December 6, 2010
It’s an exciting time to be a marketing, public relations or communications professional. Why? We’ve never had so much data available at our fingertips. In real-time. For free (thank you, Google). What this means is PR no longer needs to be considered a “soft art,” rather, data lets us transform it into something accountable and actionable. In other words: data can be the key to giving PR a seat at the strategy table. With that said, it constantly surprises me that some initially don’t like web metrics. Common complaints I’ve heard over the years include:
All of these are completely reasonable comments and questions to someone brand new to digital metrics. The good news is that organized properly – web metrics are simple to interpret, can be broken out as needed for specific objectives and, most importantly, provide actionable insights for your business. For those client or agency side who are new, today I wanted to share 3 quick reasons embracing web analytics for public relations is critical.
Web analytics allows you to easily uncover content that is resonating vs. that which is not. PR professionals are already savvy about creating great content. But what has changed is that it’s now possible to close the feedback loop on stories published by tracking metrics. An embrace of owned media such as blogs or social media newsrooms allows PR pros to make data-driven decisions and improve content to deliver on the topics audiences are most interested in.
A lot of traditional PR and marketing thinking is about campaigns. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, especially if you are accountable to the results of something like a product launch. However it is far more strategic to track/trend metrics over a continuum and work to grow them incrementally. Chasing spikes is not going to yield the same long-term results as consistent improvements that slowly trend up KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and objectives long term. The image above represents what web analytics typically look like when engaging in campaigns at irregular intervals vs. data-driven tactics implemented with established frequency that can be projected to generate predictable (and sustainable) growth. The ideal situation would actually be to combine campaigns and buzz oriented programs with consistent activities designed to impact metrics.
While working as an SEO, I gained a healthy respect for being accountable to not just KPIs like traffic, but outcome results such as generating qualified leads. Initially it is difficult for PR pros and even marketers to be held accountable to such metrics in a similar manner to how sales professionals are judged. However, doing this allows accountability to the C-suite, appropriate expectations management for all team members, as well as a laser-focus on tactics that move the needle. While certainly PR is not the same as SEO, and ultimately PR’s focus should be placed at the top of the funnel – at the end of the day establishing what success looks like and trending to it advances what we do to impact business objectives. With the right measurement, digital PR programs should evolve long-term to focus on the top of the funnel purposefully, in a way that impacts specific conversion metrics. Web analytics for public relations will be an ongoing topic on the LEWIS blog. Today we considered some reasons why – next up, we’ll explore some ways to get started. Be sure to subscribe to our Feed, follow us on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook so you don’t miss a thing.