Measuring Impact and the Service Review
Once a marketing campaign is complete, it's important to measure it's impact and plan for the future. Conducting a service review involves examining all aspect of the marketing process and making changes based on evidence.
Watch my narrated slide show at Vimeo (on the right).
In this section, we'll explore ways of measuring impact and conducting a service review.
Each of the following questions will be addressed on this page. For quick access, click on the question of interest.
- How will you know if marketing efforts have been effective?
- How do we ensure quality customer service?
- How can the marketing cycle be maintained and momentum continued?
Once the marketing campaign is concluded, it's important to determine whether it has been effective.
"Current information science literature says that library services need to be marketed to users. While the literature has a lot of advice on how to develop a marketing plan, there have been few reports on the actual implementation of a marketing campaign and the resulting impact on academic library services.." - MacDonald, vanDuinkerken & Stephens (2008)
Read It's All in the Marketing: The Impact of a Virtual Reference Marketing Campaign at Texas A&M University by MacDonald, vanDuinkerken & Stephens (2008) in Reference & User Services Quarterly.
Fisher and Pride (2006, 92) suggest the following questions to keep evaluation as painless as possible:
- What were we trying to accomplish?
- In what time frame?
- With what resources? To incllude money, staff, volunteers, etc.?
- Did we meet our goals?
- What went well?
- What needs changing?
- What lessons did we learn?
Many of the same approaches that are used for market research can be applied to campaign evaluation.
Example: Use website statistics to find out how many people viewed your YouTube video. If you've only got 10 views on your video, then very few people saw it. Why were there so few views? Brainstorm all the possible reasons, ask library customers, and think about your audience. Then, develop a strategy to address this problem.
The Maine State Library provides a marketing checklist for libraries to examine their marketing programs. They recommend examining three areas: response-based, transaction-based, and survey-based.
Response-based. Some campaigns include a call to action. This is a way to judge whether people are acting on the message. It's possible to count hits on a website or the number of coupons traded in for merchandise.
Transaction-based. Tracing changes in circulation, attendance at an event, or changes in study room can connect the marketing efforts to changes in behavior.
Example: Many libraries are offering Maker Space workshops using online resources like MakeyMakey to generate project ideas. Keep track of the number of people using the spaces, attending the workshops, and number of "kits" used or items produced at the maker stations.
Survey-based. Ask users where they learned about a product or service.
Counting can provide useful data. Consider some of the following areas:
- Number of new library cards issued.
- Amount of money raised.
- Number of overdue books returned.
- Number of people walking through the door.
- Number of items purchased.
- Number of coupons turned in.
- Number of people attending.
- Number of books circulated.
- Number of web page hits.
- Number of comments on the blog.
- Number of surveys returned.
- Number of people participating in the poll.
Many marketing campaigns are using social technologies and mobile applications. It's important to think about ways to track how these tools are being used.
Handley and Chapman (2011, 26-27) suggest that you measure specific types of content such as
- Subscribers - The number of people who have subscribed to your blog via RSS or e-mail to get the latest content automatically.
- Inbound Links - The number of other sites that are linking to your site. Most search engines like Google or Bing or Yahoo! can display this number for you.
- Comment - How much interaction do you have in the comments section of your blog? This is a good measure of how engaged your readers are.
- Social Validation - How many people socially validated your content by liking it on Facebook, tweeting it on Twitter, or otherwise sharing it through social channels?
- Views - All photo- and video-sharing services will display the number of views. If you share across multiple services, you will need to add these numbers up or use a service such as TubeMogul to do it for you.
- Likes, Thumbs-up, and Favorites - Similar to blogs, most services have some form of so-called social validation, like the ability to like or favorite a video.
- Signups and Attendees - How many people took the time to fill out your registration form? How many of them actually showed up on the date and at the time to take part in the event? How many viewed it later, on demand?
- Downloads - How many people downloaded a copy of your ebook or white paper?
Read Library Mobile Applications: What Counts as Success? by Bruce Washburn.
Create a plan for tracking social media and mobile application use in marketing.
Another approach is to conduct audits of particular aspects of the marketing program. For instance, Amy Stempler and Mark Polger (2013) recommend a library signage audit.
Read Stempler, Amy F. & Polger, Mark Aaron (2013). Do you see the signs? Evaluating language, branding, and design in a library signage audit. Public Services Quarterly, 9, 121-135.
Apply some of the ideas in this article to examining the signage in a library.
Observation is one approach that can be used to examine customer service. Hernon and Altman (1996, 122) recommends observing several groups of people interacting with staff. Topics can be rated from excellent to improvement needed in the following categories:
- seems approachable
- listens to customer
- body language is open, relaxes
- uses open questions to probe customer need
- able to determine customer request
- willing to leave desk if necessary
- includes customer in search
- expert in using electronic information or equipment, if necessary
- demonstrates knowledge of appropriate information sources
- provides material pertinent to customer request
- appropriately refers customer to other agency or department
- checks to ensure customer got needed information or materials
In-person observations can be made, but recorded observations are also effective.
Example: Set up a video camera recording activity at key service points in the library, record high track areas to check for building maintenance issues, and record activities at other points in the library.
Physical checklists are an effective way to evaluate the physical environments that are connected to customer service. Hernon and Altman (1996, 123-124) suggest some of the following topics:
- shelves in order
- lighting is adequate
- condition of furniture
- cleanliness of public space
- cleanliness of restroom
- drinking fountain clean
- noise level acceptable
At the end of the marketing cycle, it's necessary to reflect on the process and immediately jump into the next round. Ask yourself:
- What went well? What were the strengths of the campaign?
- What didn't go well? What were the weaknesses of the campaign?
- What evidence (i.e., survey results, interview results) supports the success of the campaign?
- What approaches should be adjusted in future campaigns?
- How can new contacts be incorporated into future campaigns?
Go to Worksheet 1: Strategic Planning Self-Grade Card by Fisher and Pride (2006).
Adapt this worksheet for your project.
Doucett, Elisabeth (2008). Creating Your Library Brand: Communicating Your Relevance and Value to Your Patrons. ALA Editions. 75-80.
Dowd, Nancy, Evangeliste, Mary, & Silberman, Jonathan (2010). Bite-Sized Marketing: Realistic Solutions for the Over-worked Librarian. ALA Editions.
Fisher, Patricia & Pride, Marseille M. (2006). Blueprint for Your Library Marketing Plan: A Guide to Help You Survive and Thrive, ALA Editions.
Handley, Ann & Chapman, C.C. (2010). Content Rules. Wiley.
Hernon, Peter & Altman, Ellen (1996). Service Quality in Academic Libraries. Greenwood Publishing.
Lovelock, Christopher & Wirtz, Jochen (2010). Service Marketing. 7th edition. Prentice Hall.
MacDonald, Karen I., vanDuinkerken, Wyoma, & Stephens, Jane (2008). It's all in the marketing: the impact of a virtual reference. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 47(4), 375-385.
Mathews, Brian (2009). Putting it all together. Marketing Today's Academic Library. ALA Editions, 142-158.
Mathews, Brian (2009). Measuring the impact. Marketing Today's Academic Library. ALA Editions, 132-141.
Matthews, Joseph (2002). Communicating the value of a special library. The Bottom Line: Determining and Communicating the Value of the Special Library. Libraries Unlimited, 143-147.
Washburn, Bruce. (January/February, 2011). Library mobile applications: What counts as success?" Information Outlook, 15,1 (January/February). Pre-print available online at: http://www.oclc.org/research/publications/library/2011/washburn-io.pdf
Woodward, Jeannette (2009). Creating the Customer-Driven Academic Library. ALA Editions, 172-188.
Weingand, Darlene (1999). Evaluation – two approaches. Marketing/Planning Library and Information Services. Libraries Unlimited, 145-156.