By Mandy Mahurin, TAA State Coordinator, Indiana Department of Workforce Development

Engaging eligible workers for such a comprehensive and beneficial program as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) should be easy. The program should sell itself. However, historically, Indiana has relied on archaic methods to connect with eligible workers via print newspaper announcements, formal letters in the postal mail, and public service announcements. Low worker turnouts at orientation sessions prove these methods seem to fall short. But we began bringing our communication style into a new decade in 2019 by optimizing virtual and social media to target and engage TAA-eligible workers in combination with eligibility notification letters. Our call-to-action goal was to get workers inquiring about benefits and services at their local American Job Center (AJC) locations.

The first campaign targeted an employer whose certification was received nearly four months after the workers’ separations. We first identified a 50-mile radius using the surrounding zip codes from the employer. Through a combination of programmatic display and video social media ads, we were able to share our message by targeting surrounding communities, directly identifying the specific worker group, notifying them of their eligibility to apply for benefits, and directing them to an AJC location nearby.  

These ads allowed the user to click and be re-directed to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development webpage for additional information regarding TAA and our AJC center locations. The combination of the display and video social media ads for our first campaign generated over one million digital impressions and 1,606 link clicks. The impressions reflect how many people saw the ad whereas the link clicks reflect the number of users who clicked on the ad for more information.

This campaign ended in May 2019. While only one worker has currently engaged after the social media campaign, at an approximate cost of $1,000-1,500, given how cost efficient these strategies are, the return on investment is impactful if even one worker engages.

The second campaign incorporated workers who had not yet separated from their TAA-certified employer. This allowed us to deploy a separate strategy called geo-fencing. Geo-fencing allows us to target a specific location, the physical location of the TAA-certified employer in this case, and place a virtual net on the location. After the geo-fence is in place, the IP address of any person with a smart phone that enters that location pings back to our marketing firm, and our specific TAA display ads will show in their internet searches as well as Facebook and Instagram social media accounts. Our second campaign is still ongoing as the employer has delayed layoffs until fall 2019. However, initial results are promising with over 150,000 digital Impressions and 519 link clicks.

Utilizing these methods has allowed us to not only spread knowledge of the TAA program and notify eligible workers in a non-traditional format, but also modernize our communication style with our participants, moving Indiana’s TAA program into the 21st century.