Written by Rachel Vandernick
Clients want to know if what they’re doing is making an impact, and unfortunately, PR has been slow to adopt processes that provide transparency and accountability for the dollars spent on campaigns. In fact, only 34% of bloggers reported “always” checking analytics to evaluate performance in a recent survey.
Regardless of where you stand on the age-old question of whether or not PR and marketing are completely exclusive disciplines, one thing is certain. Data-based approaches have given marketers incredible leverage and insights in the market and with clients. Here are three data-based marketing tactics that you can steal to help show the ROI of your PR efforts:
1. Make All Pitched URLs tracked
Have you ever wanted to know if an editor paged through that longform content outline you pitched? What if you could find out if they actually clicked through that holiday gift guide you sent along? By tagging your pitch URLs, you can not only determine if they’ve taken any action on information you’ve sent them, but also help tailor what gets sent to them in the future based on what they engaged with in your pitch.
Tagged URLs in pitches can help determine if editors are invested in your work, or if they’ve engaged with it in any way without having to ask. While this is a common practice in digital marketing and advertising to help track ad performance, it’s something of a rarity in PR. Steal this tip using the steps below:
Use the Google URL Builder tool; it’s easy and will format the raw link for you
Fill in the appropriate fields (see sample image below for an example)
Pitching via email? Use “email” as both your source and medium to keep things simple and be able to compare metrics in the future. In the “campaign name” field, use the publication name, or editor if pitching multiple people at the same outlet.
You’ll end up with a slightly ugly URL, so be sure not to paste this raw into your email. It will look something like this (https://www.prcouture.com/?
utm_source=email&utm_medium= email&utm_campaign=outlet-name ).
Copy it and hyperlink as usual for any relevant links.
Pro Tip: You’ll need access to your client’s Google Analytics in order to see the results, so be sure that they have this set up. It’s a free tool, and takes under five minutes to initially configure.
2. Know How to Calculate ROI using A Variety of Methods
One of the hardest questions to answer from clients or supervisors can be, “What is this idea worth? How can it contribute to our business and bottom line?” While awareness is always going to be a goal, every PR pro should have a few tried-and-true calculations to help prove out their investment as a number directed to the bottom line. Being able to attach a dollar amount to PR spend helps keep it in the business budget when times are lean, and helps establish your authority.
The simple “cost/return” equation is fine, but the more nuance you can bring to establishing this, the better your reporting and forecasting will be. Hubspot’s blog offers a pretty universal option, as well as detailed examples of how you can apply it. This equation is also helpful when trying to figure out if an idea or campaign is even worth building.
By calculating projected ROI in advance, you can determine what results the campaign would need to generate in order to turn a profit, or even just break even, before you’ve invested tons of time and effort. Clients want to know that you’ve got their best financial interests at heart, and that you’re not just looking to pad a retainer. Being able to show clients that you’re conscious of their investment adds value to your, or your firm’s, work and helps establish trust.
3.Benchmark Against Key Site Metrics For Campaign Evaluation
Marketers love data like PRs love storytelling. Data tells us an unbiased story about consumer behavior, and this is something PR pros can leverage to prove value. One of the hardest goals to track, but most often cited, is “awareness”. How do you know if more people are interested in your client after a series of campaigns without doing consumer polling? Turn to the client’s Google Analytics for cues. Increases in branded search, campaign-specific, or pitched-product terms, can show if more people are actively looking for your client.
Pro Tip: This should be compared year-over-year in to account for seasonality trends in the business. In order to view and analyze search terms, your client will need to have search console enabled, which is free to use.
Rachel Vandernick is the founder of The Vander Group LLC, a Philadelphia-based digital marketing consulting group specializing in travel, nonprofit, and food and beverage. She has a decade of experience helping clients nation-wide leverage their PR, digital marketing and advertising strategies. You can also find her on Instagram chronicling digital marketing and the #remotework life.