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Suffolk on Board

The Marketing team at Suffolk County Council had been tasked with increasing the use of public transport within the county, focussing initially on the use of buses into Ipswich.  The target was to increase the "journey rate" by 14% in 2 years. Their aim was to concentrate on young people, who already used buses to go to school and college, and older people who needed to make savings but still enjoy getting out and about.


A number of engagement campaigns had been set up to engage school and college aged people (the Explore card), young people looking for entertainment and activities (competition and events promotion) and promote the footfall into the town in conjunction with the Ipswich Partnership (ipswichotspot and ipswichristmas).

They needed to manage four separate websites from a single system and make greater use of other digital channels to promote the use of public transport - without increasing the overhead on team resources or having to develop special skills.  They wished to build a membership base that could be shared across all campaigns but only on permissions from the individual. Security of personal data was paramount given the age groups concerned and so the administration site also required user permissioning to maintain confidentiality.


Free-rein's solutions are easily configured to run multiple public sites and integrate cross-site permissioning, user accounts, email and website with incoming and outbound SMS. The level of control that a Free-rein client has is considerable, extending to low level security and access control should they wish. The solution is intuitive and is being run by a team from clerical assistant through to senior managers.

Website and email content may be shared across sites and reused in a variety of channels - presented in a format appropriate to that channel - without the need to re-key in the information. The initial campaign on www.60306.com encouraged people to enter competitions to win tickets to events in town and offered discounts for public transport. Entry was by either web or SMS. On the website the incoming text message/entry and the visitor on the site are linked in order to gather further personal information for later campaigns and increase entries into the competition.

The customer has full control of the set-up of SMS code words and the range of text responses – including creation of web site user IDs and passwords to bring texters to the site. Suffolk generally has upwards of 6 promotions running at any one time and is using email and SMS broadcast to cross promote - most recently offering personalise vouchers as a download from the website offering cheap family-day-out travel on selected dates during the summer holidays. Printing the vouchers allowed immediate redemption on the bus itself with tickets tracked and matched after the event.


Although quite a sophisticated site the day to day operation is managed by one person as a small part time task. The administrators can create market research questionnaires in support of service planning, public opinion etc. The campaigns have successfully engaged over 6500 people in the past 18 months. The facility for email and SMS broadcast can be used by any other Suffolk CC department and has been offered to other local authorities to help keep costs down.

The solutions was well received by the Council in terms of successful marketing campaigns, simple useable websites, sound and reliable service and functionality and has been used as a reference for "good practice" to other local and national government offices.

Under the Hood:

  • Content management system
  • Email and SMS Broadcast
  • Full incoming SMS control
  • Extensive access and data controls
  • Competition control
  • Version control
  • Extensive web, email and campaign statistics
  • Administration site permissioning