It is critical to measure the success of PR and marketing campaigns – the challenge is doing so in a cost-effective manner, writes WILLIAM COMCOWICH.
A large budget makes it easier to obtain substantial media exposure and measure the results of PR and marketing. But most businesses don’t have millions – or even thousands – to spend on media measurement.
Most non-profit organisations, start-ups and small businesses generally have limited resources for PR and marketing, and especially for PR measurement.
Even many large organisations rely on shoestring budgets for media monitoring.
The following approaches can help those with limited funds affordably measure their PR and marketing.
Selecting the right goals
When it comes to marketing and PR, set goals that are easy to measure. These could cover lead generation, increased sales, or positive media mentions in certain publications.
The more specific the goal, the easier it is to measure.
To find meaningful results, make sure more general PR goals are linked to business objectives and can be measured accurately and regularly.
As Kathie Green, director of marketing at mobile advertising firm TapSense, explains, “It is important to set and meet your quantifiable press-coverage goals every quarter, to ensure you stay focused on creating great content, raising awareness for your company, and getting return on investment from your PR efforts.”
Many PR teams tend to track and analyse more data than they need.
Review your metrics periodically to eliminate outdated and unneeded data – many are obsolete or unhelpful and consume precious time and energy.
Focusing on just a handful of key metrics can bring clarity and save time.
The rule of thumb is to use data points that show how the PR campaign helped attract customers or potential customers, boost sales conversion, or support other business objectives.
The first data points to go should be ‘vanity metrics’, such as numbers of Twitter followers and Facebook likes.
These are easy to report and boost the ego, but they don’t materially help improve business results.
Instead, businesses should focus on how these metrics increased sales – for example, how many followers shared links to your website or clicked through from an Instagram post.
Mara Conklin, founder and president of Clarus Communications, advises businesses to look beyond traditional media metrics to find ways to meaningfully and affordably measure PR success.
“Because good PR positively impacts attitude and perception, it’s okay to look for ‘soft’ measurements that really contribute to the company,” she writes.
Ultimately, it all comes down to one thing – does the metric help you make decisions? When you see the metric, do you know what you need to do?
Saving time and money
One of the most cost-effective methods of measuring the success of your marketing and PR strategy is to use data you already have.
If one goal is increased traffic to the website, examine web analytics for long- term traffic trends, such as the number of returning visitors, time on page, and the most popular pages.
Social media platforms also typically report engagement levels, the number of followers, and more.
However, keep in mind their limitations; social media platforms often include analytics that are designed to encourage continued use of the platform, rather than offering useful data.
Other services may not provide the full scope of information that your business requires – for example, Google Alerts is not reliable as a media monitoring tool.
Consider using a dedicated low-cost media monitoring tool instead.
Marni Zapakin, vice-president at PR research firm Ketchum Global Research & Analytics, says, “While no tool is perfect, tools today leverage web crawling technology that scrapes the internet for comprehensive media tracking of online news and certain social channels.
“You can integrate external data to have everything in one, easy-to-use dashboard,” she adds.
The bottom line is that small businesses and organisations can now measure their PR and marketing efforts without spending huge sums by focusing on the correct metrics and using an effective monitoring tool.