Email Marketing: The Key to Boosting Reading Program Participation

Oct 16, 2018 | Articles

You likely send marketing emails before your summer reading program launches to promote your upcoming program and encourage patrons to participate. But email marketing doesn’t have to stop when your program starts. By continuing to send targeted emails during and after your program, you’ll reap even more benefits for your program and your library. Read on for tips on leveraging this promotional outlet from Douglas County Libraries (DCL) in Colorado, which was able to exceed its summer reading participation goal by 5% using this approach.

Target Your Messaging

DCL kicked off its 2018 summer reading program email marketing campaign a full month before the program started. First on the list of communications: a message to participants in previous years’ programs.

The library found targeting emails to be very valuable when it came to driving patron action. In addition to messaging that emphasized wanting these patrons to participate again, DCL offered those who participated in previous years’ programs the opportunity to register for the current year’s program before other participants. This incentive seemed to pay off, as more than 5,000 participants enrolled before the program officially began.

The task was made easier thanks to Wandoo Reader, Demco’s reading program management software, which allows libraries to email past program participants a friendly custom message with a link to register.

“Emails are effective because they serve as reminders to participate in the program, but they also make it easy to participate since Wandoo Reader is just one click away,” shared DCL Special Events Coordinator Kristen Kallio. “Not all online reading program management tools allow you to pull participant lists and easily contact patrons who have already expressed interest in your library’s reading programs.”

Keep in Touch Before, During and After Your Program

After sending messages to its full email newsletter list before the program launched, DCL also utilized email blasts throughout the summer. Their communication schedule included:

  • Reminders that participants can track not only books, but also magazines, e-books and audiobooks.
  • Emails encouraging parents who registered their children, but not themselves, to register and help reach community goals.
  • Mid-program emails to keep participants engaged and focusing on reading during road trips and vacations.
  • Updates on the community’s progress toward its reading goal.
  • Prize pickup reminders.
  • Thank-you emails at the end of the program that invited participants to complete a survey and updating them on whether the community goal was reached.

“We’re very fortunate that we have a digital marketing specialist who works with me to optimize our email communications,” shared Kallio. “Still, we work hard to have everything, including the emails that we’ll send throughout the program, ready two months before our launch date. That gives us enough time to test emails and work out kinks before we schedule anything to go to the public.”

Expand Your Ask to Build Your Newsletter List

DCL has used their reading program emails as an opportunity to invite patrons to sign up for the library’s newsletter. As a result, the contact list has grown, and the number of patrons who receive year-round communications from the library has increased substantially.
“Overall, we’ve found that most people appreciate receiving regular updates from their library,” said Kallio.

Want to hear more about how Douglas County Libraries used Wandoo Reader to increase summer reading program participation? Download the case study here.

Kayla Fargo

As Demco Software's Marketing Director, Kayla champions our efforts to educate public libraries on the need for a robust community engagement strategy. She works alongside our other teams to ensure that Demco Software's solutions effectively complement and amplify libraries' community engagement efforts.