Government Marketing

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Innovative Government Digital Marketing Strategies to Maximize ROI

Government Digital Marketing CSC

Government agencies at the local, state and national levels are adopting more data-driven solutions, social media platforms and digital marketing strategies to reach and impact audiences. This can help with brand awareness, agency recruitment, constituent outreach and political campaigns.

Benefits and Barriers to Government Digital Marketing Strategy

Benefits

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.

Save Money

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.

Crisis Communication

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.

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.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

An engaged audience is a happy one. Government agencies that keep the public engaged with digital marketing have a better opportunity to keep them informed about the policies and issues that are most important.
Platforms like social media also build trust among the audience by showing a level of transparency within the agency. Trust is important for customers in general, but it’s exceptionally important when it comes to the public opinion of whether a government agency has the citizens’ best interests in mind.

Using social media also humanizes the brand. Many people forget that there are actual people who make up a government agency, but using social media and content provides an opportunity to showcase government employees enjoying a special work day, attending conferences and participating in other relevant and appropriate events.

Message Testing

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.

Barriers

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.

Limitations on Funding New Technology

Most government agencies have limited flexibility when it comes to digital projects. In addition to the Budget Control Act, which significantly limits finances, agencies spend a lot of IT budgets on operating and managing legacy systems rather than implementing new technology options.

On top of that, investors have a skeptical view of funding proposals due to the likelihood of projects running behind schedule or over budget without success. Combined, these issues make it more difficult for government agencies to acquire and implement new technology or projects that can help with the transition to a digital marketing environment.

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.

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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.

Customer Journeys

Understanding the customer journey is a vital aspect of digital marketing strategy. Government agencies tend to use separate departments in charge of specific touchpoints with customers, which narrows the overall perspective on improving the customer experience.

If agencies switched to viewing the customer’s journey through a process as a continuous whole, areas for improvement will become more obvious and can be corrected. Customers report better experiences and higher satisfaction with products and services when the journey is managed well.

Another good practice is to encourage collaboration among the many departments involved in the customer journey. This also helps with technology investments, since having a more collaborative environment may eliminate the need for additional technologies.

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.

Create Compelling Digital Experiences

The internet is a go-to resource for decision-makers to research products and services before purchasing. Product sheets, white papers and other types of online marketing materials can be useful supporting resources for decision-makers, but they only go so far in helping an agency stand out.

By providing a dynamic, immersive digital experience, an agency can effectively engage target constituencies and impact the decision-making process. These experiences are designed to provide value that’s on par with any face-to-face interaction a customer may have.

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.

Create a Fun Awareness Campaign

Brand awareness can be a challenge for any organization, but government agencies have an even harder time approaching and educating audiences.

The CDC has plenty of successful historic examples of fun and quirky efforts to inspire followers, such as the satirical Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide download and app and the #VaxWithMe selfie social media campaign. This idea took the mundane and spun it into a viral campaign that drives visibility of and sparks engagement not only with the CDC itself, but the importance of vaccination.

Conclusion

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!

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