Measuring the impact of public relations is one of the biggest struggles for PR teams today. How do you prove campaigns are making a positive impact, especially if they don’t directly focus on sales? If your number one goal is brand awareness, how do you show that your brand is gaining visibility?
Measuring PR results with Google Analytics can provide you peace of mind that you’re contributing to business success. Here are a few metrics teams should start analyzing right away.
1. Referral Traffic
One of the best ways to see if you’re getting media coverage in publications that reach your target audience is to look at the referral traffic report. When you get a placement that contains a backlink, you can measure how many users clicked on the link and arrived at your website.
If possible, ask reporters to include backlinks to your website in articles. You should also always include them in company press releases to provide readers with a quick way to reach your site and learn more about your business.
2. New and Returning Users
New Users account for the number of people who hit your website who’ve never visited before. You want to see the number of new users continue to increase over time to prove you’re getting new users on your site. If this number isn’t gradually increasing, it may be time to reevaluate which publications you’re targeting for outreach.
Returning Users are also important to monitor because conversions (sales, PDF downloads, contact form submissions, etc.) typically don’t occur on a user’s first visit. You can even argue that returning users are more important than new users because it indicates whether or not a brand has built strong relationships with consumers. A great way for brands to build credibility is by getting media coverage in publications that carry a lot of influence. New users are great, but if you can’t keep them coming back, you’ll forever be spending money and valuable time trying to replace them.
3. Social Network Referrals
Public relations and social media just aren’t successful without each other, which is why you need to be tracking social network referrals in Google Analytics. The moment a piece of content is shared on social media, whether it’s a media placement or one of your blogs, it becomes earned media. When a consumer shares content, they’re essentially giving it their personal endorsement.
By analyzing social network referrals, you can also see which social platforms are driving the most traffic to your website. Are you spending most of your time and energy promoting content on Facebook, but Twitter is delivering more visitors? Keep an eye on this report to make sure you’re sharing business assets on the platforms where your customers are most engaged.
4. Geographic Report
Does your business primarily get coverage in print publications? This doesn’t mean you can’t use Google Analytics data when measuring PR results. Take a look at the geographic report to see if you notice spikes in traffic from specific cities.
For example, if your company was placed in an article by the Colorado Springs Business Journal, monitor traffic increases from Colorado Springs and surrounding cities. PR teams can infer that media coverage was impactful by noting spikes in web traffic after articles were published using the date comparison feature, which compares traffic trends between different periods.
5. Goal Conversions
Even though generating sales is not a main goal of public relations, you can still look at the goal conversions report in Google Analytics when measuring PR results. Getting people to the website is great, but if you notice they’re not moving through the sales funnel, you might be promising something in the media that visitors aren’t seeing once they get to your website. This means it may be time to revisit your marketing messaging to see where you can provide additional value to your audience.
It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges for public relations professionals is measuring PR results. While Google Analytics isn’t the only tool used to prove value, these metrics are great to leverage when trying to connect the dots and evaluate campaign success.