Public sector bodies are rushing to “go digital” by starting to offer a flurry of digital services, creating new websites and enabling online transactions. But sometimes the result of their efforts fails to justify the cost of their development, a problem which probably stems from organisations’ wrong interpretation of the term “Channel Shift.”
I recently read an article from David Worsell, director of GovDelivery UK, who says that too many public bodies focus on building channels rather than trying to make the shift to digital as smooth as possible, thus failing to capitalise on digital’s potential.
Worsell says that the key to making the most out of digital for public bodies is promoting the online services they offer and ensuring that the audience is engaged and willing to use them. This points at the need to put marketing at the heart of public bodies’ channel shift strategies, he states on The Information Daily.
In order to be successful in their digital initiatives, public sector bodies are advised to take time to expand their audience and get to know them to ensure effective communication. This can be achieved by collecting contact information and creating contact lists to encourage users to opt for receiving updates from your organisation. The choice of communication channels is also a crucial step, because consumers generally use different platforms for different activities. The best option is to appear on as many channels as possible, with e-mail and social being among the best to consider.
Customer service teams could come in handy when it comes to gathering contact information through their offline communication with consumers. These teams could, for instance, ask consumers to provide their e-mail address or mobile number during calls and promote online services via answer phone messages and in printed materials.
It is also important to have tools in place that can help increase traffic to your website from the very first day and to make use of customer information contained in department solos. These are, according to Worsell, “treasure chests waiting to be opened with the right key”.
The marketing initiatives undertaken by public sector bodies are hardly competitive, which gives them a strong advantage over private businesses. The public sector is given a great opportunity to capitalise on its competitive edge to promote other activities and collaborate with partners to expand their audience reach. Asking users to opt for health information, tax updates and weather warnings from other government bodies (and the other way round) is a perfect way for public sector organisations to help each other in their shift to digital.