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🤯The Latest Mind-Blowing Data on Email Marketing That Made Me Rethink Everything I Know AND What That Means for Your Library

Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

The most powerful tool you have to reach your community is email.

I know there are some readers who don’t believe me. But here’s a fact that cannot be denied: 90 percent of Americans over the age of 15 use email. In the United Kingdom and Canada, 85 percent of people use email.

That’s a big portion of your community.

The digital divide is real but not as wide as most of us thought. The latest Pew Research Center study released in August 2021 shows:

  • Rural residents have seen a nine percentage point rise in home broadband adoption in the last five years.
  • 72 percent of rural Americans have high-speed internet access.
  • Smartphone ownership also rose nine percentage points among rural residents in the past three years.

For most of my library friends, the percentage of people in your community who can (and should) be receiving email marketing from your library far outpaces the percentage of people who don’t have an email address.

Social media platforms do not care about your library. The press does not care about your library. Google does not care about your library.

Email is the only platform where you have complete control. You build your subscriber list. You create your target audience segments. You get to decide when you send your emails. And you have complete control over the content.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your library is. You have the power in email marketing.

Now, I’ve learned some brand-new information about email marketing. I am not exaggerating when I say this new data has made me re-think the advice I give to my library marketing friends.

This information comes from Michael Barber, who is a brand consultant and marketing strategist. He was the featured speaker of a recent Marketing Profs webinar that frankly blew my mind.

Here are the four big things I learned from his presentation.

Your open rate does not mean what you think it means.

Remember when I said that open rates are a sign of customer loyalty?

My view has changed.

With most email services, the open rate is tracked with the help of a hidden one-pixel image placed in the body of the email message. It used to be that the email counted as being “opened” when the recipient opened the email up.

But now, the email counts as opened when it loads in a recipient’s inbox because that’s when the pixel is now being triggered. Apps like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and any Apple device with iOS 15 will preload images.

That means a human didn’t necessarily open your email.

What does this mean for your library?

Email marketing expert Jay Schwedelson says your email open rate provides direction for your strategy. It can still serve as a benchmark for testing factors like subject lines and send times.

If you work on your library’s email marketing, you’ll need to really focus on the action created by your email.

Use trackable links inside the body to see what people click on. And then measure what they do after they click.

Do they register for a program? Do they put a book on hold? Do they log into a database? Those are human-triggered actions. Those are the true measure of the effectiveness of your email.

The new iOS update isn’t as bad as it seems… for now.

In September 2021, Apple released the iOS 15 update, which includes more user protection from third-party trackers, including mail privacy protection that stops email senders from collecting data on how a person interacts with email.

The new privacy settings keep marketers from seeing who opened their emails, what time they opened them, where they opened them, and what device they used to open the email.

Marketers reacted as you might imagine, with major publications like DigiDay running headlines like “Why email marketers are calling Apple’s iOS 15 update ‘a proverbial nail in the coffin.'”

Michael says it’s not as bad as it seems. First, the privacy protections only apply to people who have actually downloaded the update, and who use Apple Mail.

About 72 percent of Apple users have upgraded to iOS 15. Statistics on the number of people who use Apple Mail vary according to industry and location. But most email providers say they see around 35% of their recipients use Apple Mail.

And so far, according to Michael, not everyone is opting into the privacy protections offered by iOS 15. Only about 48 percent of Apple Mail users are turning on the new privacy settings.

What does this mean for your library?

As always, be watchful of your metrics so you can spot any downward trends in engagement. But don’t panic. Focus on sending great content to your email list.

Your sender reputation is incredibly important

Email sender reputation is a score that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns to an organization that sends email. The higher the score, the more likely an ISP will deliver emails to the inboxes of recipients on their network.

There are three positive signals of engagement that can raise your library’s sender reputation, according to Michael. They are:

  • Replying to your message.
  • Clicking on links inside the email.
  • Adding you to their contacts.

Conversely, there are three negative signals of engagement that can hurt your library’s sender reputation, according to Michael. You want to prevent your library email recipients from:

  • Moving your library’s email to their junk or spam folders.
  • Deleting your email without opening it.
  • Leaving your email unopened and sitting in their inbox. Michael says this is a stronger negative signal than unsubscribing! (WOW, right?)

What does this mean for your library?

Michael says replies are a “super strong signal of engagement.” He encourages email marketers to stop using the “no-reply” return email address in their emails. Use a real email address for replies.

And you’ll want to go a step further by directly asking recipients to reply to your emails. You could ask for their feedback on a service. Or ask recipients to reply with the name of a book they think should be included in your next booklist or book display. This is a chance for you to be creative! You don’t have to respond to every email reply. But this is an opportunity to improve your sender reputation while gathering information that will help you to better serve your community.

You’ll also want to focus on raising your email click rate. Here are five ideas.

Finally, include great content in your email so your recipients will never let it sit in their inbox unopened.

We need to start thinking about how “dark mode” affects design.

Dark Mode inverts the colors on your device to decrease the amount of light on your screen. Dark mode turns the default white background with black text to a black background with white text.

Dark Mode eases the strain on your eyes, especially at night or in dark conditions. It also helps preserve battery power.

What does this mean for your library?

The way our emails are designed will need to change. Michael recommends that, if your email provider has this data, you may want to start tracking how many of your email recipients look at your emails in dark mode.

You’ll also want to test your emails using dark mode to determine if your library’s brand colors work with the darker background.

Finally, make sure your email provider is mobile responsive. This will ensure your emails will be converted properly.

Next week: 6 super-easy tricks to make your library emails stand out in the inbox and get results!

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Looking for Guaranteed Email Marketing Success at Your Library? Here Are Four Essential Metrics To Track.

Image courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Use the feedback button to share your most pressing email marketing question. I’ll answer these in a future blog post!

I love opening the “reports” tab on an email platform. There is a second or two of anticipation as the page loads that brings me a thrill.

What will the numbers say? Will they be better or worse than last month? Will they reveal a new trend that I can use to better serve my target audience?

I realize I sound a little nuts. But honestly, I love metrics.

They are clear and concise. They show you what’s working and what’s not working. They give you permission to stop doing promotions that don’t help your library at all. If you try something new, they’ll tell you whether your idea worked or not.

Tracked over time, email metrics will help you to take the 30,000-foot view of your library marketing. You can see if your emails are doing what they are supposed to do… moving your library toward its overall strategic goals.

There is a lot we could measure in terms of email marketing. It would be easy to get lost in the quagmire of numbers and analysis.

So, I want you to focus on four data points that really matter to library email marketing. Use these metrics to determine whether your messages are connecting with your audience and promoting your library’s overall strategic goals. And don’t miss the bonus tip at the end of this list!

“Email is the only place where people, not algorithms, are in control.”

Ann Handley, writer, digital marketing pioneer, and Wall Street Journal best-selling author 

1. Increase of raw circulation numbers. 

Record the number of checkouts and holds before you send the message and then again after the message is sent. You can generally wait about three days to check those numbers. Cardholders who want to act on an email will do so within a three-day period of receiving it.

What this metric will tell you: Raw circulation numbers will likely be of interest to anyone in collection development at your library. They are also the basis for the next two metrics, which will help you compare the effectiveness of your emails.

2. Percentage increase in circulation.

Once you start collecting data on raw holds and checkout increases, you will want to calculate the percentage increase in circulation.  

Let’s say on Monday, you send an email promoting one specific eBook. Before you send the email, you note that there are currently three holds or checkouts of this eBook. When you check on Tuesday, there are four new holds or checkouts placed on the eBook. In total, there are now seven holds or checkouts on this item.

Use to calculate the percentage increase in circulation. For this example, we use the third calculation tool on the page:

That’s a 133 percent increase in circulation.

Now, the next week, you decide to send another email promoting a different eBook. But this time, the eBook you choose to promote has 15 holds or copies before the email is sent. When you check 24 hours after sending the email, there are 10 new holds or checkouts. In total, there are now 25 holds or checkouts on the eBook.

The raw numbers for the second email are bigger (an increase of 4 holds/checkouts vs. an increase of 10 holds/checkouts). But the percentage increase for the second email is actually smaller, at 66%! That means email #1 was more effective.

What this metric will tell you: Percentage increase in circulation lets you compare your promotions more accurately. If you are short on time, this kind of comparison will help you determine which promotions will give you the most success with your limited resources.

3. Conversion rate.

This is the percentage of people who took an action after receiving your email.

Let’s pretend that you’ve sent an email to 1000 people. The email promotes a streaming video on your library website that hasn’t had any views in the past couple of weeks.

When you check the streaming statistics for that video, you see that 25 people watched the video in the days immediately after you sent the email.

Using the second tool on our percentage calculator website, you can calculate the percentage of people who “converted” or took an action after your email.

What this metric will tell you: If you start tracking conversion rates on your emails, over time you’ll have a clear picture of the types of emails your audience responds to. You’ll be able to establish a good base percentage for your audience. This number will be different for every library.

If you are short on time, this metric will help you determine which promotions will give you the most success with your limited resources. When you find a certain type of email promotion works based on conversion rate, you should do it more often.

4. Amount of traffic driven to your website.

Track how much traffic is funneled to your public website by your emails. You can use Google Analytics to analyze how efforts on those platform translates into action by your cardholders. If you’ve never worked with Google Analytics, here is an easy guide to get you started.

What this metric will tell you: This is an important metric to share with administration, because it clearly demonstrates the value of the time and energy you have invested in email marketing.

Special bonus tip!

If you promote the same collection item or booklist on social media, email, and your website, put some space between those three promotions. A week is a good amount of time. That allows you to really pinpoint whether your increase in circulation is coming from email, your placement of the item on your website, or social media.

In fact, that’s a fun experiment to run. Can you drive higher circulation numbers by promoting your collection on your website, email, or social media?

You can even get more granular: which social media platform is best for collection promotion? Which page on your website is best for placing collection promotions? Which email list responds best? See, this is fun!

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

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Psychographics Are the Key to Powerful Email Marketing: How to Unlock the Motivations and Aspirations of Your Cardholders

Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

This is the second in a two-part series on email marketing for libraries. Read part one here.

At the Library Advocacy and Funding Conference in September, a new buzzword seemed to be on the lips of many of the presenters. They were all talking about psychographic segmentation of library audiences for email marketing.

I thought I knew most of the marketing buzzwords, but I confess this was the first time I’d ever heard the term. So, it was time to do some research.

What is psychographics?

Psychographics is the study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria, especially in market research (Oxford Dictionary).

Psychographics go beyond basic demographics: location, age, gender identity, and library card usage. To segment by psychographics is to divide your library audience into groups according to their beliefs, values, and reasons for being. It delves deeper into your cardholder’s values, dreams, desires, and outlook on life.

Psychographics identify motivation. Why does your library community take certain actions? Why do they feel the way they do about the library? How do they see the role of the library in their life? And what activities do they participate in, both inside and outside of the library?

Psychographics lead to compelling email marketing messages because they focus on your community’s unarticulated needs and motivations.

Understanding psychographics

The term is new to me but it’s not new to marketing. In 1964, Harvard graduate and social scientist Daniel Yankelovich wrote that traditional demographic traits—sex, age, and education level—lacked the insights marketers needed to target their audiences.

Around the same time, market researcher Emanuel Demby began using the term ‘psychographics’ to reference variations in attitudes, values, and behaviors within a specific demographic segment.

In the 1980s, the Stanford Research Institute developed the Values Attitudes and Lifestyles (VALS) psychographic methodology. It was hailed as a breakthrough in marketing.

One way to understand this concept is to find your own VALS type by taking this survey. My results show that I like to have historical context, that I buy proven products, and that I’m not influenced by what’s “hot.” I also like to experiment. Share your results in the comments.

The travel industry uses psychographics. Email marketing by hotels, cruise lines, and cities, states, and countries often focuses on why a person wants to travel: adventure, romance, curiosity, and relaxation.

Libraries can do the same thing.

Imagine if we started focusing our library email marketing messages not on what are cardholders want to do… but WHY they want to do it.

Uncover the psychographics of your library audience

How do you figure out what makes your library audience do the things they do? You must ask them! A survey is the best way to drill down on the psychographics of your library audience.

Most library surveys focus solely on demographics like age, location, and income. They generally ask people how they use the library now. They may ask people to predict how they’ll use the library in the future.

By adding psychographic questions, you’ll get a look at your audience’s true motivations. That may include questions like, “The last time you checked out a book, what was the reason?” “How do you feel about the library’s work with people experiencing homelessness?”

You can also use matrix-rated questions to gauge psychographics. For instance, you could include a statement like “The library helps people find a new job” and ask respondents to select an answer from a range of “not important” to “extremely important.”

How to Create an Effective Library Survey to Pinpoint the Needs of Your Community

You can also use outside data sources to get at the psychographics of your library audience. Take a closer look at the comments on your social media posts. Can you uncover any reasons why your followers are interacting with your library on social media? Do they share or comment on a particular type of post?

Check Google analytics on your library’s website. Are visitors taking the same steps to move from one landing page to another on your site? Do they spend a longer amount of time on one type of page?

Your circulation stats are a source of psychographics. Are you seeing a surge in the checkouts or interest of one genre of book, or one format? What language do your cardholders use when they ask for recommendations using your form-based readers’ advisory service?

If your library answers reference questions, what type of problems and language are your cardholders using when they ask for help?

Try to look at any interaction your library has with your cardholders, in any arena, as an opportunity to unlock their motivations and psychology. Then use those new insights to craft compelling email marketing messages.

Using psychographics in library email segmentation

Libraries can segment their email audience without violating CAN-SPAM laws. If your cardholders gave you permission to send them email, you can segment them into psychographic segments. As long as your email includes opt-out language (i.e. “If you no longer wish to receive emails about job services at the library, click here”), you are complying with the law.

Combine your demographic knowledge of your cardholders with the research you’ve done on the psychographics of your cardholders. Then divide your email recipients into new segments and try sending them psychographic messages.

For example, let’s say you are already sending a monthly email to parents about storytime at the library. Now let’s say your library decides to offer a new program, like a virtual family literacy night, to help families whose children are not attending in-person classes during the pandemic.

Without psychographics, your email message may have looked like this:

But, thanks to your survey results, you know that many parents are worried about the effect that virtual learning is having on their child’s education. They believe their child will need extra tutoring and classroom attention to succeed in life because of the impact of virtual learning.

Now you can combine your audience’s motivations for attending with your message about the new program.

This marketing message pivoted from a simple invitation to a message that strikes at the heart of the caregiver’s concern for their child.

Psychographics activate the motivations and aspirations of your cardholders. When you get to know your community better, you’ll do a better job of getting your community to know your library!

You may also find these posts helpful

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

The Emoji Experiment: The Pros and Cons of Adding Emojis to Your Library Marketing Email Subject Lines

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Targeted Email Marketing for a New Era, Part One: The Pros and Cons of How Most Libraries Segment Their Audiences

Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Bond Hill Branch.

This is the first in a two-part series on email marketing for libraries. Part two is here.

If there is one thing that I know about library promotion, it’s this:

If you want to be successful in library email marketing, you must target your messages.

This isn’t just my personal belief. It is a method which worked, with impressive results, during my years at a public library. And I see it working now for hundreds of libraries around the country and around the world in my day job at NoveList.

Why are libraries hesitant to do targeted email marketing?

There are two big reasons that libraries fear the idea of segmenting their email audiences.

First, libraries are worried about email marketing in general. They feel it’s too promotional and that email messages from the library will be received as spam. They may even believe that people don’t want to receive email marketing from anyone, even a library.

This is not the case. The average consumer is accustomed to giving out their email address in exchange for marketing messages targeted specifically to them. Opt-in Monster research shows 99 percent of people with an email address check their inbox at least once a day.

Why? Because they are looking for messages from friends, family, and places they love. They love the library. Your cardholders and community members feel excitement when they receive an email from you.

Libraries worry that, by sending targeted messages to segmented audiences, they will miss out on the chance to get a message to all their cardholders. 

Many libraries are sending the same message to every cardholder, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people in one burst. It feels like the natural thing to do. “Everyone needs to know about this!”

The problem with that approach is that your cardholders are individuals. One message never fits them all.

This is particularly true if your service area covers a range of incomes and demographics. The needs and interests of your cardholders vary greatly.

By targeting your message, you are more likely to say something that matters significantly to your cardholders, which makes them more likely to take an action, which makes it more likely that your email will be successful.

Targeted email marketing for libraries is effective because it serves the right message to the right group of people. And it works for all kind of messages.

Do not let your fears about email set you up for failure. Your cardholders want to hear from you. There are not very many industries which can say that. Let’s take advantage of it and give the people what they want!

Libraries who do segment their audiences tend to use three main methods. There are benefits and drawbacks for each.

Segmenting by library card use

Some libraries group their cardholders by the type of material they most frequently check out: kids’ books, print books, e-books, etc. Then, they send targeted email messages about those formats or collection types to those specific users.

This was the method we used when I worked a public library. For example, we would send an email promoting three new e-books every month to people who appear to favor e-books.

Benefits: This method is great for collection marketing. Most libraries will notice holds and checkouts increase, sometimes exponentially, when they send messages about items to people who have shown a previous interest in those items.

Drawbacks: The way a person uses their library card may not correspond to their true library interests.

For instance, an adult who frequently checks out children’s books for their kids may also love to read e-books. By focusing solely on the fact that they more frequently check out children’s books, a library may miss a key opportunity to market e-books to that cardholder.

A second drawback is that your library will want to promote things besides your collection, like programs, big events, and advocacy messages. Segmenting audiences solely by their favorite collection format gives you no clue as to your cardholders other potential interests.

Finally, this kind of segmentation often requires sophisticated email marketing programs that are expensive and time-consuming to manage. Smaller libraries without a dedicated marketing department and libraries with limited budgets may find these programs cost prohibitive.

Letting people self-select

Many libraries have an opt-in page on their website listing email interest groups. Visitors can self-select which emails they prefer to receive.

Benefits: When a person chooses to receive an email from you about a certain subject, they are also likely to open and engage with that email. They have already indicated their interest by selecting it.

Most library email opt-in pages do not require a person to be a cardholder to sign up. So, a second benefit of this method is that you can send marketing messages to people who aren’t in your cardholder base but can be enticed to use your library. That’s a fantastic way to expand your cardholder base!

Drawbacks: A library using this method must commit to intentionally market the marketing lists. They must make sure the community knows the opt-in page exists and convince people to sign up.

Segmenting by cardholder location

Some libraries have sent messages to people who have indicated a certain branch is their home branch or to people who live in a certain portion of the community.

Benefits: This is a great method for in-person program promotion. People are more likely to attend events that are near their home. Segmenting your audience by their location is an efficient use of your time for program promotion.

Drawbacks: There is a certain set of library cardholders who are willing to travel to attend programs and events at branches far from their home. They may be interested in hearing from your library about certain types of events, no matter where they are held.

In addition, the branch a person most frequently uses may not actually be near their home! Many people frequent the library branch near their workplace or some other important and frequently visited location.

You may also find these posts helpful

Three SUPER Easy Ways to Get More Results from Your Library Email Marketing!

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

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Three SUPER Easy Ways to Get More Results from Your Library Email Marketing!


The #LibraryMarketing Show, Episode 43

In this episode, Angela shares three very simple ways you can add punch to your email subject line and header text. Doing one of these three things every time you send an email will increase the chances your recipients will open and engage with your emails. Here is the article with all the fantastic magnet or trigger or power words Angela mentions in the video, broken up into charts that will help you create an emotional reaction in your readers.

Also Kudos to all the libraries creating backgrounds for Zoom and Teams meetings using photos of their libraries. Library Journal has a great list of them. Here’s another great list from the Library Land project.

If you have a topic for the show, kudos to share, or want to talk to me about library marketing, contact me using this short form.

Want more Library Marketing Show? Watch previous episodes!

Check the Upcoming Events page to see where I’ll be soon. Let’s connect!

This blog consists of my own personal opinions and may not represent those of my employer. 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 Library Marketing Show Episode 10: Why Email Marketing is the BEST THING EVER for Libraries

Library Marketing Show Episode 10

Watch Now

Library News: IFLA’s new Idea Store! I’m obsessed. It’s a great place to exchange ideas. Check it out here.

Reader question: Leigh of Pikes Peak Library District asked: I’d like to talk about how to convince the powers-that-be that email marketing is the best thing ever. That email is not dead and ROI is high. That automatic opt-in upon card signup is a great option, and that people expect to be catered to. How to segment and the welcome campaigns…all that good stuff!

I talked about the value of email marketing and made a personal plea to senior leaders to let library marketing professionals do email marketing! Here are some more posts about library email marketing that you’ll want to read.

Be Quietly Relentless! A Guide for How to Win Senior Leadership Support for Your Library Marketing Ideas

Email is Not Dead! Here are Eight New Ways to Help You Get the Best Results

Kudos: To the Tulsa Public Library for their My Neighborhood Library video, which showed the value of libraries AND made me want to move to Tulsa! It had energy, it evoked emotion, it did exactly what it was supposed to do… it made me feel connected to Tulsa and I’ve never been there! Watch it here.

Stay in Touch

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

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.  


Email is Not Dead! Here are Eight New Ways to Help You Get the Best Results With Your Library Email Marketing

I have a thing for email marketing.

I think it’s fun. I like trying to figure out all the pieces. Which subject line is best? To emoji or not to emoji? How much text? What should it say?  What kind of photo or graphic should I use? What’s the best call to action? Who should I send it to? On what day and at what time?

I love experiments. I love sending the message and then watching the results. How many people opened it? More importantly, how many people clicked on my call to action? MOST IMPORTANTLY, how many people did the thing I wanted them to do?

Maybe I just like convincing people to do stuff.

Email is not dead, at least not for libraries. People want to hear from us. They love free stuff and that’s basically all we have to offer! I send tens of thousands of emails a week to my cardholders (I live in a large county service area with nearly a million residents). My unsubscribe rate is zero percent. No kidding.

Email marketing truly is the most effective method of digital promotion for libraries. I use it whenever I can at my library because it gives the best return on my investment of time and money.

And because it’s the most effective digital tactic at my disposal, I spend an awful lot of time researching email marketing. I read a ton of blogs. I listen to a lot of podcasts. I comb surveys for insights that will make my emails better.

I’ve started a document where I keep a bunch of statistics and insights gleaned. I realized that I needed to share these insights with you. Email marketing could be your most valuable asset too. So here are the eight newest things I’ve learned about email marketing that will improve the work you’re doing at your library.

How cardholders look at your emails

You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again. You must make sure your emails are mobile-friendly and responsive. About 3 in 5 consumers check their email on the go. 75 percent of Americans say they use their smartphones most often to check email. (Blue Corona)

And you must assume your cardholders will use their phones to respond to your email call-to-action. 62 percent of email opens occur on mobile. Only 10 percent occur on desktop. That’s huge! (Adestra)

Your cardholders are checking their email literally everywhere. People admit to checking email while watching TV, in bed, on vacation, in the bathroom, while walking, during meals, during commuting, while talking, while working out, while driving, and while at a formal ceremony! (Adobe)

Your cardholders are spending more time reading emails. In the last decade, the amount of time people spent reading an email actually increased by 7 percent, to 11.1 seconds. (Litmus)

How to design the best library email

Your subject line is the most important part of your email. It gets your cardholders in the door, so to speak. Focus on sentiment by using emotional words. Use different words for different audiences. The subject line for a message you send to teens will be completely different from the message you send to parents. Make it simple and easy. However, length doesn’t matter anymore, so you can make your subject longer if you need too!

Write like a human and make sure everyone can read your text. For the text, speak conversationally. No industry-speak (words like periodicals are out!).You don’t have to convey all the information about your product or service or collection item in the body of the email. Get to the point and drive users to your website or another platform for more information. Avoid multi-colored fonts. Use fonts that are accessible, like Arial, Helvetica, Lucida Sans, Tahoma, and Verdana. (Bureau of Internet Accessibility).

Make your email design hard to ignore. Use a one-column layout so people can scroll easily. Make the text large! Headlines should be no smaller than 25 pixels, body text should be no smaller than 18 pixels.  Call to action buttons can be pretty huge– anywhere from 44 x 44 pixels to 72 x 72 pixels.

Images matter. Photos of real people, especially faces with emotional expressions, are best. But don’t be afraid to use gifs too!

Learn more about email marketing for libraries

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

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

This Advice Will Boost Your Library Marketing Email Click-Thru Rates

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 15 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.

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One Gigantic Library Email Marketing Mistake To Avoid

This post is a short. That’s because I want to share just one tip this week. No need to blow up the wheel or create a whole new strategy or have a bunch of meetings. This week, there is just one thing I’m asking you to do. But this one thing will completely, utterly, and totally change your library’s email marketing effectiveness for the better. Are you ready? Here it is.

Change your marketing emails from opt-in to opt-out. That means every cardholder who gives your library their email address, in the past or in the future, is on your marketing list. They need to start receiving your marketing emails… immediately. If they want to opt-out, they can (but they won’t!).

Now, I know many libraries will find this to be a radical shift. I’ve been in conversations with libraries as they evaluate the pros and cons of opt-in versus opt-out. It’s clear that many library marketers, particularly those who come from a library science background, are deeply concerned about creating the best experience for their cardholders. They worry about angering their cardholders by sending them emails. They are convinced that library marketing emails are spam and they don’t want to be one of the “bad brands” that sends spam.

I do understand. I don’t blame them for their fears. But I know for a fact that those fears are unfounded.

A library is NOT a normal company. The rules about spam do not apply to you. I don’t mean legally. I mean that your cardholders want your emails.

People love the library. They love what you offer them. They want to know to know what’s going on at the library. They want to know when you have new books. They want to know when you add new services. They want to know when you’re improving buildings. They love watching stories about library workers. They want to know when you publish a podcast. They want to buy tickets when you bring a big author to town. They’ll come to community events where the library has a presence. THEY LOVE YOU.

You are not going to spam people or make them mad by sending them emails. Unwavering cardholder loyalty is the one, big advantage libraries have over their competitors in the profit world. And we should use it!

My argument for opt-out emails comes from lots of experience. My library is fortunate to have a good-sized staff in our marketing department. We send marketing emails nearly every day of the week. These emails do not go to all cardholders. We segment our cardholders based on several factors, including how they use their card, where they live, their age, and more We have a rather large service area. So, most weeks, I send tens of thousands of my cardholders. And my library’s unsubscribe rate is ZERO percent.

No kidding.  I see about 10-15 unsubscribes for every 10-thousand emails I send. Across the non-profit world, the average unsubscribe rate is about .19 percent, according to Smart Insights.

I worked the library outreach table at a book festival last week. Without prompting, customers asked about the library’s marketing emails. One lady said she heard her friends talking about them and wondered why she wasn’t receiving them! Several others mentioned they learned about new books and services from our emails. I had people GIVING ME their email addresses to check their status.

Do you think customers of other companies ask about their emails or talk about them with fondness to other customers?  I never have, and I sign up for A LOT of marketing emails from other companies.

Change that one thing and start sending your emails to every customer. They want to hear from you!

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, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. I talk about library marketing on all those platforms!

Stop Guessing When To Send Library Marketing Emails! Get a Free Calendar and Hit “Send.”😊

Watch the video

The Library Marketing​​​​​​​​ Show, Episode 173: What if I told you, there is a calendar that can help you program all of your library emails for 2023? I’ll share this secret resource and more library email tips.

Kudos in this episode go to the Milwaukee Public Library.

Do you have a suggestion for a topic for a future episode? Want to nominate someone for kudos? Let me know in the comments.

And subscribe to this series to get a new weekly video tip for libraries. Thanks for watching!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email whenever I post. To do that, enter your email address and click on the “Follow” button in the lower left-hand corner of the page.

Let’s Put This Big Question To Rest Once and for All: Sending Marketing Emails to Your Library Patrons Is NOT an Invasion of Privacy!

Watch the Episode Now

The Library Marketing​​​​​​​​ Show, Episode 153: In this episode, I will try to put to rest a question that continues to permeate the library marketing world.

Libraries are defenders of truth, democracy, and privacy. And in that noble quest, they sometimes hurt themselves by repeating the false myth that they cannot send emails to their patrons because it’s an invasion of privacy.

Email marketing is not an invasion of privacy. I’ll explain why and what you can do even if there are laws (not privacy-related!) that limit the amount of emails you can send.

Kudos in this episode go to the Oakland Public Library!

Do you have a suggestion for a topic for a future episode? Want to nominate someone for kudos? Let me know in the comments.

And subscribe to this series to get a new weekly video tip for libraries.

Thanks for watching!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, enter your email address and click on the “Follow” button in the lower left-hand corner of the page.

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