One of my staffers wrote a post for our Library’s blog recently about common library myths. You can read it here. That post got me to thinking about library marketing myths, and how library marketing professionals can “bust” them. Here are my top four choices.

My library marketing video/blog post/article needs to be short because people will only consume “snackable content.” This one is really prevalent for all kind of companies and institutions, and it’s so, so wrong!

At the beginning of 2019, I started to write longer blog posts. Did you notice?? I went from 500-700 words to between 1000 and 1500 words.

And what happened? My site stats jumped. Already in October of 2019, I’ve exceeded the number of views and visitors for the site in 2018. I’ve had twice the number of people reading each post as I did in 2018.

When you write long form, more people will read your posts. People stay on the site longer. They read multiple posts. This is also true for longer blogs written for our library’s website.

I made the switch to longer posts because I’d read a lot of research about long form content and its benefits. It’s not easy. I spend more time on each post. I have to do more research. I have to be careful not to add words or sentences just to fill this imaginary word count goal in my head. It’s sometimes difficult. But it’s worth it.

The smart people at a company call serpIQ did a study of the average length of the content in the top ten results of search queries. The company found that the top-rated posts usually were more than 2,000 words long.

If your post is written well, helpful, educational, interesting, and builds interest or suspense, people will stay on your site longer. This will boost your library’s web page rankings in Google and drive more traffic to your site. Long form content also builds trust in the authority of your library. There’s no downside to longer pieces.

The only exception to this myth is email. The text inside mail marketing messages should be short, because evidence shows people will not read emails that are longer than 200 words (sorry, fans of the newsletter). Your short email can and should link to a longer piece but the actual text body itself should be 50-200 words max.

A high open rate is the best way to tell that my library email marketing is successful. So many libraries focus on high open rates for their emails. It’s sometimes hard to contradict that measure. But I’m going to do it because I want your work to matter. And if your open rates are high, you may still be failing at email marketing. Hear me out.

Open rates do mean something. They are a sign of customer loyalty. A high open rate means that your cardholders are eager to see what you’ve sent them. And that’s good. You are writing compelling email subject lines (Good job, you!). You have a loyal and eager audience.

But it’s what happens AFTER your cardholders open your email that counts. If your click-thru rate is low, you’ll know the content you are sending to your cardholders isn’t what they want.

The higher the click-thru rate is, the more excited I get. It means that my cardholders opened an email, saw something they liked, and acted!

Most of the time, my library emails direct cardholders to do one of two things: click a link for a specific item in our collection or go to the event calendar where they can register or put an upcoming event on their calendar.

If a cardholder takes one of those actions is a huge victory. It gives me data about what that particular cardholder is interested in. And I can use that information to craft future emails that are also compelling for that cardholder.

As happy as I get over a high email click-thru rate, a high conversion rate is the most accurate way to measure email effectiveness. It is the percentage of people who take an action after clicking through.

For example, let’s say 100 people click-through to look at a book I promote by email. If 50 of those 100 people put the book on hold, my conversion rate is 50 percent.

Conversion rate is the gold standard for the success of any email campaign. Your goal should always be to get people to act!

I need to grow my Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest followers. I’m not saying that a huge social media following wouldn’t be nice. But in the age of algorithms, it’s not as important as it once was.

What you really want is a large audience of ENGAGED followers. You don’t just want people to see your posts. You want them to compel people to take an actual: like, share, subscribe, comment, post emojis, and generally jump up and down virtually.

It’s kind of like speaking at a conference. You might be thrilled at the prospect of talking to a huge group of people. But it’s disheartening if half of your audience is yawning or looking at their phones. It’s much more meaningful to speak in front of a small room of people who are riveted by what you have to say.

I don’t care how many followers my library has on any social account. I want to see people engage with our content. Focus on actions and not the number of followers.

If you need to tell your cardholder something, just make a sign. No one reads signs. Seriously, we just don’t. I lead the team that makes signs at my library FOR A LIVING and I don’t read them.

Too many signs in a branch, particularly in a small location, can create clutter and confusion. And too much signage can annoy your cardholders, particularly if most of your signs are bombarding them with marketing messages.

Just as white space works to create breadth and depth for a website or a graphic, well-spaced signage in a branch creates flow. About 75 percent of the signs in your library locations should be wayfaring only, directing cardholders to important service points in the building. The other 25 percent can be selective marketing–promoting services and items that are of interest to your cardholders.

Don’t rely on signs to convey everything you want to tell the customer. Hire staff who are willing to speak with customers and show customers where items are located.

Do you have a myth you encounter in your work? Let me know about it, and how you’re busting it in the comments.

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