Background: To develop a communications mechanism that would 1) provide cohesive and consistent communication, 2) offer high-touch content that increases librarian face and name recognition, and 3) provide custom content to meet librarian needs and reflect specific user groups.
Description: A semi-custom e-newsletter was developed to provide cohesive and consistent messaging from liaison librarians to their department while offering high-touch custom content. The body is identical for each of the 10 e-newsletters distributed each quarter, though librarians can request customization to reflect their audience. Custom elements include subject lines and reply to fields, welcome messages, headshots, and signatures. Librarians participate in content creation through collaborative content selection, where ranking determines content inclusion and placement within the e-newsletter. Open rates average 70% across 9 distributions (10 e-newsletters/distribution). This is 50 percentage points higher than industry standards, and 14 percentage points higher than our non-custom e-newsletters. Anecdotally, the semi-custom e-newsletters strengthen relationships with user groups as illustrated by librarian feedback. The success of the semi-custom format has led to its implementation across the university library system with similar results.
Conclusion: Librarian-led communication can build important relationships with user communities. However, taking an individual approach to communication can lead to inconsistencies with how information is communicated and what information is ultimately shared. Using a strategic marketing approach through the use of semi-custom e-newsletters can result in a high return on investment as it allows for the creation of consistent and cohesive messaging over time while promoting individual librarians to their community.