Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Branch Develops Promotion Plan for Digital Resources & Measures Success Through Savannah

By: Susan Post

The customers at the Mint Hill branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library wanted more digital content. That was one of the major takeaways for Branch Manager Mark Engelbrecht after a customer service survey performed through Savannah last summer.

There was one small catch. The Library already provided access to a plethora of digital services.

“What I took from that was there was a lack of awareness that we had these services,” Engelbrecht says. 

Customer insights available in Savannah further reiterated what Engelbrecht suspected. Of the approximately 26,000 active customers at the Mint Hill location, as few as seven cardholders a month associated with that location were accessing some of these digital services. Alone, those numbers might look as though the branch’s customers just weren’t interested in digital content. But by using Savannah’s capabilities to ask customers about the type of content they want to see, the Library gained new insights about their cardholders and how they should approach digital content.

Engelbrecht developed a plan to raise customer awareness about the Library’s already-available digital services by promoting them with a “boots on the ground” approach in-branch.

Using Savannah, he would be able to monitor the effectiveness of their approach, analyzing the number of customers accessing digital content before, during and after their promotions, and even several months later.

The Library chose three services, dedicating a month’s promotion to each. The Mint Hill branch started with what Engelbrecht calls the “easiest” service, as an entry point and gateway to more complex services.

The promotions started in November with music streaming service, Freegal. The Mint Hill staff were given talking points like, “Did you know you can download five free songs from the Library?” and collateral to pass out with instructions, leaving customers with something to take with them as a reminder. Staff also offered one-on-one sessions to walk customers through how to download songs.

December’s promotion was for Hoopla. The service had just pushed out a great deal of holiday content, which came with signage and other materials the Mint Hill branch could use to bolster their efforts. Every interaction and conversation with customers during the month included information on streaming Hoopla’s movies, music and more.

Digital newsstand Zinio and its 5,500 plus available magazines was January’s focus.

Engelbrecht used Savannah’s filtering capabilities to narrow in on users active at the Mint Hill location and measure the number of cardholders accessing these services at the start and end of every month.

In September, just seven users that were active at his branch location were using Freegal. In October, that number was 11. After a month of promotion, the number of users rose to 114 in November.

“While it’s not breaking any records, it’s a significant increase,” Engelbrecht says.

However, another statistic further piqued his interest.

“We were not promoting Hoopla in October, however we had an increase in Hoopla from 18 customers to 157 customers,” Engelbrecht says.

When they actively promoted the service during December, Hoopla users rose to 200.

Before Mint Hill started presenting its customers with information on Zinio, virtually no cardholders were taking advantage of the service. Halfway through the month, Engelbrecht had already seen an exponential increase to 30 users.

Engelbrecht has a theory. Freegal acted as a gateway for Mint Hill’s customers to discover other digital content. He believes that promoting any one online resource in his branch encourages people to try not only that resource, but also others that are similar.

Instead of assuming that their efforts led to increased usage, the Library was able to align measures to targeted promotions in the Library with Savannah. They learned customers are responsive to in-library promotions, an insight they can leverage in the future.

The tracking also allowed Engelbrecht to see what happened when they stop promoting the services in-branch. While he saw a decrease in the use of digital products, he has already discovered an effective way to raise awareness that he can incorporate into continued marketing efforts.

Susan Post is a freelancer writer for OrangeBoy, Inc.