Modern advertising methods make measuring ROI (return on investment) for advertising and marketing campaigns fairly easy, particularly for online advertising where you can measure impressions, cost per click, and cost for conversion. Understanding ROI for PR has traditionally been more difficult because its impact is not always direct or immediate. Earned media, for example, may create a favorable impression of your brand that influences a buyer’s decision months later. The buyer may not even realize the influence your media mention had on them. So, how do you know if your PR efforts are actually driving revenue?
There are a number of factors you can measure to justify your investment in PR software and activities. Here is a closer look at some of them:
ROI through Website Traffic Generated by PR
TrendKite integrates with your web analytics to show who is coming to your website after reading earned media articles and lets you now what these visitors do once they get there. This allows PR to use metrics like website visitors generated, leads created through form submissions, and even transactions completed (for ecommerce companies). This allows public relations to show the ROI of media mentions in a way that executives will understand.
By integrating with website analytics, a modern media measurement platform can provide more detail about how effective your PR campaign is at driving website traffic that converts to paying customers. Most users of web analytics track goal conversions and assign a dollar value to those conversions. Depending on the business, this value may be based on the average value of a new customer or the average value of an inbound form submission. A modern media platform can analyze referring sites to determine which press releases, mentions and articles are driving traffic. That way, ROI for PR can be measured in exactly the same way that it is measured for online marketing campaigns.
Search Engine Ranking form PR Yields ROI
Most purchases these days begin with a Google search. To be competitive, it is critical the links to your website appear as near to the top of the Google search results as possible for the key words your buyers are likely to use. There are many factors influencing your position on the list, such as on-site keyword optimization and good website design, but PR can be a major contributing player in the quest for position #1.
A huge factor in how the search engines determine placement is the number and authority of the sites linking back to yours. For example, if the Wall Street Journal posts a link to your accounting software website, Google assumes your site has value. This “reflected glory” approach is remarkably effective in helping the search engines return the most relevant results to users. Keep in mind the smaller publications, aggregators and blogs often publish posts based on what they see elsewhere. One big earned media win can result in more reach than the initial channel, as well as many more links back to your site to further drive up your ranking and increase your PR ROI.
Benchmarking Media Mentions to Prove ROI of PR Campaigns
Leveraging a media monitoring tool to show how your PR is stacking up against your competition, other product lines or best in class media teams is another way public relations professionals can prove the return on investment from PR campaigns. Total share of voice around a topic or share of voice over time will demonstrate your team's ability to control the conversation through mentions in high quality publications.
Return On Investment by Change in Sentiment
Sentiment analysis of media mentions is a great way to demonstrate the value of your PR campaigns. With TrendKite uses machine learning natural language processor to help you recognize the sentiment of an article and report on how your PR efforts are changing that sentiment over time. This is an extremely useful way for PR professionals involved in crisis communications to prove to executives that their efforts are having a positive impact on brand reputation that is driving ROI for the company.
Ad Value Equivalency (AVE) Does NOT Prove the ROI of PR
To get executives attention, you need to use and language and hard metrics that they can easily understand. AVE is an outdated metric built on questionable calculations that executives will not care about. The algorithms used to define AVE have little to no bearing on the ROI PR efforts are driving for a brand and executives are used to seeing hard data points like click through rates, goal conversions on the website, traffic generated, leads created and deals closed or influenced from their marketing and advertising teams. PR professionals have a much easier proving ROI if they use data driven metrics such as:
- Website traffic generated from backlinks in your earned media mentions
- Goal conversions through the website and new leads generated for sales
- Changes in Google search ranking of keywords your PR campaigns target
- Competitive benchmarking metrics like share of voice and how it has changed over time
- Sentiment analysis to show how you are changing the nature of the conversation