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Super Library Marketing: All kinds of marketing ideas for all kinds of libraries.

Part Two of the Library Marketer’s Definitive Guide to Creating an Editorial Calendar That Actually Works!

This is the second part in a series on creating an editorial calendar for your library marketing. Read part one here.

You’ve chosen a tool for your editorial calendar, and everyone on your team is using it. Now the fun part begins! At least, I think it’s the fun part. Deciding what kind of content to promote and how you’ll execute those promotions is arguably the most crucial part of library marketing. Here’s a simple guide to get you through the process.

The Library Marketer’s Definitive Guide to Creating an Editorial Calendar, Part One: How to Decide What Goes in the Calendar

Step #1: Do everything you can to focus your marketing efforts.

In a perfect world, there are two basic rules for determining your promotions. The first would be: Does this promotion do anything to move our library’s overall strategic goals closer to reality? The second would be: Is this a service or item that cardholders want and need in their lives? Does it provide a tangible value to our cardholders? Anything that falls outside of those two benchmarks is cut. In this perfect scenario, you only promote the things that really matter to your cardholders and to your library’s mission.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. Everyone has to market services, collection items, and projects that have nothing to do with the library’s mission. Library marketers are treated like short order cooks. Promotional requests come in from various coworkers, and we fill them. It’s ineffective and it’s why so much of our marketing fails.

The only thing a library marketing professional can do is to battle back. It may be a slow process. It’ll take time and a lot of persuasion to get the rest of your library system to change its mindset about marketing. But you have to start somewhere!

Your first editorial calendar task is to set parameters for your marketing to the best of your ability. Figure out what you have the power to approve and what you can say “no” to. Then do it.

Change is slow in coming in the library world. This shift toward marketing with a purpose rather than marketing everything under the sun may be met with a lot of push back. I’ve been in my job six years and I’m still working on it. It’s a constant battle. But it’s one worth having because it’s better for my library and better for my cardholders.

Step #2: Choose the tactics that will work best for each promotion. Library marketers have a natural tendency to want to promote everything with every tool in the toolbox. You don’t have to use every tactic available to you. In fact, you don’t really want to! Thoughtfully selecting the method of promotion for each campaign is a smarter use of your time and energy.

For every promotion, I write down a short list of what I know about the promotion. Then I write down my best guess for the kind of library cardholder and non-cardholder who might be interested in the thing I want to promote. Finally, I look at all the tactics at my disposal and decide which ones would be the best for reaching my target audience.

Here’s an example: Earlier this year, my library put a collection of lantern slides on display as part of a specially curated exhibit. These slides were part of our collection. They’d been sitting in a dark storage area for ages.

We do a lot of exhibits at our library, and most feature interesting pieces of our collection. But this one felt special. The librarians who discovered and arranged the slides were psyched. Their managers were psyched. I ran the exhibit idea past some non-library friends to see how they’d react. They used words like “cool”, “unusual”, “interesting,” and “vintage” in describing why they’d want to see the collection.

I decided to promote the exhibit with just four tactics: a press release, posters, wayfaring signage, and social media posts shared with lovers of vintage stuff. I did not promote the exhibit with a slide on the library’s homepage. I did not send an eblast. I did not create digital signage. I did not create a video.

I made these decisions based on my imagined persona of an exhibit guest. They would be a reader of traditional news. They would be someone who like vintage collection items and photos online. They would be someone who might take the time to read printed sign as they walked into the front door of the library.

In the end, the four tactics we chose to use worked well because we spent our time and energy making them really, really good. They fit the target audience. We focused on the content, not the container. We got a ton of press coverage and our social media posts did better than I expected, particularly on Facebook.

Creating four really good pieces of promotion is more effective than creating ten crappy pieces. That’s why choosing the tactics to fit your promotion is important.

Step #3: Leave room in your calendar to remind your cardholders about the services and items they love but might not use daily.

Here’s a good example. My library has a reading recommendation service called Book Hookup. Our cardholders answer three simple questions and they get three reading recommendations back in whatever format they prefer–print, eBooks, or audiobooks. These recommendations are personally selected by a librarian.

I do two campaigns promoting this service every year. I must remind people that it exists because it’s not a service our cardholders use every day. But, those promotions are consistently so successful that, before the promotions begin, we have to assign extra staff to manage the recommendations. That’s because so many people will sign up for personalized reading recommendations through our promotions that we can’t keep up!

Your library has a lot of services that will help people in their everyday lives. Work those into your editorial calendar on a regular basis, even if no one is telling you directly to promote them, particularly if those services are tied to your library’s overall strategy. Your library will thank you.

Step #4: Be flexible. You will want to program blank spaces into your editorial calendar for last-minute promotions. Those holes give you space to make decisions that positively impact your library and your cardholders. And if you don’t end up having anything to fill those holes, they still have a benefit. Space in your calendar will give you and your team time to breathe!

Don’t forget to join us for the LIVE LIBRARY MARKETING TALK ON INSTAGRAM every Tuesday at noon ET. We’ll talk about library marketing topics for about 20 minutes each week. My handle is Webmastergirl. You can email questions and topic suggestions ahead of time. Just fill out this form.

And check out these upcoming events and webinars where we can connect and discuss library marketing. Registration links included!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

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The Library Marketing Live Show: Episode 3

Library Marketing Live Show Episode 3

The good news: I finally got the screen recorder to work and I was able to upload the whole show to this post (including a funny bit at the beginning where I do my set up. I don’t have the ability to edit video yet!!)

Watch it now

Things we talked about

How to handle criticism of your library. I shared an experience I had with a marketing expert that I look(ed) up to. I am thinking about the way he responded to me in terms of library marketing.

We all face criticism and we have to handle it in a professional and constructive manner. I’m thinking of taking this interaction and turning it into a learning experience by writing a blog post about how to handle criticism of your library.

If you have any thoughts on that subject or can share examples of how you or someone at your library deftly handled criticism from a customer, resident, taxpayer, stakeholder, or community leader, please let me know in the contact form at the bottom of this post.

We also talked about social media followers: do you need a bunch and how do you get more? The short answer is no and no. Watch the episode for a fuller explanation.

Social media is the topic of my talk at the Library Marketing and Communications  Conference in November! Register to attend that event plus register for a free webinar on digital promotions later this month. You’ll find links on the events page.

Have an idea for the next Library Marketing Live Show? Submit it now.

We’ll chat on Instagram on Tuesday at noon EST for about 20 minutes. My handle is @Webmastergirl so follow me to see the show live!

Part One of the Library Marketer’s Definitive Guide to Creating an Editorial Calendar That Actually Works!

I don’t know about you, but I spend the majority of my day as a library marketer making decisions. I answer probably two dozen or more questions a day from co-workers, staff, and friends about everything from the title of our library’s next blog post to the photo used in an email campaign to the kind of swag we give out at library events. This may be why my poor husband often has to choose the restaurant when we go out to eat. By the end of the day, I’m tired of making decisions!

Library marketing often feels like air traffic control. So how can a library marketer work effectively without losing their ever-loving mind? Organization, my friends. And the best way to get organized is to live and die by a working editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar will define and control the process of creating content, from the creation of an idea through writing and publication. A good editorial calendar will help you decide which content ideas to publish, where to publish, and when to publish. After those decisions are made, the editorial calendar will help you assign tasks and keep up to date on deadlines.

The editorial calendar is literally the heart and soul of the library marketer. Mine is open all the time, as long as I’m at work at my desk. It’s a score card, to-do list, and road map all rolled into one. Without it, I’d be lost.

A number of readers have asked me how they can create an editorial calendar that will lead to effective marketing. I’ve broken it up into two parts. First, let’s go through the steps to setting yourself up for success by funneling your team and tasks into one tool. You need to pick the tool, define your process, and learn how to work your calendar in your role as the project manager.

The Library Marketer’s Definitive Guide to Creating an Editorial Calendar, Part One: How to Pick Your Tool and Use It

Step #1: You need a tool that will help you keep track of everything… and I mean everything! You should consolidate all of your team’s tasks into one place. That means anyone who has anything to do with creating content for your blog, social media, video, email, print, press release, digital signage, or newsletters is on the same tool.

The one tool approach will help everyone to know where each promotion is at any given time. It will also help to maintain a consistent voice and message throughout all of your marketing. Working off the same tool will also maximize the effective use of every piece of content. The one tool approach will also help you, as project manager, to minimize overlap and mistakes.

Set expectations with your team early. Tell them you’ll do your best to pick the right tool for your team. Then make it clear that there will come a point at which everyone will be expected to have transitioned to the new tool.

Step #2: Get your team involved in picking your tool. First, you’ll want to explore how the new system will make their jobs and their lives easier. You can do this by asking your team to list the problems they have right now with content creation. Then, ask them to prioritize them. Which problems cost your team the most time and energy?

How to create an editorial calendar in Google Calendar

Marketing Strategy Bundle from CoSchedule (includes editorial calendar)

Free Excel Spreadsheet-based templates from Smartsheet

Step #3: Enforce compliance. Once you pick the right tool for your team, you have to delete all your other calendars and tools. I’m not being harsh. Your team may need that extra push to use one tool. And it’s likely there may be someone on your team who doesn’t like whatever tool you end up choosing. You cannot allow them to go rogue. In order for this to work, everyone has to use the same base.

Step #4: Make checking your editorial calendar a part of your daily ritual. As the project manager, your job will be to keep everyone on track using your new tool. Some days, this task will take five minutes. Some days it will take longer.

I add promotions into my calendar as soon as I learn about them. I have some promotions planned six months in advance. Advance planning helps me to visualize the promotions I’m doing and make sure everything gets the proper attention it needs. I can still be flexible and change things around as needed. But if I know what my marketing will look like in October during the month of July, I’ll have a better chance of getting everything done in time. That also gives me time to think about what’s coming up and to work on creative and innovative ideas to make those promotions better.

Step #5: Leave plenty of room for data. Measure the results of your content so you can adjust the editorial calendar and improve the effectiveness of future promotions.

Analytics should drive most of the decisions in your editorial calendar. I say most because I believe analytics should be responsible for 75 percent of the decisions. The other 25 percent is experimentation, gut instinct, and a deep knowledge of your audience.

Measuring results has two benefits: It helps you to decide what to do and it helps you decide what to drop. If you find a particular content subject or format isn’t getting the results you want for your library, you have data to back up your decision to drop it. Likewise, when something is working well, you can use data to reinforce your decision to that thing more often!

Next week: We’ll talk about what kinds of content should be part of your editorial calendar and how to decide which of these tactics to use in every promotion you do!

Don’t forget to join us for the LIVE LIBRARY MARKETING TALK ON INSTAGRAM every Tuesday at noon ET. We’ll talk about library marketing topics for about 20 minutes each week. My handle is Webmastergirl. You can email questions and topic suggestions ahead of time. Just fill out this form.

And check out these upcoming events and webinars where we can connect and discuss library marketing. Registration links included!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

Here’s What You Missed During the Library Marketing Live Show: Episode 2

Thank you to everyone who tuned in for episode two of the Library Marketing Live Instagram Show!

Watch this recap to hear what we talked about!

Things we talked about

Summer Reading and how to make it successful

Books we are reading or listening to! I’m reading I Will Always Write You Back and I’m listening to Never Let Me GoWhat are you reading or listening to?

And I’m doing a webinar! It’s about digital promotions for libraries and it’s in conjunction with Recorded Books. And it’s free! Register here: http://bit.ly/recordedbookswebinar.

What Should We Talk About?

Have an idea for the next Library Marketing Live Show? Submit it now.

We’ll chat on Instagram on Tuesday at noon EST for about 20 minutes. My handle is @Webmastergirl so follow me to see the show live!

The Step-by-Step Method for Figuring Out the Best Time to Send Library Marketing Emails and Why You Should Never Stop Experimenting!

I spend a good portion of my day as a library marketer trying to figure out how my cardholders live their lives. What do they do? When to they do it? What parts of their life are difficult? What parts are enjoyable? When do they have free time?

We do know a lot about the people who use the library, thanks to our own library surveys and great organizations like Pew Research Center. But you can also figure out what your cardholders are doing by email marketing experimentation. And your findings can increase the effectiveness of your marketing.

On the Library Marketing Live Instagram show, Dari from Cook Memorial Public Library District wanted to know how to figure out the best time to schedule marketing email to different audiences. The answer, in general terms, is between 6 p.m. and midnight. But I want to dive a little deeper into how I came to this conclusion and why this might NOT be the case for the people using your library!

If you’re just starting out with email marketing, check with the experts. There are a lot of companies (mostly email marketing software companies) which publish research on the best time of day and the best day of the week to send marketing emails, plus a bunch of other data points. So, start by gathering the latest research from these companies. Some of my favorites are Hubspot, AWeber, and Convertful.

Think about the daily life of your cardholder. If you are sending an email to a group of people who use a particular branch, or who are in a particular age group, try to imagine what they do all day. This generalization method will help you identify points in the day in which your target audience might have time to check their email.

Here’s an example: When I’m sending emails to parents of school-age children, I avoid 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., when parents are usually racing to get their kids ready to go to school. I also avoid 2:30 p.m. to dinner time, because many parents are picking up their kids, running them to extra-curriculars, and tackling homework.  I send marketing emails very early in the morning, like 5 a.m., so they are sitting in their inbox when they wake up but before their kids are up. I also send them after 8 p.m. when most school-age kids are in bed.

When I send emails to teenagers, I never, ever, ever send them in the morning. I exclusively email teenagers at night, and the later the better. That’s because most teens don’t have time to relax until 9:30 p.m. or later, after homework and after-school activities. They will likely check their email right before they fall to sleep at night, and they’re more likely to act on email in the late evenings.

Experiment. Send emails for a 3-6 months period of time. If you’re just starting out, try all hours of the day and night. Keep meticulous records of the results including open, click through, and conversion rates on all your emails.

After your allotted experimentation time, comb through the data and figure out which times of day resulted in the most click-throughs and conversions. Those are your optimum times to send emails! Focus most of your email scheduling on your proven best time of day.

And never stop experimenting. Start another experimentation period of 3-6 months, and then re-analyze data. If you notice a decline in click-through and conversion rates, go back to the drawing board.

My latest six-month analysis shows the best time to send email is between 6 p.m. and midnight, for all age categories and for all card types. This was not always the case. Two years ago, I could send my emails any time of the day EXCEPT between 7 a.m. and noon. But, at the end of 2018, that changed and the only emails that did well were the ones I sent at night.

Why did the effective time change? Because people’s lives change. Your cardholder base changes. The way that email gets delivered by various email providers changes. All of these factors mean that you’ll need to be in a constant state of experimentation. Don’t get married to any one time of day. Have an open mind and be ready to change your email scheduling strategy when the data tells you it’s time to change.

The most important thing is to have good content. If your emails contain stuff that your email audience wants to know about, they will engage with them, no matter what time of day it is. Try and keep your emails short. Focus on a few lines of really compelling text and one or two clear calls to action.

Bonus controversial opinion: I am not a fan of email newsletters. They usually contain too much information and too many calls to action. Their subject matter is usually too broad for their audience. I know a lot of us have to send them because senior leaders love them. But they aren’t an efficient use of email marketing. It would be better to take each section of your newsletter and send it separately to a targeted audience.

Don’t forget to join us for the LIVE LIBRARY MARKETING TALK ON INSTAGRAM every Tuesday at noon ET. We’ll talk about library marketing topics for about 20 minutes each week. My handle is Webmastergirl. You can email questions and topic suggestions ahead of time. Just fill out this form.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

Library Marketing Live Show Episode One Recap

Thank you to everyone who tuned in for the very first Library Marketing Live Instagram Show! I can’t think of a better way to spend my lunch hour than chatting with you.

Watch this recap to hear what we talked about!

On next week’s show, we’ll discuss your summer reading programs and how they’re going. And we’ll talk about how to connect with more followers on social media (and whether we even want to focus on followers!) and how to convince partner organizations to share your posts on social media so you get more reach. We’ll chat on Instagram at noon EST for about 20 minutes. My handle is @Webmastergirl so follow me to see the show live!

Things we talked about

Library Marketing and Outreach Facebook group

New York Times story on libraries dropping Kanopy

Viewer Question

Dari from Cook Memorial Public Library District wants to know what software you use for email marketing and whether you like it or not! Help her out by answering this poll and leaving comments below.

What Should We Talk About?

Have an idea for the next Library Marketing Live Show? Submit it now.

See you next week!

Five Reasons Why You Should Stop Ignoring LinkedIn for Library Marketing Plus Tips to Get Started on Posts

NEW LIVE LIBRARY MARKETING TALK ON INSTAGRAM! Be sure to join me for my first live Instagram Q&A about Library Marketing. The live discussion happens every Tuesday at noon ET (11 a.m. Central and 9 a.m. Pacific) beginning this Tuesday, June 25. Join me to talk about library marketing topics for about 20 minutes each week. My handle is Webmastergirl. You can email questions and topic suggestions ahead of time. Just fill out this form below. See you there!

Whenever I talk to library marketers about social media success, the conversation usually centers on Facebook and Instagram. Most libraries worry about decreasing organic engagement on Facebook. They’re trying to master stories on Instagram and attract younger users.

I’ll be honest… these conversations frustrate me. That’s because libraries are battling a social media system that’s stacked against us. Facebook and Instagram and both focused on monetization. The truth is they don’t care if nonprofits can’t compete with brands. They only care that they’re making money and gathering data for their advertisers. And I, for one, have had enough.

That’s part of the reason behind a decision we made at our Library to focus a good portion of our efforts for organic social media reach on another platform: LinkedIn. And I want more libraries to use this platform to promote themselves.

 

More and more people are using LinkedIn. In a report released by the platform’s owner Microsoft, the company reported that engagement grew 24 percent in the last quarter. That’s huge.

LinkedIn is great for sharing content marketing and making personal connections with your cardholders. The audience on this social platform is smaller and more focused. Users are interested in career development, higher education, workplace issues, self-help ideas, and personal growth.

It’s also a largely positive place. There’s no toxic talk. Users comment in courteous and supportive way. There are also limited ads. It’s a happy place! I’m on LinkedIn several times a day and there are zero trolls.

LinkedIn is a great place for libraries to post content because competition for attention on the platform is small. Most libraries, educational institutions, and government agencies only post job openings on their LinkedIn page. But the platform is the number one choice for content among professionals. If you start posting today, you can grow your followers, create brand awareness, tailor targeted messages, and connect with cardholders without much competition from anyone else.

I know libraries struggle to keep up with all the social media changes but I really, really, really want you to embrace LinkedIn, even if it means you have to drop back your posting on another platform.

Here’s another reason to make the switch: LinkedIn recently improved its analytics tool. They’ll give you a ton of data about the people coming to your page. Next to Google Analytics, I think their metrics are the most in-depth. That’s a huge help to marketers. LinkedIn will tell you the kinds of people who are looking at your library’s content. You can see their industry and location. You can see their job seniority, from unpaid to training to managers and CEOs. You can even see their company size. You can use that information to program your content.

And LinkedIn is now leading the social media platforms with very specific and transparent metrics for content. They’ll tell you how many people look at your content for a specific amount of time or the number of people who click on your links.

My Library posts at least once a day during the week (Monday-Friday) on LinkedIn. We share a variety of content from our own events and collection as well as curated content from other sources. This steady stream of sharing introduces the library and its services to a new audience of people. And we’ve seen exactly the same kind of growth that the platform reports. We began our real push this past April. In that first month,  our posts received 24 percent more engagement that they did the previous month, when we still weren’t posting with regularity. Our unique visitors were up an average of 16 percent a month. And the more we posted, the better it got. This month (June 2019) we saw a 44 percent increase in visitors to our page. Post impressions were up seven percent. It’s not a huge number but a little bit of growth every month is going to add up.

A study by OkDork, which analyzed more than 3,000 LinkedIn posts, found that “how-to” and list posts performed best. It also revealed that long-form content (articles between 1,900-2,000 words) performed the best, as well as content with eight images.

Of course, you should always match your content on social with your library’s overall strategy goals. But here are some other ideas for content to share on LinkedIn.

Share collection items, services, and events that focus on self-help, career advancement, personal wellness, diversity, literacy, architecture, and entrepreneurship. For more ideas about the kinds of content your particular followers will find interesting, check your page’s analytics. The visitors tab will show you which industries your followers are working in. Then you can post content that matches those industries and offer value to your specific followers.

Search trending articles about libraries and the industries your followers work in. Pick your favorite, add a few lines that talk about how the article affects your community or library, and re-share the article.

Post original articles by thought leaders at your library, like your director.

Highlight library staff and give your followers an inside look at what it’s like to work in a library. My library likes to ask the highlighted worker what their favorite Library service or collection item is and then we link to it. It gives us a chance to promote something the library offers in addition to our amazing staff!

Give your partners and the media some love. Whenever one of your partner organizations does something wonderful, you can share their news on LinkedIn just as you would on any other social media platform. Most companies and nonprofit organizations have a LinkedIn page. Likewise, when you get good press, share the stories on LinkedIn just as you would on Twitter or Facebook!

Post your video marketing on LinkedIn. Just as with Instagram and Facebook, video marketing is a big deal on LinkedIn. I recommend uploading the video straight to LinkedIn, rather than linking to your YouTube channel or your website. LinkedIn will give you more organic reach if you post straight to their platform, rather than driving people to another social media site.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

The Tiny Little Mistakes That Ruin Your Library Marketing Emails AND How to Fix Them!

NEW LIVE LIBRARY MARKETING SHOW ON INSTAGRAM! I’ve decided to try a new thing! I’ll be doing a live Instagram Q&A and discussion about Library Marketing. The sessions will be every Tuesday at noon ET (10 a.m. Central and 9 a.m. Pacific) beginning Tuesday, June 25. Join me to talk about library marketing topics for about 20 minutes each week. My handle is Webmastergirl. You can email questions and topic suggestions ahead of time. Just fill out this form below. See you there!

I get a lot of library marketing emails. I love to see what other systems are doing. So, I go to their websites and I see if I can get on their mailing lists! It’s fun and it helps me to find new things to promote and new ways to communicate with my audience.

I also get a first-hand look at some of the small boo-boos that other library marketers make in their emails. Email is hard. I’ve been doing email marketing for so long (feels like forever!) that I have made all of these mistakes myself! And I love email marketing, so I’m weirdly obsessed with learning about it. Some of the positive text and design choices that work for library marketing in other promotional pieces, like posters, flyers, websites, and blogs, do not work in email marketing.

The good news is that these little problems are easily fixed! Tiny adjustments in the text and design of your email can improve your click-through rates and effectiveness. Check this list against what you’re doing now and start reaping the benefits of improved email design!

Problem: too many images: A clean design is crucial to engagement. Too many images or too much text is off-putting to your email recipient.

The most common email programs like Yahoo and Outlook will NOT automatically download images. In fact, only Gmail downloads images automatically. With all other providers, the email recipient receiver must consciously click a prompt in order to download an image. That means if your image is conveying most of the key message in your email, your receiver likely won’t see it.  They will miss the information and the call to action, and your email is useless.

Solution: Create an email that is mainly text-based. I have found an 80-20 mix works best: 80 percent of my email is text, 20 percent is image-based. The image I use compliments the text. Its purpose is to create emotion or set the mood of the email. It’s there to inspire. It doesn’t convey key messages and it doesn’t contain the call to action.

Problem: too much text. An email that contains several long paragraphs of information is off-putting to recipients. It gives the impression that your email will take a long time to read.

The email scheduling platform Boomerang studied results of about 20 million emails sent using their software. They found that the optimal length of a marketing email is between 50 and 125 words. A study by Constant Contact of more than 2.1 million customers found emails with approximately 20 lines of text or 200 or so words had the highest click-through rates.

Excessive text can also send negative signals to spam filters. Too much text added to excessive punctuation or large images could keep your emails from ever arriving in an inbox.

Solution: Limit your email text to 200 words or less. The recipient should be able to read all the information in your email in about 15 seconds. If you have more information to share, use your call to action to indicate that there’s more to know about your subject. Then send your recipient to a landing page where they can get all the information they need.

Problem: Text that is too small. Keep in mind the growing number of people who will read your email on a mobile device. You want to make sure they can actually see your words. An 11 or 12 point font size is too small to be seen clearly on a screen.

Solution: Increase your text size.  Email font should never be below 18 point in size.  You should also use the bold option to make the most important information stand out.

Problem: Wishy-washy calls to action.  A compelling call to action is one of the best ways to increase the click-through rates of your library marketing. Some library marketing emails also contain too many CTAs.

Solution: Use positive, active language in your CTA. “Register” “Read This Book”, “Learn More”, “Join Us”, “Donate”, and “Get Started” are some of my favorites. I put my CTAs in a square red box that looks like a button to compel my recipients to click on them. I embed the CTA in my image as well and use the “alt text” to convey the CTA in case someone’s eye skims the email. I try to keep my CTAs to one per email.

One image, with the main text in bold at 18 point found. A few sentences and a clear call to action.

Problem: Ignoring mobile responsiveness.  Mobile opens accounted for 46 percent of all email opens according to the latest research from Litmus. If your emails aren’t optimized for mobile, you are missing a huge potential audience, particularly women and young people.

Solution: Optimize your emails for mobile to make them responsive. Most email marketing programs offer mobile responsive templates. My library uses Savannah by OrangeBoy. We switched to all responsive templates in January of this year. I’ve seen a nine percent increase in click-through rates. I count that as a win!

Problem: No system for proofing your emails in different kinds of email boxes. Your email design might look great in your creation software. But if you send it without testing it, you may find that your email becomes a kind of monster creature! It may show up a a jumbled mess of images and text. This happens because every email inbox will convert your email differently.

Solution: Test your email to make sure your message displays correctly for your recipients. Find people that you trust you have different providers… someone with Gmail, someone on Outlook, someone on Yahoo, and so on. Send them the message and ask them to check for warped images, font problems, and extra spaces.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

Nine Free Online Writing Tools To Help Add Clarity and Creativity to Your Writing Every Day!

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately! Library marketing often means cranking out text for a variety of promotional pieces. Sometimes it’s a long form article. Sometimes it’s a few lines in an email. Sometimes it’s a speech. Sometimes you’re trying to convince the public or lawmakers to give you more money.

Writing is hard. Writing for a lot of different audiences is hard. Cranking out text on command is hard. Library marketers are always crunched for time. Sometimes we’re so exhausted that our creativity is nowhere to be found. But we still need to make sure the meaning of our text is clear and emotional.

That’s where online writing tools come in handy. They can help your writing have more of an impact. They can help you craft sentences that are clear and concise, even when the subject matter is not! They can help you figure out a headline that will draw readers in. They can help you discover just the right word to make your meaning clear.

I use writing tools Every. Single. Day. Here are my favorites! They’re all free.

Before You Write

Blog About: Sometimes the most difficult part of writing is coming up with an idea! This site has thousands of fill-in-the-blank prompts that can help you brainstorm your next topic. It’s a great place to visit when you’re suffering from writer’s block.

Ubersuggest.io: This site was created by Neil Patel, who is somewhat of an internet marketing genius (subscribe to the podcast Marketing School to see what I mean). This tool helps with keyword suggestions, content ideas, and back link data.

Neil just added a new feature that lets you search your competitors to see what they’re doing! I was able to search some neighboring libraries to see how much traffic is going to their sites and what keywords are driving that traffic. Then I decided to check out the information for my own library.  I can use that data to insert keywords into our blog posts that will continue to drive traffic or bring new visitors to our website!

During Writing

Atlas: This website presents you with research and data which you can use to back up any claims you are making in your writing. It’s easiest for me to explain by showing you. I did a search for “libraries.”

The results come up in chart form. Cool, right?

Now, there are limitations. For one, all the data comes from one source, Quartz Media, so the charts only pull data from their publications and media properties. You have to attribute your charts to Quartz. And they have a lot of holes in their research. For instance, when I searched “hunger” and “childhood literacy,” I got no results. But they do have a lot of info on a lot of other topics that might be of interest to your library marketing audience, like careers, reading, and publishing.

HemingwayAppI use this text editor all the time! You can either write inside the program or you can copy and paste your draft into their site. Then you get a ton of suggestions on words to change or cut to make your writing clearer and bolder. This is great if you don’t have a person serving as your editor.

The Up-Goer Five Text Editor This is a fascinating tool. Its basic premise is that, in order to write clearly, you should try to only include the ten-hundred most commonly used words in the English language.

Here’s how it works: You copy and paste a bit of text, or type directly into the tool, and then hit enter. It will point out all words you should change to be more conversational. For fun, I pasted in my first-draft version of a paragraph from earlier in this post: Writing is hard. Writing for a lot of different audiences and cranking out text on command is even harder. Library marketers are always crunched for time. Sometimes we’re so exhausted that our creativity is nowhere to be found. But we still need to make sure our words do exactly what they’re intended to do. 

Up-Goer suggested I replace these words: AUDIENCES, CRANKING, TEXT, COMMAND, LIBRARY, MARKETERS, CRUNCHED, EXHAUSTED, CREATIVITY, NOWHERE, INTENDED.

Why does this matter? It helps you to write more conversationally. It will help you to review the language you are using so you can really make sure your writing is going to make sense to the average reader.

Obviously, you don’t have to change your text based on every suggestion. I changed several of the words in that paragraph for the final draft of this post and ignored the rest of the suggestions. I like it because it forces me to rethink the way I write. It makes me consider whether my words are truly the best way to express my thoughts and feelings to my library marketing audience.

Grammarly. It’s not a substitute for a human editor but it’s a great way to give your pieces a first look for spelling and grammar errors, sentence structure problems, run-on sentences, and punctuation issues. You can add words using the personal dictionary function, which is helpful for those quirky instances that may be part of your library style guide. For instance, my library always capitalizes Library so I’m constantly fighting other apps over this randomly capitalized word in the middle of a sentence!

Cliché Finder: This tool is pretty self-explanatory. It highlights clichés in your text so you can avoid overused expressions. If clichés are your pet peeve (as they are mine), then this tool will be your new favorite!

Before You Publish

LibreOffice: I recently discovered this free, open-source software extension. It’s like Windows, but prettier and easier to use! It’s compatible with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher. Once you get your actual writing done, this software will help you to organize your documents, add charts, and beef up your presentations so they look more polished.

Sharethrough Headline Analyzer: This is my new favorite headline tool. Type your proposed headline in. You’ll get a score, and tips on ways to improve your headlines. Every headline on this blog since the beginning of 2019 has been polished using this tool. I believe it’s one of the reasons traffic is up on my site. I use it for headlines on my print publications for the library as well.

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