Marketing E-government

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1 20 Marketing E-government 20 MARKETING E-GOVERNMENT Better Practice Checklist Practical guides for effective use of new technologies in Government version 1, 2004

2 Introduction Australian Government departments and agencies have invested heavily in the use of new technologies to deliver services, streamline administrative procedures and provide information. Maximising the benefit of this investment is a high priority. The effective marketing of e-government services and products not only contributes to their successful development, but also helps optimise customers and stakeholders level of awareness, acceptance and usage of e-government products and services. A key role of the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) is to identify and promote Better Practice. This checklist has been created to help agencies to optimise their use of new technologies by effectively marketing the services that are created using these new technologies. This checklist is for staff who have a role in facilitating, implementing and marketing e-government initiatives and who may not be marketing specialists, as well as staff with a professional background in marketing and communication. The checklist outlines a number of suggestions to assist agencies to enhance the outcomes of their marketing e-government endeavours. The items in the checklist are, however, not mandatory. This checklist focuses on non-technical issues. It should be noted that the checklist is not intended to be comprehensive. Rather, it highlights key issues for agencies. The checklist is iterative and draws on the expertise and experience of practitioners. The subject matter and issues are reviewed and updated to reflect developments. Comments about this checklist and suggestions for additional checkpoints can be directed to: Better Practices and IMSC Secretariat Australian Government Information Management Office Phone: (02) Copies of this and other checklists are available at Acknowledgments This checklist was developed with the assistance of agencies. In particular, AGIMO would like to thank the Department of Family and Community Services, Centrelink, the Government Communications Unit (GCU), the NSW Department of Community Services and members of the Marketing E-government Community of Practice Commonwealth of Australia 2004 This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the Commonwealth. Requests and enquiries concerning reproduction and rights in this publication should be addressed to: Manager Public Affairs Australian Government Information Management Office GPO Box 390 Canberra ACT 2601

3 Better Practice Checklists 20. MARKETING E-GOVERNMENT What is marketing and why market online services? 20 MARKETING E-GOVERNMENT Marketing is not the same as selling or advertising. Marketing has been defined as: The process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual (customer) and organisational objectives. 1 Marketing is often considered to be based on the Four P s : product, position, price and promotion. In terms of online service delivery, it means: Product developing the right online service and presenting it in ways that meet users needs. Position making the service available to users when they need it and where they expect to access it. Reduce organisational costs by reducing user traffic in other service delivery channels, such as shopfronts. Empower users by informing them of alternative service delivery channels. Users can then choose the most appropriate service delivery channel. Note that this checklist aims to focus on issues related to the marketing of online services, not to general marketing principles. Where the checkpoints cover general issues, this is done in order to provide context. It is suggested that this checklist be read mindful of general marketing principles. A range of books and other resources are available for further information on these principles. Price minimising the time and effort required to access the service online. Promotion informing potential users of the availability of the service and encouraging them to use it. In addition, the marketing of online government services can help to: Develop or redevelop services to better meet user needs. Change the behaviours of clients using alternative service delivery mechanisms, such as call centres or shopfronts, by providing them with information online. Clients will then be less likely to use the alternative mechanisms for basic information enquiries. 1. John Burnett and Sandra Morierty. Introduction to Marketing Communication: an Integrated Approach, p. 10. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Checklist 20 3

4 SUMMARY OF CHECKPOINTS GETTING THE PRODUCT RIGHT Use market research to shape the development of the service Use the results of website evaluation to provide market research information Use online and offline consultation mechanisms as appropriate Test the product with user groups throughout the development process DEVELOPING E-GOVERNMENT MARKETING CAPABILITIES Ensure that there is commitment from project owners and key stakeholders for marketing activities Develop appropriate structures within the agency to address the marketing of online services and allocate responsibilities appropriately DEVELOPING MARKETING PLANS Develop marketing plans for online services Establish objectives for the marketing plan that focus on business objectives Consider marketing the initiative early in the development of the project plan, Use market research to inform the development of the marketing plan Consider access and equity issues for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds Consider accessibility issues for people with disabilities or using older equipment to access online services Consider how changes to online services may impact on users PROMOTING SERVICES Identify a popular, high-profile application to draw users to the service Encourage other websites to link to the website Optimise the extent to which search engines will list the website in search results Choose an intuitive URL (Uniform Resource Locator) for the website Ensure that users can easily return to the website Investigate any scope for collaborative promotion initiatives Ensure that there are appropriate links between the marketing of online services and the other channels through which the service is provided Don t forget internal stakeholders and internal promotion strategies Engage people throughout the agency and in other agencies and organisations, to help promote the service If promoting the service within Government, use any existing communications mechanisms before creating new ones Ensure that promotional mechanisms are appropriate to the government context Match promotional activities to organisational culture as well as target groups EVALUATION Develop mechanisms to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing strategies 4 version 1, 2004

5 Better Practice Checklists CHECKPOINTS GETTING THE PRODUCT RIGHT Use market research to shape the development of the service Depending on the information already available and on the size of the project, consider commissioning market research to assist in the development of the online service. Market research can help to define users and identify barriers to using the service, as well as to test the website with the target audience. Consult potential user groups and stakeholder representatives early as part of the market research. Involving audience and stakeholder representatives in early planning, and in finetuning the e-government product or service during its development, can help achieve a more customer-centric approach. The customer-centric approach is a cornerstone of e-government. For example, market research may indicate that different customer segments prefer separate websites. This finding is fundamental to building a website that best meets customers needs. (It should be noted, however, that the trend is currently for fewer, rather than more, websites.) Market research could also indicate the types of navigation or other features favoured by the target audience. Note that, in order to provide clients with a consistent experience when using Australian Government websites, use of common navigation elements is considered best practice. Further information is available at The communications units in agencies can advise on market research and promotional strategies and on consultants for e-government products and promotions. A market research consultant may also assist in promoting the online service by defining the target audience for any advertising campaign and identifying and testing communications channels and messages. Use the results of website evaluation and usage analysis to provide market research information A range of information about the use of online services is available through mechanisms such as web logs, usage statistics, search engine analysis and feedback. Further information is available in Better Practice Checklist 11, Website Usage Monitoring and Evaluation. Care should be taken to ensure that the collection of information about users needs and preferences is consistent with the privacy Guidelines for Federal and ACT Websites, available at web/index.html. Use online and offline consultation mechanisms as appropriate Online consultation mechanisms can be useful in consulting user groups who are already familiar with online services. However, online consultation, by its very nature, focuses on these groups, so care should be taken to consider mechanisms for involving user groups who are unfamiliar with the online channel, including offline consultation mechanisms. Consider also whether some of the issues included in online or offline consultations should be different. For example, online consultation mechanisms could seek feedback on more detailed issues regarding the proposed online service, such as navigation or design elements. Clients who are not online and are unfamiliar with these issues may not be able to comment meaningfully on these issues. Instead, these clients might be better consulted about issues such as the features that would encourage them to use the online service. Further information about online consultation, including consideration of different types of user circumstances and accessibility issues, is provided in Better Practice Checklist 12, Online Policy Consultation. 20 MARKETING E-GOVERNMENT Checklist 20 5

6 CHECKPOINTS Test the product with user groups throughout the development process Testing the proof-of-concept and technical issues by trialling and evaluating the e-government product or service with a sample of customers and stakeholders can further develop a service appropriate to the target group. Further information is available in Better Practice Checklist 3, Testing Websites with Users. DEVELOPING E-GOVERNMENT MARKETING CAPABILITIES Ensure that there is commitment from project owners and key stakeholders for marketing activities Commitment and support from project owners and key stakeholders for marketing e-government products and services are important for a number of reasons, especially in order to secure the resources that may be involved. Consider whether it is necessary to promote the marketing of online services to these stakeholders. Also consider the extent to which the agency as a whole supports the provision of online services and how this impacts upon the importance placed on marketing activities for these services. Develop appropriate structures within the agency to address the marketing of online services and allocate responsibilities appropriately While some agencies may find that areas responsible for online services take readily to the development and implementation of effective marketing strategies, other agencies may wish to create areas with this specific responsibility. The choice of model will depend on the nature of the agency. Agencies may wish to develop policies and procedures regarding the marketing of online services and integrate these into project plans and workplans as appropriate. 6 version 1, 2004

7 Better Practice Checklists DEVELOPING MARKETING PLANS Develop marketing plans for online services, and ensure that these plans are aligned with other marketing plans in the agency The development of a marketing plan that sets out objectives, key messages, activities, timeframes and evaluation mechanisms may be very useful. Marketing plans can be aligned with other relevant business and marketing plans in the agency to ensure that key messages are consistent and that synergies with other activities can be maximised. Consider marketing the initiative early in the development of the overall project plan, and ensure that there are appropriate links with the project plan Early consideration of marketing issues can help ensure that market research about users and their needs informs the early stages of the project. Integrating the marketing plan, and appropriate marketing goals and measures, with the overall project plan for the initiative can also ensure that adjustments can be made to the marketing plan as the project evolves. 20 MARKETING E-GOVERNMENT Establish objectives for the marketing plan that focus on business objectives Effective marketing plans often include objectives that focus on the wider goals of the online services being marketed rather than the achievement of the plan. In other words, the best-executed plan will still not have positive outcomes if the service fails to meet its objectives. For example, the objective of a marketing plan for an online registration facility might be: To facilitate client access to an online registration facility that meets client needs for an accessible, reliable and easy-to-use system rather than: To implement a marketing plan that through a range of mechanisms effectively markets the registration service to clients. Use market research to inform the development of the marketing plan The market research used to inform the development of the product or service, and other research, can help inform the further development of the marketing plan. Access to current information about the market, audience and stakeholders is critical to being able to plan how best to reach different audiences and how best to position and differentiate the product or service appropriately in the market. Consider access and equity issues for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds Throughout the marketing process, consider the needs of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. There is a range of steps that can be taken to improve services that use new technologies for these groups. These steps range from ensuring that information is written in plain English, to ensuring that website search engines find English language resources even if foreign language terms are entered into the search facility. Further information about making websites better for people from diverse backgrounds is available in Better Practice Checklist 19, Access and Equity Issues for Websites. Checklist 20 7

8 CHECKPOINTS Consider accessibility issues for people with disabilities or using older equipment to access online services People with disabilities and people using older equipment can face extra challenges when accessing the Internet. To help ensure that these groups are not disadvantaged, government websites should follow the World Wide Web Consortium s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WEBCONTENT/. Marketing strategies should be formulated with the accessibility needs of these and other groups in mind. Consider how changes to online services may impact on users and the most appropriate way of marketing these changes to users The use of new technologies in Government is a rapidly evolving field. The pace of both policy and technological change can make it challenging to build and maintain audience familiarity and acceptance of online products and services. Agencies may consider marketing strategies to help ensure that changes to online services are appropriate to the needs of clients, as well as that clients are appropriately informed of key changes to these services. PROMOTING SERVICES Identify a popular, high-profile application to draw users to the service The availability of an application with widespread appeal to the target group can help encourage clients to use the website, and may result in greater awareness and use of other online services. This application can also be used to increase the number of users who return. Encourage other websites to link to the website Users find websites in a variety of ways. They may enter a website address or URL (Uniform Resource Locator) into their browser manually. They may find the website through a search engine or through a link provided by another website. By encouraging other relevant sites to link to the site, the ways in which potential users can find it are increased. Links can be fostered by, for example: directly contacting relevant sites and requesting that a link be provided having a statement on the website encouraging linking readily granting permission for appropriate others to link to the site. Optimise the extent to which search engines will list the site in search results Another advantage of encouraging other sites to link to the site is that it can assist public search engines, such as Google, to identify the site and rank it highly in search results. A range of techniques can be used to improve the ranking of sites in public search engines. These approaches are often called search engine optimisation. Useful resources relating to this can be found at WebSiteIssues/SearchEngines/search.htm#seo. 8 version 1, 2004

9 Better Practice Checklists Choose an intuitive URL (Uniform Resource Locator) for the website Rather than using a search engine or a link from another website, some users may try to guess the URL of the site. An intuitive URL that can easily be guessed will increase the success rates for these users. The Australian Government Domain Name Policy at provides guidelines for the choice of URLs for Australian Government websites. Ensure that users can easily return to the website As well as ensuring that clients can find the service easily through search engines, intuitive URLs and links from referring sites, consider whether a Make this my homepage or Bookmark this site facility would be worth providing. Investigate any scope for collaborative promotion initiatives Ensure that there are appropriate links between the marketing of online services and the other channels through which the service is provided Most government services provide access to the service through a number of other channels as well as online. These channels may include shopfronts, call centres, mail, fax and kiosks. Generally, promotional activities for these channels would be expected to help promote the online service. Conversely, online services can also provide information about other service channels. Don t forget internal stakeholders and internal promotion strategies Marketing online services can involve both internal and external stakeholders. As well as the marketing of internal online services such as the intranet or the introduction of content management systems, marketing online services may encompass internal stakeholders, such as call centre staff who may use online services to provide information to clients over the telephone. 20 MARKETING E-GOVERNMENT Collaborative promotion initiatives may be particularly effective in maximising marketing budgets and leveraging synergies between partners. Services that are provided collaboratively with other agencies or with private sector partners are obvious candidates for collaborative promotional initiatives. Also consider whether programs providing generic government information, such as the Regional Information Service gov.au, could be used. The Government Communications Unit at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet can provide further information and advice regarding government communication and advertising campaigns. Engage people throughout the agency, and in other agencies and organisations, to help promote the service Staff within the agency can refer clients to an online service if they know about it and believe that it is a quality offering that will help the client. Staff are also more likely to refer clients to an online service if they know that the client s use of it will not adversely affect themselves. For example, counter staff may feel that their jobs are threatened by there being less demand for them to answer routine enquiries due to the online service, and as a result may not refer clients to the service. Checklist 20 9

10 CHECKPOINTS Similarly, people in other agencies and organisations, including the private sector, can be powerful champions of an online service if they are aware of it and have confidence in it, and if the online service adds value to, rather than threatens, the service they provide themselves. If promoting the service within Government, use any existing communications mechanisms before creating new ones Rather than reinventing the wheel, consider using any existing communications mechanisms to promote the online service within Government. Mechanisms may include seminars run by various agencies, interdepartmental groups and forums, and the Institute of Public Administration (ACT Branch). EVALUATION Develop mechanisms to evaluate the effectiveness of marketing strategies Consider how the achievements of the goals outlined in the marketing strategy can be measured. Note that if the goals cannot be measured, this can indicate that they may not be the appropriate goals to have been selected. A number of methods can be used to analyse the usage of e-government services. Further details on these methods are available in Better Practice Checklist 11, Website Usage Monitoring and Evaluation. Ensure that any promotional mechanisms are appropriate to the government context A number of methods of advertising online services used by the private sector may not be appropriate to the government sector. In particular, the use of pop-up boxes or flashing advertising banners on other websites may be inappropriate. Match promotional activities to organisational culture as well as target groups As well as selecting promotional activities according to the target group, keep in mind that promotional activities also need to match the organisation s culture. Activities that are successful in one organisation may be a complete failure in another. For example, some agencies have been able to use an initial big bang launch for new services. Other agencies have been negatively impacted by over-hyped launches, and have chosen to implement low-key no-launch releases. 10 version 1, 2004

11 Better Practice Checklists 20 MARKETING E-GOVERNMENT Checklist 20 11

12 Better Practice Checklists practical guides for effective use of new technologies in government SERIES ONE, VERSION Providing Forms Online 2. Website Navigation 3. Testing Websites with Users 4. Use of Cookies in Online Services 5. Providing an Online Sales Facility 6. Use of Metadata for Web Resources 7. Archiving Web Resources 8. Managing Online Content SERIES TWO, VERSION Selecting a Content Management System 10. Implementing a Content Management System 11. Website Usage Monitoring and Evaluation 12. Online Policy Consultation 13. Knowledge Management 14. Designing and Managing an Intranet 15. Information Architecture for Websites 16. Implementing an Effective Website Search Facility 17. Spatial Data on the Internet 18. Digitisation of Records 19. Access and Equity Issues for Websites 20. Marketing E-government Designed and Typeset by Levitate Graphic Design

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