How Unique Helped one Virginia Library unlock their data and improve their emails
About Arlington Public Library
The eight location Arlington Public Library serves the northern Virginia county of nearly 250,000 people. Arlington uses Koha for their ILS. The library’s extensive Virginiana Collection holds things like maps from the 17th century and microfilm newspapers from as early as 1784.
When Arlington Public Library wanted more from their notification data and to upgrade their emails, they turned to Unique. Before 2020, the Virginia library was sending thousands of notifications and messages per month through the ILS. The ILS gave almost no insight into open and click rates. On top of that, Arlington’s patrons were also getting an annoying number of notifications. For multiple item holds or overdue notices, patrons would get single messages for each item, cluttering their inboxes. That wasn’t working for Arlington‘s IT Manager Connie Wu:
“I am always interested in improving productivity and workflows. We liked having a portal to manage our MessageBee notifications and having our hands on the data. We were dealing with little knowledge on if our notices were even reaching our patrons effectively.”
Unique's Solution: MessageBee
Arlington Public Library and Unique partnered to start sending email notifications with MessageBee. The flagship service brought a new layer of technology between the ILS and the patron. Before MessageBee, Arlington was sending “dumb” messages that have nothing other than plain black-and-white text. After MessageBee, Arlington sent branded and linked email notifications that their patrons could easily understand.
Data at your fingertips
On top of controlling their branding and adding links to their transactional notifications, Arlington also got a very valuable insight: data. MessageBee brought with it several key reporting tools that immediately set it apart, according to Connie Wu:
“Our open rate is 73%. I don’t think we ever knew how high it was. It’s also interesting to know which notices are opened and what the click throughs are leading to. This will definitely help us,”
MessageBee’s online portal makes it easy to track open rates, link clicks, and bounce rates on all notifications. This is data that would otherwise be unavailable to libraries, but can now shape how and when you send notifications, and what marketing works for your library.
Arlington now has the ability to track all of the key performance indicators of their email notifications.
All the tech, none of the headaches
A major part of the value of MessageBee comes from the access to your data and customization of emails. You also get something else with your subscription: expertise. Our implementation team also has experience and established relationships with the major ILSes. Our technology professionals are always expanding and improving MessageBee’s functionality, too.
We have scripts and SOPs for setting up MessageBee. MessageBee is compatible with most major ILSes, including Arlington’s existing Koha utilization. Our team managed the transition from start to finish, and kept Arlington informed at every step of the process:
“UMS worked very closely with us to develop and test MessageBee compatibility with Koha… We were always kept in the loop and we never felt as if we were uninformed of the development. It was a long road, but we are so much happier with MessageBee!”
What would make your library function better? What would data insights add to your library? What difference would transformed notifications mean for your system? Check out some of our MessageBee content here.