THE ANNUAL REVIEW
The Bayside Council (NSW) has a strong history of online community engagement and has been supported by Bang the Table for many years to provide an online portal for their digital engagement activities.
As part of their EngagementIQ Partner Support package, I recently undertook a comprehensive review of their site: analyzing key performance data, offering numerous insights and recommendations to further improve their use of EngagementHQ and the delivery of online engagement projects.
In fact, this was the second annual report I had written for Bayside Council, and I was instantly pleased to see an overall improvement in their data and a significant increase in traffic and engagement metrics. However, what pleased me the most was that I knew the engagement team had taken action on the recommendations provided in 2019 and, a year later, we could now see the positive impact it had made.
I thought this was such a great example of how our Annual Benchmarking and Site Review can lead to positive outcomes and increased engagement. So, I sat down with Miro Laffan and Sharon Mitchell to chat about their last report and how it has helped them to improve the way they engage with their community.
THE 2019 REPORT: ENGAGEMENT DATA INSIGHTS
Reflecting on their first report in 2019, Miro said “It was a good reminder that we needed to do a general tidy-up of our site. And looking at the data it encouraged us to increase our participant numbers and our reach”.
Like many other organizations, the report showed that Bayside Council struggled a bit with ‘reporting back’, and Miro explained that “the community engagement team still has to chase upmost project leads, to conclude their engagement projects”. Not surprisingly, the report also highlighted a high reliance on the survey tool, offering a timely reminder to implement a ‘fit-for-purpose’ approach to designing their engagement activities. Miro explained, “that although we knew Council used the survey tool a lot, seeing it in a comparison graph, really hit home”.
One of the positive takeaways from the 2019 report, was the overall engagement data and how it demonstrated that Bayside Council was engaging on a regular basis with their community and having a real impact on local decisions. Sharon and the team decided to share this news (and data) in an ‘end-of-year’ wrap up to all registered users, promoting the value of their involvement and celebrating their success together. I thought this was an excellent idea, and hope you might consider doing something similar. You can read their latest 2020 Community Engagement snapshot here.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Armed with a range of insights and digital engagement recommendations, Sharon and Miro selected a number of key areas from the 2019 report to focus on for the coming year. They included:
- Audit and update all current projects on Have Your Say Bayside
- Finding alternative ways to conclude engagement projects and ‘close the loop’
- Refresh and update their homepage with EngagementHQ’s new Appearance Editor
- A conscious shift from ‘anonymous participation’ to ‘registered participation’, especially for high interest and high-risk engagement projects
- Undertook a concerted effort to increase their participant database through targeted campaigns and offering prize draw incentives
- Initiating an ongoing online conversation with their community regarding their strategic Greening Bayside project
Sharon and Miro took a more strategic and proactive role in managing the Have Your Say Bayside site, as well as implementing a number of changes to their internal processes and how they use EngagementHQ.
THE ENGAGEMENT METRICS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES
I was happily surprised to see that there was a positive increase in the overall engagement metrics and site visitation to Have Your Say Bayside. Not only had their engagement metrics significantly increased, but we could also see a positive change in the key areas they were proactively trying to improve.
- Average unique daily visitors increased by 167%
- Average daily visits increased by 158%
- Average page views increased by 172%
- Annual registrations increased 116% increase
- The number of ‘Aware’ visitors, increased by 140%
- The number of ‘Informed’ visitors increased by 150%
- The number of ‘Engaged’ visitors increased by 29%
- The number of published projects increased by 78%
- Seen positive increase in using other online tools, reducing reliance on the survey tool
- Identified ‘Quick Polls’ are a very popular way for people to provide feedback
- Identified the ‘Places’ tool is an effective way for people to provide feedback
- More evidence of ‘reporting back’ engagement outcomes on individual projects
“Over the past 12 months, unique daily visitors increased by 167%, and the number of ‘Informed’ and ‘Engaged’ participants has increased by 140% and 29% respectively.”
IMPROVING COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT RATES EVEN FURTHER
When speaking with Miro about their second Annual Benchmarking and Site Review report, she says, “it either validated some of the updates/improvements we had already started to make or highlighted new priorities for the year ahead. We kind of knew some stuff, but it was good to see Dan’s recommendations backed up with real evidence and data.”
And whilst there was much to be proud of, there is always room for improvement. One of the more notable changes over the last 12 months was that Bayside had seen a 10% decrease in traffic to the site via their corporate social media accounts. With the evidence in hand, this is something that can be easily rectified by focussing on our social media presence with the communications team.
Sharon said “The second report was very encouraging as it clearly showed that we were on the right track. I was pleased to see how much our engagement rates had increased compared to last year”
The Annual Benchmarking and Site review allows the engagement team at Bayside Council to confidently measure the success of their site. They are now comparing data year-on-year to monitor and strategically grow their online community database, measure their engagement rates, and which projects and online tools are most successful.
It was a pleasure talking with Sharon and Miro and I look forward to watching (and measuring) their online engagement platform continue to improve.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ONLINE ENGAGEMENT BENCHMARKING
The Annual Benchmarking and Site Review is an integral part of the EngagementIQ Partner support package. However, it can also be purchased separately as a once-off or included as part of your annual license.
Your individualized digital dashboard and written reports provide an evidence base for continuous improvement and is an effective way to independently measure your digital engagement.
For more information contact your local Engagement Manager or Practice Lead, or reach out to learn more.