| By Kelly Torpey, Marketing Manager, Gale, a Cengage Company |
Thoughts, tips, tricks, and hacks
As professionals, we’re constantly seeking advice and best practices. I often attend conferences and browse the internet in hopes that they can offer that one nugget of inspiration that enables me to do my job better.
When we find something that works, our natural inclination is to share it! So, I’ve compiled thoughts, tips, and tricks that may be helpful as you determine how to promote your library services and programs.
Let’s get started!
Specify your goal and determine what success look like
Every plan should have clearly defined goals. In this case, you’re looking to engage the community with your library. These are people who might know about the happenings in your library, but are interested in varying topics. If your goal is to increase usage of business related eBooks on your eBook platform, maybe success is getting people to sign up for a business education workshop where your databases and eBooks are used. While you’re determining your goal, think about what success looks like. How are you going to measure your efforts? By number of registrants for a certain library program? It’s one thing to have a goal, but make sure that the steps you take to achieve that goal are measurable. This will allow you to show the value and essentialness of your work.
Define your target audience
Your audience is made up of people with varying interests, leaving you to consider: How can I send them relevant marketing communications based on their unique interests and my unique programming offerings?
There lies the eternal dilemma that all marketers and organizations face! We all have services, tools, and products to offer, but we also are trying to achieve a complete view of our customers. So, how do you get to a place where you can better understand your customers’/patrons’ interests? There are tools available, such as Analytics On Demand, which integrates your library’s patron/ILS data with powerful demographics from Experian—filling in the gaps regarding who is a patron, and who is not. The interactive dashboard allows you to easily manipulate your data and export household addresses to send targeted marketing communications.
Consider further segmenting your audience
Research shows that people demand a personalized customer experience. Meaning, someone interested in business most likely won’t respond to a communication about health. Experian, the consumer credit reporting agency, uses a methodology that classifies all households in the United States into one of 71 lifestyle segments. Nearly every consuming household is characterized by these Mosaics and tools, such as Analytics On Demand, leveraging the methodology to allow marketers like you to better understand their community, segment their patrons based on interest, checkout data, income, and more. Libraries are embracing these Mosaics to segment their audiences in a way the gives them their best ROI. Take a look at how Toledo Lucas County Public Library is accomplishing it.
This is where it gets fun. If you can tell that a consumer household hasn’t been to the library in awhile, you can tell them what’s new! If they check out business eBooks, tell them about the legal resources or directory content you may have at the library.
Choose a marketing “vehicle”
Email? Direct mail? Perhaps a combination of the two? Much of this depends on the audience and their consuming habits. Those interested in business and/or entrepreneurship might be between 20 and 30 years of age and more likely to respond to an email than a printed piece of collateral. You may even want to try a Facebook Ad. They’re relatively inexpensive and Facebook provides easy and effective ways to interpret analytics. You can also go out in your community and attend an event where your target audience would be.
Craft your message
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the breadth of information available regarding email messaging—and messaging in general—so I put together a list of what I’ve found to be most helpful:
- Tie your campaign to an event, holiday, or anything that is relevant to the person you’re sending it to. Use catchy headlines or email subject lines to express a sense of urgency like, “Don’t Forget!,” because people respond to it.
- Address your messaging more like an invitation to make your audience feel as special as you think they are. Research shows that announcements and invitations have higher open rates.
- Subject lines. If you’re looking for 101 of the best email subject lines (which, I never am, but it sometimes happens when you Google topics), you can look here. But, in essence, the goal is to keep it simple. Use less than 40 characters for two reasons: it gets cut off when in view and people tend to skim the subject line rather than read every word. Think “The Smartest Card in Your Wallet.”
- Partner with local businesses and offer exclusive promotions for those with a library card. This may help to funnel them back to you. But remember, make sure you can track that movement.
- Include a call-to-action. Take them somewhere! Whether it’s online or at your physical location, make sure you can measure your efforts. Doing so will demonstrate the ROI of your efforts.
- Get creative help. Take a look at http://blog.gale.com/tricks-of-the-trade/. It’s inspirational and user-friendly. Just be sure to keep your ideas on brand. It’s easy to get carried away!
Measure your IMPACT
Remember when you were defining your goal? Here’s when it comes into play. For email, services like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Eloqua, for larger companies/institutions, allow you to manage engagement (open rates, click through, etc.). You can even test different imagery and messaging to see what your audience responds to best. For print promotions, did you remember your CTA (call-to-action)? Did you track open rates? Did they register for an event?