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What are the best practices for opt-in and user data management?


If an alarm goes off and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? In the best case scenario, it’s a silent alarm, but there’s no way of telling if individuals will receive and respond to this urgent alert.


Unfortunately, many community members are oblivious to the fact that they can opt-in to receive emergency alerts. In a recent survey by CDW-G, a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government, education and healthcare, researchers found that 30% of Americans didn’t know they could get emergency updates in their hometowns.


However, if more community leaders understand the best practices for opt-in and user data management, these officials can protect life and property in both minor and life-threatening scenarios. Consider the following tips to ensure business owners and residents sign up for emergency notifications:


1. Start planning now. In crises, planning on the fly is unacceptable. Get ready for the worst-case scenarios and develop an effective game plan that accounts for potential challenges that community members may face in emergencies. Many towns and cities could see large increases in the number of individuals who opt-in during emergencies. Be prepared, and try to get as many people as possible to opt-in before an incident.


2. Promote opt-in. While traditional marketing campaigns (via billboards, pamphlets, radio ads, TV commercials, etc.) are valuable, outside-the-box marketing is useful as well. For example, one school district ran a contest where students were encouraged to get their parents to opt-in for emergency alerts and awarded any class that hit 90% enrollment. Meanwhile, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks also are great for community leaders who want to reach many respondents simultaneously.


3. Use testing and data management. With a world-class emergency alert system, community officials can automate their notifications. This helps reduce the amount of time and effort required to manage crisis updates, but that doesn’t necessarily mean administrators should stop promoting the benefits of signing up. Instead, send periodic updates to verify enrollees’ contact information and encourage new business operators and residents to opt-in.


It may take days, weeks, or even months to get people interested in signing up to receive emergency alerts. Creating short- and long-term enrollment goals often is helpful, and city and town administrators could reap the rewards of their efforts by safeguarding their communities for years to come.

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