Marketing for Government Agencies

Creating a unique marketing campaign while remaining tasteful may seem like a daunting task as a government agency. Unlike companies in the private sector with more leeway to try out humorous or even controversial messaging, government agencies must carefully consider the potential effect that any new ad could have on the public — for good or ill.

Of course, governmental marketing has produced several memorable campaigns over the years. For instance, those that grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s can never forget the "D.A.R.E." campaign, or "Just say no?" Whatever we may think of its merits as a public program, the "D.A.R.E." campaign certainly left its mark on the public consciousness. 

The question is: How can you create an impactful marketing campaign for your government agency? You'll almost certainly need an experienced marketing partner to help you along the way. Here are three tips that will help you navigate marketing in the public sector a bit more smoothly.

1. Create a Unique Brand Awareness Campaign

The number one step in navigating digital marketing as a government agency is to create a unique (and tasteful) brand awareness campaign for your consumers. You want people to become more familiar with your agency. Such a campaign can serve as a key differentiating factor between your agency and similar organizations, either in the public or private sectors.

Of course, you should develop a brand awareness campaign according to the governmental level you are operating, whether local, state or national. For instance, a state agency's campaign may include voice, tone, and messaging that appeal to specific demographics within the state. In contrast, a nationwide campaign usually must have a broader appeal.

One example of a successful nationwide marketing campaign from a government agency was the CDC's "#VaxWithMe" campaign, which encouraged people to post a selfie while increasing awareness of vaccination’s importance. This campaign effectively enhanced the perception of the CDC in the mind of the public and encouraged more individuals to undergo this simple procedure (since people are more likely to vaccinate if their peers do so).

2. Optimize Your Website

It's no secret that one of the most important things any modern organization can have is a professional-looking, user-friendly, and optimized website. The same holds for government agencies. When people can easily browse through a site, search for specific information, and find what they need, user engagement rates will inevitably soar. 

For a government website, optimization could take on several forms. For instance, agencies should make sure that their content is optimized for the right keywords and synonyms (or LSI keywords), so that their site comes up on the first page of Google, if at all possible. Agencies may also want to invest in schema markup and create a powerful internal search engine to help users find the information relevant to their situation. Accessibility is another key optimization element for government websites.

Moreover, agencies should ensure that their websites are optimized for mobile devices as well. Studies have shown that mobile users will typically wait only 3 seconds for a site to load before they leave. Thus, a government website's level of "mobile-responsiveness" can determine whether a user will stay on the site or not.

3. Offer Useful Resources

People often look to government agencies for accurate and easily-digestible information. While some agencies may find this objective harder to accomplish than others (for example, the IRS), the fact is that useful resources can make a massive difference in the public's level of engagement with a particular organization, and even in how that organization is perceived.

The point is, you want to offer practical, useful, and understandable resources to your consumers — and ideally, in a variety of different forms. Some content examples may include guides, video tutorials, infographics, and eBooks. More and more people are actively seeking out such resources; for instance, eBook consumption among adults in the United States hovers around 25%, up 8% from 2011. 

Of course, besides making such useful resources available on their website, agencies also need to promote them to the general public actively. After all, consumers may not be aware that such resources exist until they come across a PSA or other government-sponsored ad. Your agency may decide to promote specific resources via several marketing methods, such as search, display, geo-fencing, etc.

The CDC's COVID-19 fact sheet is an excellent example of a useful resource (and is being) promoted across all channels. The CDC and other government agencies have directed people to visit the official CDC website for information on how to protect themselves and others from the spread of the coronavirus. Millions of fact sheet downloads have been the result.

The Importance of Digital Marketing for Your Government Agency

In summary, government agencies, like other organizations, need to invest in digital marketing initiatives to inform and engage their consumer base. Three key ways to optimize your digital marketing efforts are:

  1. To create a unique, memorable, and tasteful brand awareness campaign
  2. To optimize your website for all users, including those with mobile devices
  3. To develop and offer useful easily-digestible resources, and then promote them through your marketing efforts

If you have a strong marketing strategy in place, unique ad creative, and the assistance of experienced marketing experts, then your next digital marketing initiative will likely yield exceptional results.

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