Fuquay-Varina Provides Citizens with More with the CivicEngage Mobile App
The town of Fuquay-Varina, located in Wake County, North Carolina, is all about delivering more. For the charming community that’s home to a growing population of 27,000 residents, living in Fuquay-Varina means being part of a growing municipality where citizen engagement is high, volunteerism is strong, and opportunities are unfolding rapidly. The town has been experiencing a period of transformational growth over the past several years, leading to a population boom as residents looking for more out of their community are realizing that there is something uniquely special about a town with a big personality and limitless possibilities.
A Dash More
“We went through a rebranding process a few years ago and chose the tagline a “A dash more,” said Susan Weis, communications director for the town of Fuquay-Varina. “We always knew we had something special, we just didn’t know how to pinpoint it. Then we thought about the hyphen between the names. We are one of less than 30 communities with an official dash in their names, plus it’s this unique sounding name. That was when we realized that the people who come to live here are unique as well. We are fortunate to be a community of residents that are tremendously involved, and the ‘dash more,’ tagline not only plays on our name, but it tells you what you can expect from our town—a dash more.”
The leadership at Fuquay-Varina is also committed to more, and to doing more to further stimulate civic engagement and give its citizens the unparalleled experience they want from their local government. With the launch of its new CivicEngage® website, the leadership at Fuquay-Varina realized that the next obvious progression of bringing more engagement tools to its citizens, meant enhancing their mobile experience. To achieve its goal, it implemented the CivicEngage® Mobile app. Not surprisingly, the resulting citizen adoption and use has proven that the residents of Fuquay-Varina continually want even more ways to engage in their community.
A Multi-Channel Communication Approach
While Fuquay-Varina enjoys the benefits of an engaged community, it faces challenges attempting to meet the expectations of citizens looking to constantly stay informed with the latest news, information, and alerts.
“We have an engaged community, but only one person primarily responsible for issuing communications—me.” Said Weis. “It can be a challenge trying to communicate effectively 24/7 with all those citizens who want to be involved. We’ve realized we need to use a variety of methods to reach our citizens.”
In looking for solutions to give citizens immediate access to news and information, and demonstrate their modern, tech-savvy commitment to citizen engagement, Weis and the administrative team at Fuquay-Varina decided to implement the CivicEngage Mobile app as part of their communication strategy.
“Implementing the CivicEngage Mobile app was part of our goal of making information more accessible to citizens,” said Weiss.
Planning and Implementation
To achieve its goal, the town started with a redesigned CivicEngage website.
“We completed our branding exercise in 2015,” said Weis. “That was when we developed our ‘a dash more’
The new Fuquay-Varina website launched September 15, 2016. By year end, the site had accumulated:
1,259,678 Page Views
tagline. The new branding was rolled out in 2016. One of the biggest components of the rollout was our new CivicEngage website. In 2016, we had close to 1.3 million page views on the new website. For a small community, that data reaffirmed for us that our citizens were looking to digest information online, so the next logical progression was to offer the downloadable CivicEngage Mobile app for those citizens looking for mobile access to specific content.”
For Fuquay-Varina, an important part of the mobile app planning process was deciding what features and content the app would make available, a process it collaborated on with its CivicEngage project management team. According to Weis, the team looked at website traffic data to identify the content and services citizens were searching for most frequently to determine what content to include in the mobile app launch. The chosen features included Agenda Center, Calendar, Facilities, FAQs, Jobs, Parks, News Flash, and Recycling. In addition, the town incorporated some of its unique offerings into the app, as always, to give its citizens a dash more.
“We included a link to a new mapping program we offer that allows people to go online and do their own mapping using our GIS information. We also have a big Balloon Fest here in Fuquay-Varina every Memorial Day, so we included a feature in our app that links directly to the balloon fest’s primary mobile website.The CivicEngage Mobile app pulls content directly from the CivicEngage content management system (CMS), which means Weis and all other system administrators only need to make content updates in one location, and the updates are reflected on both the website, and in the mobile app.
Mobile Access to Local Information
When Fuquay-Varina launched its CivicEngage Mobile app, even though it expected a strong adoption rate from its engaged citizens, it still completed a robust marketing and promotional campaign to generate awareness and encourage downloads.
At the end of 2016, mobile device and tablet use surpassed desktop use among visitors of the Fuquay-Varina website:
Desktop Use: 46.9%
Mobile Devices: 45.1%
Tablet: 8 %
“We have a strong email communication list that allows us to deliver information directly to the inboxes of 6,500 people,” said Weis. After we issued the first announcement email, we saw a big spike in the total number that downloaded the app.”
Additional promotional tactics included monthly posts on social media, promotional messages on its CivicEngage website, and the use of a QR code to encourage immediate downloads.
As a result of its efforts, over 600 citizens have downloaded the mobile app. According to Weis, the app is popular among the town’s staff as well.
“Our employees download the app and use it to access agendas and News Flash information.”
According to Weis, the process of building, launching, and promoting the mobile app was extremely positive thanks to its team at CivicPlus.
“They were fabulous,” said Weis. “It was our first time working with CivicPlus and the whole process went extremely well, from the website redesign, to choosing features for the app, to the help they gave us promoting it and encouraging downloads.”
Most importantly, the app is one more way CivicPlus’ solutions help the town of Fuquay-Varina accomplish its communication goals.
“It helps that we now have a great website,” said Weis. “Everything is predicated on that, but we’re now also able to make sure our content is fresh and new. The CivicEngage system has given us the ability to allow individual departments to update their own content in real time, which means all requests for updates don’t have to go through one person. It helps me to do my job more easily.”
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