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Five Content Marketing Lessons Learned at the Construction Site

Five Content Marketing Lessons
I woke up this morning with a tingle of anticipation akin to what I’d feel on Christmas morning. My library system is opening two new library buildings this week. We opened a third building last month and renovated another historic location last year.

This marks the end of a monumental project for our library involving an unimaginable amount of sweat, tears, mud, planning, scheming, logistics, and money. It’s been a test of endurance for everyone involved and I am SO PROUD of our system.

You can learn more about our construction projects here. As always, there were marketing lessons to be learned from the process.

1. Arm yourself with data before tackling a new project or idea–the more data, the better. What is it that your customers want? What do your customers do when they are interacting with your services? What do they do when they are not even thinking about the library? You need to know everything there is to know about your cardholders, not just their ages, email addresses, and circulation tendencies. If you are hoping to engage them with remarkable, valuable content that drives them to action, you’ll need to know everything about them. Seek out data in whatever way possible: surveys, one-on-one interaction, and third-party data collection.

2. Plan as much as you can. Build your content marketing strategy with a clear goal. This should be your vision. Keep it constantly in focus as you move through your year, always working on that goal. For every tactic you work with, ask the question, “Is this contributing to the realization of my goal?” If not, cut it out.

3. Be flexible about change. Halfway through your year, you may realize that the ideas you implemented for reaching your content marketing goals are simply not working. You’re not married to them. It’s totally fine to change tactics, as it would be natural to drive around a boulder in the middle of the desert on your way to the watering hole. Whatever you have to do to reach your goal, do it. If one of your staff members comes up with a brilliant idea for content marketing and it means you have to drop something else out of the schedule to make it work, do it.

4. Mud is okay. Construction is dirty. So is content marketing. There are many drafts to work through, a lot of stops and starts, and sometimes it feels like you’ll never get that piece of content published. You will. Have faith. You can always sweep up the mess later. The mess leads to something beautiful. Embrace the dirt.

5. Admire the shiny new building when it opens… then work to make it even better. Once you’ve released your piece of content, pat yourself on the back–then work to make it better. Refine the keywords. Check the tags. See if you can re-purpose it for other channels and audiences. Watch how the audience responds and use that data to make new editorial decisions for your content.

Has your library been building new branches or renovating existing buildings? What have you learned from the process? Share your thoughts 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.


Four of the Best Marketing Conferences for Library Marketers

Note: this post is aimed at library marketers in the United States, because so far in my career, my knowledge about conferences is limited to those boundaries. If you are a reader from outside the U.S., please let us know about great marketing conferences around the world in the comments. Thank you!

Four of the best Marketing Conferences

The American Library Association conference is a great conference. The lineup includes five days of author talks, big-name speakers, and informative sessions on all kinds of interesting topics like working with the LBGTQ community, providing programs for entrepreneurs, and website development, plus a rocking exhibit hall and, from what I’ve seen on Twitter, great book nerd swag. It’s also really inexpensive. It looks like a great time and I’d like to go someday.

But I think library marketers also need to go immerse themselves in the world of marketing in a conference setting. I’m speaking from experience. Last year, I spent two days in Cleveland surrounded by some of the best minds in the business. (Here’s what I learned!) These were people working with bigger budgets and more of an executive suit leash. I was a little intimidated and jealous, admittedly! But I also left with a whole new perspective on marketing and some great, innovative ideas for fixing problems in my own department. I went back to my library with a new zeal and enthusiasm, a desire to push the boundaries a little. I think that’s a good thing. I want you to have that experience too!

You need to go to a marketing conference.  There are lots of great offerings and they are all within a reasonable budget. Here are four of the best to choose from!

Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio: With a Main Conference Pass, you’ll have access to two days of non-stop learning with 2500 of the best marketing minds in the business. There are tons of tracks, speakers, and panels to choose from. The keynote speakers are engaging and inspiring. I’ve heard that this year’s conference is going to be really focused on measurement. The pace is as fast or slow as you want. Plus they have an ever-flowing river of coffee, lots of great swag, networking opportunities, a concert by the Barenaked Ladies, and all the orange food you can possibly eat.  I went last year and it was worth every penny. Monty Python star John Cleese is keynoting.   I’ll be there again this year-join me! The Main Conference runs Sept. 9 and 10, 2015.

Inbound in Boston, MA: An alternative to CMWorld, this conference is organized by the awesome and wonderfully helpful Hubspot.  Held in Boston during the same time as CMWorld, this conference is much bigger in terms of attendee population (10,000 attendees) and includes 170 sessions. Speakers include best-selling author Seth Godin; Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the co-founders of Hubspot; and Jonah Peretti, the Co-founder and CEO of Buzzfeed. Register before May 31 to get a full access pass for $1099.  You’ll also get unlimited beverages and free lunch from nearly two dozen food trucks! The Main Conference runs Sept. 9 and 10, 2015.

PR Week in New York City, NY: This one-day conference is packed with information about how to succeed in a rapidly changing marketing landscape. There’s an emphasis this year on marketing to the growing Hispanic population and ways to amplify your content during a talk by NBC Today host Al Roker. Breakfast, lunch and breaks are included as well as an open bar networking cocktail reception. Cost is $850 or $550 for a government or educational institution! The conference is happening on September 16, 2015.

Brand ManageCamp in Las Vegas, NV: This is one-track conference with a host of really intelligent marketers on  the speaking agenda, including Scott Stratten from Unmarketing (he’s hilarious) and Content Marketing Institute’s own Joe Pulizzi. It focuses on all aspects of brand marketing, including strategy, innovation, insights, customers behavior, metrics… you name it.  The cost is a little steep-$2199 for a full pass if you register by June 30, but qualified government and non-profit or academic professionals may get a 25% discount by calling to ask. The conference happens Oct. 1-2, 2015

UPDATE: Thanks to Kathy Dempsey for letting me know about a new addition!

Library Marketing and Communications Conference in Dallas, TX: This conference is designed for library employees of any level who are involved in marketing, communication, public relations, social media, and outreach in academic, public, and special libraries. The sessions will explore issues that are important for this niche of library work, and the conference will include time for attendees to network and to discuss mutual challenges. All sessions are applicable to academic, special and public libraries and the cost can’t be beat-$275 if you register by July 31 and $299 after that. This conference happens Nov. 3-4, 2015.

I’ll update this post with great new conferences coming up so be sure to bookmark and check it frequently!

Have you attended a great marketing conference or ALA? Please share your experiences in the comments section! And if you plan to attend CM World, contact me-I’d love to meet you.

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.

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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