Most businesses face at least a small number of direct competitors, so it’s essential that any marketing and public relations activity you do is really working for you. Measurement is incredibly important for this, not only to retain your budgets if you’re reporting to a board, but also to ensure your actions get results.
Wherever possible, you need to be able to demonstrate to the board that there has been a return on investment (ROI) and having data to hand that’s easy to interpret really helps to support your case.
You should start all your campaigns by benchmarking key statistics which you will continue to track throughout the campaign. Which statistics you should track will be dependent on the campaign goals, but you may need access to:
• Google Analytics to review how the website is performing and to identify any potential user experience issues before the PR work begins
• Social media or scheduler logins to access analytics such as page likes/follows, engagement, and most popular posts
• Sales figures/financial reports
• Any reports from previous newsletter distributions
• Coverage/appearances of any previous PR work
You will also need to gather information about the target audiences both from general research and by talking to them directly. One simple way to do this is by sending out a questionnaire either through your existing (GDPR compliant) mailing list or via a relevant publication.
Finally, you should look to benchmark the performance of competitor brands across the above areas to assess their strengths and weaknesses.
Without benchmarking or regularly comparing data to previous periods, it is difficult to assess whether what you’re doing is effective. This is why you should continue to track relevant metrics, where you have access to them, to be able to confirm how well the campaign is working or to see if any adjustments are necessary to get better results.
Deciding on your goals
What do you want to achieve? This is an important question and shouldn’t be overlooked, particularly when creating a campaign. You need to know what you’re aiming for to have something to measure success by and ensure your actions are effective.
Common requests we’ve had from clients include:
• We want to see more order conversions
• We want to increase traffic to our website
• We want to target a specific region/audience
• We want more enquiries
• We want more newsletter signups
• We want to promote our new digital brochure
With the addition of some achievable, quantifiable targets, general objectives like these can become your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). For example, if you’re wanting to see an increase in orders, your KPI target could be:
“10% increase in orders in a month.”
The website is one of the best ways to assess how effective marketing activity is. If you have access to Google Analytics, there is a wealth of data at your disposal. The data you collect needs to be specific to your business and targets. We find the figures that feature in almost all of our Google Analytics reports are:
Traffic/visitors (you can also break this down by country and city, if this information is helpful).
Both new and returning are important as the first gives you an indication of how well you’re marketing the business, the second gives an impression of brand loyalty or an indication of how useful and user-friendly the website is.
You can compare this figure to previous periods which gives you a rough idea of how strong your brand awareness is, if you’re being active enough in your industry, and whether you’re promoting yourself well. If you’re tracking consistently, you may then start to see trends – months that are typically quiet, spikes following published materials/e-newsletters, and so on. It also allows you to easily identify issues such as unexpected drops in traffic. This could mean you need to have a review of what you’re doing, how the website is performing, and what you can do to improve. In addition, Google is known for regularly updating its algorithms, which could impact Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). For example, there are core search updates several times a year which could impact your website ranking (positively or negatively). Often, if you drop down the list, it’s because other pages have been rewarded by bumping them up the list for what Google perceives as having better content. You would then need to review your website content, if you wish to improve your ranking.
Where traffic comes from can really help you to understand which activity, messaging and platform works best for your target audience. In some cases, it may also indicate where you’re best spending money, whether it be to grow your reach in an area that seems poorly developed, or to increase reach on a platform that you know already works.
The main routes we look at are social traffic, to assess platforms we’re creating plans for and managing, or whether there has been referral traffic generated from any content published in digital magazines, other websites or clicks from e-newsletters. These figures can then be worked into the report for a specific digital campaign or used for a general overview of the effectiveness of marketing activity.
This is a metric that’s incredibly useful for tracking things like quote request forms (which we can add a value to, if you’re wanting to look at it from an ROI point of view) and literature downloads, when they’re set up as goals in Google Analytics. If we’re following the visitor’s journey (user flow) but find that they drop off before converting, or the figures have dropped unexpectedly, we can start to look at why this might be happening to improve the website or the conversion process. Things we ask might include:
• Is it easy for a visitor to find what they need?
• Is search engine optimisation (SEO) good?
• Are the documents of a high quality and clear as to what they’re about?
• Are the download links working?
• Have the goals been updated when the documents were updated?
If you’re a small business working with a couple of platforms, you may find it easier to review the analytics available within the channels you’re posting in. However, if you’re wanting something more detailed or a service which can aggregate the data from a number of channels to save you time, you may find your social media scheduler can provide this for you. If you’re only using a free package from something like Buffer or Hootsuite, it is likely the data you have access to is limited. If you choose to upgrade, then your options for customising your reports and analysing what is available to you is greatly improved. You can then tailor what you’re tracking to your needs, but the standard information available may include:
• Page followers/likes
• Post engagement
• Which posts were most popular
• Audience demographics
• Lead forms
You can use a tool which does this for you, such as Kantar Media (which has print, online and social options), but this can be quite costly. Alternatively, you can use free options like Google Alerts for monitoring any appearances online (eg. an article by or about you), Warble Alerts for social, and manually going through print media. Most tools will email you based on your preferences and you can also use them for tracking keywords and competitors. In this way, you can collect data for appearances, report on the sentiment of coverage or use what you learn to inform a report which compares your performance to your competitor’s (which can also include data from social reports eg. your average engagement vs their average engagement).
We also keep track of coverage such as print outlets, digital uploads, and engagement with social posts related to distributed material. Some magazines and e-newsletters sometimes provide details such as:
• Circulation figures
• Page views
• Click rates/opens
• Quote requests/sales
Reporting with confidence
With a budget and objectives set, work done, and KPIs clear, we can pull together all these different elements throughout a campaign.
For example, when given a short-term campaign to promote a CPD event, you could track:
• Landing page visits
• LinkedIn promoted post – link clicks, sign ups/enquiries, engagement, impressions
• Email/call enquiries
• News piece published in industry mags – coverage, enquiries, page views, link clicks, referral links to website
• News piece published in newsletter – opens, clicks, referral links to website
• Eventbrite signups
• Coverage of the event (industry mags, mentions on social)
• Website visits throughout the campaign
• Page views throughout the campaign
• Company newsletter signs ups throughout the campaign
• Relevant literature downloads (goals) throughout the campaign
When a campaign is well-planned, with clear objectives, there should be some good results which help you to justify your spending and help to shape future work. Use your results to ensure both your audience and your business continues to grow.