The concept of digital PR is to promote your brand’s content across online channels, boost brand recognition and brand awareness, establish authority in the industry, and drive traffic to your website. While the concept is well-defined, how you measure your success isn’t always so clear.
How do you know if brand recognition is improving? Are the right audiences seeing your brand’s content? Do they find your content valuable?
The answers lie in the data. One of the best things about digital PR is the wealth of data you can gather to analyze the performance and impact of your efforts. You just have to know what you’re looking for, and what tools to use to get the data you need.
Here are some of the most effective ways to measure your digital PR results.
Start by Setting Clear Goals
With myriad tools for tracking audience behavior, you have the ability to find out whether your blog posts are more popular among men or women, whether they’re viewed more often by a certain age group, demographic, or even at a particular time of day.
Before you gather all of this data (and then sit there wondering what to do with it), decide from the get-go which data relates to your brand’s goals, and which doesn’t. Maybe you don’t need to know whether your latest blog post appeals more to men than women — or, maybe that’s extremely important for your brand, as you’re trying to market a new product specifically for men.
Set your digital PR goals by asking: What is this content meant to accomplish? What value do you want the content to deliver to consumers? What value do you want the content to deliver to the brand? From there, you can identify and collect the metrics that are most relevant to your specific goals.
Key Metrics to Track for Digital PR
Brand awareness — the number of people who have heard of your brand and know what you offer — can be measured by looking at your content’s reach.
Look at the publications and other online outlets where your brand has been mentioned, and then assess the number of readers and social media followers those publications have. This gives you a good idea of your content’s reach and how aware your target audience is of your brand’s products and services.
Another metric that reflects brand awareness is organic traffic based on branded search terms; meaning, people who search for your brand without first encountering branded content or an advertisement. This is sometimes referred to as “unaided awareness.”
Engagement is all about the interactions consumers have with your brand — whether they are reading your content, commenting on your brand’s social media post, or viewing pages on your website.
The following metrics can help you gauge the level to which your target market is engaged with your brand:
- Number of unique pageviews for a page on your website (a blog post, infographic, whitepaper, or other content).
- Total pageviews for a piece of content. While unique pageviews will show you how many individual users looked at a piece of content, total pageviews will count every time the content was viewed — even if the same users viewed it multiple times. If total pageviews are far higher than unique pageviews, it reflects that many users came back to view the same content more than once.
- Average time spent on page for each piece of content. This is an indicator of how engaging your content is, because a longer average time on page suggests that users are reading or viewing a majority of the content on that page.
- The referral sources that brought users to your website. Sources may include third-party publications where your content has been published, social media posts, or articles and web pages that link to your brand’s content or website.
Social Media Metrics
Look for the following metrics to measure brand engagement on social media:
- Shares (including retweets and repins): Your audience is more likely to share content that resonates with them or that they find valuable. A high number of shares on a social media post is a good sign that the content in the post is relevant to your target audience. Shares also expand the reach of your content.
- Reach: If your post is getting a higher reach, it’s very likely that your audience is interested in that topic. You can use reach as an indicator of whether you should boost a post or not.
- Comments: The more comments you receive on a social media post, the more engaged your audience feels with that post’s content.
- Follower growth: The rate at which your brand is gaining (or losing) followers on social media can clue you into the level of engagement your audience feels with the content you post, and the brand overall.
- Social listening: Taking note of what your audience is saying about your brand on social media gives you an insight into how your brand is perceived.
Caliber & Relevance of Third-Party Sites Where Your Content is Published
One of the strongest ways to showcase the success of digital PR is by analyzing the online publications where your brand’s content has been placed. Effective placements for your brand’s content will be on publications with a wide readership, an engaged audience, a high domain authority, and most importantly, an audience that matches your brand’s target market.
The domain authority of a publication will indicate whether Google views that website as a reputable source of information. Getting your brand’s content placed on websites with high domain authority is helpful, because it associates your brand’s website with a website that Google already sees as valuable.
More importantly, you should assess the publication’s reputation and relevance to your brand. While domain authority is strictly SEO-related, the reputation and relevance of a publication are better indicators of whether journalists, industry leaders, and consumer audiences view the publication as a valuable and trusted source of information. This takes into account the quality of other content on the site.
Some good indicators of a high-quality and relevant publication include:
- Other sources link back to this publication as a reference.
- The publication publishes guest posts on other trusted third-party sources.
- The publication has a large following or readership in its industry.
- The audience for this publication is the same as — or overlaps heavily with — your brand’s target audience.
SEO and Backlinks
Gaining backlinks should never be the primary goal of your digital PR efforts — though, when you do gain backlinks from a content placement or other source, it’s important to assess whether they are valuable to your website’s SEO.
Here are things to look for when analyzing backlinks:
- Follow vs. Nofollow: A follow link allows Google to count the link, and a nofollow tells Google to ignore it.
- Domain Authority: Backlinks from websites with high domain authority are much more valuable, as Google gives them more weight when calculating search results.
- Relevance: A backlink that comes from a publication in your industry (or another relevant source) is much more valuable than one that comes from a source unrelated to your industry or audience.
Use the Right Tools to Measure Your Digital PR Efforts
There are many measurement tools suiting all budgets. Here are a few we know and love:
You’re probably familiar with Google Analytics, and it’s a great place to begin.
Google Analytics gives you an overview of everything related to your website traffic — where it comes from, what pages are most popular, and how long visitors stay on the site.
Many Google Analytics users stop there, but to make the most of this robust tool you need to examine your ABCs — acquisition, behavior, and conversion metrics. This will give you valuable information on where your traffic is coming from and how users behave when they reach your site.
CoverageBook is a digital PR professional’s dream.
Input links to online media coverage and watch a clean, data-rich report appear as if by magic. CoverageBook gives you an overview of the amount of coverage you received, the domain authority of the sites that give you coverage, the links back to your site you have received, and social shares of each article, broken down by channel.
CoverageBook saves hours of painstaking work compiling all that data manually. We can’t imagine working without it, and we use it to show our clients that our placements made a difference to their business.
It’s time-consuming to pull out the native analytics from each of your social media channels if you need to provide regular reports.
We use Buffer to help us gather data across different social media platforms, as well as to manage community engagement and schedule our posts. Buffer offers a few different platforms to choose from, so you’re sure to find the functionality you need to keep your digital PR efforts in shape.
Marketing Cloud’s Social Studio
If you’re looking to measure audience sentiment, Marketing Cloud’s Social Studio offers a powerful solution.
By analyzing conversations across all social media platforms, you can get the feedback you need from the people who matter, in real time and in real depth. We love how you can listen to your audience’s discussions on brand-related topics with machine-learning sentiment analysis. But that’s not the only way this Salesforce tool helps you stay agile in digital PR.
Because social media has become an increasingly visual medium, Salesforce has also introduced Einstein Vision for Social Studio. Using AI-powered image recognition, Einstein Vision allows you to automate the discovery and identification of images on Twitter — without the need for any accompanying text, such as brand names or product descriptions. This provides an extra opportunity for you to track your brand and the effectiveness of your digital PR campaigns among your target audience.
Measure for Success
Measuring your digital PR activities enables you to present your results to clients as well as your management team in an accessible way. Not only does this show executives the effectiveness of your work, but it also reveals to your team what’s working well for the brand and what’s missing the mark. This allows you to pivot your future digital PR strategies for even greater success.
For more support with your digital PR strategies, contact the experts at RelationEdge Digital Agency for a free initial assessment.