PR measurement has been a bugaboo of the PR industry for years. Of course it mattered, but it was easier to fugeddaboudit, leaving it to fester with all those other items no one wanted to deal with. Because so much of PR is intangible, and offers long-term results, it does not fit into a common financial mold when it comes to metrics.
Why do PR professionals need to show measurable results now?
It’s estimated that companies spend about $11 billion on PR per year, and many C-suite executives are asking to see a return on that investment. But when surveyed, 82% of marketers report that they have no way to evaluate the return they receive on PR.
Does this mean that PR is impossible to measure? Not at all.
After all, public relations has had an incredibly positive impact for both small and large businesses. The ROI is out there; we just have to use the right metrics to show it.
Sure, PR metrics can seem super duper complicated — but that doesn’t mean they have to be! Businesses have data at their fingertips. You just need to know what to use and hone in on the data that’s important to your business.
Numerous benefits accrue from active PR measurement. For starters, PR metrics…
- Give you a better understanding of the effect of a PR campaign
- Show the impact of your efforts across all your platforms
- Allow you to compare the effectiveness of PR campaigns
- Demonstrate investment value for your PR strategy
- Allow PR professionals to prove value to the organization
- Provide future direction
In the words of PR expert, author, and entrepreneur Gini Dietrich, “We finally have the opportunity to prove we’re an investment.”
How to Measure PR
Before you begin to think about measurement, it’s important to outline your key goals. As measurement expert Katie Paine advises, “Be very clear about your goals. Goals drive the type of measurements you are going to use.” For example, if your goal is to save money, your metrics will be very different from a company who wants to enhance their brand’s image.
Choose tools that will make measurement easier. These tools could be a free program like Google Analytics, or a premium subscription tool such as Moz, AirPR or Trendkite. Such tools are key to measuring the value of your content and campaigns.
In PR, it is important to measure both short-term and long-term results. Often, you’ll need to prove quick boosts from specific PR campaigns. Other times, you’ll be more focused on steady growth over a long period of time.
PR metrics can get super duper complicated – but that doesn’t mean they have to be.
The following metrics are generally the most important to measure success in PR. You can use these as a general guide to your personal measurement goals. The specific ones you choose to measure will depend largely on your own company’s public relations goals.
10 Important Metrics to Include Within Your PR Measurement
1. Website Visitors
Website visitors are always top of 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, ebooks, video and any other content you’ve created and own. But metrics from earned and social content can pinpoint what sites and social media networks are most effective for your brand. In time, you’ll discover the sites and networks that work for your brand, and focus your energies and resources on those.
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 hails from.
In PR, it’s important to measure both short-term and long-term results.
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 in order to rank higher up toward that coveted #1 spot.
A basic way you can monitor this is by using the incognito tab in your browser to search for your keywords. The incognito tab ensures results that aren’t tainted by your personal preferences and web history. You’ll see a clear picture of how you rank for your chosen keywords.
3. Domain Authority
Your website’s domain authority is a major part of your SEO ranking. We consider it separately though because it’s a valuable metric itself to reveal how your site ranks compared to others.
This metric is ranked on a scale of 1 to 100 (100 being the highest authority). This ranking is one of the factors that Google takes into account — the higher your domain authority ranks, the higher you will land in Google searches. This free tool from Moz can help you to check on your website’s domain authority.
Domain authority is ranked according to a number of factors. These 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, then it will lead to a steady influx of email addresses, which are your potential clients.
Use special links to your landing pages and email sign-up forms to see where your email addresses are coming from. Is it a particular gated offer you have, such as an eBook 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 the results you want in your email list, then it’s time to analyze what offers or calls to action aren’t performing up to standard. Take that information and use it to modify certain elements of your website until you find a combination that works.
You can also use email marketing software, such as MailChimp, to measure email addresses and their sources.
Find out what people are saying about you, including the good, 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 positive (or negative) impact on your brand.
Set up an alert tool such Google Alerts to ping you every time your brand, organization, 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 — those who are serious and may eventually make a purchase. Realistically, only a small percentage of your email addresses will actually end up purchasing 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 via a specific media outlet, or social media post? This can help you narrow down 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. Even though you may have hundreds of leads, you may only convert about 3% of those. Don’t let this discourage you — it’s completely normal!
But it makes it imperative that you track these. Learn all you can from these individuals, and the metrics you gather from them. What was the final piece of content or offer that turned them from a simple lead into a buyer?
To get an accurate picture of this metric, you must track your clients from lead to sales. Find out what campaigns were involved in converting a lead into buyer.
Social media is an effective place to boost brand awareness and credibility. It can also help you to reach new audiences.
Because social media is so powerful for your brand, you need to measure engagement to make sure you’re getting the most out of it. 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 more specific data about your audience.
For instance, metrics guru Katie Paine notes, “When we factor in the engagement, it tells us what people are REALLY paying attention to rather than just what people are talking to themselves about.”
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
You may get people to visit your site — but how long do they stay there? This is where bounce rate comes into play. It measures not only how many people come to your site, but how long they remain — and whether they click your links to see your other content.
From this metric, you can find ways to keep your audience on your site longer. Test out various changes to your content, and see how it affects your bounce rate.
Although overall website visitors is a good metric in itself, 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 hone in on what outlets and campaigns work.
Key Points to Remember…
- Metrics give you a better understanding of the effectiveness of your campaigns, and shows you 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 tools to show you what content is converting, and what is not.
- Mentions help you to gauge your brand’s reputation, and the effect of your campaigns on that reputation.