by Sarah Schulman (Account Development Specialist for Southeast and the Mid-south, Springer)
Column Editor: Michael A. Arthur (Head of Acquisitions & Collection Services, University of Central Florida Libraries,
P.O. Box 162666, Orlando, FL 32816; Phone: 407-882-0143; Fax: 407-823-6289)
Column Editor’s Note: One of the great things about this new column is the opportunity to feature the accomplishments of some outstanding colleagues. In doing so the intention is that others will be able to take advantage of new ideas for how to get more out of scarce resource dollars. One way we are trying to increase usage and improve ROI at the University of Central Florida (UCF) is through actively collaborating with publishers and vendors to identify new ways of reaching our users. We hosted a workshop on “how to get published” and a publisher panel that focused on the latest trends in Open Access. Some publishers have hosted “roadshows” or “summits” at the University of Central Florida with invitations going to librarians, faculty, and even guests from surrounding colleges and universities. We are also happy to get advice from our publisher friends on ways we can make better use of their resources and platforms.
One of the biggest publisher collaborators we have working with the UCF is Springer. The history of successful collaboration and close ties we have with Springer made selection of a topic for this month’s column much easier. This month’s article is written by a good friend and colleague who played a key role in improving usage and ROI at UCF. Through regularly reporting, email and phone correspondence, and site visits (everyone at UCF knows Sarah!), Sarah Schulman has raised the bar high for others who work in the area of account development. — MA
“Take the Money and Run” may be a rocking tune by the Steve Miller Band, but it doesn’t exactly fly when it comes to the way scholarly publishing companies strive to support a librarian customer base. The past five or so years have seen major growth in an area that companies refer to as account development, and whose primary goal is to help libraries obtain the best possible ROI from licensed content. I’ll be speaking specifically about Springer and account development, but certain other publishers have similar programs.
What exactly does account development mean for you and your library? Think of it in terms of what I like to call the Ikea analogy: you’ve just purchased a piece of furniture from Ikea, either online or in the store. If you’re in the store, maybe someone will help with navigation or heavy lifting, but either way once those purchases are at home you’re as good as abandoned. Wouldn’t it be nice if — at no additional cost — someone accompanied you home to help hoist your new furniture up the stairs, and then coached you through those maddeningly vague illustrated assembly instruction booklets? Afterward, they might suggest best practices to maximize comfort on your new couch, or perhaps recommend best placement and display options during a party to ensure that guests will find and sit on it.
I’ve just described account development in a nutshell. Our dedicated team works closely with sales colleagues and is devoted to providing ongoing post-purchase engagement to help libraries maximize purchases. We do this using an ever-evolving list of methods and techniques, including (just to name a few): metrics and statistical analysis, customized collaborations and events, end user engagement, and assistance with implementation and discovery.
Metrics and Statistical Analysis
In the past thirty days as of June 4th, 2015 (as I’m typing this column), half of the traffic to our native platform (SpringerLink) was referred by a Google Website, either Scholar or “regular.” The next largest source was direct traffic, followed by PubMed. Social media pages like Wikipedia, Facebook, and Reddit showed up in the list of top twenty referrer sources, as did the crudely named Website “IFL Science” (anyone active on Facebook should know what “IFL stands for). California, New York, and Texas were the states with the most visits — specifically Los Angeles, NYC, and Houston. Finally, the two most frequently used search phrases which brought end users to our site in the past month are “dissociative identity disorder” and “telenursing.”
Why am I telling you about this? The above metrics represent only a tiny sliver of an analytics resource Springer has used since 2013 which works in real time and which I like to describe as “Google Analytics on steroids.” This program allows us to drill down traffic to the platform on an intensely granular level, and filter it out by institution, country, region or city. We can also look at any number of factors involved with end user visits, such as duration, browser and device type, and most popular visit times.
My colleagues and I have been complementing standard COUNTER reporting and account reviews with detailed metrics reports as we make the rounds visiting your institutions. An increasing number of libraries are using internal metrics to tweak and refine services and practices. Working with a vendor to implement your own metrics might provide unique insights from a different angle.
In addition to metrics and COUNTER reporting (which we monitor for all libraries in Springer’s customer base on a quarterly basis), we have begun bringing authorship analyses to visits. These reports look at authors (of Springer content) affiliated with any given institution in the past ten years. In some cases, they have even helped to facilitate library-faculty communications. Which departments and subject areas are most prolific? How does your school’s authorship compare with that of a peer institution? How would you or your colleagues use this info to communicate with faculty and researches about the library’s resources? Which brings me to…
Collaborations and End-User Engagement
Opportunities for publisher/library collaboration are one of my favorite aspects of being on the account development team. This can mean anything from authoring a guest column in a popular library journal (hi, Michael!) to arranging product trainings or customized professional development events at the library or in the region. Bob Boissy, who manages the account development team at Springer, once co-sponsored a survey with a librarian at a particular college, the results of which they used to co-author a white paper titled, “eBook Use and Acceptance in an Undergraduate Institution.”
In recent years, as we look for innovative ways to use the resources at our disposal to help libraries with engaging that elusive end user, author workshops have proven effective and popular. These types of events can benefit libraries, publishers, and end users alike — and often start with one of the aforementioned author reports. The stated purpose is to demystify the publishing process for nascent authors, but they can also help to boost the library’s ROI on campus. A high-level editor or editorial director from Springer will speak to attendees (usually graduate or PhD students and younger researchers) about the editorial process, including how to submit manuscripts and tips for getting noticed by publishers.
Also in the vein of end user engagement are the DIY marketing resources and templates Springer provides. These templates (such as Web banners and fill-in-the-blank HTML email templates which can be used to communicate new purchases to end users) can be especially useful for smaller libraries or those without dedicated marketing personnel. Whether a library is looking to enhance outreach, prove value on campus, or simply looking to get a little more bang for their buck, there is really no limit to the types of collaborations the account development team is willing to try. We are always interested in hearing your own ideas, as well.
Earlier, I mentioned implementation and discovery assistance. We communicate regularly with the editorial, platform development, and metadata teams so that we can answer any questions libraries may have about MARC records or how Springer works with various discovery services. Occasionally we will perform a “discovery review” on a random library Website. This entails crawling the search environment, searching for Springer content, and recording its findability. Exercises like this provide valuable insight — not only into how our content is organized and discovered in the field, but also helps us keep up with trends and changes in the land of discovery.
There’s a twelve hundred word limit on this column, so I’m not able to include every single way account development teams work to add value to licensed content. If you see us during conferences or at your campus library, please say hi — we’d love to meet you!