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Top 10 tips for promoting channel shift

In July I presented at the SOCITM Building Perfect Council Websites 11 (BPCW11) in London on the topic of Channel Shift. The presentation was entitled “Is Developing Channels more Important than Promoting Shift?” Although the event was aimed primarily at Local Government, many of the concepts I presented are relevant to both Central and Government clients so I thought it worth sharing.

Developing online services has been a top priority for all levels of Government. The potential cost savings of encouraging the public to self-serve online are well documented which is why the “Digital by Default” agenda is moving ahead at full steam. However, I believe that many public bodies don’t realise the full potential that the shift to digital offers, primarily because they are failing to engage with their audience.

Developing these cool new digital channels is only part of the solution. Promoting channels to encourage shift and foster engagement is a vital component, something many public bodies frequently overlook.

I have drawn together the following tips from the successes of innovative GovDelivery clients who use effective promotion to boost subscribers and deliver that “elusive” channel shift.

  1. Promotion is as important as developing channels. Ensure your project has the necessary resources to promote your efforts otherwise the considerable development effort is often wasted.
  2. Promote online and offline. Use every available means to promote the service especially as those people most in need of shifting use the most expensive channels. Why not promote on your answer phone message, telephone helpdesk and in all printed material/newsletters?
  3. Take every available opportunity to engage. Ensure subscription options and sign-up links are clear and concise. Use bright logos to draw attention and place links and sign-up boxes well above the fold on as many web pages as possible.
  4. Explain the benefits of engaging with you. Ensure subscriber benefits are made crystal clear. The benefits of any service you offer must appeal to your audience and their needs (not yours).
  5. Brand the service. Who wants to sign-up to receive boring “Email Newsletters”? Branding your service, e.g. “News Direct – News direct to you, when you want it” is simple and a much more effective way to increase subscriber numbers.
  6. React quickly to events. Events, e.g. snow fall, present an unbeatable opportunity to engage with your users. Ensure you maximise subscriber opportunities whenever something unusual occurs. For example, why not change your home page to engage your large new found audience?
  7. Integrate digital with offline channels. Your back office systems should enable you to capture electronic contact details at every opportunity (privacy policy allowing). Use these details to initiate the shift online and sell the benefits to your audience.
  8. Provide support for multiple digital channels. Your audience uses different channels for different activities. To reach the widest possible audience you need to support as many of these channels as possible. Email, SMS, Facebook and Twitter are the most popular respectively.
  9. Produce a promotion plan and review it monthly. Things change, channels change, user requirements change, channel shift targets change. Make sure your promotion plans reflect this.
  10. Don’t stop promoting. Never be satisfied with the subscriber figures you have. You can always do better. Continuous promotion and innovation will help you achieve greatness.

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