All forms of marketing, including digital PR has some costs involved. These costs can come mainly in form of employee manhours spent on pitching your story ideas to the journalists or hiring a PR agency to do the same, paying for a press release distribution services, buying access to a media contacts database etc. Regardless of how you have invested in digital PR, the truth is you need to set a tangible goal that defines success of your digital PR campaign based on a trackable metric so that you know your return on investment (ROI) at all times.
We understand that calculating a ROI on digital PR is much harder than to do it for your email marketing, or pay-per-click based digital advertising campaigns; but at the end of the day its all about a handful of goals and we should be able to articulate and track them if we want to identify and focus our energies of successful marketing channels.
Let us go through some of the typical goals of a digital PR campaign and trackable metrics that can help you track it.
Increasing Brand Awareness: This is a classic marketing goal that is designed to boost the ability of your potential customers’ recall of your product or service. Top-of-mind recall means that consumer ill think about you whenever they are in a purchasing cycle. A surrogate for increased brand awareness might be increased follower count on social media,increased website visitors, more brand recognition at your trade conferences etc.
Increased test drive of your products/services: If you are offering digital products and services or even physical goods that can be tested prior to purchase (such as cars, boats etc.) then it will be useful goal to track number of people pretesting your product and service prior to purchase. An uptick in this number definitely provides a stronger indication that your digital PR efforts are paying off. You can measure the same thing with tracking participants at free events , new volunteer signups (for nonprofits)etc.
Increasing customer loyalty and decreasing churn rate: Percentage of existing customers who stop purchasing your products or services in a specific time period, often measured in a year is called churn rate. Cutting down your churn rate is often a great metric since it means that instead of constantly trying to find new customers to replace your churned out ones, you can retain your existing customers for a longer period, thereby decreasing the overall cost of customer acquisition and increasing the lifetime value of customers. This metric usually works very well for any subscription based company; examples includes not only SAAS companies but also the new subscription box based companies dominating in food, shaving, and gift-giving space.
Increasing customer satisfaction: The holy grail for any business is increasing overall customer satisfaction. While this can be tracked with surveys, etc. I prefer to do it via a simple question to the user “will you recommend us to your friends and family?”. If the percentage of positive answers go up after your digital PR campaign than it means that your customer satisfaction has gone up which can help you not only with churn rate but also help your business in other ways.
Increasing overall sales conversions: This one is not apparent at first but its probably as important as all the other metrics described above. Lets say that you used to convert 2 people out of 100 by using a email marketing campaign. After running your digital PR campaign, you are now converting 4 people out of 100. You can technically attribute this conversion to email marketing, but in reality, if everything else is unchanged, than it is your digital PR that helped you increase your sales conversion.
Increasing web traffic: This one is nobrainer, right? you are trying to boost number of visitors to your website. I cannot recommend Google Analytics more strongly for tracking website analytics, and using it you can not only check for important metrics such as bounce rate ( percentage of visitors will click off of your website without taking any meaningful action), get data on visitor demographics, city and country etc.
Increasing keyword ranking: In our previous blogpost on digital PR and SEO, we mentioned that every business looks at ways they can boost their search engine result page rankings whenever relevant keywords are entered in Google. We know that being on first page of Google dramatically improves click through. You can track all the keywords you are on the first page by using a service like Spyfu.com. It will not only show you top keywords you are currently ranking for, but also estimated monthly SEO click value. As long as your digital PR is increasing both these metrics and bringing in new keywords in ranking, your digital marketing campaigns are a success.
Increasing domain authority, Alexa ranking, and backlinks: You SEO and ditigal marketing efforts should result in an increase in your domain’s trust and authority score which in turns helps you in getting ranked for more keywords. One way to track domain authority score is by using services like Moz.com, Alexa, and Ahrefs. You can also see which content of your is being linked by other third party domains and check all the backlinks at Ahrefs backlink checker. Unfortunately, these services are pretty pricey, running upto $300/month, however, you can subscribe to it couple of times a year and track your goals to see if you are making progress or not.
Increasing size of your email database: Lot of my customers track how many subscribers they are adding to their email database. You might already know that it takes many multiple contacts with customers before they buy your products. Hence, it makes sense that your digital PR and content marketing simply tries to signup customers to your email newsletter and you hope to do the actual sales conversion down the road.