Open Government Directive: SBA’s story

In response to the open government directive and plain language initiative, SBA sought to create a two-year plan to increase participation and transparency among its main constituents, small businesses. With the help of GovDelivery Digital Communication Management (DCM), SBA was able to expand its email communication, increase the number of visitors to its website, and reduce costs. Most importantly, SBA was more effective in reaching small businesses to provide them with training, education and support. SBA’s communication strategies are highlighted in a new report by GovDelivery- I have outlined a few takeaways below.

Email, Email, Email:

Given the new directive, SBA had to change how it regularly communicated with the public and its stakeholders. Rather than relying on printed newsletters, SBA shifted to email communication. This dramatically reduced printing costs as only a small number of newsletters were printed for events. One important element that added to SBA’s success was email and web writing training given many employees weren’t trained writers, especially in email. This education led to more compelling and targeted emails, which generated more interest in the website and other SBA offerings. For example, a targeted email campaign focused on government contracting increased the number of visits to the SBA Contracting page by 72% and the number of sign-ups for entry-level courses by 255%. In addition, emailing the weekly bulletin, which includes blog posts and recent news stories, dramatically increased the number of click-throughs to the SBA website (1,500,000 visits in March 2012 alone).

A Local Approach:

Understanding the importance of a localized approach, SBA field offices used DCM to entice people to attend local events. They also used it to encourage resource partners to develop better relationships with the small business owners in their area. This push to promote local events has been overwhelmingly positive for SBA, despite being up and running on DCM for only six months.

An Organized Rollout:

Another important element of the new communications strategy was an organized rollout plan. A select few people in district offices across the country were chosen to participate in the pilot program. Chosen for their leadership skills, these people then helped train others in their individual offices. The slow rollout, coupled with GovDelivery training materials, enabled everyone to get up and running generally within an hour.

I encourage you to read the full report to learn more about SBA’s new communication strategies.

GovDelivery is the #1 sender of government-to-citizen communications, serving over 400 government entities worldwide and more than half of major U.S. federal agencies. Organizations use GovDelivery to send over 200 million messages every month on a broad range of topics including national emergencies, health alerts, tax policy changes and more. Check out their
User Group on GovLoop as well as the
Technology Sub-Community of which they are a
council member.

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