The Public Administration also needs to build a marketing plan that is able to take advantage of the benefits offered by digital transformation and thus provide better services for citizens. But what are the key steps to building a successful strategy?
Digital transformation between companies
Digital transformation is now a reality for many Italian companies, where transformation is impacting many different aspects of businesses of many types.
Electronic invoicing is one of these areas. In Italy, legislation, as provided by the Budget Law of 2018, requires all individuals to abandon the paper invoice for digital in B2B transactions (transactions with Public Administration offices have required digital invoices for several years now).
Another aspect is certainly the customer experience, the way that customers perceive all of their interactions with a company. Customer experience inevitably influences the opinion of consumers towards any business or transaction, and today, it represents a formidable competitive advantage capable of determining a brand’s success or failure.
Closely connected to the customer experience is corporate communication, an area that is among those most widely revolutionized by digital transformation, for two reasons.
The first is a large number of new tools made available to companies thanks to digital transformation. Just think of the strategic importance of social networks. Any business must take control of their presence on the main social platforms since it is becoming the main platform where especially retailers must compete and confront customers.
The benefits of integrating business and social media are many:
- By closing the distance between customer and company, the company may be perceived as empathetic and even humanized in the eyes of customers.
- This integration, in turn, can improve customer care, potentially through the use of chatbots and other technologies that make it easier for companies to react and respond to customer demands
- Even targeting is made more stringent and effective, given the possibility offered by all social platforms to identify clusters of customers according to certain parameters such as their interests, passions, but location and age)
- Finally, the use of social networks also supports the collection of data on customer behaviors and preferences, which can aid in the creation of specific content or in defining timeframes to enhance a possible marketing strategy.
The second factor that has led companies to radically rethink their communication is related to consumers, who have become much more demanding. Today’s customer is increasingly connected and accustomed to using their technological devices to carry out various types of operations (from account management to purchasing products, etc.).
Confirming this deep “digitalization” of customers in Italy is data in Digital 2019, the annual report published by We Are Social and Hootsuite, which shows that the number of Italians connected to the network is constantly growing. The report finds that around 55 million Italians, or 9 out of 10, have access to the Internet, a tendency that is bound to increase. At the same time, there has been strong growth social platform users, which now number 35 million, up 2.9% compared to the previous year. Most of these people access social platforms via mobile devices.
This data matches perfectly with the usage habits indicated by the report. Italians spend about six hours a day connected, and a third of this time is spent on social media, especially Facebook.
The report also highlights the importance and relevance of mobile device use. It was found that there are about 86 million active mobile connections in Italy, and of the millions who use social media, as many as 31 million do so from a mobile device.
In addition, the standard of performance that consumers are looking for is now very high: giants such as Google, Amazon, Apple, have accustomed users to a certain type of customer experience, one that is fluid, fast, and personalized. Users now look for this same type of experience in any service or product that they are interested in.
Digitalization in Public Administration
It is interesting to note that these private sector trends also apply to the public sector. The Italian Public Administration, in fact, has to face a digital transformation that pushes it to radically rethink its services and the way it communicates with citizens.
This need for “evolution” is made even more urgent by citizens who increasingly want the same digital experience also from their government. This is demonstrated by the fact that, according to data from 2017, Italians are in favor of the digital transformation of their Public Administration. In particular, they expect the PA to simplify procedures and speed up its internal processes.
In addition, nearly one out of every two Italians expects to find the PA information they need on the internet, and this number increases among users between 18 and 54 years of age. Citizens tend to trust this information: more than four out of 10 Italians consider the information they find on the web from the Public Administration reliable; this figure exceeds 50% for those in the 18-54 age group.
However, as private experience shows, there can be no complete and effective digitalization of services without a downstream digital marketing strategy.
This is the same position of AGID, the Agency for Digital Italy, which is tasked with achieving the objectives of the Italian Digital Agenda, that focuses on promoting the use of information and communication technologies as part of the country’s digital transformation. For AGID, building a digital marketing strategy for a PA means:
- providing support to help citizens actually benefit from the services made available to them;
- offering more efficient and higher quality services and products;
- increasing the trust of citizens, who are able to connect to the goods and services best suited to their needs.
Communication, specifically digital communication, is a formidable strategic lever for the promotion of digital services and, therefore, for the implementation of public policies aimed at simplifying and optimizing the PA.
In recent months, new initiatives have led to the creation of new Guidelines for the Promotion of Digital Services and the PA Social Day, a day dedicated specifically to public communication in the time of digital transformation.
How to build a marketing strategy for the Public Administration
Let’s start with a brief introduction. The primary function of digital marketing is not only to effectively reach individuals to persuade them but above all to create effective relationships between company and consumer, learning to listen to them so as to satisfy (or even predict) their needs.
Precisely for this reason, a truly effective digital marketing plan, for both Public Administrations and private companies alike, must always take into account five fundamental factors:
- Mobile is the device of choice when it comes to accessing the internet. This means that any content must be designed for access and optimization for mobile devices.
- There is no digital marketing strategy without a digital platform to which interactions can be channelled and in which users can be involved.
- Media planning is essential for reaching the right audience with the right content.
- Data is the beacon that will shine a light on the right path. Companies must utilize data to guide your strategy and to understand, across various stages, if you’re on the right track.
- No digital marketing strategy is complete without marketing technologies that encourage the creation of interactive experiences within sites and apps. Such technologies enable audience segmentation that allows for the creation of targeted campaigns able to increase conversion rates.
Having said that, the first step in building a marketing plan is obviously data. To set up a campaign, you need to start with a rich base of information. This not only allows us to understand the environment in which we move but also to identify all those factors that affect the use of the service by the citizen. Knowing the context is important because only from this can you understand the needs of people and compare them with what the specific product or service offers.
In addition to the context, you’ll also need to be able to identify your target audience base on relevant characteristics. Each identity corresponds to different answers in terms of the actions to be taken.
Finally, you’ll also want to define your campaign objectives. It is essential that your objectives are clear, measurable, time-stamped, and consistent with each other. This will allow you to evaluate them quantitatively and qualitatively at the end of the campaign in order to determine if the campaign was a success.
Once these assessments have been completed, you can move on to actual planning. This is where you will merge all of the collected information and use it to outline the best tactics for communicating one’s products or services. For the strategy to be effective, it must be modelled on the subject, the area and, above all, around the goals of the communication.
Together with planning, you’ll need to have a monitoring system that allows you to listen closely to the target audience as the strategy is being implemented.
Professional skills for Digital Transformation
Public Administrations will need to rely on a new set of skills to embrace digital transformation. Here are some of the key roles that will be required:
- Data analyst: to collect and interpret the data that citizens leave along their digital path through specific software. The key role of the analyst is to make data intelligible and, therefore, usable to improve the strategy or create personalized content.
- Customer relationship manager: to organize customers (or in this case, citizens) into coherent and differentiated clusters in order to build an effective customer experience while adhering to customer expectations.
- SEO and SEM specialists: these are professionals who create a path to your website (and within the site) that is easy and intuitive so that customers can more easily find what they are looking for and, ultimately, so they can easily access digital services.
- Social media manager: has specialized knowledge in the use and management of social channels. As the example of the city of Trieste illustrates, it’s not enough to manage a social platform, it should be integrated into the overall communication strategy, and each channel should serve a specific function.
For public administration offices who don’t yet have these skills, acquiring these roles will require a significant investment. For this reason, it is necessary to find professional partners who can help you create an effective digital marketing strategy.
Companies like Doxee have been working with Public Administrations to identify original and innovative solutions to meet the needs of citizens and improve the reputation of the PA itself.
Learn why some Italian local municipalities chose the personalized video solution from Doxee Pvideo® to ensure that customers whose existing Identity cards were nearing expiration, were informed of the changes and new information required for the new electronic identity card (EIC) well in advance. Download the case study: