Developing with data: Mapping engagement for greater understanding of library audiences




Covington, Elle

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Who hears the stories we tell and how do they respond? In order to build a strong supporter base, a library must know who their supporters are and what motivates them to engage. A data mapping project was conducted to determine patterns in rates of engagement with the library’s email communication. Email engagement data was combined with donor profiles to develop a greater sense of audience and their values in order to develop a targeted and effective communication strategy and identify and address engagement gaps.

Email engagement data was collected for over 23,000 email subscribers between January 2017 and January 2018. This data was then compared against the university’s donor database to gain insights on audience demographics and engagement both with the library and with the larger campus community.

The demographic information collected gave us a better idea of who had expressed interest in hearing from the library. We were able to determine numbers of alumni, faculty, students, and parents as well as which departments they may be associated with. Through email engagement statistics, we could tell what types of stories our supporters were most interested in and how language, layout, and timing impacted their levels of engagement with that content.

The donor data further enhanced our understanding of our audience’s values by giving us information on which university departments our supporters donated to aside from the library. This data told us a powerful story about what our audience cares about and how the library can tailor our messages to their values and interests. A set of guidelines and recommendations was developed from the analyzed data, which will continue to inform and guide the development of email content and sending strategies in the future.

This project models a way in which libraries can better understand their unique supporter base and develop more effective communication strategies designed to increase supporter involvement and engage potential donors.



Poster was presented at ACRL 2019: Recasting the Narrative on Thursday, April 11, 2019 in Cleveland, OH.

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