Public relations is the largest marketing expense for most companies, but most businesses never take the time to measure the return on investment. If they did, they would probably be very surprised. Public relations is often measured by traditional media coverage or contacts generated. While these are important measurements, they are incomplete. In order to justify this expenditure, a public relations campaign needs to have a positive impact on the business and meet its goals. It must affect brand recall and preference, improve bottom-line results, deliver media exposure, enhance the image of a company or personage, and bring about some sort of social good. But, what happens when you aren’t certain how to begin measuring results?
You are probably familiar with Google Analytics, but you might not have used it as a tool for measuring the effectiveness of public relations. Taking your public relations activity offline and into the actual world is a best practice in diversifying your efforts and seeing how your outreach affects what happens online. Google Analytics gives you a lot of different metrics to look at immediately once you begin to use it. But, these basic metrics are not necessarily telling you everything that you need to know about your digital audience. You can gain an in-depth understanding of your customers by diving deeper into the data, by analyzing “real” user behavior versus relying solely on visitor or account “logged in” data.
To help you understand how to better use your analytics platform for public relations, we have put together a list of three built-in metrics that are useful with little or no customization required.
Social Network Referrals
Social media is incredibly important for PR and marketing because it’s the main driver of earned media. Earned media is when people share your content or blog posts on their own accounts or websites. This is often free exposure that can make a huge impact. Social media is also important because it can boost SEO performance by improving your rankings in Google’s organic search results. Measuring social media traffic is the first step in extracting insights from your public relations efforts. When you measure social media traffic to your digital properties, you can understand which pieces of content are resonating with readers and developing an effective marketing plan for the future.
Did you know Google Analytics has an entire section dedicated to Social Network Referrals? Social Network Referrals are an underused feature in Google Analytics. Not only does it show you where your visitors are coming from, but a quick peek at referrals will show you exactly which social media platforms are driving the most traffic to your website. This is valuable information because it allows you to see which social media platforms work best for your content. In fact, it will also eliminate the amount of time spent curating content for social media platforms that are not generating traffic.
Have you ever stopped to figure out which online media channels drive the most conversion opportunities for your business? If not, you need to. As a business, it is essential to understand what channels drive the most conversion opportunities for your online presence. This will help with how you allocate your budget as well as what areas of your website you optimize for conversions. The problem most people face is that they don’t have time or resources to conduct full-blown conversion tracking on each of their PR initiatives—especially due to the fact that some channels are tied to a wide variety of conversions. In other words, you have to know the best way to measure how much value media channels provide to your bottom line.
Google Analytics tracks the various interactions a user has with your site in order to help identify which of these channels are the most effective. It also allows you to track the success of certain marketing emails by tracking conversions that occur as a result of one channel or another. It will give you access to a breakdown of media channels ranging from direct traffic, organic search, branded paid search, and paid social traffic. In addition to this, you can view the bounce rate and average session duration—both of which will help you see who browses through your site and/or spends the least amount of time on your website.
In order for your public relations and marketing efforts to be effective, they need to lead to action. This means that you have goals you are trying to achieve with these marketing tactics and you need to make sure that your content and your outreach strategy gives people a reason to act. Whether it is subscribing to a newsletter, downloading an ebook, signing up for an online course or making a purchase, your audience needs to find something in the content you have put out there that is valuable enough for them to do. That’s where Google Analytics’ Goal Completions tool comes in!
The Goals Completion tool is when your visitors complete a specific action you want them to take on your site. This can be anything from subscribing to your mailing list, signing up for a webinar, or making a purchase. If you notice that your audience is not doing what you want them to do, it may be time to rethink your public relations messaging so that they have a better understanding. You should make an effort to define all the goals you want your users to complete on your site, and check to make sure they’re being completed with regularity.