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6 Tips for Marketing Your Commuter Program

The success of a commuter program can often depend on reaching and engaging the right audience.

Depending on the target audience, organizations need to market and promote commuter programs in different ways. Government organizations may be looking to reach commuters directly, or to partner with local employers. Businesses are seeking to engage and motivate their own employees. Educational institutions want to spread the word among staff, faculty, and students.

Whichever scenario you are facing, you’ll need a tailored communications plan to connect with your target audience. To that end, here are six helpful tips that will help you market commuter programs more effectively:

  • Start with surveys. Commuter surveys are invaluable tools for understanding commuter behavior and preferences. They are essential in the planning stages of a campaign, especially for learning which alternative modes of transportation your commuter base would be most likely to try.
  • Emphasize benefits that matter to commuters. Surveys can also deliver valuable insights into what matters most to your target commuter base. You can use that information to design campaigns and marketing materials that emphasize benefits. For example, students might be looking to save money, so focusing on that interest might help you appeal to them.
  • Use simple graphics to create eye-catching, easy-to-understand pictorial representations. There are many free or inexpensive graphics platforms you can use to put together visuals that quickly and clearly express your program’s fundamentals. Try pairing graphics with relevant statistics to draw attention to a particular problem associated with commuting, or to illustrate a specific benefit you’re trying to achieve.
  • Create a strong, two-sentence summary for your program. When you market commuter programs, you’ve got to engage people in a simple and direct way. Have a clean, easily digestible, and compelling two-sentence summary of the program to add to your script anytime you talk about your efforts.
  • Make the most of existing communications channels. Before you try to create brand-new channels for communications, use ones that already exist. For instance, use recurring departmental or interdepartmental meetings as an opportunity to market commuter programs, or leverage employee newsletters, campus newspapers, or existing advertising networks to help get the word out.
  • Designate a “point person” to deliver your message. In large organizations, it’s better to designate a “point person” who can deliver your message directly to team members than it is for an anonymous, unconnected individual to reach out to the entire commuter base. Messages are more readily accepted when they’re delivered by someone you know, so try to get departmental or team-based reps involved in your program.

For more insight, check out this talk on marketing techniques from our CommuteCon 2017 event, or contact us to discuss your program. We’re here to help you deliver commuter programs that generate enthusiasm, high participation rates, and real results.

Shift your commuter programs into high gear for bike month

Make an impact with your National Bike Month commuting program.

Every year since 1956, May has been designated as National Bike Month. Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, National Bike Month offers businesses and communities a wealth of ways to encourage active, sustainable commuting alternatives.

National Bike Month is a great opportunity to improve health and fitness, reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and discover new ways of looking at your community. Bike-to-work programs enable businesses and organizations to get more people involved, and provide a perfect opportunity to encourage commuters to make a long-term transition to pedal power.

Building a successful bike-to-work program means getting as many people involved as possible. Here are a few winning tips to help you drum up robust participation rates for your smart commute challenges and events:

Start with a survey

When designing your bike to work challenge, the best place to start is with a survey. This will help you generate information-based insights into important factors like the experience level of riders, how far people will be commuting, and what routes they will be following.

From there, you can divide the respondents into groups that reflect their enthusiasm and experience level. This allows you to focus segmented promotional efforts on specific groups of people. Use strategic insights to help turn people with middling levels of interest into enthusiastic participants who can’t wait to get started. After all, promotional efforts are best directed at those who are on the fence instead of those who are already jumping at the bit to take part.

Create incentives

Gamification incentives, like prizes and rewards programs, give participants an extra bit of motivation to get involved in your bike to work challenge. Playing for points or pride can work in the short term, but commuter challenges work best when they also encourage people to make better use of smart commuting alternatives over the long run.

To that end, remember that offering rewards and prizes for continuing to commute by bike is a surefire way to get people to commit to behavior change over the long haul. You can also use short-term challenges as test runs for longer-term or permanent programs to see what works, what connects with participants, and where you need to improve your strategy.

Promote your program strategically

When you get around to launching your promotional campaign, build in time to analyze the results. Instead of making an all-in push from the get-go, leave wiggle room that allows you to make adjustments. This will help you bring more people into the fold, ultimately supporting a more successful program.

You can also learn more from our collaboration with Google on creating a strong and successful bike-to-work initiative.

Pair inexperienced riders with “bike buddies”

Bikepooling and “bike buddy” programs are effective options for reaching people who would like to bike to work but don’t feel comfortable riding alone. These programs match new riders with experienced bike commuters who can show new biking enthusiasts the ropes and help them navigate city traffic safely and confidently.

An added benefit of the “bike buddy” approach is that it helps improve workplace collegiality and foster increased cooperation among your company’s commuter base. People can form friendships and expand their professional networks through the connections they make by taking part in smart commute challenges and events.

Expanding beyond the challenge: Emerging ideas for driving long-term mode shift

Encouraging long-term behavior change is challenging, but one strategy that’s catching on is the idea of trading parking permits for bicycles. Organizations and institutions in both the public and private sectors have already leveraged this strategy to great success, and it provides a powerful incentive that reduces parking demand, keeps parking costs in check, and helps build a healthier, happier community.

Consider it as a potential end goal of your bike to work challenge!

Power your commuter challenges and incentive programs with RideAmigos

The RideAmigos software platform has everything you’ll need to design, promote, manage, and administer bike to month challenges and other commuter programs. Our industry-leading solution supports survey distribution, data analysis tools, incentive tracking, statistical management, and a complete range of other features for administrators and commuters alike.

To learn more, get started with RideAmgios today!

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Smart Commuter Management

Happy New Year! There’s no better time to create goals that will have a beneficial impact on your organization and the community at large than at the start of another trip around the sun. Here are five great ways you can make smart commuter management a priority in 2017.

#1: Collect More Information

The essential first step in generating behavior change is understanding the commuting habits of your organization’s members. Specifically, there are four key things you need to know:

  • What are the primary mode(s) of transportation currently in use among members?
  • How aware are members of the transportation benefits you currently offer?
  • What is the single most important consideration for members when choosing a way to get to work? Time? Cost? Something else?
  • What benefits or incentives would get members to try out an alternative mode of commuting?

Finding answers to these questions through commuter surveys will help you create a transportation program that’s got a much better chance of success.

#2: Experiment with Incentives

Providing incentives for leaving single-occupancy vehicles behind is a proven way to vastly increase program participation rates. Incentive programs come in many forms, with popular options including:

  • Pre-tax reimbursements for employees who use qualified modes of transportation
  • Preferred or lower-cost parking for carpool drivers
  • Parking cash-out programs that offer monthly payments to employees who give up their parking spots
  • Friendly individual- or team-oriented in-house competitions, with prizes for the winners who log the most miles or make the most trips using qualified modes of travel

Plan some experiments to try during 2017 and see which strategies best engage your commuters!

#3: Promote Transit as an Alternative to Solo Driving

Public transit is a great way for employees to save money, reduce congestion and pollution, and reduce wear and tear on their vehicles. Try offering partially or fully subsidized local transit passes and watch ridership soar.

#4: Participate in Bike to Work Week

Every spring, Bike to Work Week becomes a national initiative that helps get people moving and encourages greater numbers of commuters to make a permanent switch. Join in a Bike to Work Week being planned for your city or region, or if there’s not one in the works – help make it happen!

#5: Adopt a Comprehensive Commuter Management Tool

Commuters and administrators alike can benefit from a comprehensive platform like RideAmigos. Easily implement advanced carpool matching, distribute surveys, create networks and challenges, launch incentive programs, track results, and much more!

Learn More About Commuter Management Platforms

4 Best Commuter Survey Questions

Make sure you ask these questions on your next commuter survey

From Corey Tucker, our Program Specialist:

Corey TuckerCommuter surveys are critical tools for generating insights and promoting initiatives that impact commuter behavior.

Running an introductory survey before starting any new program is a great way to establish a baseline for assessing transportation mode-shift. Periodic surveys are also helpful for gathering specific, reliable information that can inform targeted promotions and marketing campaigns.

No two organizations are alike, and predetermining your approach and trying to force it onto your commuter base isn’t likely to work. The data generated by your survey is critical to forming a cogent commuter management strategy that speaks to the needs of the people in your organization.

Good commuter survey questions help commuter services managers create targeted programs. They deliver critical insights that would not otherwise have been apparent, allowing program designers to zero in on strategies that will generate positive and impactful results while delivering tangible benefits to commuters.

With that in mind, here’s a look at my four favorite commuter survey questions, why they work, and when they should be used:

What has been your primary mode of commuting over the past year?
This is the single most important question to establish a baseline understanding of commuter behaviors. How else will you be able to track the impact your changes have made?

By understanding how the lion’s share of your commuters are getting to work, you can also pinpoint the alternative modes they are most likely to adopt. For example, let’s say you’ve got a lot of solo drivers in your organization. You might struggle to get them to give up the convenience of their personal vehicles to adopt a longer, more difficult journey on public transportation.

However, you might have more luck with an employee carpooling program that matches commuters who live close to one another. They can take turns sharing driving duties, enjoying all the benefits of point-to-point private transportation while still contributing to the program’s success.

How familiar are you with employee transportation benefits?
In some cases, businesses that offer transit subsidies, carpooler benefits, secure bike storage, locker rooms, and showers still see little in the way of change. The problem could be that your employees simply aren’t aware that you support alternative commuting modes. This is a great way to find out.

If you determine that a lack of employee awareness is holding back the success of your commuter management programs, make a simple investment in promoting them. Combined with other interventions, this simple change could drive significant shifts in commuter behavior.

What is the main factor in deciding how you’re going to get to work?
To maximize benefits, you have to fine-tune your programs and marketing efforts to make sure they speak to the needs of your employees. For example, if the length of the commute is the primary consideration for your commuters but you’ve built a program that advertises cost savings, you’re not reaching the most important point of appeal.

In our experience, the most successful programs are the ones that deliver the commuter-end benefits team members are looking for. Your commuter survey questions should take a razor-sharp focus in trying to find out what commuters want and need, then tailoring your programs to deliver it.

Would additional benefits or incentives make you more likely to try alternative modes of commuting?
Targeted incentive programming is more effective than broad-stroke programs, so take advantage of questions that reveal exactly what it will take to get commuters to change their habits.

Give people a wide range of options. Parking cash-out programs, points programs, and commuter challenges are all great starting points. For more ideas, check out the San Francisco Department of the Environment’s web portal on commuter benefits: they’ve assembled a strong collection of possibilities.

Commuter surveys are ideal if you’re planning to harness the power of the RideAmigos platform and our data analysis tools to enact positive changes in your organization, and they’re fully supported by our software.

Learn more about using surveys with RideAmigos

Using Surveys for Carpool Permit Management, Event Registration & Ride Matching, Surveying, and Data Collection

 

Derek Davies is the Program Coordinator for Smart Commute, an online tool of Metrolinx that helps commuters and employers explore their best transportation options. He shares the innovations that he has discovered using the RideAmigos transportation survey tool. “Survey functionality is really good when it comes to integrating the things that aren’t offered by other platforms individually.”

 

Smart Commute Program Innovations

  1. RideAmigos Survey functionality
  2. Program Marketing/ communications
    • marketing materials/ promo
    • tutorial videos
    • workplace champion guides
  3. Standardized excel templates
    • carpool permit management
    • telework program statistics
    • modal split statistics

Features

  1. collect data, survey, report, track programs
  2. send out blasts of micro-surveys
  3. event outreach and registration

 

Examples of Transportation Survey Tools

  1. Microsurvey: request information regarding workplace and primary/secondary modes of transportation to accurately pair up carpoolers.
  2. Registration: send out an invitation for employees to register for carpool parking passes. Set registration requirements i.e. being a company employee, having carpooled in the past, and establishing one existing member of your carpool. Then give the option to join that network.
  3. Carpool MixnMingle: create carpooling events to help connect carpoolers!
  4. Event Registration: Spread the word about an event and get the waiver requirements fulfilled and signed.

 

Program Management

Derek utilizes excel to collect data on Emissions Saved, Dollars Saved, Parking Spaces Eliminated, Cost of Eliminated Parking, Trips Saved, etc. He then uses this information to manage his carpool and telework programs. Derek describes the process as simple, “All you have to do is download excel spreadsheets from RideAmigos…and it gives you data based off of the equations that you use.”

For teleworking you can find how many trips the user has, as well as the frequency of their telework program; then through this data, you can then attach a Productive Price and Real Estate Price.

Smart Commute and Derek have employed the unique features offered by RideAmigos to survey and collect data, giving them the ability to tailor the program to their needs. Using our advanced TDM platform, they can integrate information by embedding iFrames and using HTML codes like challenges, registration, logging, and network joins.

Check out our demo video to see more.