Martin Doyce Digital Engagement in Public Libraries NSWnet DE & UX seminar 2015

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Measuring Digital Engagement in Public Libraries

Measuring Digital Engagement in Public Libraries

Why Digital Engagement?

So, why would we want to engage people online?Digital vs Physical Engagement

Different strategies,Same goals

I dont think it is correct to think of digital engagement separately from the physical library building. Your library has a reason for existing and you must undertake activities that have value to your community. There might be different strategies for physical and digital engagement, but the goals are the same.Experimentation is not Engagement

I just want to take a slight detour here and suggest that there is a difference between experimentation with online channels and engagementEngagement must be measured against objectives

If you are spending time (and therefore money) in social media, for example, or promoting library services online you should know why you are doing it, how it helps your library and whether it has value.

For me, the difference between experimentation and engagement is whether you have established objectives and are measuring how well you are meeting them

ACTIVITIESOBJECTIVESMEASURE RESULTSAnd your results should feed back into your objectives and activities.Using digital channels to connect people to the library

Attract non-users to the library

Increase use of collection

Heres a couple of the objectives that you might have for a public library

we want to strengthen the relationships we have with our users. We want lifelong users;we want to increase the membership base; andwe want increased usage of the library collectionThe rest of this talk will contain mostly statistics but DONT PANIC!

Ill be looking primarily at data from Google Analytics for the Sutherland Shire Libraries website. I know statistics and data arent everyones cup of tea but Hopefully I can tell a story along the way.

If not there are some colourful charts so you can just look at the picturesGoing beyond Sessions and Pageviews

How do people find our website?Where do they come from?

Hands up who reports sessions/visits and pageviews to the PLB statistical return and/or their council? If all you want is to increase those two metrics then you could turn your website into click-bait. If you want your visitors to do something useful on your site, however, you may need to look at some other reports

I do want to start with looking at how people come across our website. Any guesses as to where most people start when they are looking for the library website?

Channels: Jan-Jun 2014

The big one here is organic search - traffic from search engines - but not paid search results (so no Google Adwords)

You can think of this as people who search Google for something and then click on a result that brings them to our site. This obviously has big implications for how you write your content, which is the biggest single factor in getting a high ranking in Google search results. Its too big a topic for today but maybe there will be another chance to look at the topic of SEO.

Direct traffic is where someone uses a bookmark, or types a URL directly into their browser. You cant know all that much about direct traffic, but its good. It means people like us enough to bookmark our site or remember our web address.

Referral traffic is from people who have clicked on a link from another domain to get to our site. I want to explore this a little further and well come back to Campaigns, Social and Email traffic.Top Referrers: Jan-Jun 2014

Heres our top 10 referral domains for the 1st half of 2014. Remember this doesnt include google, which gets classified as search traffic.

Ive highlighted both the Facebook and the Facebook mobile domains here. Every other domain in this list is one of our other web properties - our catalogue, Overdrive and Freegal sites, our blog and our historical photos.

So Facebook is obviously the social media channel we need to spend most time on as it is most likely to provide the greatest returnSocial Media Sources: Jan-Jun 2014

Remember the little social slice of the pie in the previous chart?

This chart shows the breakdown of Social Media sources that make up the small slice. With nearly three-quarters of the social media traffic, the importance of Facebook over other channels is confirmed.Things Change

Social Media Sources: Jan-Jun 2013

But things change! For the same period in the previous year Facebook had a higher percentage of the social traffic and a higher gross number of referrals. We would have expected this to build year upon year as we build our reach in facebook. So whats going on?

Facebook InsightsFans: Time of Day / Day of Week

Facebook itself provides a great deal of information about your visitors through what they call insights. If you think about it they know a lot of personal information about who is using Facebook. Maybe their data can shed some light on why our Facebook referrals were shrinking despite our growing Facebook Likes.

This graph shows when the people who like us on Facebook are actually online using Facebook. But it looks pretty steady across all days of the week and the hours of the day. No real help there.

Facebook InsightsPost Types: Reach vs Engagement

As of February 2015 we had 1249 Likes on the library Facebook Page. Note that, at best, the average reach of a post with a link is 346 people. Reach is the number of people that potentially see any particular post.

300 odd seems on the low side given we have nearly 4 times that number of followers.

Facebook InsightsPost Reach: Paid vs Organic

And heres the clincher. It turns out the Facebook stopped showing all posts from organisational pages in individual peoples feeds.

They dress it up in some rhetoric about how people are dissatisfied with spammy posts from pages, which Im sure they are. But Facebook are happy to show lots of people your spammy post if you pay for it!

This graph clearly indicates the impact of Facebooks change to reduce the number of posts by Pages shown in an individuals feed. The dark orange peaks show the reach of paid for posts.

When we paid to promote a post it reached about 1000 people, near enough to all of the people that like the Sutherland Shire Libraries Page.Channels: Jan-Jun 2014

Im just going back to our original chart of referrals for Jan-Jun 2014 as a reminder, so that I can compare it with the following six months, from Jul-Dec 2014.Channels: Jul-Dec 2014

It looks fairly similar, but I can tell you that Referrals from Social Media have reduced from 0.65% down to 0.47%

Meanwhile, email has increased to 1.33% from 0.38%

That is because when we identified the issues with Facebook, instead of pouring money into Facebooks bank account, we decided to spend some money on getting serious with email marketing.

We had been doing some email marketing using free tools to send emails about library events and we were getting confirmation from our event bookings that email was one of the top ways people who booked in were finding out about our events.

Channels: Jul-Dec 2014

We set up a Mailchimp account so we could get more control over what and when we were sending. Email marketing is notoriously extremely difficult to get right. There are all sorts of pitfalls from designing html email that works across the thousands of clients to getting blacklisted by Gmail and Hotmail for spam. Mailchimp takes a lot of the difficulty out of doing email marketing well.

Part of the value is that they have extremely good reporting too. We get reports about every email campaign we send out and are consistently above industry average for opens and clicks. It costs but it is so worth it.Campaigns

Which leads me to campaigns.

Campaigns in Google Analytics track visits to your website from your promotional efforts, either in print or online but outside your own website.

Campaign Tracking

You can provide links to your website on brochures and posters, in emails, on social media and by adding some key/value pairs to the end of the link you can flag your promotional efforts and track them with Analytics.

We also use URL Aliasing on our print material to give people a short, easily remembered web address, which then redirects deep into our website with associated campaign tags.

Google URL BuilderGoogle even provides a simple online form that helps you generate your campaign tags.

You can see at the bottom of this slide that Ive highlighted the campaign tags. Im sure you have all seen these types of URLs when you have clicked on links in emails or social media posts. Now you know what theyre about.Buffer settings and Campaign URLS

And if you use social media sharing tools like Hootsuite, Buffer or link shortening tools like, etc. there are generally settings that allow you to generate campaign URLs.

Buffer is a tool that we use to spread out our posting to Twitter. We can load up a number of tweets and Buffer sends them out over time according to a schedule we set up. This slide shows part of the configuration settings that make it possible to auto tag any links we post.Visits to website via Campaign Sources 2014

There are a number of ways you can view the Campaign information in Google Analytics. This report shows the visits to our site from campaign sources, broken down by medium.

This clearly illustrates the relative effectiveness of the email channel for us when it comes to promotion.

But our offline or print promotion also generates traffic to our website. And most of these visits would be in response to print promotion of digital resources, brochures for Overdrive and the like.Supporting digital engagement offline

Taming Technology - Technology talks for seniorsComputer Help in the LibraryBrochures, posters & handouts

By digging a bit deeper into to our users behaviour we have confirmed the importance of supporting digital resources with offline promotion.

We do that in a number of ways. We have found that helping people get their devices set up for reading ebooks in person and giving talks on the digital services available at the library are key to increasing the usage of those services; far beyond what would be possible using digital channels exclusively.

And we got a bit of a write-up in The Australian newspaper for our Seniors Taming Technology lectures a couple of years ago.Event Tracking

So far weve found out more about how people get to our website and what impact our promotional efforts have on generating traffic.

But we dont just want people to come to our website. We have specific things we want them to do - to use our digital resources, subscribe to our email lists, etc., and if they arent doing these things we arent achieving our desired outcome. Event Tracking allows us to determine whether people are doing what we need them to do if we are to achieve our objectives.

How do people interact with your website?

Clicking on linksPlaying videosDownloading a document

These are all things that may not otherwise be tracked, especially if clicking on a link sends them outside your websites domain - to your catalogue for instance, or your overdrive site, etc.Calls to Action

This is a screen grab of the Mango Languages page on our website.

We want people to click on the Get Started link and use Mango Language App.

The cost of our subscription doesnt change if we get more members using the app. And more usage means a lower cost per session and a better ROI.

Therefore the design of the webpage should make it obvious and easy for users to achieve that task. We are trying to maximise the chances that people who see this page will click through to Mango and minimise the chance that they will do something else.

But clicking on that link will send the user to the Mango website; It is not recorded by our analytics without event tracking.Top Events: Jul-Dec 2014

By adding event tracking to our calls to action we can measure whether people are clicking on the things we want them to click on.

When someone clicks through to one of our digital resources we can record that click. This report shows those events by category. Those categories are things weve identified as links that we are trying to steer people towards. They measure clicks on the parts of pages we want people to click on.

The top one - cta-button-resource - contains the clicks through to our digital resources. Its pleasing that its at the top of the list as this is one of our top objectives - to smooth the path for users to our resources and thereby increase their usage.cta-button-resource by label

We can go even deeper in the cta-button-resource category and see which resources people are clicking on.

Once people click on these buttons in our website we lose track of them because they are moving outside our domain into the websites of our vendors. We are then reliant on the statistics and reports from the vendors but event tracking can really help identify if your website is helping smooth the path or not.Goals

As part of setting objectives to measure against we are in a sense defining what we want people to do on our website.

Some types of engagement with our website are potentially more valuable than others.

Using an expensive resource, something that we have spent a lot of money and/or staff time on, might be more valuable to us, for example, than someone using a cheaper resource. An event booking may be more valuable than an ebook download, etc.

Defining Goals

OK. Were getting deep now, so stay with me!

Google Analytics allows you to define task based goals. Each time someone successfully completes a goal on your website it is called a conversion and you can assign a dollar value to that conversion.

There are a number of ways that you can define a task completion. The classic example is by goal url. This is where you would show a specific page with a unique url at the end of a task. A thankyou page that is only shown when someone completes the signup process for your email newsletter would be one example; A confirmation of an order on an ecommerce site would be another example. If someone reached that url you know they have successfully completed the process.

Weve talked about events and another way to define the completion of a goal is when an event fires.

Heres our list of goals. The final step of most of these goals actually occurs on another domain. The email signup process happens at mailchimp. Ebooks and audiobook checkouts happen at Overdrive etc. so goal urls will not work for us.

Instead were tracking event completions for certain parts of our website. This helps us evaluate how well our website is contributing and whether there are parts of our site that are problematic for people trying to complete the tasks weve identified.Defining Goals: Book Event Button

This screen shows the setup of our Click on Book Event Button. Our ultimate goal is for people looking at event pages on our site is to come to our events. To do that they have to book their spot. And if they do that online it saves us staff time, which equals money.

Clicking on the Book Now button on an event page is an essential step on the path to coming to our events. And we have set up those button to track events in analytics.

Assigning that event to a goal in Analytics allows us to record a value whenever it someone completes it.

In the case of all our goals we are generally assigning a value of $1. This is still fairly new to us and we need to do some more work on identifying the relative values of different events on our site. But for now it gives us some data to look at.Goals Overview: Jul-Dec 2014

Here is our Goal report for the last 6 months.

As I said our relative values need more work but even with an arbitrary value assigned to our goals we can get an indication of the kind of ROI that our website contributes.

We can see the breakdown of the relative value of each of our goals.

And if youve noticed that the Subscribe to Email goal has zero completions I can explain. We have recently made some changes for that goal and as a result it doesnt show any completions for the selected time period.Channels by Goal ValueClick on Book Event button

And there are many different ways that you can break down the goal reports. This one shows goal conversions rates by channel for the Book Event goal.

Remember that Organic search was our top traffic source by a long way, however, it has a relatively low conversion rate of 13.49%. Only 1 out of every 7 or 8 visits from a google search result in a goal conversion. Even so it still contributes the most conversions for the Book event goal because of the volume of traffic that channel represents.

In comparison, the Other channel, which is essentially our offline campaigns (our brochures and posters, etc) has a relatively high conversion rate of 38%. Nearly 4 out of 10 visits results from our campaigns result in a goal conversion. Even though our promotional efforts might represent a small percentage of total traffic, the people who visit our site as a result of these efforts are more likely to do one of the things we want them to do. It is reports like this that can help you decide whether to continue or cease doing certain things.

No one has the time to do everything they would like to do. Its only when you measure your results that you can determine which activities are worth your time and effort.Humpback Whale Spout by Andrew E. Russell, on Flickr (CC-BY-2.0)

So, I realise that might have been a bit of a deep dive into Google Analytics so just take a moment to come up for air and take a breath.

Let me finish by focussing on what I really want you to take away from this talk...You should be tracking the same things that were tracking

I dont want you to think you have to remember exactly which things we are tracking at Sutherland. Everybody and every library is different and different objectives require you to measure different things.You should take note of all the reports & charts Ive shown

Ive only just scratched the surface of whats possible with Google Analytics. You dont have to remember which techniques and charts and tables Ive shown.

Theres a mountain of information and tutorials on setting up Google Analytics on the web. There are innumerable blog posts on the most important Analytics reports. And there are some very good courses you can do to learn more about setting up google analytics, all from people who have more in-depth knowledge than I do.

I can recommend the Loves Data courses, especially if you are prepared to go beyond the basics and complete their multi-day course.All digital activity leaves a trail.

Its easier to track and measure what happens digitally compared with what happens in your physical library

There are 2 points I do want to leave you with though...

Firstly, theres no excuses for not knowing how your digital services and resources are contributing to your library. The data is out there and its easier than ever before to measure whats happening in the digital world.

And for the most part other people keep the data for you on their servers. If theres something you dont know you can often look back through time and build a picture of what has happened.

Once you have identified what you are trying to achieve it is much easier to be clear about what you need to measure to determine your effectiveness

And secondly, if you can be clear about your objectives it is much easier to ask yourself the right questions to determine your success.

You have to know what you want to know.

Setting clear objectives helps with measurement but it also helps in all sorts of other ways. Knowing what is important helps you prioritise and make decisions about governance, content and design of your digital presence.

And thats the last thought Id like to leave you with.

Thank you.This work is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Sutherland Shire CouncilQuestions or comments?