This article originally ran on PR Daily in October of 2017.
Measurement has been a bugaboo of the PR industry for years.
Because so much of PR is intangible and long-term in scope, it does not fit into a common financial mold when it comes to metrics. Of course, that’s no excuse.
Companies spend about $11 billion on PR per year, and executives rightfully demand to see a return on that investment. Unfortunately, 82 percent of practitioners say they have no way to evaluate the return they receive on PR.
This doesn’t mean PR is impossible to measure. We just have to do a better job of monitoring metrics that matter and offering tangible proof of our worth.
Here are 10 important gauges of PR success:
1. Website visitors
Website visitors always top my metrics list. After all, the more that people are exposed to your brand, the more likely they are to trust you with a purchase. We can break down website visitors into three groups, depending on where they originate. This could be:
- Owned content from other areas on your website.
- Earned content from outside sites where you guest blog or post your original content.
- Social content from posts to your social media networks.
Owned content is pretty straightforward—consisting of blogs, e-books, video and any other content you’ve created and own. Metrics from earned and social content can pinpoint which sites and social media networks are most effective for your brand, so you can focus your energies and resources on them.
Any basic metrics program, such as Google Analytics, can show you how many unique visitors you have on your website. Many programs also show where your traffic originates.
Your rank on Google is crucial to getting more leads and earning the trust of website visitors. Every company with a solid PR strategy strives for the golden SEO status of Google’s first page. Measure your rank in Google regularly.
Take your top 10 keywords, and measure your position quarterly. Are you further down than you would like to be? Then tweak your SEO strategy to rank higher.
Monitor this by using the incognito tab in your browser to search for your keywords. The incognito tab ensures results aren’t tainted by your personal preferences and web history. You’ll see a clear picture of how you rank for your chosen keywords.
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3. Domain authority
Your website’s domain authority is a major part of your SEO ranking. We consider it separately, because it’s a valuable metric to reveal how your site ranks compared against others.
This metric has an ascending scale of 1 to 100. The higher your domain authority, the higher you will land in Google searches. This free Moz tool can help you check your website’s domain authority.
Domain authority factors include:
- Links to your site
- Links from your site to other authority sites
- Your site’s age
4. Email list
View your email list as the backbone of your business. If your content strategy is successful, it will lead to a steady flow of email addresses for potential clients.
Use special links to your landing pages and email sign-up forms to see where your email addresses originate. Is it a gated offer, such as an e-book or white paper? Is it a simple sign-up form at the bottom of your content or in your sidebar?
If you don’t see your desired results, it’s time to analyze which offers or calls to action aren’t performing. Use that information to modify elements of your website until you find a combination that works.
You can use email marketing software, such as MailChimp, to measure email addresses and their sources.
Find out what people are saying about you—the good, the bad and the ugly. Keep track of specific mentions and link them to your PR campaigns. This will show the effectiveness of your campaigns, what conversations are sparked, and the resulting impact on your brand.
Set up an alert tool such Google Alerts to ping you every time your brand, organization or product, or an important individual within your organization is mentioned. Set up one for competitors as well, in order to see the big picture.
6. Qualified leads
Valuable leads are qualified, prospective clients. Realistically, only a small percentage of your email addresses will lead to a purchase of your product or service.
Learn where your qualified leads are coming from. Use special links to track the trail your clients left behind—did they find your site through a specific media outlet or social media post? This can help you identify where serious decision-makers look for information.
7. Sales conversions
In general, even for successful businesses, sales conversion rates tend to be in the single digits. You might have hundreds of leads but convert only 3 percent of those. (That’s normal.)
The low percentage makes it imperative that you track this element. Learn all you can from these individuals and the metrics you gather from them. What was the final piece of content or offer that converted them from lead to buyer?
Social media can help you boost brand awareness and credibility and reach new audiences.
Measure engagement to make sure you’re getting the most out of social media content. Engagement measures such factors as “likes,” comments, views, shares and more. With this information, you can see what are the best times to post, what kinds of content work best, and specific data about your audience.
Many social media networks have their own analytics programs, such as Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics. Other programs, such as Kissmetrics, offer a more comprehensive view of social media engagement.
9. Bounce rate
This measures not only how many people visit your site, but how long they remain—and whether they click the links to see your other content.
From this metric, you can find ways to keep your audience on your site longer. Test various changes to your content to see how they affect your bounce rate.
Although overall website visitors can be a good metric, the number of referrals you get is even more important. Referrals show you how many new eyes are viewing your site and learning about your brand. You can easily monitor this in Google Analytics.
With referrals, you can see what site people come from and get an idea for what piques their interest. Then you can zero in on which outlets and campaigns work.
Key points to remember
- Metrics give you a better understanding of the effectiveness of your campaigns, and they identify where you can improve.
- Follow your SEO ranking regularly to improve your SEO strategy and rank higher within Google search results.
- Your email list is a great tool to show you which content is converting and what is not doing the job.
- Mentions help you to gauge your brand’s reputation and the effect of your campaigns on that reputation.
A version of this post first appeared on the Marx Communications B2B PR Sense Blog.