work better than others for a specific segment of the population. We see a great example of that in the case of RISE, a Philadelphia Prisoner Reentry Network that provides supportive services to recently incarcerated individuals trying to adjust to life “on the outside.” Realizing the majority of their audience did not own computers, RISE relied on mobile phones to reach their intended audience. It was a success: By creating a digital program based on SMS texting, RISE was able to increase program attendance by 30%.
That’s not to say agencies should only stick with one channel. On the contrary, in many cases, taking a multichannel approach to deliver the same content enables citizens to engage on whatever channel they prefer.
Grow Your Audience
As your agency acquires more new subscribers, follow up with introductory information. Ask questions to gather more information about them. What are their interests and concerns? Where do they live? Asking just two or three questions can provide a significant return of data, which can guide decisions about where – and to whom – to reach out.
Engage Your Audience
Once you’ve maximized reach, increasing engagement is the next step – and nothing drives action better than great content. The first rule to remember is to communicate your value proposition in all of your outreach efforts. At the same time, be sure to draw clear connections between the content you are delivering and the needs of your audience.
Remember all that information you’ve been collecting about your audience? You can use it now to subdivide your audience – or segment them – into different groups based on commonalities like location, age, or interests. Segmentation enables you to personalize and customize content to keep your agency consistently relevant. Ultimately, the more you learn about your audience, the more you are able to reach them and deliver targeted content they will want to read. In turn, the more subscribers find your content relevant, the more they will engage.
Convert Your Audience
At this point, you’ve added a significant number of new subscribers. You’ve asked the right questions, learned the preferences of your target audience, and created relevant content to engage them. But don’t stop there! Remember, the goal of attracting attention in the first place is to encourage action – or conversion – among your audience. One of the best ways to ensure you are getting the highest conversion rate possible is through A/B testing.
In the simplest terms, A/B Testing is an experimental process in which agencies produce variations on the delivery of the same content. The MHA program, as an example again, created two versions of the same communication in which the phrasing of the central message differed slightly. One version resulted in an 11% open rate and a 2% click rate, while the second version – clearly the winning version they chose to stick with – had a 14% open rate and a 4% click rate.
Finally, be sure to track and analyze the results and your outreach efforts. What works? What doesn’t work? The outcomes you see from constantly monitoring and evaluating empowers your agency to make adjustments to your communications strategy as necessary – or celebrate your success!
Learn more about how digital tactics for public-sector communicators are changing by reading the 2017 Public Sector Digital Communications Trends Report.