Photo of the Old Main Library reading room for the blind, courtesy Cincinnati & Hamilton County Library

The Town Hall Library in North Lake, Wisconsin occupies a quaint white building with black shutters that looks like it might have once been a church. It serves a population of about 10,000 residents and its website says it’s “known for its friendly service and varied collection”.

The library’s summer reading program has two more weeks to go. But Town Hall Library is already taking the data from the program and putting it to use in its promotions.

The Library created a Facebook post that leads to an infographic, which lays out the number of participants, visitors, programs, and pages or books read in plain, easy-to-understand details.

Libraries have long counted circulation statistics, program attendance, minutes logged during summer reading, and the number of visitors who walk in and out of their building on any given day.

They’ve taken those stats and created videos and infographics. They’ve used those numbers to win awards. And they share that data to prove their value to their community, donors, legislators, and whoever controls their budget.

I wish libraries would measure their digital marketing with the same dedication. That data is crucial to figuring out which library promotions are working.

Metrics are the key to confidence in library marketing.

When I ask libraries if they measure their digital promotions, here are the three most common answers I receive.

“Measurement is hard.”

“We think we’re reaching our community.”

“It seems like our promotions are effective.”

My co-workers often describe me as “a data nerd.” And it’s true. But I’ll share a secret with you. My love of numbers is rooted in insecurity.

That’s because promoting your library can be scary. I often don’t know exactly which of my choices will work.

And when I’m facing a decision that could either lead me to a successful promotion or a total failure, I lean on the numbers to help me decide.

If you are not tracking the results of your digital library marketing, you are setting yourself up for failure. You may think you are doing a decent job.

But the only way to know if you are truly connecting with your community is through the consistent measurement of your digital promotions.

Measurement of digital library marketing is necessary and transformative.

Metrics are a game changer for your digital marketing.

They tell you what is working so you can replicate that success. They tell you what isn’t working so you can stop doing those things.

They give you the proof, in the form of data, to back up your decisions. They can justify more budget for things you need to reach your audience.

And most important, data holds information about when and where your specific audience wants to receive promotional messages from your library. You’ll also learn their favorite types of content.

Digital marketing metrics every library must track

On a basic level, every library should consistently track the following metrics.


  • Open rate: the percentage of people who receive your email and open it.
  • Click-thru rate: the percent of people who click on something inside your email.
  • Actions taken by email subscribers: did they register for a program, check out a book, or use a database after receiving your email?

Social media

  • Reach: total number of people who see your content.
  • Impressions: the number of times your content is displayed. Impressions will always be higher than reach because your content may be displayed more than once to the same people. That might sound like a waste of time. But a high impression count means the social media platform you are using thinks your content is so good, that they want to make certain people see it!
  • Engagement: the number of times people take an action, such as liking, commenting, or sharing your post.


  • Number of visitors to your website
  • Number of new visitors versus the number of returning visitors
  • The length of time visitors spend on your website
  • Traffic sources that determine how visitors find your website

What this data will reveal about your digital library promotions

At the basic level, measuring your promotions will ensure that you are using your valuable time and energy in the place where it will be the most effective.

Data can also help you make sure you create more effective promotions! Leslie Marinelli is Communications Manager at Forsyth County Public Library. She’s been closely monitoring the data around her email marketing.

She noticed her library’s subscriber list got smaller and smaller each month, even though her library was signing up a substantial number of new cardholders every month.

Because she was monitoring her email metrics, she was able to uncover a hole in her subscriber list process. Fixing that process led to an increase in subscribers to her email list each month. And that means more people in her community will discover what the library can offer them.

Make measurement part of your daily library work schedule.

Block off five minutes in every workday to gather or analyze the metrics of your marketing and promotions. Honestly, it only takes five minutes a day.

Check the basic numbers listed above. Every. Single. Day.

Pretty soon, you’ll notice patterns. You’ll be able to predict the types of content that get the most engagement. You might also notice that promotions on certain days of the week get better results.

At the end of your first month, ask yourself what is working and what isn’t. And adjust your promotions accordingly.

Tracking metrics will lead to more effective promotions. It’s that simple!

Don’t Skip This Important Library Marketing Step

More Library Marketing Advice

Are My Library Email Metrics Good…. or Bad?! Here Are the Latest Stats to Help You Figure It Out.

You Don’t Have to Choose Between Print and Digital Books: How to Promote Your Collection to Patrons Who Use BOTH Formats

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