Why is MessageSpring good for cities?


Most cities realize that their populations are diverse. To address this diversity, they generally invest a few minutes to install the Google Translate widget on their websites.  This is fine for general website visitors who come to see stale content boasting why this is a great place to live.  They can simply click on a button to read that content in their own language. Great!


But, what happens when your city needs to broadcast a message without relying on people to come to the site to get that update in their own language. This is where the breakdown begins.


If your city is like most, there’s some variation of a “Subscribe for Updates” button or link tucked away in some random spot on their website.  It’s almost as if they don’t want anyone to find it.  When it is located, visitors usually bounce before completing the process.  Why? It’s usually burdensome with too many fields. It’s generally forcing the user to accept whatever language comforts the city. Email is the only option. And, generally, users cannot “opt-in” to only the topics that interest them. They must take all or nothing.


Cities owe it to residents to provide better services than this.




Before we go through the issues mentioned above, we should address newsletters. We are firmly into the 21st now and cities need to realize that newsletters are not an optimal way to inform the public.


Why?  Well…

    • Newsletters are usually delivered in HTML email or less commonly as a PDF attachment.
    • Newsletters over-communicate with what is generally website-like content.
    • They’re usually available in one language and at most two.
    • There are privacy issues because HTML assets can be tracked by advertisers.  Haven’t we had enough of this?
    • They can get caught up in Spam filters.
    • You get the idea by now.


According to our recent polling, most people do not want to receive updates via a newsletter (from anyone) as if it were delivered by Dr. Emmett Brown via DeLorean from November 5, 1955.


Based upon what we’ve laid out above showing that newsletters are suboptimal, wouldn’t it be better to send targeted messages to your audiences more transactionally (only requested, frequent information) with links back to the city’s website for more detail? 


Imagine if every message sent by your city were actually a shareable object that is itself a standalone website that’s available in every language requested by interested members of your entire audience containing just enough information for mission success?


Ok, now that we’ve dismantled the concept of newsletters, let’s get on to the issues originally mentioned above – the real pitfalls of communication.




Recently, the US Census Survey found that 67.3 million U.S. residents, including those born in the U.S. and those who immigrated here, spoke a non-English language at home. Of those, 41.5 million speak Spanish at home. This means that of the 327.2 million residents at the time, 256 million residents spoke only English.


The number of people speaking non-English languages at home has tripled since 1980 and has more than doubled since 1990. We might expect to see the numbers reducing over time, but instead, they’re growing. 


As our country continues to diversify, cities continue to ignore the language needs of its residents.  It’s understandable why cities are slow to adapt. It’s difficult. Who’s going to translate all of that newsletter content and then verify its accuracy before sending it?


And, how does a city know which languages are required by its population anyway?  Is it enough to follow the 80/20 rule and ignore the 20% who speak an “odd language”?  How do they handle the variances in French, Spanish and Portuguese?  Do they continue shoving European Spanish down the throats of their Mexican population? 


Without the right communication platform, addressing this language issue is not a trivial task.  The right communication tool would be a simple platform that handled translations automatically without the sender needing to know who needs what language. Ideally, the authoring language could be any language the author wants.


Keep reading!




How does a city get its outgoing information volume right? Remember, some cities don’t communicate at all – especially America’s small towns.  That’s not good and is a sure-fire way to let their residents know that they just don’t care.  “Just keep paying your taxes and don’t ask any questions!”


Other cities over-communicate with those ineffective newsletters. Accompanying that overabundance of information is too little diversity.  To make matters worse, municipalities keep sending this information via email only.


Let’s face it, people are different. Some people may want to know everything the city has to say.  Other people only want updates about specific topics such as tax initiatives, city budgets, pandemic updates, or voting and election matters.


Imagine a communication platform that made it easy for users to choose what topics interest them and allowed them to change those topics of interest without talking to anyone?


Using MessageSpring topics will help optimize communication.




There is a lot of research to suggest that email is a failed communication mechanism. The email industry has its propaganda that is meant to persuade people that it’s a really effective B2C communication tool.  But, a March 2021 study showed that the average email open rate (across all industries) was 16.97%, with a 10.29% clickthrough rate. It seems to fall every year with the addition of newer, more exciting channels.


Simply put and as we said above, everyone is different. There are people who don’t want to use email or just let their inboxes fill up with unread emails. Go look at any of your email inboxes now. You will find many unread emails and lots of those will be from the same sender that you’ve just never taken action on.  If you are a city, then approximately 80% of the emails that you send to your residents end up in this same digital graveyard.


Bottom line, ‘email only’ is a suboptimal communication strategy. Why would anyone knowingly continue with a strategy that has a failure rate exceeding +80%?


That brings us to multichannel communication. You may have heard about omnichannel.  Companies offering Omnichannel solutions to the world are receiving a lot of focus from investors.  Why? Because people want options and investors know this. Wouldn’t you like to have choices of where to receive your airline status updates, package delivery status, voter registration updates, or school-related notifications?


Based upon this shift, at least one municipality platform is wise enough to offer SMS alongside email now.  CivicPlus empowers subscribers to their town’s updates to choose SMS or email for each topic.  However, their implementation is not optimal from a user experience perspective.


In due course, your town will come under increasing pressure to start communicating in channels other than just email or social media.


In summary, it’s more important than ever for cities to rethink their communication strategies for the multicultural world in which they exist. This means sending out more frequent updates in multiple languages, allowing people to choose which topics interest them, and delivering that information in as many of the various ways people want to receive information as possible. 


MessageSpring makes all of this possible.  It was engineered with everyone in mind.  Visit them at www.messagespring.com to learn more.

Will your city make the change?



If you want to see how MessageSpring works and how easy they make it to add to your website to start building your audience, just click on the button below.



This button was installed and configured in 2 minutes by using their MessageSpring plugin for WordPress.

Leave a Reply