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Content Marketing, Fundraising, and Website Tips & Strategies
Content Marketing, Fundraising, and
Website Tips & Strategies
How I Used Citizen-Focused Content Marketing to Transform a State Government Office’s Communications
One of the things I do with a big chunk of my day is I work for the Broadband Infrastructure Office in the North Carolina Department of Information Technology as the Director of Communications. The office was established in 2015 and still has a substantial amount of room to grow in the community.
For our office, the primary issue is the support of high-speed broadband availability and adoption across North Carolina. We do this through providing policy guidance but also through working with our local community leaders to help them identify and pursue opportunities that would help them meet their goals.
We started this year with a more traditional governmental approach to our communications. We filled in the gaps where we were needed, created or edited materials, did some news-based blogging and social, with some minor graphic design.
My own marcom (marketing and communications) background, while I can do that type of PR work, for me, I felt as though my skills and abilities were not being used in the best way possible to serve my office, our mission, and the citizens of North Carolina. At the start of the year, I knew that I wanted to try something that had not been done much, if any, in North Carolina state government.
“I knew that I wanted to try something that had not been done much, if any, in North Carolina state government”
My goal was to establish a content marketing style advocacy and empowerment campaign that would allow us to empower our audience to help themselves, establish the office’s thought-leadership on high-speed broadband needs, build more traction for our brand, and that would move the needle in terms of validating our office’s mission.
As a type of “pilot” (because the government LOVES pilots), we ran a campaign on exactly that objective. We built a hub-and-spoke content approach that allowed us to build some of the resources that we can point local community leaders to in an effort to begin to build what we called a “broadband planning committee.”
We told a story about the empowerment of local leadership over blanketed state-level prescriptive approaches. We build some of the how-tos, the “who should be involved” and provide resources for local and national nonprofit organizations that might be ideal to be involved in their planning process.
Some of the tools that we used for this campaign were social, blogging, the website that I designed, and an email marketing campaign. In addition to the pure education goal, we had a key objective of pushing users to our Technical Assistance page so that they could reach out to our team for support at their part of the journey.
As we wrapped up that campaign, we moved into a campaign supporting a new tool that we developed in house that allows users to report on the speed of their broadband service so that we could identify the gaps in coverage for unserved and underserved communities across the state.
For this campaign, the tools we used included social, blogging, our website, an email marketing campaign, video, and a bit of PR work. I also developed a follow-up sequence that will allow the reported data to stay fresh as well as to encourage re-sharing the tool with other users.
The results of the first 6 months of the campaign were tremendous and continue to improve. The change in focus on our communications from a news or government officials audience to the communities that we serve has revolutionized our data.
Because of the way that we defined our conversion, it is harder to quantify. However, as a result of the campaign, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of new inquiries that are coming in seeking support for broadband expansion.
One quantifiable conversion is with our user-speed reporting tool. Prior, we had been using an online form to solicit information on broadband connectivity. The form had about 3 responses per week. The new form has an average of 34 new respondents each week.
Before these campaigns, our website held a few educational materials but was mostly oriented around news and updates and contact forms. As a result, the traffic on the site was paltry in comparison to what it could be.
Since starting this approach, we have seen a 215% increase in our website traffic compared to the previous 6 months. More importantly, the visitors on the site are hitting the pages that we want them to hit, allowing us to A/B test and refine those pages for conversion.
Our primary tool had been Twitter. We have seen a 28% increase in the number of engagements since starting this campaign. Our following has also grown by 80 followers, and while the total number is not enormous, we know the followers are our specific audience.
We are also using Facebook and recently ramped up the amount of engagement and activity that we are applying to that tool. We are already seeing those numbers grow but are not yet ready to report on those numbers.
Refining and Moving Forward
As we continue to move down this path, we will refine our process, track the types of conversions that are important to us, and identify the best types of campaigns that work for our audience.
If you are reading this and you work in government then you know that there is a constant validation that has to take place before something gets set in stone. A campaign like this can go on for 1-2 years before ever really being put in stone.
As a result, my approach has been very gradual instead of coming out swinging and hope that it works. We will continue to put in place and test new tools to see what works best for us. I know, just based on the numbers, that we have opportunities that we haven’t seen yet. Some of that might be webinars, might be Facebook Live, might be AMAs, or in other technologies like Slack Channels.
We know that we have an opportunity with video and will continue to look at ways that we can do more with that.
For my readers here, I am going to work on putting together some resources that will help government communications professionals. This way, you can begin to put together the pieces for a hub-and-spoke content marketing campaign. I am also writing a short book with the formula for how to do it in your office. Click here to get on the list for updates on that.
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