SMARKETING: SMARTER MARKETING FOR LIBRARIES.

Ross Duncan, Manager, Learning Communities Branch Sunshine Coast Regional Council. With increasing choices available to our members, and increasing pressures on members’ time, it is imperative that libraries “pull up our socks” when it comes to marketing. Much has been made of the letter “e” in front of goods and services relating to the fact that they are available and accessible electronically (think E-government, ecommerce, e-newsletters). While, the inclusion of an “e” at the front of existing services is purported to indicate that an innovative approach has been taken, quite often though, the “e” simply means “electronic”, and the service has merely been transcribed to a new format rather than “re-invented” or re-designed. “Smarketing”, (Smarter marketing) while not necessarily limited to electronic means, requires Libraries and their management teams to rethink and re-invent marketing and promotional strategies. In an operating environment when library budgets are under pressure, and there are increasing demands on the times of both users and non-users our messages must be targeted, easily accessible and the results monitored closely to ensure continued relevance. This article provides a brief insight into how the Learning Communities Branch of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council approach marketing and promotional efforts.

Background
Since April 2009, the Learning Communities Branch has been sending an electronic newsletter titled “More for you @ your Library” or “eNews” to a mailing database of library members on a monthly basis. This paper carries out some basic analysis of how people are using the information contained within the newsletter. There are approximately 37,000 email addresses in the mailing database, which is continually being added to as new library members join. Since the creation of the database, there has been considerable effort to remove the email addresses that do not function, resulting in a decrease in the number of “bounced” emails from 22% in March 2009 to approximately 4% in August 2009. The targeted nature of the content for each edition has also seen the number of “opens” (instances in which the recipient opens the email increase from 29% to 43% between March and August 2009. An "open" can only be detected if the recipient's email program allows it. The remaining percentage to whom the email was confirmed as delivered, may have opened the email, but their email program or technical environment will not allow the email to be tracked. With this in mind, the numbers presented here can be considered conservative. The efforts to keep the newsletter as relevant as possible, combined with the low frequency of issue, combine to result in a decrease in recipients choosing to “un-

subscribe” to eNews. From March 2009 to August 2009, the rate of un-subscription has decreased from 2.91% to less than 0.4% in the latest issue. The newsletter is opened by people in many countries around the world, as indicated in the following tables. Table 1 contains the summary of statistics of eNews issues to date.
Opens As % of total delivered 45% 29% 41% 40% 36% 43% “Unsubscribes” As % of total delivered 2.91% 2.02% 1.57% 1.09% 0.76% 0.39%

Month Mar2009 Apr2009 May2009 Jun2009 Jul2009 Aug2009

Total Recipients 42,348 39,297 35,919 36,825 38,159 37,455

Total Delivered 32,911 32,537 34,602 35,275 36,356 35,924

Total Bounced 9,437 6,760 1,317 1,550 1,803 1,531

Total Opens 14,868 9,341 14,273 13,967 13,211 15,514

Total Unsubscribes 959 656 543 383 277 140

Learning Communities eNewsletter March-August 2009 Deliveries and Opens
40,000

35,000

30,000

Total Delivered Total Opens Total Unsubscribes

25,000 Total number

20,000

15,000

10,000

5,000

0 Mar-09 Apr-09 May-09 Month Jun-09 Jul-09 Aug-09

The above chart indicates there is a trend towards increasing number of recipients combined with an increase in the number of times that the recipients open eNews.

When do people read eNews?
Generally speaking, the vast majority of people open eNews on the day that they receive it or the next day (see graph below). By the 5th day after receipt of eNews, the chance that the newsletter will be opened and read by the recipient is approaching zero.

Where are people when they read eNews?
Interestingly, many people all over the world are opening eNews and reading it. The map below indicates the location of some of the readers of the August 2009 edition of eNews.

What do people read in eNews?
The articles in eNews range from general information about the library service to details about upcoming events, to general interest articles. Since inception, the newsletter has aimed to contain articles relating to a variety of activities, while ensuring the length of the newsletter does not exceed two pages. On average, when items in eNews are simple information only, they tend to attract a single click per user. More complex articles such as “My New items Alert” or items used as reference tools such as “Great Reads” (a list of new books in the libraries, with reviews) tend to attract higher clicks per user, as people revisit the links. Table 1 shows the number of clicks on each category of article in eNews between April and August 2009.
Click Count 3374 2334 1574 1491 1475 850 381 319 302 140 76 62 Unique Subscribers 2702 909 712 1054 1241 696 342 271 251 130 74 57 Number of exposures 26 5 2 14 5 5 1 5 4 1 1 1 Average Clicks per user 1.2 2.6 2.2 1.4 1.2 1.2 1.1 1.2 1.2 1.1 1.0 1.1

Category Events Great Reads My New Items Alert Author Talks Libraries Catalogue Home page Libraries Home Page Home Library Services Computer Tutorials Learn Online Tax Help Book Clubs Information Picture Sunshine Coast

Table 2 provides more detailed information of the visitations to the various types of events held in the libraries. The items in the table are ranked in terms of number of clicks.
BREAKDOWN OF EVENTS Event Money Minded workshops Stay Connected workshops Reality Bites Green Steps workshops Composting Workshops March Into Africa Charity Seniors Week Michelle Smytheman Heritage Week home page JPs Loud Shirt Day Victoria Fitzpatrick Art exhibition Child Maintenance talks DeFacto workshop National Simultaneous Storytime Qlds top 150 documents Kawana Booksale NAIDOC week Voices on the Coast Click Count 694 329 307 284 265 241 205 169 134 133 132 100 96 94 66 61 30 19 15 Unique Subscribers 577 239 220 264 184 186 190 126 123 108 97 61 85 81 62 38 29 18 14 Number of exposures 3 1 4 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 1

Table 3 provides more detailed information about the interest in the various Author talks advertised in eNews between April and August 2009. The items in the table are ranked in terms of number of clicks.
BREAKDOWN OF AUTHOR TALKS Author Ann Rickard Nick Earls Annette Sims Gretel Killeen and Toni Jordan Stephen M Irwin Pam Hardgrave Peter Browne Coasters - Coolum Wave Writers Jenny Wood Pat Noad Paul Collins (part of VOC) Hilary Badger (part of VOC) Click Count 337 286 248 242 98 87 83 44 28 20 13 5 Unique Subscribers 184 187 214 159 84 55 71 39 27 19 10 5 Number of exposures 1 2 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Getting closer to our customer Another application of the mailout software is the ability to survey members, and have the software automatically collate the results. This function of the software has been used for a number of surveys, including; survey on Technology use in the home (see below), a survey of bookclub members, and their preferences for fees, a survey of staff to highlight wellbeing issues and to analyse staff viewpoints on internet filtering.

In April 2009, we published a survey, able to be completed online via a link contained in ‘eNews’. Within 2 days of sending the email to approximately 40,000 users, 1066 responses had been received and collated. The results are detailed below:

Question: Do you use Google Desktop? (This is not the Google search engine)
Answer
Yes No

Total
390 673

Percentage
36.69% 63.31%

Question: Did you know you can be notified every time we buy new books and DVDs that interest you?
Answer
Yes No

Total
294 769

Percentage
27.66% 72.34%

Question: Do you use... check all that apply
Answer
Wikis Blogs Facebook Myspace Twitter Newsfeeds/Aggregators RSS Podcasting Screencasting None of the above

Total
221 169 439 133 56 74 79 156 15 409

*Percentage
20.79% 15.90% 41.30% 12.51% 5.27% 6.96% 7.43% 14.68% 1.41% 38.48%

* Note that this was a Multiple Select question, and respondees could select more than one answer. The Percentage refers to the percentage of respondees that selected each answer.

Question: I would be interested in attending training in... check all that apply
Answer
Wikis Blogs Facebook Myspace Twitter Newsfeeds/Aggregators RSS

Total
145 221 184 129 177 146 123

*Percentage
13.64% 20.79% 17.31% 12.14% 16.65% 13.73% 11.57%

Podcasting Screencasting None of the above

266 158 574

25.02% 14.86% 54.00%

* Note that this was a Multiple Select question, and respondees could select more than one answer. The Percentage refers to the percentage of respondees that selected each answer.

Question: Do you find this enewsletter:
Answer
Fantastic Good OK Not Good Terrible - stop clogging up my inbox

Total
202 693 160 7 1

Percentage
19.00% 65.19% 15.05% 0.66% 0.09%

The results of this survey informed the development of the newsletter in a number of ways, including:

The next edition contained detailed instructions on how members could establish a “New Items Alert” within the Library management System to alert them by email every time a new item was purchased by the library service. This increased the utilisation of the service.

The management of the Libraries assessed whether to proceed to purchasing the Spydus™ gadget which requires members to have downloaded the Google Desktop in order to utilise the piece of software.

Provided insight into the level of use of, and interest in Web 2.0 tools (Wiki’s Blog’s etc) amongst library members, further identifying the need to offer training courses, or online content in this manner. Conclusion There is much left to learn about using ‘eNews’ to promote events and activities to our members. The information contained in this article demonstrate the amount of data that is stored by the mail-out software. Staff can access details of the history of a single subscriber over time and which issues of the newsletter they have received, and opened. It is also possible to access history of an individual subscriber and exactly which pages they have visited over time. More work is required to ensure that marketing efforts are more targeted to specific user groups, to prevent over-marketing to our community who are constantly being ‘bombarded’ with information from many sources. It is also imperative to ensure that the data is hosted in a manner that is secure and maintains confidentiality of members’ records. A thorough analysis of this data would provide valuable insights into the online behaviour of our customers and enhance our efforts to design new events and activities to enhance their attractiveness. With further effort, we can ensure that our marketing efforts: • Are more efficient, yielding better returns for our efforts • Encourage our members to access other virtual services we provide

Actively encourage people to conserve paper

The next steps in managing ‘eNews’ include: • Closer monitoring of conversion rates (from “clicks” to “bums on seats”) for varying types of activities. • More detailed information on the readership (is it possible to analyse demographics of readers) • Inform readership of changes made to Libraries since inception of enews. • Introduce idea of Customer survey through eNews as one method of survey. • Linking online behaviour to new purchases of library materials to increase borrowing of materials and events to increase attendance to events.

While we were certainly not the first library to adopt electronic newsletters, or even the first to analyse the utilisation of the newsletter, this article was written to encourage other libraries to continue to trial smarter ways of marketing their offerings to their members. “Smarketing” offers library services of all sizes the chance to develop and deliver services more closely aligned with their members and potential members than ever before.

Sample data stored for each user.

User name: XXXXXXX (email address XXXXX) This Campaign: Opens
Type Date 07-Apr-09 12:02 PM 04-Apr-09 12:22 PM 03-Apr-09 03:51 PM Country Region AU AU AU AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY City CANBERRA BRISBANE CANBERRA

This Campaign: Clicks
Date 04-Apr-09 12:37 PM 04-Apr-09 12:25 PM 04-Apr-09 12:23 PM Link kidsatsunshinecoastlibraries.wetpaint.com/page/Holiday+zone?... kidsatsunshinecoastlibraries.wetpaint.com/page/Holiday+zone?... kidsatsunshinecoastlibraries.wetpaint.com/page/Holiday+zone?... Country Region AU AU AU City QUEENSLAND BRISBANE QUEENSLAND BRISBANE QUEENSLAND BRISBANE

History
Date From Subject Opens Online Views Bounced View 28-Aug-09 Sunshine Coast Libraries Libraries this <libraries@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au> September... 10-Aug-09 SCRC Libraries August 09 <libraries@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au> 03-Jul-09 Sunshine Coast Libraries Libraries this <libraries@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au> July... 1

05-Jun-09 Sunshine Coast Libraries Libraries this <libraries@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au> June... 01-May-09 Sunshine Coast Libraries Libraries this 1 <libraries@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au> May... 03-Apr-09 Sunshine Coast Libraries Libraries this 3 <libraries@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au> April... 06-Mar-09 Sunshine Coast Libraries Libraries this 2 <libraries@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au> March...

Sample report of history of each subscriber in the mail manager software Clicks Report for XXXXX (email address: XXXXX) – 6 URLs

Link Clicked library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/sitePage.cfm?code=green-ste... library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/sitePage.cfm?code=library-e... library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/sitePage.cfm?code=seniors-w... [View] [View] [View]

Click Count 2 1 1 [View Subscribers] [View Subscribers] [View

Subscribers] twitter.com/SCLibraries www.flickr.com/photos/sunshinecoastlibraries www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/library/sitePage.cfm? code=learn... [View] [View] [View] 1 1 1 [View Subscribers] [View Subscribers] [View Subscribers]

About the Author Ross Duncan B.Sc. (Hons.), M.B.A. began working in libraries in late 2007. Ross has worked internationally in fields as diverse as scientific research, private venture capital, hospitality, language training schools, music recording, aquaculture, childcare and quarries. Ross is currently employed as Manager of the Learning Communities Branch of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council. The branch’s 190 staff manage the operations of 9 libraries, 3 mobile libraries and is visited almost 2 Million times per year. March 2010 will see the completion of the region’s 10 library, in Cooroy.