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My 4 Part Government Engagement Funnel

Often government engagement is done as a one-off. A one-time call for feedback. A one-time challenge. However, I think government should think more about building long-term
relationships and engagement with stakeholders.

Think about it in a non-profit, political, or for-profit model:

-For-profit – Does Groupon want you to just buy today’s deal? Nope – they want you to sign up for a relationship with them where they will offer you a deal a day.
Whether you buy today’s deal or not, they’ve figured out the life-time
value of a subscriber and it’s way more than a one-off. That’s why they
advertise so frequently with Google ads to get you to subscribe.

Pick a non-profit like Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. Yes, they’d love if you
did a one-off activity (visit their park, give $5) but really they are trying
to build a community engaged around rescued cats. That’s why they have a
daily picture on their FB page and an engaged email campaign. In the end,
the stronger the community is, the more visitors they have, the more recurring

Here’s my idea around the Government Engagement Funnel.

It’s still rough so I’d love feedback

1) Get Information – Stakeholder gets information they are pro-actively looking for:

-via search
-via gov’t website
-in-person at gov’t building
-via social media channels

Size of audience – for a big brand like EPA, State = 5-20M visitors monthly

2) Hook Them – Once the stakeholder finds information, your goal is to hook them
-Get them to subscribe to receiving regular updates (in any format – email, Facebook, Twitter, text)
-Agree to ongoing relationship with you rather than one-off (otherwise you can’t reach them again)

Size of audience – 1-10% of number above if optimized correctly (make it super easy to opt-in and remind them)…Maybe 50k to 500k folks

3) Engage Them – Once hooked, you have to engage them
-Provide regular compelling content
-Provide personalized, relevant content that they care about
-Engage with community – two way conversation, ask for feedback
-Don’t overengage, spam, etc
Size of audience – 10% of number above hooked if optimized correctly (great compelling content, titles, etc). Depending on format (email open rate, FB post) – maybe 5 to 50k folks

4) Action – Once engaged, move them to the action you want (tied to mission)
Size of audience – 1-10% of number above if optimized correctly (make it super easy to opt-in and remind them)
-Ask them to help out (citizen corp)
-Ask them to do a gov’t activity (pay DMV renewal online, replace batteries in radon detector, apply for gov’t jobs)
-Ask them to
participate in a challenge
-Ask them to share content (via social media channels and more)

Size of audience – 20% of number above if optimized correctly (clear calls to action, incentives). Depending on format – maybe 1 to 10k folks

What do you think?

This ties into some of thoughts on 90-9-1 with communities and engagement.

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Peter Sperry

What if the citizen/customer just wants to buy a product or use a one off government service? I am getting so sick of companies trying to “engage” me, I’ll take the extra time to call a phone line or go even to a brick and morter store just to avoid the follow up email spam and endless questions from using some web sites. I also get tired of providing more marketing information than any one has a right to know just for the privilage of buying a simple product. Government is getting to be as bad or worse in some cases. Just help me do my business and let me go! If I need you, I’ll be back. If not, I won’t. Do we really have to make it more complicated than that?

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

As much as I like your model I have to agree with Peter. I have had so many companies want to engage me that I just don’t have that much love to share. 🙂

I think you should have a way of gauging a person’s interest at the end of stages 1, 2, and 3 to determine if they want to go further in the relationship. For example, if you are at stage one and the person comes back to your site a certain number of times you might suggest ways of hooking them. Then, once they are hooked, keep upping the ways to engage them but be quick to withdraw if they don’t want to go further in the relationship. At all times, let them make the decision whether they want a relationship or “just want to be friends” (in the high school romance definition of that term).

I think you need Dr. Phil to advise you, Steve. 🙂


Oooh…love the Bill and Peter comments.

I’m going to add that in the next iteration. Something here too about levels of engagement – for a number of activities people don’t want to engage…but just want to get in and out and move on…or less frequency/or end it (just be friends).

And don’t get me going on Dr. phil – my g/f watches it too much 🙂

Jeffrey Levy

Yes, you have to think carefully, and do some research, to choose when and in what way to engage. I took your post as assuming we’re talking about something where engagement is appropriate.

And in that vein, I think this is a great rubric. I’m thinking especially of EPA’s Pick 5 for the Environment (http://epa.gov/pick5). This is a program where people proactively commit to at least 5 environmental actions. We’re now looking for ways to engage them further, and it’ll always be voluntary whether to do so and how far to go. But we need to create the opportunities …

Richard Tate


I think these are great ideas and I’m glad that you shared them with the community. I believe that is important and appropriate for government entities to be more proactive about getting citizen input and enlisting them to support their mission. In today’s anti-government mood, it’s a way to build trust and inform citizens about the role that government plays at the grass roots level.

However, I agree with some of the other comments that it’s a bit like walking a tightrope. You don’t want to hassle citizens and some citizens will not want to become “engaged” with government – and that’s their choice. It’s about figuring out better ways to interact appropriately and nurturing the appropriate level of engagement – none to significant – on an individual basis. Today’s social media channels provide yet another way for citizens to communicate with government and government to communicate with citizens. Government must make an attempt to offer engagement to citizens through all communication channels available – otherwise the naysayers (and there are plenty of them) get a disproportiate chance to influence citizens.


Good point Richard and Jeffrey.

Do you use specific words other than engagement? I’m thinking of specific stuff like just sending information like DMV renewal, voting registration.

Maybe there is a flow chart up front that is a yes/no:
-Is the goal engagement? Or is the goal simply pushing content?

Heather J. Innes

I really liked these ideas, but I was thinking about using them to engage government employees. I think these ideas would work well in that context – at least in my case, where I am taking part in internal service delivery.

Sarah Giles

Bill / Peter’s points raise something for me – there’s a difference between the government / citizen customer service relationship and the government / citizen engagement relationship. I’m using “engage” to describe a more meaningful, action-oriented relationship, even going as joint govt / citizen decision-making. The first one, I think, relies very much on “getting information” and the second one implies a long-term, reciprocal relationship.

The upfront flow chart makes sense to me, then, and depending on the answer, you’d have to branch off into two separate paths. And, actually, I think the two do overlap, but the end goal is pretty different.


Sarah – like your concept.

I think in may be two separate paths that do overlap…and the “getting information” task is an opportunity to ask people if they want more citizen engagement relationship.

Kind of like when purchasing at Gap when they say do you want to stay updated and get coupons…Most of the time I say no as I don’t want a relationship…but for some stores I actually want it