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Use Data-driven Marketing to Improve Your Public Service

In our recent online training, Spreading the Word: Data-Driven Marketing for Government, we spoke with Sean Shoffstall, Vice President of Innovation and Strategy at Teradata Interactive, about the way government’s marketing strategies are changing. He admitted upfront that the topic itself is surprising for many public servants. Most agencies and many nonprofit organizations don’t have a dedicated marketing team; nor is marketing incorporated into the agendas of many departments. However, Shoffstall challenged our audience to think of themselves not just as public servants, but as marketers for their organization as well.

Luckily this training was virtual, so we weren’t able to hear the audience in uproar after Shoffstall said this. Public servants already have a full plate of responsibilities, which they are now asked to fulfill with fewer resources. However, Shoffstall emphasized that the demand for better, organization-wide marketing in government is critical. What’s more, this marketing focus may actually alleviate some of the burdens on our public servants.

How so? The point of marketing is not only to expose your mission to the public. It’s about changing customer behavior. Shoffstall asserted, “It’s more than just marketing. Really, it’s data-driven engagement.” If you market your services successfully, you can teach your consumers to use them effectively. By altering the habits of your consumer, you can save resources while improving your customer service.

Shoffstall offered an example of how data-driven marketing can produce these results. When someone needs help with a service, they most often turn to a call center for troubleshooting and support. This creates a deluge of calls that are time-consuming and largely avoidable. To mitigate this problem, Shofstall suggested targeting customers with the preference and ability to access self-help resources, and then marketing these services to them. To target effectively, your support team must first leverage collected data about what issues customers are facing, how they are resolved, and how satisfied customers are with their method of troubleshooting. This data can pinpoint which customers could be better served outside the call center, and who might be most receptive to a marketing campaign advocating for self-help resources.

Using this example, Shoffstall also highlighted how using data-driven marketing approaches can help your team provide better customer service. By using data to understand which consumers are inclined to use self-help or online resources, you’ll be compelled to create pathways that match those consumer preferences. At the same time, deflecting unnecessary calls to self-help resources will create more time for your support staff to help those consumers with complex technical issues. Thus, those customers who require call center support will be better served, while customers capable of troubleshooting themselves will avoid using unnecessary resources.

And by serving your customers better, Shoffstall pointed out that you also serve your organization’s goals better. Any agency’s mission is reliant on getting necessary information in front of its audience. Data-driven marketing allows agencies to tailor their campaigns to specific segments of the public, thereby increasing the likelihood that your audience will be receptive to your message.

At the same time, this specificity in messaging minimizes marketing investment. Rather than dedicating resources to an extensive marketing campaign that may or may not have real impact in your target demographic, marketers can use data to engage targeted consumers. As a result, marketing investment is diminished while your message is more effectively conveyed.

Altogether, the benefits of data-driven marketing allow you to do more with constrained resources. Shoffstall lamented, “We are always being pushed to stretch the dollar further.” For that reason, he often faces pushback when encouraging government and nonprofit agencies to create more robust marketing strategies.

But if you use data to inform marketing across your organization, you can actually enhance your impact on the public without burdening your employees with more work.

To learn more about how data-driven marketing can impact your organization, check out the 4 Reasons You Need to Market with Data.

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