By Kumar Rachuri, Director of State and Local Government Solutions
Not long ago, being “online” meant having a website to dump all of your information. Then came the explosion of blogging and social media to fight for eyeballs. More content is now being created than ever before.
Today, there are a whopping 3,000 commercial messages the average person sees every day. Concepts such as search-engine optimization, user experience and analytics sprang up in order to make sense out of the sheer amount of noise online.
But those strategies are no longer enough. Now, it’s about elevating the content game even further, shifting to deliver personalized experiences, and using data to optimize decisions for the next marketing investment.
Understanding the trends and getting the tools to meet these expectations will make government agencies much more equipped to serve their citizens.
3 Tools to Vastly Improve Your Citizens’ Online Experience
When a citizen visits a government website, they are going with a purpose, usually looking for something very specific. This busy person expects a website to deliver exactly what’s on their mind, as fast as possible.
That means government websites have to go beyond simply having the most beautiful, intuitive and easy-to-understand experience. They need to understand the user’s exact desire and deliver on it.
So how is it possible to achieve that? Especially when each user may be looking for something different? The good news is there are powerful, digital tools out there to allow government agencies to achieve that level of connection in a fast, easy way.
They can do this in three ways:
Through segmentation and personalized messaging (read more about it here);
By optimizing the experience through A/B testing (read more about it here)
Via data science (read more about it here).
Data monitoring is key, because the only sure way to be sure you are making the most informed decisions is by analyzing patterns —you will see what your citizens are asking for by how long they spend on each page, where they are clicking most, etc.
It’s easier than ever to keep your team focused on the primary purpose of the website: to get your users to complete a specific action. Making your user journey easier and easier through the study of data is called conversion optimization. It trains your team to make unbiased decisions based on user data, not just based on opinion about what feels right. You can track your wins and test your theories.
The combination of these three platforms (personalized messaging, A/B testing, and data) empowers agencies to set up campaigns, understand each individual citizen journey, and confidently improve it at every stage.
Using digital tools to help you serve your audience in a more personalized way requires a bit of a shift in thinking within the organization. It will start with empowering your in-house staff with the insights and tools to learn more about the citizens. That means you will have to set up foundations that help your teams monitor, manage and measure people’s true preferences. Once you get it right, you’ll realize that investing in the right solutions now will offer great returns in both the short- and long-term.
A tip: It’s best not to think of users as customers. Your citizens reading your information are people. And people crave communities, shared identities, emotional connections, and close-to-true face-to-face interactions. Acknowledging that is the first step toward raising the bar and being a more effective content provider.
2018: The Year for a Closer Connection Between Government and Citizen
I’ll say it again: 2018 will be the year of personalization and connection. Citizens are paying more attention to their government. They crave direct communication and a feeling of understanding from the organizations that serve them.
Understanding how users behave online and the best way to communicate to them personally are critical for government agencies in 2018. Agencies have an opportunity, through digital experience, to put a face to government. Now is the time for government agencies to get creative, over-deliver and wow their citizens.
Many states are already rolling out business gateway portals that do this. These are one-stop-shops for citizens to get everything they need as business owners. The information is presented in a personalized, organized way that helps citizens find exactly what they need—whether it be licenses to start a business or information about filing taxes. The portals make sure they’re effective by tracking user data.
In the end, the goal of building personalized online experiences is to achieve a higher level of citizen trust and loyalty. If citizens feel engaged and productive, they will feel taken care of by their government and return to seek more information. A thoughtful and seamless online experience is the perfect way to achieve this.
Adobe helps deliver citizen-centric digital experiences. Learn more about Adobe’s Government Solutions.