Four Versions of Email Text

This week I’ve taken on something that I wasn’t sure about doing — ghostwriting text for other people. I started doing this because it’s the fastest way to get things written. We’re sending out a fundraising email next week and I rewrote the copy to be more like a personal letter in the voice of my colleagues who usually write the text. They’re not really here this week, but I’ve been typing up their newsletters for 3 years so I’m familiar with their style.

Then this morning, I realized that I hadn’t heard back from a colleague for her opening paragraph in this week’s events email. She was on desk and I realized the fastest way to handle this is to simply type up a few different versions and let her select one. I hoped she’d personalize her favorite, but she did not. Can you guess which one she choose?

Take One
Can you spot fake news? Social media has made it harder to determine if something is true or not. In this one-hour class on Fake News or Real News, I’ll show you how to determine for yourself if something you read is a credible piece of information.

Take Two
As librarians, we are asked every day to verify if websites, books, or articles can be trusted. Is the information they contain factual, an opinion, or propaganda? In this one-hour class, I’ll show you how to determine for yourself if something you read is a credible piece of information. We’ll look at tall-tale signs that information may be inaccurate and how to find out where the information came from.

Take Three
Win online debates by backing up your statements and debunking false ones! In this one-hour class, I’ll show you how to determine for yourself if something you read is a credible piece of information. We’ll look at tall-tale signs that information may be inaccurate and how to find out where the information came from.

Take Four
How do you know if an online story is real or fake news? It can be tricky with emotional words tapping into the high stress of the 24/7 news cycle. Learn how to spots the signs of inaccurate news and how to find out the truth via credible sources in this one-hour class.

Answer: Take Four

Note: I just remembered that I did my first ghostwriting about a month ago.

Old Twitter Accounts

Twitter randomly showed me an old forgotten account associated with my library yesterday. It hadn’t been updated in four years. I did some digging around today and found out whose email address it had been associated with, contacted the department head, and we made the decision to delete it. A few minutes later, she emails me back and asks if I know about this other account. No. This one hadn’t been updated in five years and had twelve tweets. It felt good to delete them.

What was better: documenting the decisions in my work spreadsheet.

Current Publicity Workflow

I’m feeling a little better about how I’m doing at this new job. Using Asana to track projects is working well. My current workflow is such:

* Get a request for publicity help. If it’s complex, I schedule an in-person meeting.
* We meet in person. They tell me the scope, their dreams, and desired outcome. We discuss how to reach their audience. We sketch out our plan of attack.
* I go back to my desk and put it in Asana. Simultaneously, I cross-check due dates with my Google Calendar where I track the blocking out of time to work on projects.
* Then I use Asana’s project-level print view to print out the plan and deliver it to my colleague. It seems to impress the hell out of them to get a physical sheet of paper in hand.

I’m also trying to live up to the advice I got from the Cecily Walker interview I co-did with Michael Schofield on behalf of Circulating Ideas. The advice: pad your time. When I’m setting up my schedule for the following weeks, I block out an hour a day called “Downtime.” This is really code for “wiggle room” as things come up as they always do. Yesterday for instance, my day got hijacked for three hours. However, at the end of the day, I managed to get all my major tasks done thanks to the set aside time.

No Idea What I Did

My day was very full and I wrote around 20 emails, but at this point in the evening — 6 hours after leaving work, I have no idea what I did today. Something about the help desk, planning out new email campaigns, finding an image for an email campaign, coming up with a new short video to share…

I’m mostly updating this to say that I’ll be sharing my Web Writing class slides soon. Just need to get something verified before I can post them up.

First Week of A/B Testing a Split Email List

Last week I decided to split our weekly events email list in two: those who had opened an email in November and those who had not. The emails were identical for each group. I used A/B testing of subject lines for them to try and get the most opens.


* One list took one subject line and the other the second one
* Opens for the openers was ~40%
* Opens for the non-openers was ~15%
* Clicks for openers was 4%
* Clicks for non-openers was 2%
* As far as what each group clicked, the results were almost identical.
* Unsubscribes for the non-openers was higher than usual while we had no unsubscribes for the openers.

I reported the above and was asked what do we do next. Earlier this year I read about some major company making a major decision: they cut loose anyone who hadn’t opened an email in the past year. They lost a big chunk of their mailing list doing it, but it was dead weight which just dragged down their open and click rates. Once they were clean, they saw a real benefit in having a healthy and responsive mailing list.

I don’t think my library will decide to be that brave. The test will run for a month. Where we’ll go from here is unknown at the moment. I’m taking it as an opportunity to experiment and get to learn more about our email readers.

If you recall which company did that cutting block job, hit me up.

Five Years Weight

Check out my paperweight for five years of service!

I spent roughly 2.5 hours today on desk today. About 90 minutes of that was trying to write an email to a patron to ask for specifications about their print job. The joint was hopping though so a 3 minute email reply took 90 minutes to craft. I also learned the special kind of hell it is for a paper to be written in tables. Trying to format that into a legible format was very trying. It took about four attempts, but we finally got it converted to text and cleaned up.

Off-desk, I worked on a flyer for a very special program that’s coming up in January. The main thing I learned is that the public domain images for cupcakes, cakes, birthday cakes, and balloons is very poor.

Facebook Services

Courtesy of Darien Library

Do you know if you convert your library’s Facebook account into a business account, you can add Services to it? We made the transfer so we could buy ads on Instagram. Insider tip: this gives you an extra hurdle to do anything even something simple like post on your account.

I couldn’t figure out what I should really do with services. There is pretty much no info on FB itself (kept 404-ing) and the web wasn’t talking about. So I winged it.

Things to know:

* You can’t adjust the images’ location like you can for your profile pic.
* You only get 200 characters to describe it.
* I chose to use generic terms for services (i.e. not giving the actual name of our cafe) since I figured people would be searching for cafe instead of Cafe’s Official Name. I may even go back and change it out to Food and Drinks to be even more generic.
* I’m not sure what the best practice is for how many services to add, so maybe experiment with what looks right to you?
* Organize your services to be in most appealing order to your community.

The little bit of info I gleaned off the web is that Facebook Services is meant to be a way to connect users with local services. I hope it pans out for us! I’d like to talk with other libraries which are using the Services tab.

Elbow Deep in Design

I was pretty busy today working on three designs:

* Works in Town postcard
* Book Sale Yard Signs
* Touch ups to the Museum Passes brochure

I’m fortunate that our print house offers some handy templates to show me how best to setup InDesign for their needs. This was my first full bleed non-bookmark project, so this was a little intimidating to setup at first. The lawn sign took about 40 minutes. I wanted to just use our logo + black text on a white background. I rolled around the fonts a little to do different emphasis. It’s plain, but I think it’ll be easy to read as you drive past in January.