Content Marketing For Libraries

My Big Fat Failure and What I Learned From It

My Big Fat

I have a library marketing routine. Every six months, I go through all the promotions we’ve done and take a hard look at what worked and what didn’t. I adjust my email sending schedule and my promotional plans for the next six months based on the data I’ve gleaned from cardholders who’ve interacted with our messages and promotions.

This time, within about ten minutes of starting this process, I was reminded of what could be considered our library’s biggest promotional failure to date. It was an experiment, so the sting is lessened by the knowledge that we intended for this campaign to be a learning experience.

Yea, Ang, keep telling yourself that.

We have one library in our system with a cardholder cluster distribution that is something of a miracle. This branch is a perfect representative of our entire system as a whole. It makes it an amazing test subject for any promotion.

So our idea was to convince occasional users of that branch–people who only come in every couple of months–to come back to the branch by offering them a free gift in exchange for checking out any item. It was January and snow was swirling and we had these amazing library-branded snow scrapers. Maybe that sounds lame to you but trust me, at outreach events, those babies are flying off the table. In any case, we actually did not identify the free gift in the promotion. Our overall library strategic goal this year was to increase physical visits to the branch, and this promotion fell in line with that strategy.

So we identified the target audience with the help of Orangeboy, Inc., the company that manages our email promotions. Through them, we were able to pinpoint occasional users. We took a two-prong approach. We sent those cardholders a postcard, asking them to come into the branch with the postcard for their free gift. We also sent them a targeted email a week after the postcard, which you can see below.



We sent the email during a time period identified as successful for library emails in our system–on a Wednesday night at 7 p.m. 735 people got the email and the postcard.

The email’s vanity metrics were pretty good…  51.29% open rate and 5.57% click thru rate. But the overall results–getting people to come in and use the branch–was not exciting. 6.6% of recipients came in to claim a prize. Eight were email recipients. 41 people brought in their postcard.

What did we learn from this? Well, a couple of things may have been at play. Perhaps occasionals don’t use the library often because they can’t get to it physically. Perhaps they just don’t want to enter the building. A digital campaign–driving occasional users to our eBranch in exchange for a gift–may be more effective, although we’d have to work out the logistics of getting a gift to someone who doesn’t want to come into a branch.  Perhaps it was the timing. The weather turned out to be pretty miserable, with record-breaking snowfall in the week after the postcard went out.  The week in which the email was sent was mild. However, if we tried it in the spring or summer, we may have better luck.

And although I generally look at this as a failed promotion, I can say that we convinced 49 people who haven’t used the library in a long time to do so!  Circulation at that branch increased by at least 49 items that month. It just seems like a lot of money and effort for a small result.

Still, we’ll keep experimenting with unique ways to draw our old customers back to our branch. Have you done something similar? Tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to hear how your library is working to increase physical visitors.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the page and select “Follow.” 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 Million-Dollar Reason You Need to Market Your Library’s Collection

THE (1)

$250,000 vs. $8 million.

That’s the spread between the amount my library spends on programming and the amount they spend on collections.

I bet if you checked your library, you’d find a similar story. So why, my dear friends, do library marketers spend the majority of their time and effort promoting programs?


Please understand me. I’m not saying that library programming isn’t important or worth promoting. Library programs nourish the soul of our community and offer cultural and educational opportunities for those who might not otherwise have access to them. Most library programs are a valuable and important part of the library’s mission to serve the community. And they deserve to be marketed!

But most library marketing teams spend their energy and resources promoting those programs. And they miss an undeniably important fact about library usage. Library cardholders want the books. They’re checking out books. That’s why they signed up for a library card!

A study by the Pew Research Center published in September 2015 shows 66 percent of library cardholders use their card to borrow books. Only 17 percent attend a library program, class, or lecture. Think about what people say when they sign up a library card. Most are going to tell you they are excited to check stuff out! We take it for granted that people know we have circulation items–books, magazines, music, and more. We need to stop that.

If we want to compete with Amazon and other bookstores, we have to promote our main asset–the collection. People are hungry for information about new stuff in the collection. And every time I talk to someone about the library and I mention that we loan eBooks, eAudiobooks and downloadable music, they look at me like I have two heads. We’re spending a ton of money to build our collection and our customers don’t really know it’s there. When they want a newly released book, who do your cardholders think of first–you or Amazon?

Before I was a library marketer, I worked as a television news producer. That means I put together each night’s newscast, decided which stories were told, in what order, and how they were told. Every year, our news director would bring in a consulting firm whose job it was to help us improve our shows and increase our viewership. I was proud of my work as a journalist. But when I was presented with the feedback from focus groups, it was clear that most viewers were watching my show for the weather. Hearing what was going on in the world was nice, but what they really wanted to know was whether it would rain the next day.

In television news, weather is king. In libraries, the collection is king. Collection marketing is a valuable investment for every library. The best way to market the collection is through targeted emails. In the next few blog posts, I’ll be sharing some secrets for targeted email messaging–things I’ve learned in the 18 months that we’ve done so at my library.

But you can start collections marketing right now through social media–especially Twitter and Pinterest– and by featuring books on the front page of your website.  Create themed book lists–you can enlist your collections development department for help with that task. Talk about new books and popular books in your podcast or on your blog.

For a few minutes every day, spend some time marketing your collection. It will increase circulation and will help reinforce the image of your library as a place of vast resources in the eyes of your cardholders.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the page and select “Follow.” 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.

Improve Your Writing With Seven Tools

Write Amazing Library (1)

You’ve banished your fear of writing to become a better library marketer. You’ve learned how to unearth amazing content marketing stories about your library. Now, it’s time to get good at the real writing part of the equation. I’ve picked out seven tools to help you. Some are blog posts, some are eBooks and books, some are podcasts. You’ll be able to get through all seven in less than two weeks time and you will emerge inspired and ready to write!

Begin with the Beginner’s Guide to Storytelling from Quicksprout. The whole eBook is full of insightful and inspiring tips for writers, but this chapter really applies to the series we’ve recently covered on the blog. It explains every aspect of brand storytelling and includes exercises to help you structure your story, find your library brand voice, and create a style guide.

Go deeper into technique with’s 15 Storytelling Techniques for an Amazing Brand Story. With more advice for mastering pace, story pattern, and adding visuals through descriptive language, this post is a must-read for anyone who writes content marketing for libraries. It includes great examples of each lesson, including a write-up on the most creative inter-office memo in the history of corporate America. What does that have to do with library content marketing? Just read it. You’ll understand.

Not a fan of writing? Then you’ll appreciate Content Marketing for People Who Hate Writing from Contently. This post is full of great examples of content marketing efforts that involved very little long-form writing. Think about how much information and brand awareness is packed into product packaging. Could your library duplicate that? I think it’s worth thinking about!

Read or listen to the book Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. It’s life-changing. I’m only putting the Amazon link in here to help you to find the book in your library. I guarantee you have it and if you have Overdrive, you’ll have the audiobook version. You MUST read this. It is inspiring. It eliminates fear. Writing is something you can do, and Handley will show you how it’s possible.

The Periodic Table of Storytelling: MY NEW FAVORITE DISCOVERY!  Each element is clickable and explained in detail. They’re based on TV tropes but it’s completely translatable into other storytelling genres, including content marketing. There are also suggestions for putting elements together to make unforgettable stories. Send this one to every member of your team and make a point to read one element each day until you’ve read them all, as an exercise for stretching your creative mind. It’s just plain fun to read and will spawn all kinds of great discussions about popular culture and stories among your staff.

Get help with your editing using Grammarly. It’s not a substitute for a human editor but it’s a great way to give your pieces a first look for spelling and grammar errors, sentence structure problems, run-on sentences, and punctuation issues. You can add words using the personal dictionary function, which is helpful for those quirky instances that may be part of your library style guide. For instance, my library always capitalizes Library so I’m constantly fighting other apps and trying to explain why I’ve got a randomly capitalized word in the middle of a sentence!

Finally, be inspired by smart people and listen to the Longform podcast. Each week, hosts Aaron Lammer, Max Linsky, and Evan Ratliff interview a non-fiction writer about their life, their process, and their fears about writing. It’s a fascinating conversation and I love it because Lammer, Linksky, and Ratliff unearth the truth about writing… it’s gritty, raw stages and the hopes and fears of other writers. It will make you feel like a kindred spirit to your brethren toiling to put words onto paper.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the page and select “Follow.” 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.


Amazing Content Marketing Stories About Your Library Are Right Under Your Nose!

Amazing Stories

I love content marketing for libraries and I believe stories are the best way to build a life-long relationship with cardholders. Many of you share my belief. But the real chore of finding and telling those stories can seem a bit daunting. This post is here to help!

There are a couple of things I look for when I am in search of a good content marketing library story.

  1. Emotion. The joy of finding a book, the fear of not getting a job, the frustration of another night of homework without any help… these are all emotions felt by our library’s customers. Other customers can relate to these experiences and empathize. A good emotional story activates many portions of the brain, including sensory, memory, and empathy sectors. The more active the brain is while reading, the more likely it is that the listener/reader will remember the story. Emotion is the most important criteria of a good story. If it makes you feel something, it’s worth pursuing.
  2. Conflict and a resolution. A good story includes some conflict, whether minor or major, and a problem or situation that is resolved.  Without conflict, a story is flat and unmemorable. Look for stories with a beginning, middle, and end including a story arc that leads to a resolution.
  3. Simplicity. A story that’s direct, with less adjectives and more heartfelt and straightforward language is more likely to be remembered by the listener than a complex story with a long, winding narrative and lots of details and unnecessary description. Save the in-depth perceptions for your novel. When writing content for marketing purposes, draw a straight line from beginning, middle, and end and keep the story moving forward with clear language. Avoid industry speak.

Now, here’s how you can find stories that fit these criteria.

    1. Ask library workers to be on the lookout for great story ideas. I find a personal approach gets you better results with your fellow staff members. 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. Ask open-ended questions like, “How did that make you feel?” “Tell me how the situation was resolved.” Or make open-ended statements like, “That must have been a terribly difficult question for you to answer.” Then be silent as a cue for response. When you’ve identified a story with emotion, conflict, and resolution, ask if you can email the staffer later for more details.
    2. Crowd sourcing. This is a fancy way of suggesting that you periodically ask your cardholders specific questions like “Tell us about a time when your library helped you find some information you thought you’d never be able to uncover.” Or “Tell us your favorite library memory from your childhood.” Set up a form on your website and solicit cardholder stories on social media and in your email and printed newsletters.
    3. Social listening. This technique brought me a cover story for the next issue of Library Links published by my library. A Twitter comment flagged by our social media specialist led us to a man who planned to visit all 41 of our library branches in one day with his son. We immediately reached out to the man and interviewed him about his experience.  It’s an amazing story that other cardholders will enjoy reading when Links hits homes on Aug. 8.  And they’ll likely remember this crazy guy who drove all over the county in the space of a day, taking selfies and checking out a book at each location. It’s great library awareness for us! And we would have missed it had we not trained our social media specialist to flag tagged comments for potential stories.
    4. Library calendar events. Most library marketers have the regular calendar year events, like National Children’s Book Day, National eBooks Day, and National Summer Learning Day penciled in and marked for promotion. But instead of promoting mere calendar events, go one step further and tell stories by finding cardholders with an interesting angle. I do this through social listening. Here’s an example: we had a woman tweet us to thank us and share a photo of her child at a storytime. I tweeted her back and asked her if I could contact her offline. Then I sent her a couple of interview questions via email. I also asked for a photo of her family. I came away with a story about how our new evening storytimes meant that she and her family could enjoy a trip to the library together after work. This story appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Library Links (check page three). I also troll the program calendar periodically for unusual events but, instead of just writing about the event, I contact the speaker or presenter and interview them about in-depth questions about their program, their life, and their work. Our staff also does interviews with popular authors about their new books, their lives, and their writing process. Our cardholders love those profiles. They promote our library without promoting our library!

Content marketing gives you a chance to tell your library’s story without making a direct pitch. It increases brand awareness and improves your library’s image. And stories are fun to tell!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the page and select “Follow.” 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.

How to Banish Fear and Write Amazing Stories About Your Library

Banish Fear and

I have a secret for you, fellow library marketer. You have a superpower and you probably don’t even know you have it. But I’m here to reveal it to you. Embracing this superpower won’t cost extra money from your budget, doesn’t require extra staff, and will make your marketing efforts more successful.

The most powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal is your writing.

Now most library marketers don’t spend a lot of time writing. We might have a newsletter but let’s be honest, its mainly a list of programs and services. Frequent readers of this blog will know that I am an advocate of content marketing, which is more than a list of programs–it’s about telling stories.  I take this position because libraries are losing the battle with our competitors. They are getting personal and we’re not. They’re finding ways to connect with customers and we’re not. We’re still relying on one paragraph, fact-based write-ups about new programs or new services. We can do better. We need to talk with our cardholders using real, honest to goodness, heartfelt, emotional words.

I know what you’re going to say. I’m not a writer! Yes, you are. Everyone is a writer. Writing real stories about real people is something everyone can do. In the coming weeks, I’ll share some tips for how to actually do the writing thing… how to find and gather stories, how to structure them, how to write headlines, and more.

You know why people think they can’t write? They feel like they need to be perfect.  Stop trying to be perfect. Stop expecting what comes out of your fingers to be perfect the first time. Real life is messy and the best writing reflects that–it’s authentic and unpretentious. It’s not filled with jargon and facts. It’s emotional. If you’ve got emotions, then you can write!

Library marketers also think they can’t write because they’re scared of failing. Stop being afraid. Writing is just words.  They can be changed, molded, and manipulated later. Librarians are fearless–let’s follow their lead and be fearless in our marketing!

Sit down and write. I’m writing the first draft of this blog post in one, long swoop. I just put down all my thoughts, even if they make no sense. I forget punctuation and capitalization. I misspell words. I can fix all that later. That’s what you need to do. Stop waiting. Get writing. Write stream of thought if you must. But get some words down.

Write as often as you can–even if it’s only one sentence. I keep ideas in notepads. I jot down sentences that pertain to something I have previously drafted. I write down sentences or thoughts that inspire me. I write every day, even if it’s only a few sentences. That’s how you keep the muscle active–you have to use it.

Write in advance and then walk away. I write some press releases months in advance. If you know that you have to write a release every year for a recurring program or event, sit down and write it months in advance and do it in a way that’s different from before. Write it crazy! Don’t be afraid. Save it and go back to it later. You’re insane, made-up version may contain some brilliant nugget that you can use in the real release, something that will grab the attention of the media–because remember, they’re an audience too and we have to grab their attention just like we do with cardholders!

Sometimes I leave my blog pieces and my Library Links stories for months at a time. At this moment, I have at least 12 blog posts that are half-written, unedited ramblings.  Why? I let my ideas soak and marinate and form. Later, I can smooth them out and make them coherent. Sometimes I’m editing posts in short bursts for months at a time. I go back when the mood strikes me, when it feels right, or when I have a thought to add. This post, for instance, has been in draft form for about six months.

It’s okay to loosen up.  Sometimes when I’m writing a speech or an article, I take my laptop home, have a drink, and then tear into the first draft. Why? It loosens my internal tongue. It helps me to think more freely and makes me feel more creative. I don’t have to do it every time but when I’m having a little trouble getting that first draft out of my fingers and onto the computer, an adult beverage will help. Sometimes removing myself from my office and finding a hidden corner in the stacks to write will do the trick. Maybe you have something else that loosens your tongue–ice cream, taking a walk, doing jumping jacks.  Give yourself some creative space and the permission to write in an unconstrained way, and your writing improve.

Read as often as you can. Read everything you can.  Read stuff you don’t like. Read stuff you love. Wander your stacks, pick a book at random, and read a couple of pages. Listen to stories on audio book and podcasts.  Listen to news. Read magazines. The more you immerse yourself in words, the better your writing will be.

I think I’m an okay writer. I don’t get to write as much as I’d like but I do write this blog once a week and stories for our publication Library Links every three months, along with speeches and various other pieces throughout the year.  I look at press releases as a form of writing and I push myself to go beyond what’s expected or normal in terms of the form and function of the release to write something that really connects with viewers. Writing is my chance to connect and give my cardholders something to think about that they’ll carry with them long after they leave my library. That’s invaluable.  I want that for you too!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the page and select “Follow.” 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.


Stop! This Statistic is Destroying Your Library Marketing!


There is a pervasive statistic that is destroying library marketing. It’s repeated by marketers, educators, civic leaders, parents, and pastors and it’s driving me crazy. I’m calling bull**it.

The average human being has an attention span of just eight seconds.

This idea was born out of a study by Microsoft Corp. and was reported by many large news organizations, including Time, The New York Times, and The Telegraph in May of 2015. Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000, the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds. According to Time, the study highlights the effects of an increasingly digitized lifestyle on the brain.

“Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media,” the report read.

This finding was repeated nearly a dozen times by speakers at the Content Marketing World conference last year and in most of the webinars I attended. When referring to the statistic, most people will point out that humans now have an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish. A goldfish, in case you are wondering, reportedly has a 9-second attention span.

Please stop.  I know this tidbit makes for a great soundbite. It’s startling, disturbing… and misleading. It has huge implications for library marketing. We read that stat and we think, my gosh, I have to do something crazy to grab attention. I have to be BIG, BOLD, and LOUD or I’ll lose my audience. Then we create noise. Then our cardholders tune us out. Then we’re back to square one.

Here’s the big problem I have with the 8-second attention span statistic. There are actually TWO kinds of attention. The attention span studied by Microsoft is called transient attention. Transient attention is a short-term response to a stimulus that temporarily attracts/distracts attention. It comes into play when you read a billboard or a sign or watch a Snapchat video. It has a value but it’s not the goal post for great library marketing.

Library marketers really need to aim for engaging selective sustained attention span. Selective attention is the process of focusing on a particular object for an extended period. This is the attention span we use when we binge-watch 14 episodes of the Walking Dead in a single day, or when we read a good book cover to cover, or when we attend a concert, play, or sporting event. Sustained attention is where great experiences are found and great memories are made.  If you can engage your cardholders’ sustained attention, your marketing is going to have a greater impact.

I’m not going to lie to you. Sustained attention is hard to capture. If it were easy, everyone would be winning at marketing. But this is exactly the area that is best served by library content marketing. It’s an opportunity for libraries to distinguish themselves from their competitors.

If you blog or shoot a video or create a content-based magazine instead of a program calendar, then you are aiming for the sustained attention span of your cardholders.  Find a way to tell a story or share information that can help your cardholders, and not constantly trying to sell to them with one-off messages. Stories and experiences will have a lasting impact on your library’s relationship with your cardholders. That’s how we keep people coming back to the library, even when the economy is good and resources are plenty.  Library content marketing creates a real relationship with your cardholders.

Yes, it’s a lot of work. That’s why it’s important to refer to your library strategy when determining how to work content marketing into your overall marketing efforts.  Pick one tactic to focus on. Take six months and watch as your audience transforms. This happened for us when we turned our newsletter/program calendar into a full-fledged content marketing asset.

It wasn’t easy. I had to do some convincing in nearly every department. It took more time to write. I had to think, plan, and strategize more.  But guess what? Our circulation has increased. Our brand awareness has grown. Cardholders are actually asking to read Links and are coming to the Library on the day of its release seeking a copy.

We get to tell our story on our terms.  That’s invaluable. It takes the average person about 10-15 minutes to read the magazine–time they spend thinking about the library and committing our story to memory. You can’t put a price on that.

Your cardholders aren’t goldfish. They are real people and you can help them to make a lasting and meaningful connection to the library. Don’t worry so much about the 8-second attention span. Aim higher, and you’ll see better results over time.

Subscribe to this blog for updates every time I post. Click on the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the page and select “Follow.”Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat. 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.

What I Learned About Library Marketing From an Amusement Park


I recently spent the day at Cedar Point, one of the largest and most renowned amusement parks in America. Nestled on the shores of Lake Erie near Sandusky, Ohio, this park is known as America’s Roller Coast because of its amazing array of death-defying thrill rides.

I find myself viewing every experience with an eye toward marketing. I’m always looking to see what other businesses, both big and small, are doing right and wrong and what I can learn that will help my library marketing.

That's me in the purple pants.
That’s me in the purple pants.

There are huge differences between the inner workings of a library and an amusement park. But I took home more than a sense of adventure and a photo of myself screaming like an idiot while riding the world’s first floorless coaster! Here’s what I learned:

  1. Make your website easy to navigate and put the information that guests want front and center. There are several ways to buy tickets on the Cedar Point homepage…all are in plain sight and are easy to spot. Everything else is divided into categories with headlines that reflect the way real guests would talk. If you have trouble figuring out how to organize your website for the ease of your customers, it’s a good idea to ask your staff to make a list of the questions which guests ask throughout the day. Then turn those into website pages.
  2. Signage should be clear and minimal. Cedar Point has signs marking the entrances of rides… and that’s it! That might seem counter-intuitive. The park is huge and the map is, frankly, not much help. But there was no wayfaring signage anywhere and it didn’t slow us down. In fact, it encouraged us to roam and explore. And we knew when we saw a sign, it meant something. Libraries put too many signs in too many places, making it confusing for customers who eventually tune out all that visual overload. Choose your sign placement carefully and strategically, and when in doubt, minimize. If you’re worried that people will get lost, then remember the next lesson…
  3. Staff members should always be available to help customers! Every staff member at Cedar Point appears to be trained to answer a variety of questions, from how to find rides and restrooms to height restrictions to food booth locations.  If we needed any help, all we had to do was ask. What a treat! This easy, comfortable staff interaction made the day so much better. We knew if we had any problems, the staff would have our backs.
  4. Monitor social media all the time–no excuses. Now we come to the part of our visit that was a little disappointing. My family chose to buy VIP viewing tickets for the fireworks show in the evening. We decided to go on July 3 because frankly I thought the park would be crazy busy on the 4th! We got admission, parking, a seat on the beach for the fireworks and an all you can eat hamburger and hot dog buffet for a great price.  However, the fireworks show was disappointing. It only lasted ten minutes. We had watched the show the night before from our rental cottage and it was at least 20 minutes long. So I tweeted the park’s official account, asking why the show was so short. I got no response. I tweeted again the next day. No response. On July 5, I tweeted one more time, suggesting the social media folks read Jay Baer’s Hug Your Haters. That finally got a response from the Director of Communications.The fact that it took three days to get a response on social media is inexcusable.  Your customers will expect an answer from you in a reasonable amount of time. A recent study by Eptica shows 64 percent of customers who use Twitter to communicate with companies expect a response within the hour. Assign someone to watch social media accounts regularly throughout the day and evening, every day of the week, even on holidays. That’s the only way we’ll be able to compete with, and beat, big-box book and media stores and give our customers with the experience they demand.

    Subscribe to this blog for updates every time I post. Click on the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the page and select “Follow.”Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat. 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 Four Best Conferences For Library Marketers in 2016

Note: this post is aimed at library marketers in the United States because 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 just wrapping up and I’m super jealous of anyone who got to go. It looks like a great time! I know many of my library marketing friends were in attendance and I hope you brought back all kinds of feasible information that you’re willing to share with me!

But I think library marketers can find value by immersing themselves in the world of marketing in a conference setting–not in the world on libraries. I’m speaking from experience. For two years I’ve chosen to spend my conference budget allotment in Cleveland, Ohio, surrounded by some of the best minds in the business. (Here’s what I learned in 2014  and the biggest takeaway from the 2015 conference.)

At Content Marketing World, I talked to marketers working with budgets, talent, and executive-level commitment that I can only dream of. I admit that, at first, I was a little intimidated and jealous. But the conference gave me a whole new perspective on marketing and some great, creative ideas for fixing problems in my 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 for 2016!

Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio: With a Main Conference Pass, you’ll have access to two days of non-stop learning with 4000 of the best marketing minds in the business. There are more than 20 tracks to choose from with lots of relevance to libraries, including a back-to-basics track, social media, email, and content strategy. The speakers are engaging and inspiring. You set your own pace, so attend as many or as few sessions as you please. Plus they have an ever-flowing river of coffee, lots of great swag, networking opportunities, a concert by Cheap Trick, and all the orange food you can possibly eat. And, maybe most exciting of all, this year’s keynote is none other than Mark Hamill–Luke Skywalker himself. I expect the place will go bonkers when he walks out on stage!  The conference price is about $1300 for the main pass, but it’s worth every penny and if you listen to the This Old Marketing or Content Inc. podcasts, or if you follow CMWorld on Twitter, you can get discount codes or ask for one of the limited non-profit passes, which cost about $800.  I’ll be there again this year–join me! The Main Conference runs Sept. 7 and 8, 2016.

Social Media Interactive in Dayton, OH: This is a relatively inexpensive conference focused on social media, with speakers and panels for library marketers of all expertise levels. There are breakout sessions and keynote speakers. Tickets cost just $190 and include breakfast, lunch, and parking.  The conference happens Oct. 4, 2016.

Swivel Marketing Conference in Bend, OR:  A smaller, more intimate crowd packs this two-day event but Swivel’s organizers promise to inspire and connect you with the latest in cutting-edge marketing. It’s a great place to see what’s coming down the pike for marketers and to begin to think about how you can use the tools at your disposal in a more innovative way. Sessions are focused on Facebook, storytelling, and SEO… all things library marketers can use in their institutions.  Use the code SWIVEL before Aug. 31 and get an all-access pass for just $325 (regularly $499). The conference runs Oct. 10 and 11, 2016.

Library Marketing and Communications Conference in Dallas, TX: This is the second year for this conference, aimed exclusively at library marketers and I’m kind of sad that I can’t attend but my boss will be there, presenting with OrangeBoy about targeted email messaging for libraries. There are sessions on communications, social media, public relations, 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-$299 if you register by July 13 and $369 after that. This conference happens Nov. 16 and 17, 2016.

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

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 three dots at the top right-hand corner of the page and select “Follow.”Connect with me on Twitter or Snapchat. I’m@Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedInSlideshare,  Instagram and Pinterest

Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.


These Are the Five Metrics Library Marketers Should Care About


We talk a lot about metrics in marketing. We’re all under pressure to prove that our efforts are moving cardholders to action. And metrics help us to prove that.

Metrics also help us gain valuable insight into our cardholders–what they want from us in terms of customer service and circulation and what they love and don’t love about their library.

Confession: I love data. Data is clear and concise and it usually doesn’t lie. It can help you make the case when you need an increase in your marketing budget or permission to do something extraordinary. Tracked over time, data will help you to take the 30,000 foot view of your library marketing and see the big picture.

I do a lot of data gathering in my library marketing efforts. I’m sure you do too! But it’s easy to get lost in the quagmire of numbers and analysis. So I want you to focus on five data points that really matter to library marketers. These are the pieces of information we must gather to manage our marketing workflow and connect with our audience. Use these metrics to determine whether your messages are connecting with your audience and promoting your library’s overall strategic goals.

Actual circulation (increase of holds/checkouts). Pay attention not only to monthly and yearly circulation trends, but to how your marketing efforts directly affect pieces of the collection. If you send targeted email messages with links to certain items in your catalog, it behooves you to track how circulation increases by your efforts. I record the number of checkouts and holds before I send the message and then again for three days after the message. In general, I find that cardholders who want to take action on an email will do so within a three-day period of receiving it. This lets me see how well the message about this particular item resonated with the audience and, over time, I can compare efforts every month to determine which titles are most likely to pique the interest of my cardholders.

Percentage increase in circulation. It’s important to also keep track of the percentage increase of any circulation item you promote. Raw holds and checkout increases are great, but to get the bigger picture of how an item is really affected by your message, you need the percentage increase.  I use to help me calculate the percentage increase in circulation. Then I can compare results between titles as apples to apples, and not apples to oranges.

Conversion rate( number of people who click on a link and then place a hold). This is a new metric to me but it’s so helpful.  When I send a targeted email, I calculate the number of people who open the email, the number of people who click on the email, and the number of people who place a hold or checkout. The conversion rate is the percentage of people who clicked on the message and then placed a hold or checkout. On, it’s the middle calculator option.

Program attendance. Clearly, if you are promoting a program, you want to see if attendance increases. I email the branch manager one day after the program to ask for the numbers. Attendance numbers at my library are entered into a main statistical system and I could get access to them there, but only at the beginning of the month. I’m a little more impatient!

Amount of traffic driven to website via social media. Our library tracks how much traffic is funneled to our main public website via the three main social media networks–Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. We use Google Analytics to help us analyze how efforts on those platform are translating into action by our cardholders. This is an important metric to share with administration, because it clearly demonstrates how investing time and energy into social media can reap returns for your library. If you’ve never worked with Google Analytics, here is an easy guide to get you started.

Subscribe to this blog for updates every time I post. Click on the three dots at the top right-hand corner of the page and select “Follow.”

Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat. 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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