September 14, 2017

Reaching readers with newsletters

If you’re a subscriber to NoveList News, you might recognize my name from each issue. I’ve been creating and putting together this newsletter for going on five years now -- it’s gone through some changes over the years and I’m pretty proud of where it is today. My experience growing and evolving NoveList News has taught me a lot about the value of using newsletters to not only reach your audience, but to also gain a better understanding of what they’re looking for as subscribers.

Crafting an effective newsletter does take a bit of time, but it’s something anyone can learn to do -- and armed with the right tools, it may prove even easier than you might expect.

Not a graphic designer? No problem!

You’re probably familiar with some of the platforms out there designed for creating e-newsletters and other email communications. While these platforms are used across many industries, libraries may find that they don’t quite meet their unique needs in a satisfactory way. LibraryAware was designed especially for libraries with these unique (and often challenging!) needs in mind.

Chances are, you’re not a graphic designer -- and hey, I’m not either! -- and the thought of creating a newsletter that not only has valuable content but also looks great seems pretty daunting. What color scheme should I use? How can I make sure my fonts and sizing stay consistent? What’s the best way to arrange my headers, text, and images? Where do I find the right images?

No matter the level of customization you choose for the design of your newsletter, with LibraryAware it’s going to look attractive and professional. But don’t take my word for it -- check out some of my favorite examples of library newsletters and see for yourself!

With the pain taken out of designing your newsletter, you're left with more mental energy to focus on the actual content. Want to use your next issue to get the word out about your newest book club, or make it more appealing to potential attendees? We have some ideas. Putting together a newsletter focused on school-age kids, parents, and teachers? You'll want to take a look at some of the resources and suggestions in the Educate section of the Idea Center

Get analytical

So now you have an attractive newsletter bursting with useful content and news about your library, but your subscriber list is pretty small and you aren’t sure if it’s reaching the people in your community who want to be reached. Where do you start?

There’s lot of advice out there on building up a subscriber list; while much of it is applicable to newsletters across various industries, you may find it more helpful to look at advice specifically for libraries. I loved what Shauna Griffin had to say in this post about building up a NextReads subscriber list. Though she is specifically talking about NextReads newsletters, (psst! Did you know a LibraryAware subscription also gets you access to NextReads?) the tips in this post carry over to any library newsletter you or your staff might be involved in creating. If you have some extra time or want to devote a staff training session just to newsletters, check out the recording of a webinar from earlier this year: Library Newsletters Made Easy(ier).

Now, how do you make sure you’re getting the results you want from your newsletters? The proof is in the analytics -- what’s being clicked on, how many opens your newsletter gets, how many views, etc. I send out a simple report on NoveList News to my colleagues each month, and lucky for me and my to-do list, LibraryAware’s reporting capabilities make it simple to grab the info I need. Being able to track the behavior of your subscribers over time gives insight into what’s important to your readers and what’s not, and guides you towards the most effective, best possible version of your newsletter, so don't be afraid to make adjustments to your content or design if you aren't getting the results you want to see.

Want to get some more insight into reaching your community with newsletters? Join us for an upcoming webinar and listen in on a conversation with four libraries that have found success using newsletters to connect with different audiences in their communities. 


Cassi Hall is the Communications Specialist at NoveList. 





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