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Digital Marketing Evangelist and analytics guru Avinash Kaushik recently published a fascinating article on Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges The article is especially relevant to government organizations, because it -

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Venn diagram highlighting what your digital content should include.Digital Marketing Evangelist and analytics guru Avinash Kaushik recently published a fascinating article on Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges. The article is especially relevant to government organizations, because it talks about the importance of dynamic vs. static content. Government agencies tend to have a LOT of static content on our websites… but once someone has read an article on your site, will they ever come back? How can we draw in new readers, and re-engage past visitors to return? How can we bring new life to older, evergreen content?

Dynamic content, such as blog posts, how-to videos, or case studies, can help. It gives you opportunities to reach new readers, highlight relevant older content in new ways, and engage with your audience to bring them back to your site again and again. Another huge bonus is that search engines tend to favor new content — so even if your evergreen content is great, it can lose its search ranking if you don’t update and refresh it over time.

Avinash has some other great tips:

  • Only post content that is “incredible” and of value to your audience. Don’t put time and effort into creating content that no one cares about.

  • Pay attention to the end-to-end customer experience, and focus on acquisition, behavior, and outcome metrics.

  • Micro-conversions now can lead to more conversions/engagement later — get someone to follow your blog or Twitter feed, and they will be more likely to return and engage in other ways.

  • Focus more resources on your own (vs. 3rd-party) platforms, so you stay in control of your customer interactions and experience.

  • Give to get — provide something of value to people first, before asking anything of them, so they want to build a positive relationship with you.

If you haven’t read Avinash’s Occam’s Razor blog, I highly recommend it.

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On January 16th, the Federal Communicators Network gathered at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) The topic of the day was Driving Employee Engagement through a Social Intranet, and Kelly Osborn, NARA’s community manager for the In -

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On January 16th, the Federal Communicators Network gathered at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The topic of the day was Driving Employee Engagement through a Social Intranet, and Kelly Osborn, NARA’s community manager for the Internal Collaboration Network (ICN) was the expert speaker. Kelly has been the driving force behind the project from the very beginning and gave a talk full of helpful tips, best practices, and insightful anecdotes on setting up the intranet at NARA. If you missed the presentation, we’ve compiled this TOP 10 list of moments from Kelly’s presentation.

10. Connect your colleagues- across the office and across the country.

9. Communication.  Both ways.

8. Ok, so the name isn’t the coolest, but it’s what’s inside that counts!

7. Encourage people to participate in whatever way is most useful to them.

6. Having someone in management who believes in the project and trusts you is crucial.

5. Make your biggest critics into early adopters.

4. Encourage users to write compelling content and to involve colleagues who can contribute to a topic.

3. Don’t forget to consult the bell curve of early adoption.

2. Do everything you can to make employees feel comfortable using your social intranet.

1. Social intranets allow staff to connect with people they would not normally talk to- and the result is “fasten-ating” content (we promise the clip is worth the bad pun!).

If you missed the presentation, you can hear it in full on Howto.gov’s YouTube channel, and Kelly’s slides are available on Slideshare.

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The Government of Canada (GC) is retiring the traditional news release format in favour of a more digital-friendly product that makes the key messages of announcements clearer, quick facts more accessible and integrates more effectively with social media -

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The Government of Canada (GC) is retiring the traditional news release format in favour of a more digital-friendly product that makes the key messages of announcements clearer, quick facts more accessible and integrates more effectively with social media channels.

The old style release – which hasn’t changed in over 50 years – disappeared on December 31, 2013.  Gone with it are the dense blocks of text that make it hard to read, the use of long titles in headlines and leads and the use of complex jargon. Instead, both the media and stakeholders will get a fresh approach from GC departments and agencies. Two or three paragraphs of short, crisp text will allow them to scan quickly for the key messages of the announcement. The new format also offers quick access to key facts and additional resources.

canadian press releaseFor communicators, the changes mean they can use their creativity to:

  • Develop catchy headlines and sub-headlines
  • Write concise and clear opening paragraphs that contain the 5 Ws (who, what, where, when, why)
  • Select key facts that capture the reader’s attention
  • Draft quotes that are meaningful and succinct
  •  Repurpose the quick facts and quotes for Facebook and Twitter posts, and
  •  Offer associated links that provide additional context to help the reader better understand the issue.
An example of the new-look release is here.
All Government of Canada news releases can be found on the brand new Canada.ca site here.

Guest Post by the Communications Community Office, Government of Canada. You can find the Communications Community Office on Twitter.

Originally published on the FCN Blog.

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According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark report, overall 4th quarter online sales were up 103% year over year -

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Multiple mobile phones.According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark report, overall 4th quarter online sales were up 10.3% year over year. Here were some of the key drivers:

  • Mobile Traffic and Sales: Mobile traffic soared, accounting for nearly 35 percent of all online traffic, up 40 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2012.
  • Smartphones Browse, Tablets Buy: Smartphones drove 21.3 percent of all online traffic, making it the browsing device of choice. When it comes to making the sale, tablets drove 11.5 percent of all online sales, more than twice that of smartphones, which accounted for 5 percent.
  • iOS vs. Android: As a percentage of total online sales, iOS was almost five times higher than Android, driving 12.7 percent vs. 2.6 percent for Android.
  • The Social Influence – Facebook vs. Pinterest: Shoppers referred from Facebook averaged $60.48 per order, versus Pinterest referrals, which drove $109.93 per order.

Government agencies must become more acutely aware of their audience and their internet browsing habits, as well as their expected user experience on agency websites. Many agencies have dove right in, providing a wide variety of mobile-optimized websites and apps to support citizens accessing government information and services.

Check out the Mobile Gov Wiki for some great resources to get you going in the right direction. And of course, join the conversation and share your challenges and successes

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This infographic from Light Reading addresses recent trends in mobile data use We are struck by how much data was transferred via a WiFi connection vs -

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future of gov data 2This infographic from Light Reading addresses recent trends in mobile data use. We are struck by how much data was transferred via a WiFi connection vs. cellular. People are using Wifi connections way more than cellular ones.

Some other quick highlights:

  1. In Q2 of 2013, 4x as much data was transferred over a WiFi connection vs. Cellular connection.
  2. Top 5 States with WiFi Bandwidth are VA, DE, NJ, MA, and NH. Bottom 5 States were AK, ID, WY, MT, and KY.
  3. Mobile app usage of Facebook, Instagram, and Loudtalks up 200%.
  4. National Bandwidth from the 1st to 2nd Quarter of 2013 WiFi Bandwidth increased twice as much as cellular.

Why does mobile data usage matter? Agencies need to look at the industry and user trends so that they can scale and adapt their data structures and create new content models for the proliferation of the wearables, sharables, flyables and drivables we will see in 2014 and beyond.

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Among the many resolutions I’m making for 2014–diet, exercise, more sleep, better footwear–I’m also making plain language resolutions One resolution is to win an award -

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notepad with a list of PL resolutions Among the many resolutions I’m making for 2014–diet, exercise, more sleep, better footwear–I’m also making plain language resolutions.

One resolution is to win an award. To be specific, I’d like to win a ClearMark award–for clear writing. (I don’t want to win the WonderMark. People win the WonderMark, but no one sets out to do it.) You have until January 22, 2014 to nominate writing for either.

Here are some of the steps for winning a clear communications award.

More positively, I resolve to

  • Write for my readers
  • Use words, not jargon ( no leverage, stakeholders, or similar words)
  • Keep my paragraphs and sentences short
  • Give clear directions

In 2014, I resolve to stop

  • Writing to sound clever (at work. At home, no promises.)
  • Thinking everyone cares about my projects
  • Burbling on and on if I haven’t thought something through
  • Writing a wall of words

What are your 2014 plain language resolutions?

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Guest post by Marion Royal, Program Director for Data.gov.   We’ve written a few times about the changes that we’ve been working on for Data.gov to make it easier for users to find, understand, and use government data. Today you’ll notice even more changes to Data.gov – here’s a quick rundown of some of the […] -

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Guest post by Marion Royal, Program Director for Data.gov.  

We’ve written a few times about the changes that we’ve been working on for Data.gov to make it easier for users to find, understand, and use government data. Today you’ll notice even more changes to Data.gov – here’s a quick rundown of some of the main changes you’ll see, and why.

Works on your mobile device

data.gov 7The site is now responsive to the device you’re using. Pull up Data.gov on your smartphone or tablet and you will see the content adapts to your screen size. And we’ll continue to make more improvements on this over time.

Refreshed design

data.gov 6In this refresh, we emphasized a simpler design with more white space. We also made design decisions based on whether they helped or hurt users trying to complete tasks, and will be updating the look and feel regularly.

Curated by topic

data.gov 4On the front page, we featured a rotating carousel and a list of the latest datasets as they were published by different agencies.

The updated site now has icons representing the subject areas that we’ve heard are most important to you. The new approach helps you quickly get to relevant datasets and examples.

Under the hood

Previously, the website was built on a mix of open and proprietary systems, but the development, as with so many government websites, wasn’t done publicly. Now we’re using open source systems, including WordPress and CKAN. Most importantly, the development is public from the beginning on GitHub so you can see how the site came to be, and will continue to grow. We’ve already had significant help from the open source community and look forward to more.

Your help

We’ve expanded our user testing and cannot wait to do more. Huge thanks to the people who participated!

What’s next

While we’re excited about these improvements, we recognize there’s a lot more work to do. A few things on our horizon include:

  • Regular user feedback and testing sessions (if you’re interested in volunteering, let us know!);
  • Continuing to refine the site content and layout to ensure it works with the rest of the site’s responsive design; and
  • Usability review and upgrade of individual datasets.

Did we miss something? Open an issue on GitHub!

Originally published on Data.gov.

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Guest post by Stephanie Thum, VP of Customer Experience, The Export-Import Bank of the United States   Customer experience (CX) is an emerging area of focus within government -

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Hands holding a sign that says "The customer experience is"Guest post by Stephanie Thum, VP of Customer Experience, The Export-Import Bank of the United States.  

Customer experience (CX) is an emerging area of focus within government.  My role as Vice President of Customer Experience at the Export-Import Bank speaks to this reality. Our agency’s customers and partners consist of U.S. exporters, financial services institutions, insurance brokers and foreign buyers of U.S. products and services. All play a key role in facilitating U.S. exports, toward the creation of U.S. jobs, as outlined in our agency’s charter.

At Ex-Im, part of my responsibility has been to ensure our leadership team regularly reviews customer-oriented performance metrics. Take transaction turnaround times, for example. Our customers and partners continually tell us that transaction processing times are important.  Because of that feedback, we measure and monitor turnaround times in the following ways:

  • Real-time data.  Employees may access turnaround time data anytime via Ex-Im’s internal website.  Our system shows turnaround time standards and averages by product, broken down by month, quarter, and fiscal year. Chairman Fred Hochberg receives a weekly report highlighting current turnaround time averages.
  • Weekly operations meetings. A team meets each week to review a list of customer transactions that are taking longer than the Bank’s internal standards.  Medium-term deals are monitored on a 90-day basis, for example, while certain short-term transactions are monitored at 30 days. The team uses the list to identify red flags and push transactions forward.
  • Government Performance Reporting Act (GPRA) reporting. Each year, Ex-Im Bank publishes turnaround time targets and performance data for the products used most frequently by our customers. Like particular sector shareholder reports, GPRA reflects how customers’ transactions have unfolded within the agency.

While these activities help Ex-Im to see its performance from an inside-looking-in perspective, it has been my role to help bring customers’ perspectives into view. Ex-Im’s strategic plan calls for Ex-Im to improve the ease of doing business for customers. Therefore, we have adopted the customer effort score to help us to monitor customer perceptions on how easy, or how difficult, it can be to work with Ex-Im Bank. The customer effort score asks customers:

How much effort did you personally have to put forth to complete your transaction? 

At Ex-Im, on a scale of 1-5, a score of “1″ is far less effort than expected. A score of “5″ indicates the customer believes he or she had to put forth far more effort than expected.  We keep a running tabulation of the average score, which is regularly reported to senior leadership.

Good CX leadership takes an all-inclusive view of the organization, grounds itself in strategic goals and plans, and mixes in the art and science of customer relations. That is the basis for our CX-focused work at Ex-Im. Metrics and monitoring are a focal point of our endeavors.

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Using contact centers to deliver digital services is an emerging area in government Due to the growth of online services, centers receive more attention and represent an important touch point for customers -

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Computer and head phonesUsing contact centers to deliver digital services is an emerging area in government. Due to the growth of online services, centers receive more attention and represent an important touch point for customers.

When you need to speak directly with someone to get help or resolve an issue, it must be a good experience. This reflects on all channels associated with that brand.

To understand the customer experience better, GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies collaborated with JD Power and Associates on a comprehensive operational assessment of our National Contact Center (1-800-FED-INFO).  We also implemented independent customer satisfaction surveys across our telephone, web chat, and email contact channels.

This exercise provided us with an “outside in” analysis of our contact center operations and customer experience as seen through the eyes of the customer and from a leader in the industry.

We received valuable, actionable results.

Three core concepts I learned that are applicable across the board:

1. You cannot be all things to all people. Customer satisfaction is your customer’s perception of your performance versus what they expect it to be.  This sounds so simple, but we learned that it isn’t. We sell our services one way, so the customer expects that service level. Makes sense.

In the example we analyzed, we tell our customers that we are “government made easy” and that we can answer their questions about government programs and services.  This is true, but not all the time.  In many cases, we cannot answer the specific question and we must refer them to other agencies who can best meet their needs.

So, in the end, did we really satisfy our customer? Not really. Did we really make it easier? Not really. The reality is that there are times when the customer must do more work on their part to resolve their question.

Lesson learned: Don’t set unrealistic expectations. Be clear about what is in your control and what is not. In this case, we cannot be “all things to all people.” We often serve as a “navigator” to government-wide information. Our website is a “gateway” to government information, but it doesn’t contain everything, and it is not always as easy to navigate as we say it is.

2. Customers expect service representatives to be prompt and timely,  provide context, and to show concern.

Promptness in getting to a real person. Don’t make callers poke through your interactive voice response (IVR) system at length. This is frustrating and creates stress for customers.

Timeliness of resolving your problem, question or request.

Provide context so customers can understand what to expect and why. Use explanatory statements to explain a process and set clear expectations. There’s a big difference between: “I need to place you on hold for no longer than 1 minute so I can research your question further” and “Please hold.”

Express concern when a situation they describe is difficult or the question cannot be answered. “You have an excellent question Mr. X. I’m so sorry that we do not have all the information you need to best help you. I’ve researched a bit further, and I’d like to provide you with the name, phone number and web address of X to help you further.”

Better yet, “warm transfer” them if you’re able and your technology supports it. If a customer describes a difficult situation that has caused them to reach out to you, “I’m so sorry you’ve experienced difficulty changing your address after your recent move, let me see how I can best help you today.”

3. Customers expect the following from an IVR system: Simplicity. Keep menu options short with most popular options readily available.  Simplify option descriptions. Use plain language. Consider natural language options if you have the technology.

Give the option to speak to someone. Customers get frustrated when they have to wade through a long IVR and figure out how to reach a person. If customer experience matters to you, give them an option to speak to a representative versus driving them away in frustration.

Learn more about customer experience: Check back in a couple weeks, when we’ll share the lessons we learned from JD Power on our web chat and e-mail channels. And in the meantime, share your insight with us in the comments section.

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As part of the agency’s Measuring Broadband America Program, the FCC is looking to the crowd (that means you!) to help them assess America’s mobile broadband performance on a national scale Their hope is to use the data they collect anonymously thro -

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FCC Need for SpeedAs part of the agency’s Measuring Broadband America Program, the FCC is looking to the crowd (that means you!) to help them assess America’s mobile broadband performance on a national scale. Their hope is to use the data they collect anonymously through their new FCC Speed Test app – Android-only for now — to create a detailed picture that could improve both the cellular and WIFI speeds you experience on your mobile device. And don’t worry: No personally identifiable data is collected.

HOW IT WORKS

After you download the app onto your phone, tablet or other Android device, FCC Speed Test needs to activated by a simple click under the menu. Once activated, a configuration file schedules the speed tests. There are also options for data transfer limits (a “Mobile Data Cap,” depending on what kind of data plan you have) and a choice of location services (“Mobile Network”) the app uses to optimize your battery power. You’ll be able to see the details of a particular or most recent test by just swiping to the left of your screen.

A forthcoming website coming out later this year will allow you to view the results of the test and download the data. (The app was created with open source software, so you can see the code too!)

To get started, download the Speed Test App for your Android device and browse FCC’s helpful tip sheet with all the essential information you need to know.

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