Tailor Your Email Marketing to Create a Better Patron Experience

Living through the pandemic has pushed us to find new ways to feel connected and build a sense of community.

Our digital connections by phones, tablets, and computers have become lifelines to help us cope and stay up to date on what’s happening in our neighborhoods and around the globe. This shift to digital has also impacted most facets of daily life, from grocery shopping online to Zooming toddlers’ story-time and singalongs.

We’re also seeking valuable virtual experiences, which means everything from cooking classes and Peloton workouts to book clubs and author readings.

All of this brings us to libraries, the accessible and vibrant hubs of learning, discovery, programming, and community events. With this new expectation that everything is delivered digitally, how do libraries connect with people and reach new patrons to build communities in a world where all kinds of organizations are vying for their clicks and attention?

Well, it starts with what you check first thing every morning—your inbox.


Libraries Build Communities and Boost Circulation with Email

Email is a mainstay of a cost-effective marketing strategy for businesses to grow customers, and it’s also a way that libraries can engage members and make personal connections with them.

Why? Well, to start, email is personal. When people use your library services and attend your programs, there’s already a level of trust and genuine interest in connecting with your library. If you cultivate that trust with personally relevant content, the engagement, support, and participation in library services and events will increase.

Email is also highly visible. It lets you get your message right in front of your reader with limited distraction. That’s because a person’s inbox is a relatively quiet space compared to the rest of the internet, where social feeds, ads, and pop-ups are in your face, trying to get noticed. By comparison, email is about individual moments of focus; you can only open one message at a time, so you’re devoting that moment to the message on the screen.

A Pew Research Center survey found 76% of adults have used email or other messaging services to communicate with others during the Covid-19 outbreak. Sending an email is equivalent to meeting your patrons where they’re spending their time. And an eMarketer report in 2020 ranked email among the top channels that adults prefer to receive communications from brands during the pandemic.



Send emails to patrons that are filled with visually rich content tailored to their personal interests.

Find Out More About BiblioEmail


Making Emails Personal: Get to Know Your Patrons and What They Want

Here’s the thing, a mass one-size-fits-all email misses the mark. People have different wants and needs, just like the patrons coming through your branches’ doors. By having patrons opt into your email subscriptions and providing their preferences, you gain an understanding of who they are and what they are looking for and can better serve their needs.

Using an email marketing tool like BiblioEmail (which creates highly visual personalized emails and pulls key data like preferences and interests from your library’s BiblioWeb taxonomies, such as audience, formats, genres, and topics), is a fabulous way to develop compelling content that is tailored to patrons’ preferences, and truly interests and engages them. You can also connect patrons with niche services and events based on subscribers’ interests. By sending targeted marketing emails, your library can ensure that your emails are opened, not moved to the trash, and don’t prompt recipients from unsubscribing from your list altogether.


Fun Fact: Patrons referred by BiblioEmail are five times more likely to place a hold or digital checkout than average patrons.



The Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report shows that segmented email outperforms general, untargeted sends; 39% of surveyed marketers who segmented their email lists had higher open rates, 28% had lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% had better deliverability and higher revenue as a result.

People like personal attention and communicating their likes, whether they’re dining out or subscribing to “insider” email lists to be one of the first to hear about your news and events. So, when they subscribe to your newsletter or provide implied consent by registering for a library card, you can start collecting information on their interests and preferences to tailor your messaging.


Libraries in Chicago and Arapahoe County Take a Personalized Approach to Achieve Higher Patron Engagement

Case in point, Arapahoe Libraries in Arapahoe County, Colorado, migrated 73,000 subscribers from its previous email marketing tool to BiblioEmail. Although they are in the early stages of using BiblioEmail, the library has already seen an increase in email open rates and click-through rates. The ‘April Newsletter for Ages 0-5’ resulted in a 56.6% read rate, with 32% clicks, and 22% unique clicks. The ‘Women’s History Month’ email had a 34.82% read rate, 18% clicks, and 11.5% unique clicks. The strategy is working!


Success Story: Arapahoe Libraries Transforms their Email Marketing Strategy, click to read the details

Arapahoe Libraries transformed their email marketing strategy when they upgraded their email marketing tool, Mailchimp, to BiblioEmail. This change means that patrons can receive email communications that are specific to their interests and preferences. By segmenting their audiences and personalizing their email campaigns, Arapahoe Libraries are seeing an improvement in their email engagement metrics.


The team sent out a bookmark design contest email for kids aged 5 to 12 that formerly would have gone out to everyone in the database. Instead, it went only to those interested in news for the 5 to 12 age group, and the metrics for the contest email were a success, with a 57.65% read rate, 33.2% clicks, and 24.8% unique clicks.

Another BiblioCommons partner, Chicago Public Library, sent emails that were personalized for specific segments. The emails sent to the ‘adults’ segment had a 41% open rate, a 21.9% click-to-open rate, and a 9.1% click rate. Compare those stats to the non-personalized library newsletters that were emailed to all subscribers during the same month, and you’ll see that personalized emails are much more effective. The non-personalized emails had a 21.5% open rate, a 7.5% click-to-open rate, and a 1.6% click rate.



Chicago Public Library compared the success metrics of their non-personalized email campaign to emails that were personalized for their ‘adults’ and ‘kids’ segments. The personalized emails had better open, click-to-open, and click rates.


The best web tools also increase library circulation, which is one of the long-standing metrics that libraries report on. Chicago Public Library’s first-quarter data from 2021 shows a strong conversion rate where patrons placed a hold or made a digital checkout when referred by BiblioEmail to the library website, compared to arriving at the site from other sources like organic search or social networks.

In fact, patrons referred by BiblioEmail are five times more likely to place a hold or digital checkout than average patrons.




Give patrons the online experiences they expect to receive.

With the Digital Experience Platform (DXP), you can keep your online patrons engaged with a website, an events calendar, and email marketing communications that integrate seamlessly with one another.

Learn More



Your Email Strategy is Your Gateway to Online Patrons

Email segmentation delivers results. To create compelling messages for each of your audience segments, of course, you also need the content to back it up. You can promote all your content in multiple places with minimal effort if you have a tech solution that can easily repurpose your events, reading recommendations, blogs, and featured online resources in your emails and newsletters.

And once you have subscribers, you don’t want to go silent for weeks on end. Email marketing on a regular basis is an effective way to keep patrons informed, excited, and plugged into the library community. We know that pre-recorded and live online services are widely used by the community, and more audiences are being reached than ever before. As libraries have shifted dollars from physical content to in-demand digital content, now’s the time to consistently promote this investment to your patrons.

When you think about it, your email strategy is a crucial touchpoint and gateway for so many patrons—and it’s one that might attract people who may never otherwise use the library. And with the marketing tools that get more done a lot faster, you can free up your time for what matters most, the overall patron experience.




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