How to Track eBook Lending in Libraries

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Libraries are undergoing transformation and have been for some time. Over the past few years, the demand for eBooks and eReaders has significantly increased as a result of not only technological factors, but also economic, social and legal factors.

The digital shift

This shift is nothing new in 2014. According to Pew Research, the number of adults in the United States who own eBook readers nearly doubled in the weeks between mid-December 2011 and January 2012. And according to Library Journal, 66 percent of public libraries said they saw a “dramatic” increase in request for eBooks in 2011.

The same study reported that, at the time, 82 percent of libraries offered access to eBooks and 49 percent of libraries that did not offer them planned to offer access within the next 12 months.

But now that libraries have seen the need for a strong eBook presence in their selection, they are also seeing the need to track the success and use of those materials – and how that use compares to that of physical books.

The challenge for libraries

Most libraries would agree that the more access to learning materials the better. However, increased interest in digital resources does cause a few problems on their end. While physical books can be checked out and returned in a concrete fashion, it is difficult to track the use of eBooks – especially without an advanced online checkout system.

Not to mention, just as publishers fear that the ease and convenience of eBooks could hurt physical book sales, libraries need to be wary of the effects that lending eBooks through online could have on their physical selection. With the ease of online eBooks, patrons may never have a reason to set foot in their local public library again.

A possible solution

In the library landscape, eBooks are meant to coexist with physical books, not replace them. The ideal situation is to house both digital and physical materials under one roof – both benefitting from one another. That way, patrons will take advantage of both media while continuing to bring business to your brick-and-mortar building.

Library traffic statistics gleaned from people counting software can support this. Libraries with people counting systems installed can effectively track the effectiveness and success of the eBooks and digital materials they offer.

When installed in a modern library, people counting software can answer questions like:

  • How many of your facility’s total visitors are taking advantage of your eBook selection?
  • How does it compare to the number of those who are checking out physical books?
  • How has traffic changed in the area where you offer eReaders?

Here are a few reasons why this technology is beneficial:

  1. No IT costs – For smaller libraries and those just beginning to offer eBooks, installing an intuitive “set it and forget it” system is much easier and more cost-effective than undertaking a huge IT project to set up an online lending system.
  2. More effective marketing – Although making money is not really the name of a library’s game, marketing is still an important aspect of running one. How will the public know that you offer eBooks if you don’t tell them? And if you do tell them, how will you make sure they get your message? People counting systems can be used to measure marketing efforts over peak performance periods to find out the best areas and time periods to place advertisements.
  3. Improved management – A people counting system can provide several other business benefits in addition to the monitoring of eBooks. In a nutshell, it allows libraries to gain insight into the success and reception of the services they provide, as well as comply with any laws that require them to report information to the state and use traffic information to justify requests for additional technology or resources. It also allows libraries to better manage their facilities, as the amount of people they serve can directly affect hours of operations or building needs.

How are you handling the rise in eBook lending and eReader usage in your library?

How Retailers Can Use People Counting to Optimize Their Advertising Budget

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Sale Signs In Shop WindowBy assessing the total shopping habits of a store’s customer base, people counters allow retailers to budget advertising and maximize advertising space.

Spending too much on advertising (and advertising across too many channels) could hurt your chances of generating return on your advertising investment, and spending too little might not allow you to reach as many consumers as you would like.

Media mix

People counting can help retailers create an effective and affordable “media mix,” or the combination of advertising channels used to meet their marketing goals. This includes event marketing, cause marketing and social media marketing in addition to in-store displays and coupons.

To optimize advertising spending and create a manageable budget, store owners and managers can use their in-store people counting system to evaluate the success of their advertising expenses through the following methodologies:

1. Ecommerce comparison

Retailers with ecommerce options for their customers can also compare their brick-and-mortar traffic to their website traffic. For example, like somewhat of an A/B test, if a retailer runs an in-store-only advertising campaign they can see how much more of that product they sold in-store than online and vice versa.

2. Performance periods

People counting systems can be used to track when advertising materials (this could be a digital signage display, a social media post or an email blast) are used and when the store receives high or low amounts of traffic. Retailers can then analyze these two data sets to determine how they are related and, therefore, how successful their advertising campaigns are.

For example, if traffic increases each time a large cardboard display is used in the front door or lobby, the retailer will know that the cardboard display is a worthwhile expenditure.

Retail displays and digital signage

A people counting system can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of promotional displays and digital signage – the display of text and images shown on digital screens to advertise or promote products to retail customers – as well as assist retailers in planning the placement and timing of these displays. When used correctly, these advertising methods can be used as effective tools or “call to action” to influence customer behavior.

According to Digital Signage Today, analytics (as they relate to retail displays) will become even more important to retailers in 2014 than they were in 2013.

Specifically, retailers are becoming more interested in determining who is viewing their displays, how long they actually stood and looked at the screen and the impact that the displayed content had on them.

People counting technology can help retailers gain answers to these questions. A counter can be placed directly above the area where advertising materials are being displayed to determine the amount of people who viewed them.

Retailers can use the following methods to gain insight into the success of their displays:

  1. Timeliness – Retailers can compare these numbers over a period of days, weeks or months to find out when the most people are viewing their displays – and display their most important messages during those times. This information is especially useful for digital signage screens, as specific messages can be scheduled or programmed to display at specific times.
  2. Effectiveness – To gauge the effectiveness of their displays, retailers can also find the percentage of their total traffic that is stopping to view their digital signage. During the seasons or time periods that this number is low, some extra money or attention might need to be spent on advertising.

As mentioned, it’s important to make sure that your advertising budget – whether it’s made up of a multi-channel media mix, state-of-the-art digital signage displays or traditional cardboard signs – is both manageable and effective so that you are able to put your store on the map while generating as much return on your investment as possible.

By providing access to advanced retail analytics, people counting systems allow retailers to make smarter decisions about their advertising budget.

The Difference Between Foot Traffic and Conversion Rates

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bigstock-Happy-couple-shopping-clothes--49730768Retailers may become frustrated with their people counting system when they are not able to access information about their conversion rates or analyze a change in that data. And retailers who have not yet implemented a people counting system may be skeptical of its effectiveness for that same reason. Both groups have failed to recognize the full potential of a people counting system – keep reading to find out why.

If you can relate to either of those statements then it is important to remember: The amount of conversions made and the amount of foot traffic gained are related, but not the same.

Foot traffic and conversion rates are two separate sets of data, both useful in their own way. Allow us to explain. While a people counting system cannot provide information about your brick and mortar store’s conversion rate, it can help you calculate it yourself – and gain a more accurate understanding of your store’s performance.

So what’s the difference between the two?

Your conversion rate is the relationship between the number of visitors and the number of purchases in a store, or in other words: the number of people who actually made purchases divided by the total amount of people who enter your store. Your traffic count is simply the amount of people who entered your store during a given period.

How can I calculate my conversion rate using a people counting system?

Therefore, traffic counts can be used (in conjunction with sales history generated from your point of sale software) to determine your conversion rate. A people counting system is meant to supplement your point of sale system, not replace it.

While point of sale systems can only provide information about the customers who made purchases, people counts are powerful metrics that allow retailers to learn how many customers are exiting their store without making purchases. This helps them analyze their both their inventory and their business strategy and, over time, strengthen the relationship between their visitors and their sales.

How can I use a people counting system to improve my conversion rate?

The foot traffic data generated from your people counting system can be used to calculate conversion rates for number of shoppers, seasonal traffic patterns, impact of events and differences between regions or groups, in order to better understand how your store is performing and how to positively impact sales. Your foot traffic counts obtained from your people counting system can answer the following questions.

During which time periods does your store have the most visitors? Which periods have the least? This will allow you to know when you have the most opportunities to convert shoppers to customers.

Did you experience or decrease an increase in traffic after making changes to your schedule, hours of operation, inventory or prices? Using this data, you can gain an understanding of whether or not are your customers satisfied with your current customer service offerings, item selection or prices. Improving what shoppers are dissatisfied with will most likely inspire more conversions.

Besides… what’s so great about conversion rates anyway?

Your conversion rates are not the be-all end-all of your store data. Just because a person does not make a purchase, does not mean they are not interested in making one in a future visit. In many cases, they are browsing, window shopping, gathering information or even trying clothes on. You never know – perhaps the item they are interested in will have to wait until their next paycheck. You don’t want your customers to make a hasty impulse purchase that they are going to regret.

By improving your service and marketing overall, you can increase the chance of them returning to make a purchase.

4 Tips for Retailers Marketing to Millenials

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  2. 2014
  3. February

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Some of you may be wondering, “who are millenials, exactly?” Also known as “Generation Y,” they are individuals born between the 1980s and 2000s. Experts have described them as “civic-minded,” rejecting the attitudes of the Baby Boomers and Generation X.

You’re probably also wondering “why do they matter?” Well, right now, millenials make up more than a third of the demographic in the United States and by 2020, they will make up half of the US workforce. In other words, they make up much of your retail store’s target audience.

Today’s retail businesses are generally run by Gen Xers — many of whom are having trouble marketing to a culture so different from their own. Email marketing, cause marketing, hash tags and brand transparency are four effective ways that marketers are reach millenials in 2014.

For retailers, there is good news: they can have their cake and eat it, too. They can optimize their website and dip their toe into social media marketing while improving their in-store sales at the same time. People counting systems can be used to compare their web visitor counts to their brick-and-mortar traffic, allowing retailers to understand the effectiveness of these new marketing strategies. They can use the technology to see how traffic changes after email promotions have been sent, after launching a cause marketing campaign or after engaging with customers through hash tags on social media.

So, without further ado:

1. Email marketing

The first step is to ditch direct mail – if you haven’t already – and go digital. The millennial generation receives everything by email – their bank statements, their bills, college and university information, news updates and of course sales promotions from their favorite brands. Most of them don’t even check their snail mailboxes, let alone open letters. Email marketing is cheaper and more measurable than traditional methods, too.

2. Cause marketing

That’s why cause marketing is important in 2014 – it helps you set your business apart from others doing the same old, same old. You don’t have to donate tons of money to a charity to show you care; involving your brand in political or social movement or spreading the word about a cause on social media is cost-effective.In his book, David Burstein described millennials’ approach to social change as “pragmatic idealism” or a deep desire to make the world a better place. In other words, they care about the world. They expect businesses and brands to care about it, too. Because there is such a vast marketplace of brands to choose from, millenials are not as prone to develop brand loyalty as earlier generations. Unless the brand supports a cause that they care about, that is.

3. Social media hash tags

It’s no secret that social media is millenials’ preferred medium – they get their news, information, updates and everyday conversation straight from their smartphones. Hash tags are widely used and highly searchable on Google and major social media – it is the common thread that ties millennials and brands together. Using hash tags on your brand’s social media profiles in the form of long tail keywords (phrases that your target audience will be searching for), trending topics and buzzwords is extremely effective. Regardless of what you use, hash tags will increase your online visibility and start a connected conversation between you and your followers.

4. Brand transparency

Like with cause marketing, millenials want you to give them a reason why they should develop loyalty for you, as opposed to another brand. They also want to ensure that they brands they choose share their interest in the greater good. In the news lately, more and more controversies surrounding CEOs have been brought to light. Millenials are likely boycott brands that treat their employees poorly or give money to a hate group, for example.

That’s why brand transparency is more important now than ever – meaning your brand puts everything out in the open for internet users to see and doesn’t have any dirty laundry or questionable motives. It’s important that you present yourself, on both your website and social media, in an accurate way. Don’t simply say you’re “award-winning” or “the best in the market” – prove it! Use testimonials, case studies and press releases to build your credibility.

How will you bridge the generation gap?