Gemma Berry
Written by

Through membership and donations, Glasgow Women's Library has created a loyal visitor base with a real and tangible stake in the library both now and in the years to come.

Measuring success

A lot of marketing campaigns are measured by return on investment, or ROI. Marketers identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) and measuring these determines ROI. Results are then measured over a set period to gain an understanding of what’s working well and what needs adapting.

While it’s a great start, there are limitations to be aware of with this approach. Namely, it’s a fixed-term measure and is less relevant for looking at your successes over the long term.

By looking over the long term to measure your marketing success, you might well identify some wins you weren’t previously aware of, but you can also increase the creativity of the campaigns themselves.

This is exactly what the Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL) achieved by focusing on the lifetime value of their visitors.

What is lifetime value?

Lifetime value, or LTV, takes into consideration the lasting relationship your organisation builds with each of its visitors. This approach can reveal fascinating levels of detail, such as which types of customers (segments) are likely to return again and again and invest in your organisation and who is most likely to spread the word about your exhibitions and events.

When it comes to tracking audience engagement, LTV requires a different mind-set. The focus here is not only on how to attract new customers and their first spend or interaction, but crucially how to keep them happy over the long term so that they keep coming back.

For arts and cultural organisations, value is about much more than just financial benefit. The true LTV of an individual is demonstrated by their loyalty, repeat engagement and advocacy.

Some approaches you could take include membership schemes offering discounts or ‘friends’ schemes. Benefits often include behind-the-scenes access for loyal customers willing to donate to your organisation.

Glasgow Women’s Library

Glasgow Women’s Library has had great success in creating a loyal and engaged customer base and audience by focusing on improving the LTV of its visitors.

They have done this by actively building a culture of participation within their audience and offering a number of ways for people to get involved.

Here are just a few of the strategies they deployed to drive up LTV and keep visitors returning time and time again.

Free library membership

Getting people through the door is often the first challenge. By making library membership free for members and borrowers the library ensured their visitors felt welcome.

Events

Rather than charging for each and every event, the library scales fees where there is a cost but encourages repeat attendances and engagement by ensuring as many events as possible are free.

Volunteering

Visitors who feel a connection with an establishment quite often appreciate the opportunity to get involved in its running. GWL has a volunteer scheme to encourage this. From young women looking to gain experience to retirees who want to contribute to the community, all are welcome.

Donations

As well as encouraging one-off donations, the library offers a monthly subscription setup for ‘Friends’ of the library. It has also established a ‘Legacy’ giving structure and an innovative sponsorship scheme called ‘Women on the Shelf’ which we’ll outline in more detail below.

The library’s goal with its variety of donation setups is to facilitate its motto of “everyone is a fundraiser”. The approach appears to be working wonders with a 31% growth in income recorded between 2016 and 2017 in the Friends scheme and a 63% increase in the number of Friends making donations.

Glasgow Women’s Library reached a significant milestone in this period, receiving their first large Legacy donation, left to the library by a Friend in their will.

Friends

GWL’s membership programme draws upon the relationship it fosters with its visitors in their Friends scheme.

Benefits of being a Friend of the library, of which there are currently around 183, range from discounts to behind-the-scenes access and invitations to exhibition previews.

Women on the Shelf

The ‘Women on the Shelf’ scheme has been a particularly inspiring initiative.

close up of wooden block with authors name on book shelf
“Women on the Shelf” by Glasgow Women’s Library

It allows people to sponsor a book for £10, a shelf for £100 or a section for £1,000. Sponsors can then dedicate a beautiful engraved wooden block to a woman of their choice.

Marketed through leaflets, a promotional video and on social media, the popular scheme has raised over £42,000 for the library so far. Over 500 people have sponsored a shelf and the potential remains to take the scheme even further.

Social media has been a great way to promote ‘Women on the Shelf’ with people photographing and tweeting about it.

Not only has it raised significant funds – it has helped create a loyal visitor base with a real and tangible stake in the library both now and in the years to come: the very embodiment of lifetime value.

Huge thanks to Hannah Wright, Sue John and Emily Ilett of Glasgow Women’s Library for their valuable input to this case study.

Main image credit: Glasgow Women's Library exterior by Lirazelf (CC BY-SA 4.0 (cropped from original))