Directgov tries new tune with consumers in marketing blitz

Directgov is launching a major integrated campaign in the new year in an attempt to revitalise its mission to establish itself as the central consumer brand for government services.

The move is part of the government’s streamlining of public service information online and its strategy to close more than 95% of approximately 4,000 citizen-facing websites and move their content within the Directgov government citizens’ portal by 2011. The ambition was first outlined in June’s Digital Britain report.

The integrated branding campaign, rolling out in January, features celebrities including Suggs, Kelly Brook and Janet Street-Porter, all prompting the call-to-action “I’d go direct, gov” to build awareness of the brand and URL.

The online campaign will feature an online survey to find the nation’s official choice in specific categories, such as food and cars, related to Directgov content.

Directgov now hosts government information previously found on standalone sites including the DVLA and The Pension Fund. It provides UK citizens with a single online access point for services and resources such as applying for a new driving licence, information on tax returns and employment rights.

The changes place great responsibility on Directgov, which has previously struggled to become a highly recognised brand in the UK.

According to ComScore the site has seen a 45% increase in unique visitors, from 4.5m to 6.6m, between October 2008 and October 2009.

However, Mike Hoban, Directgov director of communications and engagement, said the campaign is reaching out to a wider audience and addresses concerns that the public is unclear what Directgov stands for and to push that it is now the hub of government services information online.

“There are more than 4,000 government websites which are being rationalised into three super sites – Directgov, NHS Choices and Businesslink,” he said.

“The whole thrust behind this is to provide the public with easy access to government services and information, to save money for government, and to make government more transparent and efficient,” he added.

“The public can see what’s going on, they can access what they need, and the government can talk more directly with the relevant audience for any particular initiative.”

The streamlining of public sector information within Directgov is part of a wider “web rationalisation” strategy currently being undertaken by government departments.

Alex Butler, board director for interactive services at the Central Office of Information (COI), which has consulted with Directgov on aspects of its online strategy such as how it can integrate content from previously separate sites, said all online government resources are becoming more transparent to show their accountability.

“In April, all government departments, including DirectGov, will publish exactly how much money is being spent on a website, how effective it has been – using industry standards – and how many people are going to it.

“That’s the bit where we start to see the impact of how government websites are being delivered and what taxpayers’ money is being spent on.”

Butler added that civil servants are also being encouraged to become more involved with relevant community sites to boost the visibility of online government resources.

“We’re encouraging the public sector to get involved with private sector sites – so, for example, getting civil servants who understand about parenting policy involved on MumsNet forums, giving proper advice and signposting government information,” she said.

In July, Directgov worked with Google to help local government make better use of online resources, launching a website that instructs local authorities how to use online media to increase efficiencies and engage with residents better.

Courtesy of NMA News

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