EBS: Increase Your Resident Opt-In Database



The following information was designed to share best practices to teach communities how to drive resident opt-in's and increase their contact database.

Over the course of many years, and thousands of communities, big and small, a series of best practices have been established to provide maximum results in increasing resident opt-in data bases for cities, towns, counties, states and more.

The ultimate goal is to keep residents informed, safe, and when necessary communicate critical and actionable information before, during and after an emergency crisis.

Providing ongoing pertinent communications including severe weather, missing or dangerous persons, road hazards and other public safety and community information is key in establishing an ongoing digital dialogue to keep your resident population continuously safe and informed.

Steps For Success

Steps For Success

Step 1: Set Opt-In Goal

First, identify the amount of opt-ins you are starting with. This will provide you with a baseline on which your database will grow.

Ask your account representative "How many opt-ins already exist?" With millions of residents already in our system, you will likely already have contacts that you are not aware of.

Set your goal for how many opt-ins you would like to receive over a certain period of time.

Set Opt-In Goal - Example

Step 2: Plan How You Will Achieve Your Goals

Step 2

Establish a Plan to Achieve Your Goal

Marketing Plan: Create a simple marketing plan. Use the suggestions in this document for successful examples.

Local Agencies: Work with local agencies to get the word out and increase the number of residents you can reach to have them opt-in.

Step 3: Establish Appropriate Time and Resources

Step 3

Needed Resources

Identify the people who are needed to help support the plan.

Have a team meeting to discuss the overall goal and ensure everyone understands their role and responsibilities in making your notification solution successful.

How to Increase Opt-Ins

Issue a Press Release

Press Release

Initial Press Release: Issue a press release to your community about your notification system. Include information on system usage and frequency as well as the types of messages that community members will receive. This ensures residents have clear expectations for the system and they understand its value. Don't forget to emphasize that the service is always free for residents.

Crisis Press Release: Issue a press release after a crisis urging residents to stay informed and to opt-in to receive public safety information.

Also consider setting up interviews for your agency representatives with the local media to help you reach a wide audience. Be sure to provide clear instructions on where and how people can register.

Weekly Social Media Postings

If your department is already using social media as a tool to engage the community, leverage it to ask residents to opt-in to recieve notifications. You can let your followers know exactly what they need to do to sign up. Posting these instructions regularly will help increase subscribers.

Communicating on a regular basis, extending beyond ENS communications, is important in establishing a consistent rhythm of information for community members. Other content and event ideas to share online with the public include:

  • "Meet the Chief" Police meet and greet the public
  • "Touch a truck" DPW allows children to touch and sit in city vehicle's
  • Library events
  • School events
  • Town events (parades, 4th of July, local sporting events, etc.)

Urge residents to share and forward social media posts so that more members of the community can stay informed and join the opt-in database.

Weekly Social Media Postings

Public Signage Urging Residents to Opt-In

Public Signage
  • Billboard Signage

  • Bus Bench Signage

  • Vehicle Signage

Other Marketing Tactics

Other Marketing Tactics
  • Walking Maps: Provide a handout to residents and visitors sharing the opt-in benefits.

  • ​School Handouts: Provide a handout to schools sharing the opt-in benefits for parents.

  • Utility Bill Inserts: Provide a handout to residents sharing the opt-in benefits.

Work with Community Groups to Increase Opt-ins

Community Groups Example
  • Have mayors include your notification system, and the opt-in process in their "State of the City" speeches.

  • ​At public events have iPads that have the sign-up page open so residents can opt-in.

  • ​Have an Eagle Scout go to various assisted living facilities to help the senior citizens opt-in.

  • Boy scouts/volunteers go door-to-door with a signup spreadsheet or door hangers for those not home.

  • Other community groups to work through include Neighborhood Watch, libraries, community centers, sports clubs, PAL, DARE.

Community Groups Example
  • Work with utility companies to include a resident opt-in message with monthly bills.

  • Work with neighborhood watch groups to publicize the importance of opting in.

  • Perform monthly tests of your notification system encouraging people to tell friends and family to sign up.

  • Have a public resident opt-in table at as many municipal events as possible (think farmer's markets).

  • Work with schools to send home opt-in instructions as part of the "Welcome Packet" at the beginning of the year.

Best Practices for Writing Messages

Types of Alerts and Message Writing

Message Content Ideas

Message Content Ideas

  • Provide relevant and interesting topics that encourage residents to opt-in

    • Community news, local events, positive news

    • Safety tips for the holidays

  • Share information that affects residents daily lives

    • Traffic, road closures, detours, parking bans, festival or event updates

  • Share critical safety information and solicit help

    • Missing and Wanted

Send Messages Throughout an Event or Crisis

Deliver Information Throughout the Lifecycle of an Event or Crisis

  • Keep residents engaged and informed

  • Helps you control information

  • Increases the likelihood a resident or visitor sees a message

  • Increases the chance the message goes viral

Manage an Event or Crisis

Manage an incident or crisis effectively by sending public safety information before, during and after the event.

How to Write Effective Messages

Tips to Remember

  • Keep the message simple

  • Include a "call to action"

  • Avoid insider terms

  • Write in phrases, not sentences

  • Effective word choice and use of punctuation
Effective Message Example

Best Practices Abridged

Take the time to make sure that everyone in the department is educated about the system. When you have an entire department and/or city promoting the platform it will be a much more successful program.

Send quality information on a regular basis. The higher the quality of the information, the more people will be drawn to it.

Engage the residents. Don't talk to them, talk with them.

Capitalize on major events to drive opt-ins.

Cross platform marketing. Make sure you are getting the word out on all communication channels that you have access too.

Use human language, not "cop" language


Everbridge Community Engagement
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