The first decades of the 21st century witnessed a fast-growing population of internet users, thanks largely to technological innovations that allowed easier online access.
To date, more than 3.75 billion people or more than half of the world’s population are online. The speed with which digital connectivity started influencing the buying behaviour of consumers gave new opportunities for business owners to grow their revenue.
One channel that opened up is digital PR—a combination of traditional public relation practices and data-led online marketing strategies aimed to build a brand’s online presence.
When done right, digital PR improves exposure, boosts brand awareness, and increases online visibility.
How Do You Measure The Success of Your Digital PR Campaign?
Whereas clips (e.g. news items, feature stories, etc.) are the metrics of traditional PR, digital PR uses analytics and media monitoring tools to measure campaign success.
Traditional and digital PR differ in strategies employed, but they both aim for the same objective—to get the word out about a brand.
And for online objectives to be met, KPIs need to be measured. There are plenty of metrics, but the key is narrowing that down to those that are vital to achieving your goals.
Whether you are aiming for higher sales, an increase in brand awareness, or more clickthroughs from social media to your website, here are a number of KPIs you can look at:
If your outreach to bloggers or journalists goes well, your content on their platform would have links directing visitors back to your website.
This has two effects: 1) backlinks are one of Google’s top ranking factors, which would then help your SEO; and 2) it would show the effectiveness of your outreach efforts.
You can find out which backlinks are sending traffic to your website in Google Analytics. Click on Acquisition on the left-hand menu > All Traffic > Referrals.
You can also use Moz’ Open Site Explorer to research link building opportunities.
Pro Top: Backlinks shouldn’t be the primary goal of your digital PR campaign, however, they’re one metric to benchmark your campaign against.
2. Conversions coming from PR hits
Once you gain backlinks from blogs and/or publications, you can track if people actually clicked and went to your website.
More than that, you can also see if this led to engagement or conversions, such as scheduling an appointment, contacting you, purchasing, redeeming offers, or downloading content.
Again, go to Google Analytics. On the left-hand menu, go to Behavior, then Behavior Flow.
This would show visitor interactions, starting from landing page, to the pages they navigated, and finally, the page where they left.
Pro Tip: If there are specific actions you want visitors to perform on your website, create Goals in Google Analytics. Read how to set them up here.
3. Social referrals
By looking at this metric, you will see how effective your content and social strategies are in bringing leads to your site.
Follow these steps: Google Analytics > Acquisition > Social.
4. Social media conversations
Nowadays, the number of times your company and/or your content is mentioned on social media is a legitimate metric.
Apart from Google Analytics, there are others tools you can use to help track mentions and conversations. This includes Mention (a real-time social media monitoring tool) and SharedCount (a tool to track URL shares, likes, etc).
5. Media mentions
Media mentions include all the times your campaign or brand were discussed in any online capacity. These carry a lot of weight, especially if the media outlet has a credible reputation and a huge following.
6. Website traffic
If your goal is brand awareness, measuring the uptick in your web traffic is a good indicator of a successful campaign.
Look at the boost in your traffic and unique visitors through Google Analytics. Go to Audience, then Overview.
7. Quality of the mentions
Each mention, whether on social or on a media outlet, needs to be assessed in terms of quality by using:
- Sentiment Analysis – This determines the tonality of a mention, helping you establish the source’s attitude towards your product or service. Is it positive, neutral, or negative?
- Prominence – This analyses how often, and where your brand’s name is mentioned in the copy, for instance, in a headline, or lower part of the copy.
This metric is especially helpful if you find your business in a crisis situation, so you will know how to respond appropriately.
8. GA Annotations and URL builder
Social and media mentions will give you an idea of the short-term successes in your campaign. However, you also need to look at the long-term effectiveness of your strategies using the following tools:
- Google URL Builder – This will help you track which of your campaigns drove traffic to your site, converted into leads, and then to customers. Instead of simply linking back to your site using your URL, use Google’s URL builder. It attaches a campaign tracking code to your URL, so you can see if anyone clicked on the links included on your pitched content. To track your campaigns, go to Acquisition menu, then Campaigns.
- Annotations – This Google Analytics feature would let you tag and add notes to certain events or actions that generated a spike in your traffic. For instance, a PR hit from a high-ranking publication would give you a short-term spike in your referral traffic. You then need to note which event caused this spike to help you keep track of which action generated results. Annotations would greatly help with long-term analyses, especially when you start launching multiple campaigns.
6 Effective Tactics You Can Use For Your Campaigns
The exposure provided by the right person and the right publication would greatly help your brand. However, in this digital age, sending press releases to any and all media companies just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Nowadays, reaching out to an influencer within your industry would carry as much weight as any news outlet. As such, it is vital that your digital PR campaigns work closely with your SEO, content, and social media marketing.
If you need fresh ideas to jumpstart your campaigns, look at the following:
1. Tell a good, digestible story
Storytelling in the digital space allows your brand to cut through the noise of in-your-face online advertisements. However, what you need to take note of is the format of your stories.
Given that human beings now have the attention span shorter than that of a goldfish, you need to use easily digestible elements in your content. This can be photos, short videos, infographics, or factoids. You can also hire a photographer to make your content more appealing and shareable.
Remember that shareability is one of the primary factors influencers and publications look for in their content.
2. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is an efficient and effective approach in reaching your target audience. It entails successfully reaching out to influencers in your industry. Once you get them to publish your content, you now have access to their huge social media following and website traffic.
You can use social media to pitch, monitor, and find out who the influencers are and the type of content that they publish. You can also use these platforms to start building relationships with them.
Pro tip: When reaching out to influencers, be succinct in your approach and highlight what’s in it for them. It could be an exclusive offer, free use of your product or service, or providing valuable information to their audience.
3. User-generated content
Statistics show that 86% of millennials believe that user-generated content (UGC) is indicative of a brand’s quality of service. Moreover, 20% of millennial consumers also think that UGC helps to influence their buying behaviour.
UGCs are not just confined to social media contests (although these remain effective). You can get creative with the kind of content you are going to run, as well as the reward your audience will receive.
For instance, Belfast-based Quinns the Printers recently launched a billboard design competition on a national scale. They invited students from the UK and Ireland to submit their designs. The winner would get billboard space anywhere in the country, which would then improve a student’s chances of landing a job after graduation.
4. Conduct surveys
Surveys will help you develop content that would either be interesting to your industry or add new information to existing literature.
Interesting results, especially those that would surprise people, are always newsworthy and would help gain public attention.
5. Revamp thought leadership campaigns
A lot of websites establish their authority in the industry by regularly publishing content. While this remains effective, study suggests that 94% of readers would lower their opinions of a firm that publishes poor content. And therein lies the challenge.
In publishing thought pieces, make sure that these are the kind of information your target audience is looking for. For instance, instead of talking about your business and what you can do, produce content that would help your audience solve their problems. You can post these on your site or reach out to websites that your audience regularly frequent for help.
Newsjacking is the process of leveraging breaking news in generating awareness for your brand. Let’s say news came out that is directly related to your niche. You can write your own article about the topic and include your opinion on the matter.
This helps you position your brand as highly knowledgeable and updated on current events.
To do this properly, follow these steps:
- Monitor news – Subscribe to online news sites, read newspapers, or scan social media. This will help you be one of the first people to know once important news breaks out. Just so it won’t take a lot of your time, you can limit yourself to five publications a day.
- Produce content fast – Once related news comes out, you need to act fast. Other companies are most likely doing the same. Gather more information and write your own news article. You can also prepare a quote from someone in the organisation who is knowledgeable about the topic. Write a press release around that, and submit it to news sites. Beware, however, of providing inaccurate information. You need to act fast, but accuracy is just as important.
- Include keywords – Don’t forget to include keywords in the content you will publish on your site or pitch to media outlets. This will help with your search rankings.
An important thing to note is that you use this tactic when the news would only benefit your consumers. Avoid taking advantage of sensitive topics (e.g. natural disasters, controversial issues, etc.) to gain public attention. You would not want this to backfire.
Use Digital PR To Boost Your Business
Digital PR is all about getting the right type of content published on the right platform, which would then reach the right target audience. One of the great things about this is that even small businesses can utilise these strategies to get their own PR campaigns running.
Remember to set specific goals, measure the right metrics, and add a timeline for both short-term and long-term successes.
How are your digital PR campaigns faring? We would love to hear if any of these strategies helped you. And if you need an extra hand, feel free to contact us and we would gladly assist you.