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cardholder marketing

Four Instant Ways to Improve the Most Valuable Page on Your Library Website

I find lately that I’m obsessed of late with library web pages. I’ve set aside time every week to look at how different libraries around the world set up their websites. What do library’s feature or highlight their homepage? How robust is their search engine? What’s in their drop-down menu? How is their library staff set up?

That last question usually ends with me scrolling through a library’s “About Us” page. And it’s there that I really get a sense of that organization, how it views itself, and how it views its relationship to its cardholders. This research brought me recently to this conclusion: Most libraries, including mine, need to update their About Us page.

Your library’s About Us page can be a gateway to all kinds of traffic to your website. Perhaps your analytics show that you aren’t getting any visits to that section of your website and therefore, you might think you don’t need to mess with it. But if you want to increase your market penetration or if you are considering any campaigns or direct marketing messages to increase the number of cardholders you serve, you’re going to want a kick a** About Us page. Likewise, if your library is in the midst of a levy campaign or waging any kind of battle with your city or county over funding, hours, or locations, your About Us page could help you in that battle. And that page will need to look inspire to win new users and funding.

The concept of a revolutionary change in the way About Us web pages are written and formatted is something that gets a lot of discussion in marketing circles for major brands. I hear it all the time at Content Marketing World. Many big companies have moved away from a traditional approach–a long and wordy mission statement in non-conversational language that usually includes goals which have no meaning to the customer. They’re writing in a conversational tone, including specific calls to action for customers, and striving for full transparency. They’re using their About Us page to connect with potential customers, build trust, and communicate what their brand stands for and what the customer can expect from a relationship with that brand. And I think it’s about time for the library world to get on board.

Chicago Public Library’s page is minimalist with clear language and an easy-to-navigate menu.

We should transform our About Us pages into something that really has meaning to our community. This is the web page where decisions are made by all of your stakeholders. You want the page to make potential cardholders feel “at home” and community leaders understand what it is that your library does and why it’s vital.

Here are four ways to transform your About Us page from an abstract section of your website into an amazing marketing tool.

Focus on the cardholder. Here’s a thought that many libraries have a hard time grasping: your About Us page isn’t actually about you. It’s about your cardholders. What is it that your library can do for the cardholder? Take your mission, vision, and values statement, which is likely written in lofty language, and rewrite it in a conversational tone. Or drop it from the page altogether! I know that’s a controversial standpoint but if your mission, vision, values statement is written with a bureaucratic bent, it won’t have any meaning to anyone outside your organization. Instead, think of your About Us page as a conversation between you and a non-library user. How would you, in normal conversation, tell someone about all the things your organization does? That’s what your About Us page should say. You might also take the opportunity to answer the most frequent questions your library gets from new cardholders.

I love how the Columbus Public Library answers the #1 most frequent question right on their About Us page.

Tell your Library’s story. Whether your library has been around for decades or is newly formed, there’s a fantastic story about its birth and its longevity. Tell it on your About Us page, in a paragraph, with inspiring and optimistic language. Keep your bragging to a minimum. If your library has won many awards, you can mention them briefly and put them into the context of how that award translates to better service for your cardholders.

The Perth, Australia library’s About Us page includes all the essentials-how to get a card, sign up for a newsletter, and what is happening today at the library.

Less is more. Many libraries, including mine, have a long list of accomplishments and sub-headers on their About Us page. My library has 19 clickable sub-links!  Pare it down. White space is good. Pick the five most important things you’d want people to know and move the rest to another section of your website. Remember, your About Us page isn’t really about you… it’s about your cardholder. What are the five things a person would need to know to convince them to get a library card or to give you more money?

The Scottsdale, Arizona library takes a minimalist approach and it works!

Visuals are key.  Great, high-resolution photos that show people using your library and the workers who man the buildings are essential. Photos of faces are scientifically proven to be a more effective communication tool that text. Bold, easy to read fonts and primary colors work best for communicating ideas and drawing the eye to the page. Keep text to a minimum and pare down to five concepts that will tell your story.

I like how the Toledo Public Library’s page is heavy on visuals and includes easy-to-navigate sub links written in plain language.

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.

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Did You Notice? This Website Has a Super New Name!

Ladies and gentleman, this week I made an important decision. I took a leap and decided to rebrand this website.

I have been thinking about you for months (were your ears burning?) I’ve been thinking about your jobs, your passion, your drive, your constraints, your strengths, your weaknesses, your fears, and your hopes. I have gone out of my way to talk to librarians, marketing directors, library directors, and cardholders. I have thought about what I hope to accomplish with these weekly posts and where I want the future of libraries and library marketing to go.

I decided that library marketers are superheroes. And you deserve an appropriate place to go online for advice, tips, fellowship, and encouragement.

And so, the new name of this website is:

SuperLibraryMarketing.com

superlibrarymarketing-com

When you type in this URL, I want you to think about yourself and your work the way I do.

You are super. You are awesome. You are heroes in a cynical, hustle-driven, no-holds-barred world.

This thing you do–library marketing–this is valuable work. And I hope you’ll find inspiration in each visit to this website.

I think you are super.

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.

 

The Perfect Time To Send Cardholder Emails

Perfectly Timed

Now that I’ve convinced you to send more powerful customer emails to your library cardholders, it’s time to talk about the right time to hit the send button.

I have one simple rule for library emails–shoot for your cardholders’ downtime. A great headline and great content is only half the battle for your cardholders’ attention. You’re also competing with their personal schedule, other messages sitting in their inbox, and social media. Your message is more likely to catch their attention if it lands in their inbox at the right time of day.

Why is timing so important in our on-demand world?  Urgency has a role in this phenomenon. If you’ve done your best job at crafting a compelling headline and a relevant message, then you’ve also created a sense of urgency for your cardholder. Your cardholder should say to him or herself, “I need to read this and act on it-right now!” Getting that message in front of your audience at the right moment increases the number of opens and click-through’s because it takes advantage of that sense of urgency.

We’ve done a lot of experimenting with time of day emailing over the course of the last year at my library. I’ve found there are three key times of day to send messages–really early in the morning (by 5 a.m.), lunchtime (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.), and before bed (between 8 and 10 p.m.). I’ve also landed on two successful days of the week–Sunday and Tuesday. But what works for me might not work for you, so it’s crucial that you do your own experimentation. Here are a few tips to guide you!

Think about your target audience’s daily schedule.  Sending a message in the early morning, like 3 or 4 a.m., means the email will be sitting in your cardholders mailbox when they first wake up in the morning. It’ll be among the first things they check. Sending an email at lunch means it’ll be sitting there when they check their messages over their tuna sandwich.  Sending before bedtime means it’ll be there when they scroll through their emails right before they fall asleep.

Experimenting is crucial–don’t fence yourself in. Try sending email messages on the same day of the week, but different times of day. So for instance, you’ll start on the first week by sending your email on Monday at 4 a.m., then the next week send another message on Monday at noon.  The following week, try Monday at 4 p.m. and finally, Monday at 8 p.m. See which message gets the most opens and click-throughs. Work through each day of the week to see which days get you the most traction. And remember that habits change. In six months, you may need to re-experiment if you see numbers slipping and adjust to your cardholders’ schedule.

Be patient. Give your audience time to open the email. I usually don’t begin worrying about opens and click-throughs until 24 hours after the message has gone out. Cardholders might find your message relevant, but don’t have time to open it right away. They won’t delete it, and that’s a victory too! You’ll notice opens and click-throughs will continue to build a week and even a month after a message is sent.

Track and adjust. Once you have that data and can clearly show a correlation between the send times and click thru rates, use it to your advantage!

Are you actively sending emails to your cardholders? What has worked for you–and what hasn’t? Please share in the comments section!

Subscribe to this blog for updates every time I post. Click on the little “Follow” at the top left of this page.

Connect with me on Twitter. 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.

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