How to measure digital PR

How to measure digital PR

So what is digital PR? Well, it’s basically online activity with the aim to increase your online visibility. There’s two main facets to this: working in accordance with search engines to ensure that your website ranks highly and gaining coverage across a variety of quality online publishers and publications. Regardless of the function of your website, digital PR should be on your agenda. Why? The right type of coverage will help to increase your brand authority online, build on engagement and increase your SEO. Of course, we all want to see the fruits of our labour, so it’s just as well digital PR is incredibly easy to measure and evaluate. Here we delve into the ways you can effectively measure your digital PR efforts and how to use this information to better your strategy.

Can’t you just measure in the same way as traditional PRs?

Well, no. Traditional, offline PRs prefer to use AVE (advertising value space) to measure the impact of their coverage. This means that they take the actual amount of space their coverage takes up in print and compare it to the price they would have to pay if they simply bought the ad space. This has its merits but can become somewhat arbitrary considering the huge range of publications out there, and individuals perceptions of what good coverage actually is.

Fortunately for us, digital PR has the luxury of much more precise measurements. It takes into account a whole range of different aspects from the type of coverage, the quality of a link, SEO value, direct sales, website traffic, increasing the number of followers, and engagement across social media. These measurements help us to structure a holistic strategy which uses different channels to achieve these goals. When it comes to comparing digital PR and offline, there are a few key areas where digital naturally takes the lead: SEO and website authority, brand awareness and engagement, and sales and traffic. So, let’s have a look at these three key areas, and focus on how we can measure them.

SEO and website authority

Measuring digital PR in terms of SEO and website authority can be done in two ways. When it comes to SEO, the best way to measure digital PR is by assessing the calibre of online publications you gain coverage with and the quality of any organically gained backlinks. In terms of website authority, we measure this by looking at where your brand has been mentioned online, and in what context.

Let’s take SEO first. When done properly, digital PR is a great tool to increase the amount of off-site content which will boost your SEO. In the past, digital PR has mistakenly been associated with link building. Whilst it’s true that gaining links back to a site can help you increase the website’s PageRank in Google, it should never be the end goal of your digital PR campaign. First and foremost, you’ve got to focus on the end user, putting yourself in their shoes and analysing whether the coverage is valuable to them. Backlinks, should you wish to gain them, need to be organic and editorial. But be careful when stepping into this area, as Google recently had to issue a further warning to brands telling them not to misuse links as they risk penalties.

If you do achieve a backlink or two from recently gained coverage, then it’s important to check that it will give you at least some SEO value. To do this, simply look at whether or not the link is a follow link or a no-follow link. Put simply, a follow link allows Google to count the link, and a non-follow tells it not to. Best practice is to have a mixture of follow and no-follow links pointing back to a range of different but relevant pages on your site.

Another way of measuring the value of a backlink is to assess the domain authority (DA) of the website it’s coming from. As a general rule, the higher the DA, the better, and anything under a DA of 20 is unlikely to give you any SEO value.

The last piece of the puzzle is to assess the quality and relevance of the link. The digital world is somewhat divided on this last part, as a high-quality link may give you better SEO value, yet a more relevant one goes further to increase your brand awareness and may lead to conversions. Basically, it’s all about what you’re looking to get out of digital PR.

Website authority, on the other hand, has very little to do with backlinks and more to do with the content on a site. Measuring this aspect of digital PR is slightly harder, as it falls more or less out of your hands and into the hands of journalists. You can increase your website authority by getting content about your brand placed in a variety of online publications including news sites, online articles, independent reviews and ratings from independent organisations. To measure this, you will have to assess the relevance of the content and how useful it is to the reader. For example, if you get a piece of coverage on a website such as the BBC, that will go a long way to increasing your website authority as it comes from a trusted source. However, coverage by a small influencer might not yield the same results.

Brand Awareness and Engagement

This is an area where digital PR can be a lot more specific than traditional PR, as there are a great group of metrics which can be used to measure both the increase in brand awareness and engagement.

The first thing to look at is the calibre of publications. What does their readership look like? Is their audience the same as the brand’s target audience? Will they engage with the content? Having said that, it’s also important to remember that the two don’t always go hand in hand. For example, if you get online coverage in a national paper, that will most likely do wonders for your brand awareness. However, your engagement might not be as high as the content will only be relevant to a small section of readers. On the other hand, if you get coverage in a much smaller publication which was relevant to your target audience, then it’s likely that whilst your brand awareness may end up on a slightly smaller scale, your engagement is likely to be much higher.

Brand awareness can be measured by looking at where your brand has been mentioned, the number of readers that publication has and their social media following. Engagement, however, is measured by taking into account how many people have interacted with that particular piece of content. The best way to do this is to take to social, as this is where publications will post their content and more often than not publications are unwilling to share their data. On Facebook, look at the likes, shares and comments. If the publisher you’re working with is happy to share stats ask for the reach of the post. On Twitter, look at the number of times the content has been liked and re-tweeted; again if you can get impression data then that will increase your measurement statistics. Instagram follows a similar structure, with likes and comments being the most effective form of measurement. A good example of when this works the best is when you invest in an influencer campaign. These mostly fall into the digital PR remit. They’re a great way to get your brand out there as you can work alongside the influencers to create content and then measure both the brand awareness and the engagement of your collaborative content.

Sales and traffic

An often overlooked part of digital PR is how it can directly affect your sales and traffic. We already know that digital PR is a great channel for brand awareness, distributing content, and improving organic traffic. But did you know that it can also create an impact at the bottom of the funnel through paid relationships through publishers and affiliates?

At the most basic level, affiliate marketing gives your brand an opportunity to work with publishers and influencers with the end goal of reaching people who are on the hunt for a better deal. By offering deals and discounts through voucher code or cashback sites, it gives your brand another opportunity to gain a sale. This relationship is usually based on a commission payment to the said affiliate.

There are lots of ways that this relationship can take shape, but the most common are:

-Commission paid per lead/sale
-One off campaign payment for increased website visibility on the publisher website
-One off payment for an email campaign run by the publisher

So how would you measure the success of this side of digital PR? The success of these campaigns can be tracked through an analytics platform, such as Google Analytics. If you’re running a standalone campaign (outside of an affiliate platform) be sure to add a UTM tag to your link, this will make sure it’s tracked efficiently. Goals and ecommerce can also be tracked through Google Analytics, so it also important that if you are starting a new PR campaign that these are set up within Google Analytics before starting any activity. This will allow you to test, learn and iterate through the lifecycle of your campaign. It also helps you determine which publishers are worth continuing a relationship with and which are not delivering against your goals.

So there we have it: what digital PR is, how you can use it, and most importantly, how you can measure the value of any coverage or campaign that you run. It’s important to try not to do everything at once when implementing a digital PR strategy but to focus on specific goals such as SEO, brand awareness, or sales. Once you know what your goal is, then you can easily find out the right metric to measure the success of your campaign. Thinking of running a digital PR campaign, but not really sure how to go about it? Give us a shout.

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