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Move more people from “awareness” to “action”

During Granicus’ recent webinar, A Nudge in the Right Direction – Behaviour Change Case Studies, three communications managers shared tips for reaching and engaging more of their target audience, and encouraging those people to take specific actions.

For public sector communications to stand a chance of influencing the way people live their lives, the decisions they make, the services they access, and the opportunities they take up, organisations first need to dramatically increase their reach – and that means boosting the number of people teams at all levels of government are communicating with. The comms then needs to carefully nudge people along a “pipeline” towards making a good decision.

First up, Glen Ocsko (Account Executive at Granicus and moderator on the webinar) chipped in: “You want to capture your audience’s attention, then sustain their interest… You’ll need to educate people on the benefits of engaging with your services or programmes as well as the risks or penalties of not.


“Some audiences will respond to messaging around the potential “losses” if they do not engage, while others will connect with messages about the potential “gains” of getting involved. Test what resonates.


“Earn your audience’s trust. And, make participating or taking the “right” action easy for them.” Glen flagged the importance of having the right tools and technologies within the comms team to truly be able to increase public awareness and educate people effectively.

Here are some top tips from James Morton, Kirsty Edwards and Damien Currie who shared some of the ways they are using digital comms to engage audiences and move people along the pipeline to make a “good decision” and be active participant:


1) Get the fundamentals right to give your campaign “legs”

James Morton, External Communications Manager, Hampshire Fire and Rescue shared lessons from the #INeedMySpace campaign which aimed to reduce instances of fire engines being delayed to an emergency due to bad driving and parking decisions:

Follow the government-recommended “EAST” principles for your campaign content and messaging strategy:

  • Easy – Keep your message simple and your visuals connected to your message.
  • Attractive – Make it clear to people what they have to lose by not participating and use your position of authority as a subject matter expert to be an influential messenger.
  • Social – Make your content shareable and incorporate messages from the front-line (photos and messages from your front-line staff will make your message authentic). Shareable content also means people will hear your messages from friends, family and colleagues on social media whom they trust most.
  • Timely – Consider when your message will be most impactful.


2) Test what works and use marketing automation to segment your messages

Kirsty Edwards, Senior External Communications Manager for the Intellectual Property Office (the government team looking after patents, copyright and trademarks etc) shone a light on how they’re helping to make the UK a fair and safe place to do business:

  • To understand the value of your existing content and resources in helping to drive specific actions, pause production of all new content. Conduct a survey of how people are using your current “library” and ask them about their knock-on decisions. You can then determine a baseline and identify gaps in your toolkit.
  • A “drip campaign” is a series of emails scheduled at different intervals, set up to educate subscribes and prompt specific actions following their initial interaction with your website / services. The IPO is sending drip messaging to help businesses comply with the law.
  • When building a drip campaign do think about the different journeys subscribers have taken to be on your mailing list. Kirsty explained that the IPO gains a lot of new subscribers from the GovDelivery Network (a referral network which benefits any organisation using Granicus’ digital communications platform) but these people will receive a different “welcome” and message journey than someone who subscribed at a meeting with the IPO – their knowledge levels are likely be quite different. Segment audiences (you could automate this in Granicus’ tool) and set up different email/SMS campaigns tailored to their circumstances.
  • Using automated A/B testing (available with the Professional Package for Communications Cloud), the IPO learned that personalisation in a subject line trumps a generic message along the lines of “look how many others do this, you should too”. This surprised the team since social proof / consensus is usually considered a powerful prompt in behaviour change campaigns. For example HMRC uses this technique on tax collection letters with a statement along the lines of “Most people will pay their taxes on time”. Next step for the IPO: test out messaging that incorporates personalisation AND social proof persuasion principles in subject lines, pre-headers (the text you see below the subject line in your inbox) and email body copy to increase engagement rates.

The IPO’s business audience is most likely to engage with emails at 10am. Their comms consistently achieves a 30% open rate and 10% click rate – much higher than the average for central government email outreach.

  • Kirsty highlighted that testing what resonates with your audience is crucial to improving comms engagement and the number of people benefitting from your support services. The difference of even a 3% increase in open rate could mean thousands more businesses read and understand the guidance they need to comply with the law. Incremental improvements to your email marketing really do matter.


3) Get to know your audience and provide regular updates to maintain trust

Damien Currie, Communications Manager for the Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain (a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Transport) shared how a new comms strategy is helping to regulate businesses who run trucks, buses or coaches, and professional drivers and make the roads safer.

  • As the media landscape continues to fragment, Damien and team saw an opportunity to take control of their messaging and speak directly to their audience using Granicus’ digital comms platform.
  • They say taking the time to really get to know their audience before launching a new comms strategy has been critical to their extraordinarily high email engagement rate (75% – meaning 75% of recipients have either opened or clicked an email they’ve been sent in the last 90 days).
  • After delivering a targeted campaign to educate vehicle operators on what they needed to do to make sure vehicles didn’t have faulty brakes, Damien surveyed the audience to gauge new understanding and action taken to comply. As a direct result of the messaging:
  1. 90.4% were satisfied with the effectiveness of their brake testing regimes after doing a review
  2. The majority took action to review maintenance records and make sure brake tests were being carried out
  3. 85.39% thought brake testing is very important to O licence responsibilities
  4. 86.54% thought brake testing is very important in protecting the public from unsafe drivers and vehicles

If you’d like to have a chat with someone in the Granicus team about using digital communications to move more people from awareness to action, please get in touch. We’d love to help you deliver an outcome-focused communications plan that makes the most of email and text messaging marketing.