“I can’t see the value of this outreach activity.” How many times have you heard this sentence? It’s become the nightmare of any digital marketing agency.
Back in the day, PRs used a metric called Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) for traditional media. This is a calculation of the cost of placing an advertisement the same size as your coverage on that media outlet. A little crazy, huh? Media coverage and advertisements are completely different things and people respond to them in different ways. However, CEOs all over the world were happy with these metrics and were all complacent, staring at their £6,000 interviews in The Sun.
Today, in the world of digital marketing, it’s much more difficult to prove the value of PR and outreach. Some PR agencies will try to tell you that the blog post they placed on the Huffington Post is worth £3,000 (AVE), although it’s not generating any traffic or leads and virtually anyone can sign up to be a Huffington Post blogger.
Let’s get real.
Outreach and online PR play an important role in your brand’s user journey. Sometimes they’ll help make people aware of the existence of your brand, whilst other times they’ll convince them to trust you and buy your products or services. Different activities will catch different users at different stages of the journey. This is why it’s so difficult to prove an ROI for outreach and PR campaigns.
However, there are a number of KPIs that we can use to demonstrate the value of these activities. Let’s have a look at them.
Getting a mention in the regional news or a review on a popular blog will undoubtedly put your brand in front of an audience, big or small. It’s easy to forget how valuable this is. It’s unbiased coverage, which will reach a relevant audience. People will trust that piece more than an ad.
However, you can’t just guess how many people will have read your article or blog post. Note down how long it was on the homepage for, whether it was a featured piece, and the readership of the website. Sure, not every single visitor looked at that page, but all you can do is be transparent and draw realistic conclusions from this data.
People will see your brand name and either be reminded that you’re around or find out that your brand exists. You could achieve this with advertising, sure, but it’d cost much more.
You can’t ignore brand awareness, no matter how well-known your business is. You need to remind people you’re there and find new customers.
Links back to your site
If you’re smart when doing outreach or online PR, you will likely gain a few links back to your site. This means users are more likely to visit your site after reading the article or review, generating referral traffic. It also means that your site’s SEO profile will improve, as linkbacks from high-authority sites improve your Domain Authority score.
When you’ve secured links within your placements, you will likely receive some referral traffic. Sometimes the figures aren’t big, but they are valuable - the people who made a conscious effort to check your site out are highly likely to be in your target audience and convert in the future.
If you haven’t been able to secure a link, you might see an increase in brand name searches, which is also positive to see.
By positioning your spokespeople as experts in their fields, your brand will be deemed as a thought leader. What does it mean? It means that your key people will be trusted and respected.
It also means that whenever something happens in their industry, people will want to hear what they think of it and publications will happily run their quotes or articles.
Social media visibility and engagement
Whether you’ve created a survey or an opinion piece, sharing it on social will of course amplify it and put it in front of more eyes.
The advantage of social media is that it’s easy to measure - impressions, reach and engagements are all rather reliable metrics to gain an insight into how many people have seen and interacted with your brand on a particular platform.
Good PR will generate brand advocates. Whether it’s social media users or bloggers, you can turn regular customers into brand advocates who will spontaneously promote your brand. You can even pick your own brand ambassadors and give them the love they need to keep up the great (free!) work.
If you’ve made a survey, whitepaper or report available in a downloadable format, then you’ll be able to obtain some leads out of them - valuable email addresses you can then use for your email marketing campaigns. Not too bad, huh?
So there definitely is value in outreach and online PR. You just need to find a way to implement and measure it that makes sense to your business.
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