Innovative Government Digital Marketing Strategies to Maximize ROI
Benefits and Barriers to Government Digital Marketing Strategy
It’s vital for government agencies to not only adapt to the rapidly changing technology climate, but to leverage those changes and reap the benefits. Digital marketing can provide endless benefits for government agencies, from increasing awareness to crisis communication.
Traditional marketing and outreach is expensive, not to mention the money spent on answering questions and delivering services via call centers. Leveraging cost-effective digital platforms, such as a high-functioning website and social media, can raise awareness about issues that affect the public. It also ensures a more targeted approach, since the majority of people are already using these platforms.
Digital platforms, and social media in particular, have transformed how government organizations communicate during an emergency. In the case of a sudden natural disaster, first responders and government officials have a difficult time getting the message out on more traditional channels, such as television or radio. For example, OSHA released a set of guidelines related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about OSHA compliance.
Social media and text alerts provide instant crisis information to followers to promote evacuation protocols and get people to safety faster, connect evacuated people with emergency relief and provide current information about crisis status. Social media can also be used to set up fundraisers or resources to help victims get the help they need.
Digital marketing offers a quick and relatively inexpensive outlet for testing different messages with the public, such as political campaign slogans. It doesn’t cost much to launch a test campaign, and you’ll gain valuable, instantaneous feedback to inform future campaigns.
Employees working on digital marketing in large government agencies have a lot of organizational barriers that can be just as challenging as the technical obstacles. These barriers can prevent digital efforts from having a positive impact on operations and performance.
Complexity of Projects
Even modest digital marketing efforts are governed by a ton of procedures restrictions, many of which exist for good reason. To ensure compliance, government agencies establish procedures, multilevel approval processes and strict guidelines, all of which must be met before the project can move forward. Sometimes, this approval process can take months.
Passing through these many approval points requires significant planning, management and documentation, rather than development and testing. Failing to adhere to these rules can delay a project, increase costs or cause it to be abandoned completely, and following through doesn’t ensure success.
Government agencies also face challenges with spending and vendor selection on software services for digital, which prolongs the procurement process. This causes technology that may be cutting-edge when it was ordered to become outdated by the time it’s implemented. Digital marketing doesn’t require new technology, but there are numerous tools that can streamline the process and bolster success.
Limited Perspective on User Experience
Government agencies typically have multiple departments that are part of different aspects of the customer journey. For example, the communications department may maintain the website, while the field office provides in-person customer service.
In many cases, it’s difficult for these departments individually to fully understand the customer’s journey and how their initiatives may impact other parts of the customer journey. Without that knowledge, it’s also difficult to offer digital marketing solutions to reach the audience. Ultimately, this leads to an overall experience that’s frustrating and time-consuming for the customer.
Shortage of Digital Talent
Government agencies struggle with getting the right talent for digital marketing projects. First, they must decide what they need, but if they’re unfamiliar with the trends and strategies that are currently dominating the market, they have a difficult time assessing the candidates for the position.
In addition, much of the top talent is naturally drawn to a company culture of innovation and agility that isn’t often seen in government agencies. Government agencies tend to work with budget-friendly options as well, so it’s more difficult to obtain the most accomplished employees.
Achieving Success in the Digital Environment
Putting the effort into organizational changes can make a tremendous difference in a government agency’s digital marketing efforts.
Coordination of Digital Transformation and Technologies
Transforming an organization requires consensus on what the organization should improve and careful coordination of the changes needed to make that happen. Consensus and coordination are important when projects are complex and involve the typical barriers for government agencies.
Ideally, the staff involved in a transformation for digital marketing should be organized into a single team. This team should include staff members who are adept at redesigning operations as well as technology. A key responsibility will be to conceive low-cost, high-value efforts that the government agency can implement without a lot of additional funding.
This team will also have to expand the capacity for new digital applications, beginning with a few projects of a similar kind, then gradually adding capabilities that can handle a wider array of assignments. Starting this way allows for different marketing technologies, such as automation and analytics software, to be used to their fullest.
Drawing Digital Talent
With a shortage of digital talent, government agencies need to be innovative and resourceful about how they staff their digital marketing team. Ideally, the team will be a mix of in-house talent, to adhere to budget, and contractors, who can offer fresh ideas and are keenly aware of new trends and approaches. Having the in-house team establishes the consistency that the department needs, while the new team members offer experience and perspectives to complement.
Agencies also have resources to build talent and knowledge. The U.S. Digital Service has a mandate to help agencies digitize customer services and shared platforms and streamline procurement processes.
Innovative Digital Strategies for Government Agencies
Though government agencies can benefit from all marketing, there are a few digital strategies that move beyond traditional marketing and advertising tactics.
Ensure Responsive Landing Pages
Responsive design is a critical website approach to provide customers with a seamless experience across devices. With a responsive website, agencies can be in front of customers throughout each step of the online journey.
A responsive website provides continuity between different viewing devices, regardless of the size of the screen or the device’s capabilities. This makes it easier for customers to revisit a site on a different device and stay on track toward converting, and it helps the site move up in the search engine rankings. This is because having a single URL for desktop and mobile sites makes it easier for Google to discover content and index it.
Craft a Unified Social Platform
Social media is incredibly valuable for a government agency. By approaching the audience in the right way, an agency can turn an enthusiast into a brand ambassador.
A great example of this in practice is NASA. With a specialized social team and a unified social platform, NASA overcame many of the agency challenges with regular communication across teams and levels. This approach allowed them to strategize internally on what content to push to engage and inspire the followers and grow the audience to over 17 million.
Provide Value to Customers
Government agencies often have rules, regulations and restrictions that present challenges to customer experience and engagement. Taking some of the stress and uncertainty out of these restrictions can help customers gain a better understanding and, by extension, a better experience.
A great example of this concept in practice is the TSA. As an initiative to improve traveller experiences, the TSA addresses traveler problems, questions and concerns on a social platform. This initiative has been a huge success and allows the teams to resolve support issues quickly, in addition to redirecting social chatter that may negatively impact the organization’s reputation.
By approaching digital marketing as a business would, government agencies can connect with the public and deliver cost-effective and results-driven solutions.
If you need help with digital marketing for government agencies, M16 Marketing can help. Our experienced team of SEO consultants, content creators, website designers and social media strategists can help you tailor every aspect of your digital marketing strategy to achieve results. Contact us today to see what we can do!