In the digital age, long-standing community institutions like public libraries must adapt their service model to remain relevant. And when Queen Anne’s County Library approached us earlier this year to help increase their market penetration, that’s exactly what we told them. To remain eligible for an annual grant, the library had to increase their number of library card holders with a limited budget. We were there to help through digital advertising.
It became clear to us early on that this project needed to be digitally focused. It would be nearly impossible to significantly increase card holders if we made them come in to the library to fill out paperwork. After taking inventory of the library’s services, we learned they offered free music, movies, e-books and audiobooks to digital card holders through a program called Hoopla. We knew Hoopla would appeal to a target audience of county residents who commute at least 40 minutes a day over the Bay Bridge. These individuals are seeking travel entertainment such as audiobooks and music on their way to and from work.
Now that we knew what our message was going to be, we had to dive in to media planning. To stretch the limited budget, the media mix needed to leverage paid digital advertising mixed with grass roots efforts:
- Facebook advertising
- January: Audiobooks
- February: Movies
- March: Music
- Posters and takeaway cards distributed to local businesses
- Email campaigns to current card holders
- Activation Campaign: Sent to a card holder immediately after signing up. These emails explain how to get started with digital check outs.
- Approaching Inactive Status Campaign: Sent to card holders who haven’t been active in a year. These emails explain how to keep your card active digitally.
- Referral Campaign: Sent to current card holders. These emails ask to refer a friend to obtain a digital library card for a chance to win a Yeti Cooler!
This campaign ran for one quarter and was extremely successful. We received 89 new card holder registrations throughout this campaign— a year over year increase of 270%. 217 individuals signed up for Hoopla, a 139% increase over the previous year. Even with a limited budget, we could hone in on this very small audience through an integrated campaign. Queen Anne’s County Library has signed on to make this a bi-annual campaign moving forward!
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