One of the many things I love about digital marketing is its trackability. Just about every tactic can be tracked, if not by on-platform analytics, then by a host of robust bolt on tracking suites.
Measuring your digital press release efforts might be challenging in that it involves a mixture of onsite and offsite considerations, but the good news is that it is certainly possible.
Most of the quality PR portals do offer built in analytics functionality, and there are numerous models out there to accurately measure the impact of digital PR. In this article, however, we will focus on providing you with the 5 best tools that broadly illustrate return on digital PR investment. Here they are:
1. Google Analytics
Most digital marketers are familiar with Google Analytics (GA), Google’s free analytics platform. GA offers marketers and webmasters alike, a multitude of metrics to better understand a website’s performance. And as we all know, from a digital PR point of view, some metrics are more important than others.
It might be stating the obvious but it’s always recommended to host PR pieces on your website. Doing this will enable you to drive more traffic to all features of your site.
With that being said, the first and most obvious traffic metric you should be taking note of is referral traffic. A digital PR campaign should impact referral traffic. The second and less obvious metric is organic search. Be sure to include keywords in your PR piece, this will unlock more traffic and more possible conversions.
The second tool on the list is reliant on the first. When tracking a digital PR campaign, you can leverage Google’s URL builder to add (just about) full Google Analytics functionality to your press releases. This allows you to get a view on bounce rate, conversion data etc. Sound good?
The tool is simple and this article explains the entire process of adding the special parameters to your hyperlinks for the purposes of PR.
An important point here would be to use the URL builder tool for each specific PR piece or alternatively, each individual campaign.
3. Open Site Explorer
Backlinks are also a by-product of a successful PR campaign, and I would recommend keeping a close eye on your link profile. Benchmark the number of your backlinks prior to launching your campaign and audit again once it is over. A successful PR campaign should result in an increase in backlinks.
To measure this, I’d also suggest using Open Site Explorer. Native to SEO big boys – SEOMoz – it is probably the most accurate backlink checker tool around, and it’s free.
The world has become social and the viral environment that social channels offer must be tapped into when planning a digital PR campaign. While building a social layer into your campaign is one thing, accurately measuring it is a totally different matter.
The major challenge with accurately tracking social mentions is that you need to get an overview on a range of channels, with a range of unique metrics.
SharedCount is a powerful tool which allows you to do just that. Simply pop the URL of your press release into the ‘enter your URL’ field, and SharedCount will generate a useful list of all the social data you may need to get a handle on how your PR piece is performing in the social space.
Worth mentioning here is that SharedCount only records data from within a certain time frame, so it’s best to use the tool around 3 days after seeding your PR piece.
5. BrandsEye (or another ORM tool)
The last tool which could add tremendous value to your PR campaign is more often than not, a paid one.
An online reputation management (ORM) tool like BrandsEye could really come in handy in tracking mentions. As I’ve stated in a previous post, brand related conversation is often not confined to your Facebook wall or Twitter profile. BrandsEye or another ORM tool would be indispensable, then, in gauging how your PR piece has affected the conversation going on around your brand.
Additionally, sentiment analysis is another metric which could be useful, in that it will allow you to get an understanding on how consumers feel about the ‘goings on’ in your business, or industry. This could help guide business decisions.
And there you have it, 5 tools that should now form part of your approach to tracking digital PR.
Which tools do you use? Feel free to comment and please let us know if we’ve forgotten any.