In the past, public relations professionals were limited to measuring the effectiveness and value of their work by counting news clippings, looking at competitors, counting the number of attendees at events and receiving client feedback. As PR and marketing for businesses have made their way to the digital world, new and improved ways of measuring the effectiveness of public relations efforts have breached the surface.
Tools such as Google Analytics, Facebook and WordPress provide analytics, allowing professionals to measure communications efforts more accurately than ever.
Bravo Group Director of Content Strategy Chris Conard Shultz says interpreting data and analytics and applying that insight to content creation bring a whole new level of finesse to communications strategy. Much of what I have learned so far about analytics has been a result of getting to work with her in the Campaign Creation Group.
Analytics can tell professionals distinct details about their content performance and audience interactions, which is monumental for successful PR efforts. By tracking growth and shifts in trends in the online community, professionals can develop stronger PR programs to build awareness, develop messages, push the messages out and promote engagement among consumers. The specificity that data analytics can provide is creating a fundamental shift in how PR and digital practitioners approach campaign strategy.
- Tell us about website traffic. Which specific days and times are people most engaging with our content? How do people find our site? What percentage of traffic comes from social media? How has the traffic changed in the past week or month?
Knowing the answers to these questions helps professionals measure website traffic before and after a PR campaign to see which channels and sources drive the most traffic to their pages. Analytics can reveal more than just the amount of people who visit. They can tell time spent on a particular page or subset of pages.
- Give details about our audience. Who are they? What are their gender, race and age? Are they new or returning visitors? What brought them to the page? What are their interests? Did they access the site via mobile or desktop? How many pages did they visit before exiting?
These analytics give professionals insight into the behavior and interests of those audiences on social media. Knowing the audience and what it is interested in allows professionals to formulate content that resonates with audience members and ultimately makes them stay engaged longer and more often.
- Track content performance. What type of content, topics, subjects, hashtags and platforms received the most feedback? What was the average engagement rate for each post? Which topics aren’t promoting discussion? Which people are interested in which type of content? Are infographics performing well? What is the average length of a post that receives the most engagement? Which format do people seem to be drawn to?
This information helps professionals better understand the audience’s interest in the content that is produced. Professionals can assess content performance, pinpoint the weak areas and change their efforts to increase the effectiveness of the campaign.
- Provide insight on advertising boosts. Which pieces of content were used? How much more engagement was a result of the ad boosts versus organic reach? Which pieces of content should be boosted? Are the ad boosts working? Are they effective in getting the audience to engage with our content, or are people just reading it?
Ad boosts are a way to lift content to a larger audience despite the overwhelming amount of content marketing being done constantly on the internet. Knowing which posts are worth putting money behind and whether efforts pay off is crucial to maximizing the strength of ad boosts.
Analytics give professionals a greater understanding of many of the aspects involved in PR — the audience, the message, the strategy and the outcome. Acquiring knowledge on each of these contributors and their interaction gives practitioners answers about what works and what doesn’t in the digital world — if you know how to read the data and apply this knowledge.
Chris uses an analogy to describe analytics in the digital world.
“A lot of people who gamble and follow sports want their teams to win yet don’t understand the algorithms or the mechanics of online betting, but they trust it,” Chris said. “Social media and digital is kind of like that with clients. They don’t know the background or the analytics of it all, but they trust us because they know we do and can be successful using it.”
Lauren Koppenhaver || Harrisburg Office