We talk a lot about metrics in marketing. We’re all under pressure to prove that our efforts are moving cardholders to action. And metrics help us to prove that.

Metrics also help us gain valuable insight into our cardholders–what they want from us in terms of customer service and circulation and what they love and don’t love about their library.

Confession: I love data. Data is clear and concise and it usually doesn’t lie. It can help you make the case when you need an increase in your marketing budget or permission to do something extraordinary. Tracked over time, data will help you to take the 30,000 foot view of your library marketing and see the big picture.

I do a lot of data gathering in my library marketing efforts. I’m sure you do too! But it’s easy to get lost in the quagmire of numbers and analysis. So I want you to focus on five data points that really matter to library marketers. These are the pieces of information we must gather to manage our marketing workflow and connect with our audience. Use these metrics to determine whether your messages are connecting with your audience and promoting your library’s overall strategic goals.

Actual circulation (increase of holds/checkouts). Pay attention not only to monthly and yearly circulation trends, but to how your marketing efforts directly affect pieces of the collection. If you send targeted email messages with links to certain items in your catalog, it behooves you to track how circulation increases by your efforts. I record the number of checkouts and holds before I send the message and then again for three days after the message. In general, I find that cardholders who want to take action on an email will do so within a three-day period of receiving it. This lets me see how well the message about this particular item resonated with the audience and, over time, I can compare efforts every month to determine which titles are most likely to pique the interest of my cardholders.

Percentage increase in circulation. It’s important to also keep track of the percentage increase of any circulation item you promote. Raw holds and checkout increases are great, but to get the bigger picture of how an item is really affected by your message, you need the percentage increase.  I use to help me calculate the percentage increase in circulation. Then I can compare results between titles as apples to apples, and not apples to oranges.

Conversion rate( number of people who click on a link and then place a hold). This is a new metric to me but it’s so helpful.  When I send a targeted email, I calculate the number of people who open the email, the number of people who click on the email, and the number of people who place a hold or checkout. The conversion rate is the percentage of people who clicked on the message and then placed a hold or checkout. On, it’s the middle calculator option.

Program attendance. Clearly, if you are promoting a program, you want to see if attendance increases. I email the branch manager one day after the program to ask for the numbers. Attendance numbers at my library are entered into a main statistical system and I could get access to them there, but only at the beginning of the month. I’m a little more impatient!

Amount of traffic driven to website via social media. Our library tracks how much traffic is funneled to our main public website via the three main social media networks–Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. We use Google Analytics to help us analyze how efforts on those platform are translating into action by our cardholders. This is an important metric to share with administration, because it clearly demonstrates how investing time and energy into social media can reap returns for your library. If you’ve never worked with Google Analytics, here is an easy guide to get you started.

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