Though libraries close their doors at night, their communities need information around the clock. There's usually one problem, though: how do we inform the community that these services exist--especially if they never walk through our doors? Libraries can connect with these patrons and see a rise in traffic and engagement by strategically using paid search marketing. That's why libraries like Washoe County Library System provide digital services that remain available 24/7. By working with Koios to promote Brainfuse’s JobNow with Google AdWords, Nevada’s Washoe County Library System saw an increase in usage of the career resource by 33% in just four weeks. By placing these services where local residents are already looking--in their Google search results--Koios and WCLS both hope to turn one-time needs into lifelong library support.
Washoe County Library System and Brainfuse JobNow
Located in western Nevada, Washoe County is home to the city of Reno and a population of about 420,000. Washoe County Library System encompasses 12 branch libraries. Through the last five years, WCLS has seen an increase in some circulation statistics. For example, from Fiscal Years 2012-2014, WCLS saw a 5.89% increase in checkouts. However, during this time, the system also suffered branch closures, which led to reduced foot traffic and overall usage.
Although Washoe County’s unemployment rate has dropped to 4.0% by June 2017, the number of unemployed peaked at 13.9% in January 2011. At the same time, WCLS faced budget cuts, leading to reduced hours, staff shortages, and library closures. However, WCLS still needed to serve its job-seeking customers, even if the library doors were not open. One way it did so is by offering online career resources like Lynda.com courses, LearningExpress 3.0, and Reference USA. To reach patrons and non-patrons alike who might think of the library as “just books,” WCLS partnered with Koios to promote career resources, focusing specifically on Brainfuse’s JobNow software and live services.
Brainfuse offers education services, such as tutoring and writing feedback, for the K-12 level, as well as career training. Libraries like Washoe utilize Brainfuse’s JobNow services. JobNow connects patrons to resources like a database of resume templates, eParachute customized career path advice, skill-building tutorials, and job interview preparation resources. JobNow also offers live assistance with career experts through individualized resume feedback and interview coaching. Washoe County Library patrons can access live help through JobNow daily from 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. using their library card.
Speaking search speak
Connecting potential patrons to Washoe County Library System’s Brainfuse JobNow through Google meant sifting through an exhaustive list of search queries. More than just trial and error, Koios used data from Google AdWords to methodically research, test, and refine complex search strings to understand how job hunters seek assistance. For example, Koios analyzed the terms that Washoe County job hunters use online when creating their application packet, like “resume help” and “cover letter template.” Figure 1 below shows more of these terms.
Figure 1: Segment of Koios’ research into application documents
Librarians may recognize some principles of information science in Koios’ marketing research: semantic searching, information seeking, and controlled vocabularies. Out of this research, Koios selected phrases where Brainfuse would be the best result and optimized Washoe County Library System’s advertisements to appear at the top of search results whenever those phrases were used, as in Figure 2 below.
Figure 2: Washoe County Library System’s paid to promote Brainfuse’s JobNow service
25% of all JobNow usage (300 out of 1,200 sessions) and 56% of live coaching sessions (10 of 18) in fiscal year 2016-17 took place during the period that WCLS advertised on Google. In those four weeks, 2,765 county residents saw Brainfuse in their Google search results and 89 clicked on it immediately. Because Google charges for clicks only, Washoe spent just $238.56 on the campaign--a cost of just $0.77 per use.
Although Brainfuse JobNow is the resource focused on here, libraries can benefit from promoting many other services through Google ad campaigns and connecting with new patrons. The ever-popular Lynda.com courses provide comprehensive training as an alternative way to acquire hard and soft skills without the financial or time commitment of pursuing a certificate or degree program. However, Lynda courses are still cost prohibitive for many potential learners who sign up directly through the site. After a 30 day free trial, Lynda’s basic plan runs at $19.99 a month and premium plans retails for $29.99 a month. By using a Google ad campaign to promote the library’s Lynda resources, patrons find affordable access to not just one premium service like Lynda, but an entire collection of resources, programs, and collections through their local library.
Advertisements like Washoe County Library System’s JobNow campaign with Koios can help achieve short and long-term goals by attracting new patrons and building awareness of library services. Through Google’s Ad Grants program, libraries qualify for $10,000 in free paid advertising each month. To help libraries take advantage of this opportunity, Koios assists libraries with the application process. With its Libre Ads service, Koios can manage the grant for you to meet your library’s goals, be it to raise foot traffic, increase circulation, or connect patrons to resources like JobBoard. Just like with Washoe County Library System’s advertisement, Koios begins with expert research on local search trends to create a campaign tailored to your community. Libraries must meet the demands of their patrons whether they are needed at 3:00 p.m. on a weekday or 3:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. Helping new customers connect with their local library’s virtual resources is a cost-efficient way to engage with consumers and increase circulation to create permanent patrons online and off.
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