Today we welcome guest blogger Jennifer Burnison of the Lake County Public Library
In the fall of 2016, the Lake County Public Library (LCPL) wanted to reach out to community members who did not have a library card. We believed if we promoted our digital library services to the 25-39 year old community, we would see more individuals in this age range sign up for a library card and then proceed to use the library’s digital resources. This age range is defined by young professionals and young parents who feel they do not have time to use traditional library services, but we believed they would be eager to use our digital library. LCPL wanted to send postcards to this group promoting the digital library, along with instructions on how to sign up for a library card remotely, but we weren’t sure how to identify individuals in this age range who did not have a library card.
We overcame this issue by using Patronlink, a powerful library marketing, analytics and outreach tool that allows libraries to analyze and communicate with patrons and non-patrons alike. LCPL was able to upload and flag their current patrons’ records in Patronlink’s database of over 270 million individuals. Using the filter tools, we narrowed the file down to our service area and selected individuals who were 25-39 years old. Finally, we omitted current patrons from the list, giving us a list of all the 25-39 year-olds in our service area who did not have library cards.
Taking it one step further, we wondered if the income levels of these individuals affected their desire to use digital services. We knew our service area covered two zip codes with similar populations, but with divergent income levels. LCPL decided to only send postcards to the individuals aged 25-39 in these two zip codes and look at the key performance indicator (KPI) to see which sample had more individuals sign up for library cards.
The postcards were printed in-house and were mailed out at the end of September 2016. Around 3,000 postcards were mailed out using the post office’s bulk mail rate of $0.175 per postcard, for a total of approximately $525. Statistics were then gathered at the beginning of November 2016.
LCPL proactively flagged the records of individuals who received a postcard, so when we re-uploaded our patron list we would be able to quickly identify the individuals who had both a “sent post card” flag and a patron flag. After analyzing the results, we determined 1.8 percent of households who received a postcard signed up for a library card, while some households had multiple people sign up for cards. We consider this a successful direct mail campaign, as a response rate of two percent is expected for these types of mailings. As for differing income levels, there was no statistical difference in the number of library card sign-ups in relation to income levels; everyone enjoys low-cost or no-cost options.
For more information about the LCPL’s case study, contact Robin Johnsen, the library’s technology marketing specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Burnison is the marketing manager for the Lake County Public Library. For more information about the Lake County Public Library, contact Jennifer at email@example.com.