How’s It Going + Bitly Realizations

A small thing came home to roost today: 50% of my job now is emailing people reminders to do stuff. I’m giving myself reminders to email people to send me info for publicity items I’m making or promoting for them. I’m not actually making a lot of things at the moment since I’m busy tracking who owes me what for which program they’re hosting. Or to ensure that everyone feels included in contributing ideas for social media promotional materials. Today is World Poetry Day for instance, so I emailed five people to ask for a favorite poem to share. Then I snipped a stanza for a tweet, grabbed a custom short URL, and posted it to Twitter with a link and hashtag.

Social Media Ads
I’m also trying VERY hard to not obsessively check our Twitter and Facebook ad stats. We’re about to wrap up a several months long publicity run for a fundraiser. Once it’s done, I’ll compile a big report listing all our publicity efforts stats. Then next year I’ll clone the Asana project so we’ll know what items we have to do in the next round.

Note: we’ve been casually buying FB ads for awhile. I’m now obsessively detailing the stats in a new Google spreadsheet.

Speaking of custom short URLs, we purchased to use with our bitly account. I showed key players how to install the Chrome extension and use it to tag their links. We’re using the links in social media, emails, and some linking of items on the website. This turned out to be a bigger dive than I anticipated:

* It doesn’t appear that you can further customize links once you have a custom URL in bitly.
* In order to get bitly links to show up correctly in Google Analytics, I’d need to run the original URL through a special Google tool. Then take that new URL and plug that into bitly. I’m saving this for something special.

We did get our first custom URL to show up in a newspaper printed press release. This is very exciting!

Weekly Stats Emails
I’m also spending a fair chunk of time creating stat emails which I send out:

* Analysis of how the previous Friday’s weekly events email did in terms of opens and clicks.
* Outreach on which events were mentioned in the two local papers and social media highlights.
* On/off again email to my boss on what marketing pieces I created this week and who I held meetings with. I often get too busy to follow up on this one.

People Read to the Bottom

Courtesy of Darien Library

One question I’ve had is wondering if anyone ever read to the bottom of our weekly events email. It’s somewhat hard to tell since clicks aren’t overwhelming positive. However, this week I finally got a definite response to our Did You Knows:

* 50: CSA Farm Share
* 19: HBO’s Big Little Lies booklist
* 24: Save the date for an event

That’s HUGE for us. I’d like to thank our director and the Head of Adult Programming for helping me select the items we’d feature in the DYKs. Each week I put in three items.

New Micro Report: Clicks in Weekly Events Email

I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing in developing reports, but this week’s attempt at finding meaningful information is to send a new micro report. It goes to the Head of Adult Programming and the Children’s events coordinator. I list the top 5 events clicked on per category. My ultimate goal is to help event planners be able to better predict their audiences based upon email interactions. This is part of my strategy in reducing descriptions in weekly events emails to just titles + date. If people want to know more, they’ll click through and thus provide us with valuable information.

Now if I can get a steady pipeline from people on their attendance stats…

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.

Branching Out

Today I increased our publicity outreach just a smidgen by posting our PR on a local community blog. I have the Lazarus Chrome extension so that helped streamline the repetitive data entry for each event. If I’m not mistaken, one of the events was then published by the blog directly onto their FB page which was nice.

Then I reorganized the weekly events email A variant back to the usual order for my desktop-using colleagues. Tomorrow the test goes out at 2 p.m. What I think will happen is that the new design will win because you’ll need to click to see the full event details. However, we’ll get some complaints about people wanting their 1-2 line summaries of each event and/or the lack of images. I’m really gunning hard here for mobile users to get rid of those usually filler images. Then next week I’ll continue tweaking the new design.

I then checked out the signage on our first floor in anticipation of some collection movement. My suggestions weren’t earth-shaking, but I sent them to the person in-charge for review to look at the temporary suggestion. Honestly, the change is going to be so extremely subtle that I don’t think many people will notice.

Next, I set up a few meetings to discuss upcoming publicity things, getting one group on a schedule and to stabilize their publicity output. Throughout all this, I attempted to watch that MailChimp webinar on targeted emails. Between technical difficulties on their side and being the only notary around, I missed most of it. I didn’t learn anything from what I did see.

Responsive Email Drives Me Batty

A significant number of our email newsletter readers read our messages on their mobile devices. So I tried to switch things up and better organize our usual email to be mobile-friendly. This caused some confusion with all three of my internal newsletter checkers who are looking on their desktop devices. One said she was seeing a confusing jumble on her iPhone (I thought you were Android! When did you betray us, M?!). At this point, I’m ready to ask them if we can nuke the traditional layout all together this week and just send out two beta tests on the new design. I don’t know how M managed to not lose her mind all this time with this three column layout. It’d be fine if we weren’t dealing with date-based information.

Is there a group/place online just for email designers? If so, hook me up!

I spent the morning working on slides for the PechaKucha. From the looks of it, it should work great since I’m telling a tight, emotional storyscape over the 20 slides. We’ll see if I can get through it next week without crying since I’m such a softie.

DDoS Left Me with TinyURL

I noticed immediately something was up when I couldn’t load Twitter. As the publicity manager, it made things a little annoying at work yesterday since I had some tweets to send out. However, it really got my goat when I was forced to use TinyURL for a short URL instead of Bitly which was apparently also a victim of the attack. It did bring to the forefront an idea I’ve had for years: get our own custom URL shortener. I already have an idea of what I want it to say. It’s a secret for now until I see if I get approval for it. Anyways, here on my glorious (ha!) flyer, you can see the impact of the DDoS attack:

Courtesy of Darien Library

Courtesy of Darien Library

Yesterday’s production items also included an author poster, creating a FB ad, and making a handful of digital signs. Then I kicked Outlook on desktop repeatedly as it ate my first weekly events email that I’ve sent out in a few years. By eat I mean that it randomly added a hard line breaks into two blocks. Since the email design is based on columns, this set everything else under it to wiggle sideways in confusion. I tried duplicating a working block into one of the bad spaces. That was fine. As soon as I changed the text, it acted up. Then a lovely tech support lady from MailChimp spent an hour helping me. She couldn’t get it stop happening either.

Ah! I have lots of plans for this email. I’m guessing that by Christmas it’ll look entirely different.

Finally, I had a one-on-one. Their original item they had asked for tech support wasn’t available, so I taught them how to use another device instead. The main thing I took out is that I love having a phablet. It’s big enough to see!

Linking to Different Formats in Library Emails

Property of Darien Library

Property of Darien Library

A couple months ago, I was putting together our book groups email for my colleagues when I thought, “What if we make it easy and let people select their preferred format from right here instead of sending them to just a list with all the different format types?” When I showed my colleague, she was so thrilled that she told her boss about it and CC-ed me. Yay! Note: creating an email newsletter this way takes me 90 minutes.

Now I’m trying it in a second email newsletter. You can see the two versions I was looking at in the image above. Ultimately I went with the second one. On Monday, we’ll be sending out an A/B test comparing this version with one which is just large covers that link to a search of that book’s title in our catalog. Part of me hopes that this new version wins, while the other part of me would sigh in relief at how much quicker the book-covers-only version is to put together.

Presentation: A/B Testing in Library Emails

Email is not dead — in fact, your library’s emails are delivered to your patrons’ inboxes more than 90% of the time while Facebook continues to diminish how many of your followers even see your content. The trick then is to get your patrons to open your emails and then interact with the content in a way to drive value for your library. At Darien Library, we are using A/B testing to discover how to design email newsletters that get opened and acted upon. Our most recent test of changing a subject line generated 10% additional opens. Then by adding a digital service to an email, we increased usage of the service by 151%. In this short session, Amanda will go over some of the metrics you can test for in your email campaigns. She will be focusing on MailChimp, but other email campaigns also offer insights on how your users interact with your library’s emails.

~User Experience Interest Group at Midwinter 2015

I was fortunate enough to present these slides to the LITA UX IG on Sunday, February 1st in Chicago. The main takeaways are that:

  • It’s difficult to know why people click on things from A/B testing alone
  • Multiple tests are needed to try and narrow down results
  • A/B testing is fun

My favorite question from the audience was how does email analytics work — how can you know someone opened your email? I got to explain about the invisible pixel that is downloaded when an email is open. However, Apple and now Gmail skews the data since they auto-load images while Outlook does not.