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49th Shelf Rebranding Campaign

49th Shelf Rebranding Campaign

Online Marketing Campaign for the Rebranding of 49th Shelf


49th Shelf, an online community for Canadian books, operated in beta for 6 months as Canadian Bookshelf but wanted a new, unique name for its full public release.

Boxcar Marketing was hired to develop and execute a marketing strategy that would raise awareness of the new brand and drive traffic to the new site.

Client Quote

“Boxcar Marketing has been—and is—instrumental in the development and execution of the online marketing program for 49th Shelf, and in the optimization of the site for search and usability. They are savvy, adaptable, and up for a challenge and are, to say the least, a real pleasure to work with.”—Craig Riggs, Turner-Riggs, 49th Shelf project lead.


Canadian Bookshelf launched in beta in June 2011, and the public and industry response far exceeded expectations—fans were excited about the community and actively participating by creating reading lists on the site and engaging on Twitter and Facebook.

As the site gained momentum and larger partners came on board, the online book community needed a namespace that was unique to the community. When the site was in the process of moving from beta to the full public release, it seemed like the best time to announce the new name.

The name “49th Shelf” is of course inspired by the 49th parallel, a defining geographical feature of Canada that literally and metaphorically forms part of Canadians’ collective identity. As the site is the largest collection of Canadian books ever assembled, the name also conveys the idea of a virtual bookshelf, where all the books are held.

Our goal with the rebranding campaign was to raise awareness of the new name and reinforce the new brand. We also wanted to drive new traffic to the site, retain the majority of the existing audience and encourage user engagement on the site.


Responsible for coordinating and consulting on the overall online marketing program and activities for the site, Boxcar Marketing worked with 49th Self’s programming and editorial team to develop a multi-level campaign for the rebrand of the site.

Our marketing strategy was to:

  • Implement SEO tactics to boost the visibility of the new site.
  • Create a sharable message that would spread online.
  • Interact with and build excitement among the community.


New Logo

Rebranded Website

Boxcar Marketing’s role in this campaign was to provide strategic direction for the rebrand, including SEO guidance and identifying the core audience in order to develop and execute a promotional campaign that would resonate with the community.

1. Raise awareness of the new name and reinforce the new brand.
Although Canadian Bookshelf was still in beta, the site had a large following and we wanted to introduce the new name as positively and seamlessly as possible.

We sent an email newsletter to members the morning of the name change, announcing that the site was going into full public release and that it would be operating under a new name. We wanted to make sure to get this message out to members first because they were the early supporters of the site.

We also had a press release go out and contacted key bloggers individually to let them know about the new name.

As part of the announcement, we created various I Heart Canadian Books badges and encouraged people to post the badges on their websites to show their support of Canadian books. By using a pro-Canadian books message vs a branded 49th Shelf message, we were able to get much more support from fans and bloggers.

I Heart Canadian Books Badge
Discover Canadian Books, Authors, Book Lists and More on 49thShelf.com

2. Drive Traffic to the new site.
A large part of the campaign was to drive new and repeat visitors to the site to explore new site features, which included enhanced listings for Canadian ebooks, new search functions within the Recommended Reading Lists and members-only contests and giveaways.

Since the website had a new domain name, we coordinated with the programming team to set 301 redirects to ensure that the site continued to be indexed by Google. We also wanted links and shares from fans in order to establish social proof among the book community.

Due to the media pickups from the press release, online chatter and mentions in social media we increased visits to the site during the relaunch campaign by +225% and increased pageviews by +430%.

3. Retain the majority of the existing audience.
Canadian Bookshelf had a very robust Facebook fan base. Unfortunately, unlike Twitter, at the time Facebook didn’t easily allow you to change your username so we had to create a new Facebook page for 49th Shelf and request that fans transfer over to the new page.

The old Page had +1200 fans and we wanted to retain at least 90% of this audience by encouraging them to move over to the new Page. As an incentive, we ran a Facebook contest and once people became fans of the new Facebook Page, they could enter to win $149 towards Canadian books. The contest ran for a 2-week period and was promoted on Twitter and through Facebook ads.

Within 2 weeks, 96% of fans had transitioned over to the new Facebook Page.

4. Encourage user engagement.
As an online community, 49th Shelf has members-only features, such as the ability to create reading lists and review books.

One of the site’s overall goals is to continue to increase its membership base. 49th Shelf sends a regular newsletter update to members and members engage with the site a much higher level than non-members. During the week of the rebrand campaign, we increased member signups by +1069%.

Completed on February 2012

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