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

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Advertising Your Library

How to Hook New Cardholders and Make Them Loyal with Email

We talk a lot about emailing our cardholders with information about new products, services, and collection items. But you can also use your email list in a powerful way to reach people who have just signed up for a library card.

Most libraries take a minimalist approach to “on-boarding” a new cardholder.  Once a person fills out a library card application, we hand them a card, a welcome brochure, and send them on their way. We’re friendly and we’re genuinely excited to welcome them to our system. But we make a mistake that’s common for a lot of businesses and organizations. We know our system inside and out and we often forget that our new cardholders know nothing about what we offer. We assume they can find their way to the things they need.

It’s important to help those cardholders learn to navigate the behemoth number of resources and items available at the library. A solid on-boarding campaign retains new cardholders and turns them into lifelong loyal users of the library. The first 90 days of a new library cardholder’s experience is crucial to determining their feelings of connection and loyalty to the library.

It also makes good business sense. Studies show it costs five times as much to gain a new customer than it does to retain them. A library marketer practicing good stewardship will want to do their best to keep new cardholders coming back to use the library.

The most effective way to on-board a new cardholder is through email marketing. Many libraries create a campaign with specific emails sent to new cardholders at a pre-determined pace. Those emails slowly introduce them to new features and inspire them to try out all the library has to offer. It’s easy to do this using some mail systems, like OrangeBoy and MailChimp.

My library has a 90 day on-boarding campaign set to run automatically through OrangeBoy. Creating it was a bit of process. But the effort was worth it. In addition to retaining customers, the on-boarding emails reduce unsubscribes for future targeted promotional emails. Here’s how we did it and what we learned about doing it well.

First, make a list of the services, events, and collection types that get the most use at your library. You’ll want to include information about the most popular features you offer in your emails to new cardholders.

Then, make a list of the services, events, and collection types that are interesting or unique to your library but don’t get a lot of use. These are the gold nuggets of your on-boarding campaign. You’ll have the attention of your new cardholder. The relationship is fresh. Why not use that to showcase the hidden treasures at your library.

Finally, create an outline of your campaign, mapping out each message, when it will be sent, and what it will say. Look at the two lists you’ve created and narrow your focus. Try to promote no more than four things per on-boarding message. You don’t want to overwhelm your new cardholder. Rather, you’ll want to introduce people to the library in small doses. Pick a theme for each message with a specific call to action. Keep the language simple, conversational, and free of industry jargon.

Create, test, and release the messages. This part took me nearly as long as creating the plan did! But you’re almost there.

Track results. Of course, you’ll want to use a Google URL tracker or Bitly link to see which services and items get the most interest from your new cardholders. You can also track unsubscribe rates, and if you have the ability to divide cardholders into clusters, you can see where your new cardholders land after they finish the on-boarding process.

Here are a couple of examples of my library’s on-boarding emails so you can see what we do.

How do new cardholders react to these messages? They definitely don’t hate them. Our unsubscribe rate is 0%. We’re a large system and we’ve sent these for several years to thousands of new cardholders. Over the course of our campaign, we’ve had a couple of hundred people unsubscribe.

We send six emails over 90 days. The first email gets a lot of engagement, which is not a surprise.  The fifth email about using your neighborhood branch (see the image above) is the second most engaging email for us. Overall, about half of the new cardholders we sign up end up becoming loyal library customers. Most use our computers but the rest are checking out physical and digital items or using our MakerSpace.

If your library is doing something to on-board cardholders, I’d love to hear about it. Please take this poll and tell me about what you are doing in the comments.

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!

 

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How to Get Media Coverage Without a Press Release

I have a revelation to share with you.

You don’t always have to send out a press release to get media attention.

I KNOW, RIGHT!!

Now, don’t get me wrong. You should not stop sending press releases completely. In fact, often, they are the best way to get a story to the news media quickly. They can make sure that the facts of an important story are published correctly. Here’s a case in point: this week, my library system had to close one of our branch libraries due to significant damage to the ceiling. This branch happens to be in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. We have many ways to communicate with our cardholders, including our website, social media, and email. But the folks who use this branch don’t always have access to Wi-Fi. So it was imperative that we send out a press release so those users could learn about the closure through non-digital sources, like TV and newspaper. The story contained accurate information on things like where we are re-routing holds and returns. It gave us some control over the story. There’s one advantage to the staff shortage crisis in newsrooms: outlets will usually copy and paste your press release and publish it verbatim.

My library used to send out a press release for literally everything. We sent releases for every contest, new vendors, and initiatives large and small. We were sending up to two releases a week. In theory, it sounds like our library was “killing it” in the PR department. But it turns out that kind of constant press release barrage translated to noise to most newsrooms. This is something we learned at the Cincinnati Media Day last year. We got to spend a day mingling with local reporters and asking them all kinds of questions about what we could do to increase our chances of coverage. (Check your local PRSA chapter-they may put on a similar event in your city. I recommend you attend-it was incredibly helpful.)

After Media Day, I vowed to take a hard look at our press release strategy. Which releases were getting coverage and which were ignored? After a careful audit, we’ve decided to stop sending press releases for things like our summer reading program, some of our exhibits, and small service initiatives, like our Tiebrary. This is a new service rolled out in May of this year. We allow cardholders to check out ties and scarves for job interviews. It’s my library’s first foray into the Library of Things realm, and we were really excited.

So why not send a release? We decided to take a personal approach instead. My staff made phone calls to key members of the local media, explaining how the Tiebrary works and why we were doing it.  Yes, it took more time. But it worked. We got coverage in some form on three of the four local TV stations and requests for a written follow-up, which were printed in local papers. Those written versions of the story were personalized by my staff to the audience of the publication requesting the story, which the publications loved. We also received a mention on the local NPR news radio station.

You will want to send out press releases for about 90 percent of the stories your library pitches to the media. But that last ten percent can get media coverage with a more personal approach. I know many library administrators expect you to send a press release, so I urge you to make the case, when you feel passionate about it, that a personal phone call to a news reporter will be much more effective. The end goal is more media coverage for your library. Libraries should be flexible in our approach with the media. We should deliver facts to reporters in the form that is most compelling to them and their readers. And for many reporters, a personal conversation is that form. So if your library administrators insist on sending a release for everything, feel free to print out this post and show it to them. They can even contact me to talk about it further.

And, if you do decide to write a release, I have some suggestions for you on how to increase the chance they’ll be picked up for coverage. These posts are all written after speaking with media professionals.

Lessons from the Greatest Press Release Ever Written

Reporters Reveal How to Get More Press Coverage

Eight Secrets for Library Press and Media Coverage

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! 

Manipulating Cardholder Feelings to Get Results

A cardholder recently leveled an accusation against my marketing department for making her feel all the feels.

Here’s the brief story: our library is trying to raise money for a facilities plan. We have several Carnegie-era branches that are not yet accessible to those with disabilities. So we’ve started a content marketing campaign to educate our cardholders and the residents of our service area about the problem, as we will be asking them for money to fund the facilities plan. In our first video portion of the campaign, we interviewed a veteran who cannot get into the library branch in his neighborhood.

When we released the video, one of the viewers sent us a message. She said, “How dare you  manipulate my emotions and try to make me feel sorry for this guy.” I think this person was trying to make us feel guilty for marketing to her.

Sorry, not sorry.

Emotional marketing is effective. We have seen it work time and again for our library and other libraries. You may remember the story of the Leeds Library campaign, which used story-driven emotional marketing to change that community’s perception of the modern library and its value. Leeds won an award for their campaign, and one judge commented, “We loved the application of real-life, personal journeys to draw on the emotions, capture the imagination and change the perceptions of the audience.”

Effective marketing appeals to emotions, not logic, reason, or even facts. This is particularly effective in the world now, where social media algorithms are cutting into our organic reach. If we want better unpaid reach, we need to constantly engage our audience. To constantly engage our audience, we need them to take an action on every post. To get them to take action, we need to motivate them through emotion.

Research from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow, published in Current Biology, says humans really feel just four basic emotions: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted. The kind of messages that get us engagement are all based on these basic emotions. When you feel happy or angry, you want to share that emotion with others in your social network. When you feel sad, you empathize with the subject your sadness and feel a motivation to help ease their suffering. When you are afraid, you want to take action to ease your fear.

Your most loyal cardholders are likely already emotionally connected to your brand, particularly if you work in a school or public library. The people who already use your library on a regular basis know it’s value. I bet you have superfans, and you know who they are. So what do you do with all that emotion? How do you make it work in your library’s marketing?

Ask loyal customers to share their stories with you. Conduct interviews with those passionate customers by email or on video and use those answers in many ways. Video marketing is the best way to capture emotion. There is no substitute for talking to someone on camera, for hearing their voice and seeing their facial expressions as they talk about your library. You don’t need fancy equipment. Pull out your cell phone, have them stand facing a window or head outside for a few minutes to take advantage of the natural light, and then ask them some emotionally charged questions about their library experience.

What is your favorite library memory?

Tell me about how the library has changed your life.

How would you feel if the library suddenly closed tomorrow?

If a  neighbor asked you to describe how you feel about the library, what would you say?

Ask your staff to share their stories with you. The next time you’re at an all-managers meeting, visiting another branch, or enjoying lunch with a fellow employee, ask them about life in their branch. Ask them to describe their customers. Inevitably, they’ll have one or two specific examples of people who have an unbridled enthusiasm for their location, or whom the branch staff has helped with a specific problem. Once again, pull out your phone, find some good lighting, and ask open-ended questions like:

How did that request by that cardholder make you feel?

Tell me how the situation was resolved.

Did you worry about how you would handle that request?

What is your relationship with the customer now?

And for good measure, I always ask, What compelled you to look for work in a library?

You can post these emotional marketing videos as a whole edited piece or in sections. You can turn the quotes into a printed piece for your newsletter or email list. You can create digital slides or posters in your branches using the quotes. My library used this tactic last year for a series of videos we called Customer Impact stories. We posted them on YouTube and on Facebook and is was one of our first pieces of video content marketing. The audience and our staff LOVED them. We broke them down and used them in our Library Links publication and in other ways, and they prompted more customers and staff to come forward with more amazing stories. It wasn’t hard and it didn’t take a long time to put together. It was effective. Score!

Adding emotional marketing to your regular promotional schedule keeps your cardholders engaged and feeling all the feels whenever they think of your library. It’s not something to apologize for. It’s something to be proud of.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

Get Your Library’s LinkedIn in Shape for the New Year!

This post is part of a series on revamping and re-evaluating your library’s social media platforms. At least once a year, you should look at your library’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and do the following:

Clarify your library’s social media goals.

Audit the current status of your library’s social media accounts.

Set new social media goals to move your library’s overall strategy forward.

Improve your library’s social media profiles.

There are not enough libraries-particularly in the public and academic sectors-using LinkedIn to reach cardholders. This particular social media platform has a lot of potential for great content marketing. It’s also a great place for personal connections with your cardholders because the audience is smaller and more focused on specific wants and needs like job improvement, workplace issues, self-help ideas, and personal growth. So here are some easy ways to improve your library’s presence on LinkedIn. And if your library is not yet using LinkedIn, try these easy ideas to develop a presence there.

Think about the kind of cardholders who will connect with you on LinkedIn and make your profile all about serving them. Don’t use your library’s LinkedIn to brag about your library. Your LinkedIn followers will want to see ways that your library can help them to better their careers. So give them information about books, classes, and events geared toward improving their professional lives.

Use relevant keywords in your profile summary and your posts to make your page easier to find in search. Words like library, career help, career classes, career books, self-help books, job hunt, shared workspace, and the like will help people find and follow your page. LinkedIn has a robust search engine–put it to work for you!

Post several days a week. That’s right, your library doesn’t have to post every day. But having a strategy to post two to three times a week is important. LinkedIn works on an algorithm and keeping up regular posts ensures that what you say will show up regularly in the feed of your connections.

Share news that is job and career-related that doesn’t come from your library. Like other social media platforms, curated content is important on LinkedIn. It’s perfectly acceptable for one or two of your posts each week to be non-promotional. In fact, your cardholders will begin to see your library as a true source of career and job information if you curate and share content.

Profile your workers. This tactic has been successful for our library. Once a week, we do a Worker Wednesday profile where we highlight someone working in the library–from the janitors all the way up to senior leadership. We get the most engagement from these posts and they’re easy to do. All you need is a photo and two lines–we usually ask staff to tell us why they like working at the library and what they’re reading now.

Post library jobs on LinkedIn. That’s right, you can use the platform to help drive qualified candidates to your Human Resources department! Users of LinkedIn are engaged in their careers, so what better audience?

More resources to help!

Why LinkedIn is a Hot Social Network

Important Stats about LinkedIn Use

How to Create a Company Page and Best Practices

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

Make Your Library Marketing Explode with Success for Very Little Money

Fact: customers hate ads.

Researchers at IPG Mediabrands Media Lab asked 11,000 consumers about their ad-watching habits and published the results earlier this year. 65 percent of respondents told the surveyors they skip online video ads. The most recent survey I can find on static digital ads is from the research firm Lumen, which found only 35 percent of digital ads receive any views at all and only nine percent hold the attention of viewers for more than a second. I couldn’t find solid, current numbers on newspaper ad effectiveness but I did this fascinating study focused solely on people who admit to ignoring newspaper ads. Those respondents told researchers they see too many print ads that are not relevant or interesting to them, and that many ads focus on the needs of the company, not on the needs of the consumer. I didn’t find any reliable data on radio, but there is a reason Pandora and Spotify exist and are doing so well. I couldn’t find any study on billboards that wasn’t conducted by a billboard-sales company but, from my experience, they’re expensive and not very effective.

Yet there are times when your library will need to do some kind of advertising. I get that. I would hate for you to spend big money and get no results. So I want to share the four most effective ways we’ve advertised at my library. They’re all cheap, easy, and effective.

Buy targeted social media advertising. I beat this drum regularly but it’s cheap and effective. Facebook ads are so easy to make, my teenagers can do it. You can create very specific audience targets and watch results in real-time, adjusting the ad as needed. I always put this at the top of my list because it’s really the best way for libraries, or any budget-strapped organization to advertise.

Ask your local TV stations to run your ad for free. My library did this for our summer reading program this year. We created an English and a Spanish version of the same 15 second ad, shot it on an iPhone, and edited it in Adobe Creative Suite. It literally took us a day, and our ad runs at least once a day on a top-rated station. The only thing I had to do in return was add the station’s logo to the list of our summer reading sponsors! I found that all I had to do was ask for the time. Sometimes, you’ll get a yes! Then your biggest problem will be figuring out how to get the ad produced… but that’s a good problem to have!

Be super thoughtful with signage.  My library has permanent signage holders at the entrances, on the second and third floors, and in the elevators. For a long time, these extra sign spaces were not what I would consider to be prime advertising opportunities. Then, one day, I hung out where those signs are located, watching our customers come in and out of the library. I noticed whether they glanced at the signs, and where they went next. I took those observations back to my office and gave careful thought to the messages contained in those signs. For instance, I started using the signs at the library entrances to direct customers to our amazing exhibits, which are in an obscure space on the third floor. Lo and behold, as I watched customers after those signs were installed, they would glance at them and then head for the elevators or ask staff for specific directions to make sure they were headed to the right area or to get more information about the exhibit. Sometimes I stalked around the exhibit space and would approach customers, politely asking them how they found out about the exhibit.

I took the same approach in the elevators. We have three banks, and there are three very different sets of library customers using each bank. I rode up and down for a while, trying to notice who looked at the sign and whether they would comment on it or take action. I try to gear the signs in each bank of elevators to be relevant to the customer. It only took a few hours of my time, but it made a world of difference in how effective those sign spaces are and it changed my mind about whether that space was valuable. The best part? Those signs are free!!

Enlist the help of library staff.  Your staff can also be a huge help when it comes to marketing. When your library unveils a new service, educate your staff about how it works and encourage them to strike up personal conversations with customers. Make buttons that staff can wear that say “Ask me about (insert service name here)” to help get the conversation going and give them talking points to help them feel more comfortable answering questions. Talking to your cardholders is the best way to get a message across. They’ll retain what you say if it’s part of a personal conversation, as opposed to a potentially unwanted advertisement pushed into their face.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

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