Promotion


It’s now been four months since we began our electronic newsletter promotion – asking folks when they register or re-register if they want our electronic newsletter.

In four months we’ve gone from around 60 subscribers to over 500, so in terms of raw numbers, I’m happy. As I’ve said before, however, I can’t budge the percentage of newsletters opened from it’s 30% mark. I’m happy that this means we’ve grown from 20 viewers a month to 150, but we can do better.

We put the newsletter together quickly when we subscribed to nextReads a year or so ago. It’s time for a change, and I think the best way to make that change successful is to reach out to our users.

Here’s the plan: in early October, we’ll send a personalized email to about a third of our subscribers (yes, about 200 of them!) asking for their opinions about our newsletter’s look and content. Not a real survey, nothing structured, I just want impressions. Then our PR person, our head of reference, one of our staff with a great visual eye, and I will sit down and brainstorm, with the help of those impressions, what story we’re trying to tell with this newsletter. We’ll select new images for the header and rethink the formatting. After we’ve come up with two or three prototypes, I’ll go back to our subscribers and see if there’s any consensus on what users like best. Then we’ll revamp and see what happens!

This will be interesting for a number of reasons: I’m interested in seeing what percentage response a personal email asking for opinions will receive. I didn’t do very well recently when I asked our downloadable audiobooks users about their impressions, but I have in the past, so I’m not giving up hope. I’m interested in what people have to say, most of all. And I’ll be interested in seeing if a revamp based on user opinions actually improves readership rates.

I’ll be sending my email in early October, and giving people until mid-October to respond. More then….

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I’ve posted on and off about the awareness campaign we began in June for downloadable audiobooks.  In June we ran some classes which were not widely attended,  had an electronic bulletin board campaign, some additional posters, etc. Got a little blip, but nothing to write home about.

I contacted users who had signed up with netLibrary over the last six months or so but hadn’t used the service (or used it much) and asked them why. The overwhelming answer was that they wanted to use the books on an iPod and that if they couldn’t, it was of no use to them. The next largest group said they didn’t find the selections very interesting.

(Note this doesn’t include our ListenNJ patrons, which is powered by Overdrive. Overdrive won’t let us know who our own users are. I have a problem with that, but that’s fodder for another post.)

I’m starting to come to the reluctant conclusion that until the downloadable services reach some sort of rapprochement with Apple, or Audible decides they want to get back into the library market and offers us something we can subscribe to, we have plateaued with this service. I still have some plans – seed my audio CDs with cards advertising downloadables (always good for a temporary upsurge in circ to cheer me up), revamping our web page, and maybe another limited class offering – but I’m not pinning my hopes on this any more.

I hate to say that, because we’ll be a baaaaad library if we get out of this service, right?  Plus, it has its constituancy.  It would be so much better if it would take off or just tank completely….

Jocelyn Harmon writes Marketing for Nonprofits, and we’ve been blogging back and forth about life, the universe, and libraries.

She recently put up a post called Don’t Market Like a Librarian, detailing her close encounters of the shushing kind of her childhood libraries and imploring librarians to change our ways. Now, we all know that the shushing librarian is juuuuust a little bit dated (even if Nancy Pearl, bless her, lent her image to the famous action figure), but Jocelyn’s got me thinking again about the nature of the holy grail of target audiences: the dreaded non-user. Are they the folks who encountered one too many real-life action figures during their formative years, and have sworn off us forever?

Jocelyn’s post talks about being guides to information instead of gatekeepers, using email and social media to communicate with patrons, and inspiring patrons to love and learn about information. We all know most of us have that and more to offer, but we’re not getting the message out to the important people like Jocelyn who were turned off by a library that in most cases, thankfully, no longer exists.

How do we reach the prodigal users?

This is a first: this is a rant. I had pretty much vowed not to use this forum to rant, and it will be a rant on topic, but it’s still a rant.

I’m a member of another group which includes a subgroup for people involved in marketing for nonprofits. The site lists everyone’s avatars, so I clicked one at random. Got a lady who specializes in helping nonprofits market themselves.

I clicked on her blog. A couple of posts down, she’s just loving a service called Bookswim – it’s Netflix for books, with plans that will set your patron taxpayers back between $220 and $360 per person per year to get a fraction (just books, none of the other great stuff we all offer) of what they’re already paying taxes for. Add a moderate Netflix subscription to this, and our taxpayers could be paying $450 or more in usage fees just because they don’t use their library.

(Okay, maybe they subscribe to Netflix and Bookswim and use their public library, but I doubt it.

Let me be clear: I’m not mad at my fellow group member. I guess Bookswim seems like a good deal, although as someone intimately involved with libraries, it doesn’t to me.

I’m just…discouraged. And jealous. How the hell does Bookswim manage to reach the people I can’t reach? The people who, in this day and age and economic times, shouldn’t be paying for the same service twice?

Grrrr.

Numbers are in for July downloadable audiobook usage…holding steady in the mid 130s, which is what we bumped up to after our late Spring advertising campaign and classes.

Time to delve into this a little further. We have two downloadable subscriptions, one of which registers patrons like a regular library. We had 47 registrations for that service from April 1 – July 31. Of those 47, 19 (or 40%) were staffmembers, test accounts for the classes we offered, or are people who are actively using the service.

I’m going to contact the other 60% by email and ask them why they haven’t used the service much or at all since they signed up. I did this a couple of years ago and found that most people dropped off when they realized you couldn’t use the service with an iPod. Unfortunately that hasn’t changed much, although Overdrive is finally taking baby steps toward the iPod crowd. Unfortunately, with iPod marketshare estimated around 70% (that low? see here) what we really need are giant leaps.

Keep an eye on this space for results.

It’s been a couple of months since we started our proactive campaign of asking new registrants if they wanted to subscribe to our electronic library newsletter. We’ve added about two hundred names since we began, and today I took a look at statistics for this year.

In July, we had 34% or recipients open the newsletter. This is exactly in the middle of where we’ve been for the year, when click rates have averaged between 30% and 40%. So we haven’t gained in percentages, but we now have 34% of 300 subscribers versus 34% of 100 subscribers.

Still waiting to see if this translates to increased usage of the services we’re plugging….

We began our campaign to increase registration and circulation in our two downloadable audiobook collections (ListenNJ and netLibrary) in the middle of May. So far we have publicized the service on our electronic bulletin board above the circ desk, and offered classes on the two services.

The classes didn’t attract many attendees.  We did, however, increase our registration numbers, which had never been more than 12 in a month, to 36 in May and 26 in June.

I was hoping that would translate into greater circ in June, but it really didn’t – we did hit a high of 144 circs for the two services combined, but that’s still just eight higher than last month, and about 20 higher than our average for the rest of this year.

For the next couple of months we’ll concentrate on revamping the service’s web page and reaching out to those already registered, to see if some one-to-one contact can improve circulation.

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