Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (CML) Marketing Director Cordelia Anderson

Savannah Community Forum Discussion Summary and Recording

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Serving a population of more than one million people with more than 400,000 active customers across 20 library locations, CML’s marketing strategy focusses lightly on promoting its collection and largely on its 28,000 programs and other services to expand its reach in the Charlotte community. 

In the video, Anderson discusses several examples where measurement plays a critical role in understanding the library’s progress to reach CML’s goals. 

As part of the library’s strategic plan, CML committed to measuring household market penetration over a series of years, raising the bar each time the goal was met. In quarter one fiscal year 2016, the library’s household market penetration was 37%. Today, CML’s market penetration is 48%. 

With the help of geographic analyses, email message testing, branch monitoring and cardholder behavioral analyses, CML has proven library marketing is valuable and effective at winning over customers. Key insights:

  • Heat maps evaluating the number of active users near outdoor advertising locations prove an increase in active cardholders near each geographic target.
  • Targeted email messages demonstrate that email recipients do more at the library.
  • Customer activity monitored during a library location closure validates inactivity assumptions and shifts to use in nearby locations.
  • Monitoring student ID cards that double as library cards provides an understanding of the effectiveness of in-school promotions.

Overall, data as a management tool provides a means to market effectively and be more thoughtful and strategic as an organization. 

Anderson points to the importance of obtaining and using emails to connect with customers and develop the customer relationship. 

CML’s email strategy uses an opt-out model with targeted messages to keep unsubscribes low, enabling the library to directly market services and send surveys for performance measurement. 

Weekly, CML sends net promoter score surveys (NPS) to a random sample of 7% of recent library users. Branch managers follow-up with dissatisfied customers (as part of their performance reviews), and scores by branch, segment and organization serve as the foundation for discussions to improve services and customer engagement throughout the organization.

CML customer engagement strategies include: 

  • A review of monthly service-focused campaigns;
  • Branch-specific emails targeting individuals by last activity location or home location; 
  • Monthly roundup emails focused on general news and seasonal highlights; 
  • Targeted emails for specific library use; and 
  • Foundation promotions—all maintaining unsubscribes below 1%.

Anderson concludes the discussion with a statement about the benefit of tying marketing and associated measures to the organization’s goals and outcomes, and further endorses the use of emails and surveys as an effective way to deepen customer relationships. In her final statement about trying new things, Anderson urges leaders to ‘test things out.’ 


“It’s not the end of the world if you are one of those messages that got deleted. You tried it, it didn’t work, it’s okay. But if you do try it and it does work then you can do more of that and continue to learn.” says Anderson. 


Watch the full presentation