Using Mass Notification Technology for Direct Marketing to Your Citizens

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” When John Wanamaker made this statement, he likely never knew advertisers would still be facing the same dilemma nearly a century later. Fortunately, traditional advertising is no longer the only means available for communicating a message with a target audience. Thanks to advances in technology, public and private sector entities can now customize messaging and distribution channels on a mass scale to ensure target audiences receive only the communications that they want, how they want them. Read on to learn how you can leverage subscription-based mass communication technology to effectively distribute local news and to promote events in your community.

The Value in Content Subscriptions

Subscription-based alert and notification systems provide citizens with a customized local government communication experience. The most advanced systems allow citizens to not only select the type of content they want to receive, they allow them to select their communication preferences.

One of the most common reasons individuals unsubscribe from email marketing is when they feel the content is not relevant. Today’s average citizen is too busy with work, family, and hobbies to read any email, newsletter, blog, or event text message that doesn’t provide them with information they want or need.

By allowing citizens to choose the types of content you send to them, you’ll exponentially increase the chance that when they receive your message, they notice, read, and react. Consider allowing citizens to subscribe individually to such content as:

  • Job alerts
  • Community news
  • Election results
  • Calendar events
  • Pets available for adoption
  • Holiday trash schedule updates
  • Road or construction projects
  • Special offers from local businesses
  • Promotions at local museums, zoos, golf courses, or civic centers
  • Committee updates

The community of Perryville, Missouri, for example, uses CivicPlus’ Notify Me® communication Perryville_MO_Alerts.pngsubscription module within its CivicEngage® website to give citizens a wide range of options for the types of content they want to receive from their local government. The options range from emergency alerts, to department newsletters, allowing Perryville to ensure citizens are engaging with its content, because they’ve chosen to receive it.

The Value in Channel Selections

Allowing citizens to choose the content they want to receive is only the first step in ensuring an effective targeted marketing strategy. How citizens receive information from their local government is just as important as what type of content they receive. Stop any citizen on your street and ask them to tell you the best way to reach them, and you’ll receive a variety of responses, such as:

“Email is the best way to reach me. I’m in my inbox all day.”

“If it’s important, it has to be a text message. I’m buried in emails, so text is the best way to make sure I see your message.”

“I prefer a phone call. It’s just easier”

To ensure citizens engage with your promotional updates when, where, and how it best meets their needs, make sure your subscription service allows them to choose from a variety of communication channels. Email, text message, and voicemail alerts should be standard. For example, the community of Alliance, Ohio utilizes CivicReady®, CivicPlus’ robust mass notification system to allow its citizens to subscribe to receive both emergency alerts, as well as community event notices via email, text message, or voice message:


A system that integrates messages with your local government website and social media accounts is ideal to maximize the reach of each message.

Utilizing Subscription Notification Systems for Routine Communications

Once citizens have chosen their message and channel preferences, a routine mass notification system allows limitless possibilities to target citizens with promotional messaging with little fear of waste. Here are some suggestions for promotional content that can be distributed via your mass notification system:

  • Allow your City Administrator to send routine updates to interested citizen groups about City Commission meetings and agendas.
  • Schedule communications in advance to notify citizens about special events, such as the annual Memorial Day Parade, or the Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Saturday event.
  • Communicate changes to schedules during the holidays.
  • Communicate office closures and scheduled updates.
  • Notify citizens of newly available town council meeting agendas and meeting minutes

For more information on CivicReady, CivicPlus’ emergency and routine mass notification system, CLICK HERE.

Aggregating Content for Routine Newsletters

Our final recommendation relative to subscription-based content marketing to your citizens, is to produce and distribute a monthly newsletter that aggregates the wide variety of news, blogs, events, photos, and project updates you’ve already produced. A monthly newsletter is a great way not ensure your citizens didn’t miss any of your earlier updates, and it can encourage them to sign-up for even more types of content once they realize the quality of information you are creating.

Using CivicEngage® Send, the CivicEngage communication creation and distribution module, in tandem with Notify Me, communities can develop e-newsletters using an intuitive interface, predefined templates, and easily link to content already published on their CivicEngage websites. The Charter Township of Waterford Michigan, for example, allows citizens to subscribe to receive newsletters via email or text message link. From the subscription page, they can also easily view previous newsletters.



By offering citizens customized, rather than generic, or all-encompassing, communications, and allowing them to further tailor their preferences by selecting the communication channel, their engagement with your content will increase exponentially, helping you to meet your citizen communication goals, and minimize waste.

Ryan Strait

Ryan Strait

As the product director for CivicReady, Ryan’s focus is on understanding the communication challenges faced by local governments in times of disaster, and ensuring the CivicReady solution offers the most efficient, and effective capabilities to allow governments to keep citizens safe and informed. Ryan leads market research initiatives relative to local government mass communications and provides local governments with needs assessments. She also oversees the consistency and quality of all CivicReady product implementations. Ryan holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a major in Marketing from Kansas State University. She has over eight years of experience in marketing and consulting with a focus in mass notification technology.