Playing the Long Game: The Compounding Value of Web-Based Outreach

In an industry that’s been relatively slow to transition into the digital age, Recyclist has embraced the role of the digital evangelist. We offer cloud-based services, so (surprise, surprise!) we frequently advocate for technological solutions. But Recyclist is also a triple-bottom-line company, committed to positive social and environmental impacts. Because of this, we are thrilled that the numbers are showing us that our web-based approach to public education is not only reaching residents where they get their information (i.e., their phones), but is also providing our customers with essential long-term impact.

Recycling is all about playing the long game. Success isn’t measured by one month, or even one year, of high recycling rates. Instead, we look for consistency and improvement over time. So it’s logical that our outreach efforts should also focus on steadily reaching more and more people.

Success isn’t measured by one month, or even one year, of high recycling rates. Instead, we look for consistency and improvement over time.

A traditional print campaign, with expensive media buys and major print advertising, is designed to make a splash. So for communicating major one-time changes to your program, it’s the perfect choice. But print is more suited to a big announcement than an ongoing effort. To keep progress in motion once the splash is over, we recommend an approach that provides continuous information.

That’s why we look to websites as a key means of educating residents about recycling. Imagine an ongoing outreach campaign built around the website In the beginning, as residents discover the site, MyTownRecycles offers a steady drip-drip-drip of visibility to your campaign.

Now, add in the effects of a social media presence (perhaps using the hashtag #mytownrecycles), continuous promotion of the brand on everything you print or publish, and partnerships with local haulers and environmental organizations. Fast forward several years, and that steady drip-drip-drip of visibility has transformed into the main channel of your outreach campaign: is a household name, the local “green” brand, and the home for detailed information about what, where, when and how to recycle.

This isn’t a made-up story, but rather one that closely parallels the strategy and success of one of our first Public Education Platform customers. We use web analytics to track the performance of each of our customer’s websites. By the end of this customer’s first 18 months of having their website up and running, users had nearly tripled. By the end of two years, the website was receiving more than nine views per household annually.

The other communities we work with are seeing similar trends. One customer saw 69 percent growth in website page views in a single quarter during their first year. Another jurisdiction received more than one page view for every two residents. Even Recyclist websites that are less than one year old display impressive upward traffic trends.

By the end of two years, the [municipal recycling] website was receiving more than nine views per household annually.

Reviewing web analytics enables us to assess the value we are providing to our customers. We share this data with our customers so they can see how residents are using their website — for example, which pages are most popular, or what recycling guide items are most searched for. By themselves, the numbers are a testament to what can be accomplished via consistent messaging on a website over a short period of time. However, looking forward is even more exciting. In a second year, and then a third, and a fourth, our customers’ outreach brands will only become more recognizable. As that happens, their reach, and their return on investment, will only improve. This is the compounding value of digital outreach via a website platform.

A properly designed and optimized website delivers outreach results both now and for years to come. It’s the only form of outreach we’ve seen that increases in effectiveness year after year. Play the long game: invest in a tool that can give your community sustained — and sustainable — results.