What Do Dear Abby and the Federal Government Have in Common?

Oct 10, 2014

Lots of people ask us questions.

So it only makes sense for us to partner up to answer some of those questions.

Since the 1970’s, USA.gov has partnered with Dear Abby to help get free printed government publications on a variety of topics (health, disaster preparedness, caring for aging loved ones, etc.) into the hands of the people who need them most.

While much of the work at USA.gov is focused on delivering government information in a digital way, we know some of our audience doesn’t have access to the Internet or just prefers to consume their information in hard copy.

Since it’s our mission to deliver information in the manner and format people prefer, we partner with Dear Abby to reach this important segment of our audience.

We send Abby a letter asking a question, and she provides an answer directing people to order relevant government information.

So how exactly do we measure our performance with print outreach efforts?

The Metrics

As you can imagine there are many metrics to look at. In our promotions, and with Dear Abby especially, there is not just quantitative data (orders, downloads, calls, page views) but qualitative data too (letters from Abby’s readers and feedback received from call center agents from Abby readers).

So keeping that in mind here are a few examples of the metrics we collected and how we will use them to improve our promotions and outreach efforts in the future and enhance the customer experience:

  • Traffic to order form varied by device. 80% desktop; 12% tablet; 8% mobile
    • What we saw: Order form was not in responsive design (20% of users might not have had the best user experience.)
    • What we learned: Use an order form in responsive design to make sure all users have optimal experience.
  • We received hundreds of letters from Abby readers about their overall experience. We looked for recurring themes. Due to unforeseen demand for publications we had to limit orders to a single copy.
    • What we saw: Several people were upset they could not order multiple copies as advertised.
    • What we learned: Next year we want to be clear these are limited resources and to act now!
  • Searches on USA.gov were high for the Dear Abby packet. Direct 66%; organic 27%; Referrals 7%
    • What we saw: The percentage of searches was higher than expected.
    • What we learned: Think Search in the planning stages to optimize the user experience.
  • We had a 380% increase (over 4X higher than a typical month) in visits to the USA.gov page we directed the public to for more information.
    • What we saw: Using the Thank You Page to refer the public to other resources worked for this promotion.
    • What we learned: Keep testing this strategy to introduce the public to other digital resources.

Do you distribute information in print? How do you measure your success?

Originally posted by Jacqueline Snee on Oct 10, 2014
Originally posted by Jessica Milcetich on Oct 10, 2014
Oct 10, 2014