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