I feel like a broken record when I preach against the PR industry’s overuse of impressions as a success metric. Yet again and again, I see PR pros boasting about their “reach.” (And while I’m on my soapbox, social media marketers are just as guilty of using this inflated metric.)
Impressions, or the potential reach of your article/post/message, are meaningless if those people don’t actually see your brand - or even better - take action based on your message.
But at the same time, PR is not a magic bullet that works in a silo to fill your pipeline with leads. Even a top-tier feature article is rarely going to equate to hundreds of prospects requesting a demo.
So as tech PR professionals, what can we, and should we, measure? How do we find a balance between valueless impressions and the holy grail of closed sales/customer lifetime value?
While your actual measurement mix should depend on your tech company’s specific goals, here are a few ideas to get you started.
PR Measurement in an Integrated Marketing World
Before I dive into specific measurements, it’s important to remember ARPR’s panoramic approach to PR. In a nutshell, that means that PR alone is not enough to win over today’s discerning buyers. Nor is advertising. Nor social media. Nor email marketing. These channels all influence each other - and buyers - to ultimately propel action from your prospects.
So instead of looking solely at the outputs of PR (number of placements, impressions or even share of voice), it’s important to look at the influence of PR on your tech company’s entire marketing program.
Here are a few ways to measure PR’s influence vs. output:
SEO impact: Across our base of cloud, FinTech, HealthIT and cybersecurity clients, we consistently see organic search as one of the top drivers of website traffic and conversions. And smart PR pros know how to tailor their efforts to maximize the SEO value of media coverage with keywords and backlinks. That’s why SEO metrics like website traffic/conversions from organic search, number of backlinks and Domain Authority are key metrics to watch.
Email marketing performance: If your tech company isn’t leveraging your media coverage in newsletters, sales emails and nurture programs, then you’re missing an opportunity to get this key third-party validation in front of your hottest prospects. Once you are taking advantage of this PR amplification channel, be sure you’re measuring it by looking at the click-through rate of media coverage vs. other links and the conversion rate of nurture and sales messages that link to coverage.
Website traffic: In an ideal tech PR world, every piece of media coverage secured would have a backlink so that we could directly attribute website traffic and conversions to specific articles. But we don’t work in this ideal world. For various reasons, publications often choose not to include backlinks, especially to vendor websites. And even if they all did, it wouldn’t help us track people that look for our clients days, or even weeks, later. So while we certainly should be looking at traffic and conversions from media links, we should also look at overall traffic trends following media campaigns to identify upticks and changes in traffic sources. Also, consider adding a “where did you hear about us” question to webforms with media as an option to better quantify these indirect conversions.
Overall, it’s critical to view PR’s impact not through a single lens, but from a panoramic view that incorporates the multiple marketing channels that PR influences. For more measurement tips, along with advice for integrating your PR, marketing and sales teams, download our playbook, Inbound Marketing: The Missing Link in ROI-Driven PR.