Internet Advertising Competition submission: #YRMATTERS

Context:

The Regional Municipality of York is made up of nine cities and towns and provides services to 1.2 million residents and 50,039 businesses. York Region has a two-tier government structure, with services provided to residents in partnership between the Region and local cities and towns. The Region provides services for its residents and businesses that include transportation services, transit, water, waste water, emergency services, policing, human services and growth management.

Background:

York Region launched its online newsletter #YRMatters to serve as an additional way to connect with citizens in a visual and convenient format. The publication is produced and distributed biweekly to deliver timely and engaging Regional news and content directly to citizens’ inboxes.

Objectives:

#YRMatters aims to:

  • Repurpose and repackage existing editorial content in a new, digital format to extend the reach of messages. Each e-newsletter contains up to five items: One short feature article, one feature video pulled from York Region’s YouTube channel, one feature social media image or post, one micro article from york.ca’s “Campaigns and Projects” page and one York Region event invitation. While the content may come from pre-existing material, York Region made sure to repurpose the content in a way that made sense from the online newsletter medium by organizing each campaign thematically, providing custom mastheads for special issues and making use of e-newsletter functionality such as embedded videos, call-to-action buttons and links

#YRMatters content is repurposed from York Region’s existing editorial content in a way that takes advantage of the online newsletter medium. Each campaign is thematically organized with custom mastheads created for special issues. This picture shows the masthead created specifically for Canada Day.
  • Provide analytics to demonstrate the reach of the messages and determine which articles resonate most with the community
  • Drive traffic to york.ca and York Region’s existing social media channels

Promotion:

#YRMatters was developed with residents in mind as an acknowledgement that each person has different communications preferences, expectations and needs. As such, it was developed as another service delivery and information channel to supplement the various ways the Region already reaches out in the community. With this in mind, the news about #YRMatters was promoted in a number of ways to reach the various members of the community, including:

  • At Community Events #YRMatters was advertised by the Corporate Public Relations Specialist and volunteers at community festivals and events. A banner was created to advertise the newsletter and volunteers were equipped with tablets to encourage residents to sign up via the designated e-news subscription page

#YRMatters is regularly advertised at community festivals and events as another way the public can connect with York Region. When #YRMatters first launched, volunteers were onsite at public outreach events with tablets to encourage residents to sign up via the designated e-news subscription page.
A number of supporting materials were created to advertise #YRMatters, including banners that are placed around York Region booths at events.
  • To members of Regional Council York Regional Council has 21 members elected from across all nine cities and towns in York Region. #YRMatters was promoted to members of Regional Council to encourage them to subscribe and share with their local municipalities
  • Via social media #YRMatters was advertised on social media using both organic posts and paid campaigns on York Region’s corporate Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages upon launch. Each new edition is further advertised on Twitter and Facebook, enticing followers to read more with the use of pull-quotes from each edition
#YRMatters is regularly advertised on York Region’s various social media channels using both organic and paid posts. This picture is an example of one of these posts on Facebook. This post alone reached almost 5,300 people and received 165 engagements.

Performance:

The subscriber base for #YRMatters sees regular growth. After just six months from launch, #YRMatters subscribers neared 1,000. In 2016, #YRMatters grew by 41 per cent to 1,377 subscribers.

The average open rate for #YRMatters in 2016 was 43.26 per cent, almost double the industry average open rate of 23.7 per cent. The average click rate on #YRMatters links was 4.13 per cent, which is also above the industry average of 3.62 per cent.

An analysis of the most clicked links from each issue revealed that residents are most interested in information about York Region social media channels and campaigns – an indication that the objective to drive traffic to York Region’s existing content was being met.

These performance indicators were met even after the #YRMatters subscriber list was culled of all staff members in order to get the most accurate capture of resident interaction with the newsletter.

Summary:

#YRMatters is an example of how York Region makes it a priority to make Regional information and services easier for all to access in a way that is most convenient for them. The thoughtful production, targeted promotion and continued refinement of #YRMatters is an example of the Region’s commitment to service excellence and delivery as the Region’s aims to connect with residents and customers in meaningful ways. #YRMatters effectively showcases the variety of services and programs offered by the Region while improving the Region’s brand. It is another platform for the Region in the evolving digital landscape as residents increasingly look to digital communications to learn more about who the Region is and what the Region does.