Category Archives: Demand Generation

Measuring the Business Impact of PR: Getting a Handle on Data

Visual via Flickr user FinancialAidPodcast

Visual via Flickr user FinancialAidPodcast

When assessing the ROI of a publicity campaign, it’s standard practice to assess high-level results, such as the number of reads a message has received and the number of times a message was shared on social networks: these metrics are good measures of how well a message resonated with the audience.  But PR measurement shouldn’t stop there.  In fact, awareness is just the beginning.

Awareness is where interest starts.  Interest develops into action. Actions become purchases.  And PR is there every step of the way. Tweet this! lil tweet

In between those two points – awareness and purchase – is the journey your brand’s buyers must take, and the path is not linear.  It’s a labyrinth, full of distractions and competing options, but the stream of content deployed in executing a successful PR strategy can nurture audience interest and shepherd potential buyers through the decision process.

To develop more effective and accurate measurement, PR pros need to get closer to the organization’s business engines when assessing campaign results. Did the program shorten the sales cycle, generate better-qualified leads or increase transactions? These are important questions PR should be answering when quantifying campaign outcomes.

To measure the effect of PR campaign has upon the buyer’s journey; one must first identify the key decision points for the potential customer, and then determine PR’s impact at each of those steps.

Key decision points PR can influence & measure 

One key touch point is the buyer’s visit to the brand website. From a PR standpoint, there are a number of different opportunities for public relations to convert awareness into valuable referrals to the brand website.  The digital content organizations publish – those press releases, articles, blog posts, commentary and response created as part of the PR strategy – in effect create myriad portals to key pages on the company web site that are distributed to relevant audiences across the web.

Earned media mentions are also increasingly measurable. Brand mentions that include a link to the company website or even better, a campaign related page, are important drivers of qualify traffic.

However, other opportunities for PR to deliver – and capture – measurable top-line benefits, including:

  • Discussions on a relevant discussion group:  A thoughtful and relevant response on a digital forum is a great place to offer a link to more related information, and activity on that link can be measured.
  • Social mentions that include a link to a relevant web page.
  • Commentary on an influential industry blog:  If a post on a key blog invites comment from a brand or one of its representatives, the opportunity may arise to offer a link to related information in the response.  The content offered via the link must be highly relevant to the conversation, and should be non-promotional in nature.

Benchmark data before the campaign starts 

In all of these cases, tracking traffic to the specific page is important to measuring the PR campaign result.  Ideally, the PR team will work with the web team prior to the campaign lunch, and benchmark traffic to the pages the campaign is targeting.  In addition to benchmarking general traffic numbers, the team should also look at the third-party referring traffic to the target webpages prior to campaign launch.

When the campaign kicks off, the PR team will be able to assess the degree to which they have moved the needle by looking at those two figures: traffic to the specific pages, and new refers to those pages.

URL tracking reveals more than results

Additionally, it can be useful to include trackable URLs in any content that is published online – including press releases, blog post comments, and references on online forms to the organization website.  Plugging URLs you can measure into content will give you more insight into audience preferences, as well as enabling you to track the click-through rate of your content piece.

In the best case scenario, an organization that uses marketing automation software, such as Marketo, Eloqua or Hubspot, which enables the PR team to create unique URLs that are also tracked within the software, allowing the brand to capture traffic to the website and subsequently track visitor behavior.

Organizations with measurements capabilities such as these in place are then able to compare the quality of website visitors generated by the campaigns, versus visitors arriving at the web site via other channels.  Using this data, they can assess whether or not the PR efforts produced more qualified leads or shortened the sales cycles.

Taking the time to assess the brand’s current measurement practices and developing understanding of where PR can influence measurable touch points in the customer journey requires some effort, but it lays the foundation for developing meaningful measurement of PR’s impact on the business.

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications & content, and is the author of  the new white paper, “New Agency Benchmarks for Demonstrating Value to Clients,” and the ebook Driving Content Discovery. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

One Message, Lots of Impact: the Art of Creating Content that Motivates

ContentWeLovePeople who watch a lot of online videos are likely to spend more money on holiday gifts this year, and more than a quarter of these big spenders are planning to buy all their gifts online.

That’s a heck of a news hook, certainly.  But there’s more to it than that.

A snippet of the accompanying infographic. Click the image to see the full size version.

A snippet of the accompanying infographic. Click the image to see the full size version.

What I love about today’s Content We Love example is twofold. The company issuing the survey results, Videology, is doing a great job of promoting a piece of their own content by surfacing the newsy elements, writing a really good press release, adding an infographic and distributing the whole package to the media.

(Link to the release: Heavy Video Viewers 57% More Likely to Spend on Holiday Gifts)

However, the way the PR team packaged the story will help direct resulting any news coverage advantageously for the brand.

In the messaging, the company also speaks directly to their target audiences, at several times tying data findings to opportunities for video advertisers – the market to which the company sells.

However, that commentary is skillfully handled in this release and doesn’t feel advertorial.  It’s embedded in a quote and offered as interpretation of the data.  In this example, the expert opinion in the press release serves up the company’s value proposition in a credible way.

It’s a smart approach that does a nice job of blending really interesting news (that I’m certain will garner good media coverage for Videology) with key messaging for the audience that is intended to motivate potential buyers.

This is a great example of the confluence of public relations and content marketing. We know that earned media can have a significant and powerful influence on potential buyers as they’re doing the research and making their decisions

Public relations teams who align messaging with their brands’ buyers journeys (as we see in this example)  can do more than simply spark media coverage. They can influence demand generation, attract qualified leads and have a significant impact on the organization’s revenue.

Are you going to Content Marketing World next week?  Track me down at the PR Newswire booth (#11) and say hi!   We have a lot planned for the event, and will be talking in more detail about building a sustainable content marketing strategy, which includes building an a truly integrated communications program. 

CMW_Release_Graphic_v3

Is your content strategy sustainable?  A high-powered panel will tackle the ins and outs of building a sustainable content strategy at  Content Marketing World next week, in a discussion titled, “Don’t Run Out of Gas! How to Fuel a Sustainable Content Marketing Strategy,” slated for  Tuesday, September 9 at 11:00AM – 11:45AM EST.

Featured panelists include PR Newswire’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Ken Wincko,  Dell Inc.’s TechPageOne.com Managing Editor, Nicole Smith (@NicoleSatDell), and Altimeter Group’s Industry Analyst Rebecca Lieb (@Lieblink.) The discussion will be moderated by Michael Pranikoff (@mpranikoff,) director of emerging media for PR Newswire, and will focus on developing and executing an ongoing content strategy, including:

  • What to do after creating a content calendar and plotting out the best channels to distribute messages,
  • How to develop a customer perspective that drives community engagement,
  • Ways to accelerate content promotion.

Conferences attendees can join the conversation on social media by completing the sentence “Content drives” using hashtags #contentdrives #cmworld.

Content Marketing World attendees can visit booth #11 at the event to hear more. You can also follow this link to learn more about how to accelerate your content strategy:  http://prn.to/ContentMarketingWorld2014

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications & content, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

 

Mapping Communications Strategies to Resonate with the New Buyer

CU-N-CO 2.1.1 Buyer's Journey

Source: Forrester Research Inc.

One piece of content is not all encompassing for the vast and complex audience that makes up your target consumer base. Each stage of the buyer’s journey is comprised of unique personas and levels of expertise that are in search of information catered to their specific needs. For example, if your products are geared toward B2B customers, the CEO of a company might not find the same value in the introductory information that a junior level staffer might need to advance their skill set. For B2C companies, the gap is even wider if you think about the mix of demographics that your products or services might be relevant to. Would a college student doing laundry for the first time respond the same way to an ad for detergent that was geared towards new parents?

Consider that each persona will also be in search of information relevant to where they are in the buyer’s journey. Most of us rely on peer recommendations and online reviews to give us an honest critique of what to expect in a product or service, but not everyone who is researching information is ready to make a purchase. For the product researchers who might be skeptical or simply curious, your content needs to persuade that potential customer to take the next logical step towards a purchase.

Mapping Comms Strategies to Resonate with New BuyerOur free on-demand webinar Mapping Communications Strategies to Resonate with the New Buyer  delves into how content marketers can plan and create content to meet the specific needs of their target audiences. Presentations by Adam B. Needles, chief strategy officer and principal at Annuitas, and Ken Wincko, senior vice president of marketing at PR Newswire, cover topics including:

  • How to influence behavior through authentic and transparent content
  • The evolution of earned media, and how to harness it
  • The role of distribution as the missing link to any content plan

Follow the link to view the on-demand webinar now:  http://prn.to/NewBuyerWebinar

Content We Love: A Press Release for B2B Buyers

ContentWeLove

Intermedia CWL

Click to view the complete multimedia news release

A Forrester analysis of 30 b-to-b company websites found that 80% were primarily focused on themselves with little regard to the issues that customers might be facing. In other words, a majority of companies are still unsure of how to craft messages that resonate with their audiences, which may be one of the reasons why 51% of marketers told Forrester that their content marketing efforts are only somewhat effective. Laura Ramos, VP at Forrester, strongly emphasizes that “b-to-b businesses should speak about the business issues their buyers are facing, and what can be done to address those issues.”

Forrester’s research highlights the need for companies to channel the customer-focused strengths of PR to make greater headway in their content marketing efforts. A great example of how to combine both forces can be seen in Intermedia’s multimedia news release titled, “The ex-employee menace: 89% retain access to Salesforce, QuickBooks & other sensitive corporate apps.” From the headline to the final sentence, the message is primarily focused on the concerns of Intermedia’s b-to-b audience while establishing the brand’s expertise in information security.

Just a few of the elements that content marketers should make note of:

  • It is without a doubt challenging to create a company website that both promotes products and services but does not appear to be self-promotional, but this branded multimedia news release works around the challenge by familiarizing readers with Intermedia’s visual identity and focusing on a single customer-centric message.
  • The headline of this release draws upon a compelling stat from Intermedia’s survey results to attract reader interest and optimize it for social sharing.
  • A call to action near the top of the release using a trackable link drives readers back to the company’s website and provides data that can help measure content marketing success rates.
  • Downloadable content offers including a video, an infographic, a checklist, and web report present key findings of the survey in different formats that are sharable and cater to the different audience preferences of consuming information.
  • US and UK versions of each content type target the message to regional audiences.

Remember, it’s not just the media that are reading press releases; b-to-b buyers are researching the solution sets that fit their needs far in advance of contacting a sales representative. Intermedia presents a use case of how to write a press release that caters specifically to buyers, which is made more discoverable by the audiences in search of this information through the power of multi-channel distribution.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to incorporate PR into your content marketing strategy, view our on-demand webinar: How to Drive Demand Generation with PR Tactics

ShannonAuthor Shannon Ramlochan is PR Newswire’s Content Marketing Coordinator. 

Using PR to Power Demand Generation

pr for demand gen

PR pros know that generating positive publicity and influencing public sentiment can have profound business benefits.  Measurement of public relations has always been a challenge, however, stymieing efforts to connect PR directly to a brand’s top line.  However, our audiences demand and consume greater quantities of digital content, the measurement problem is finding answers, and we’re developing a clear picture of the impact PR can have on specific brand initiatives.

Demand generation programs, which are designed to build specific awareness of and interest in a brand’s products or services, are at the beginning of the lead generation process.  Strongly aligned with content marketing, demand-gen programs can be significantly improved when integrated PR.  In addition to driving revenue, the PR/demand-gen integration also benefits PR: results are measurable and sustainable.

Aligning the PR & demand generation messages 

“We believe PR is vital and can help amplify the content strategy, but the content strategy also helps to achieve and amplify the PR strategy,” says Candyce Edelen, CEO of PropelGrowth, a New York area financial services content marketing firm and a strong advocate of aligning public relations with marketing efforts. “All of your marketing should be integrated. Everything should be integrated with the same message across channels, including PR. Clients and prospects will receive the same message and when they do, they’re more likely to remember it.”

Free on-demand webinar: How to Drive Demand Generation with PR Tactics 

Driving  Demand GenUsing key messages consistently across channels is crucial to using PR to drive measurable demand, Edelen says. “The talking points you want to see in press should also be included in every piece of related marketing content, in addition to press releases and executive interviews.”

The non-promotional content created for demand generation programs can also positively impact press coverage, Edelen notes. Thought leadership, research studies and  bylines can provide useful background information for busy reporters. It’s especially helpful if your demand generation content tells an interesting story.

Measuring PR’s effect on demand-gen

Driving the audience to act is one piece of the equation.  Measuring the effect PR has on demand-gen efforts is another.  According to Anthony Hardman, director of public relations for Access Advertising & PR, the information is out there, you just need to find it.

“The world has shifted and you have to understand the sales portion of it — that’s what exectives want to see,” he says.  For public relations professionals, this means building discipline around including measurable calls to action in messaging, to engage customers and prospects browsing the digital content the brand has published.

“For B2B, communicators need to use digital media convergence to drive traffic to landing pages around campaigns, and try to get a “microconversion” such as following a link, filling out a form or downloading a report,” he says. “B2Cs need to drive smart refferals.  Posting a photo without a link to your e-commerce site won’t be effective.”

Putting effective measurement tools in place is crucial for measuring PR’s effect on demand- and lead-generation.  Organizations using some form of marketing automation software, such as Marketo or Hubspot, will have an easier time with the task.

“If you’re using marketing automation, it’s easier,” Hardman notes. “You can track the referral traffic PR generates, and monitor visitor behavior.”

Web site analytics can show the subsequent behavior of the visitors your PR efforts drove to the company’s web site and landing pages, and in many cases, can enable PR teams to track visitor behavior all the way through to the purchase.  For smaller organizations, Hardman recommends that PR pros carve out time to understand Google Analytics.

Put the customer first

Edelen and Hardman both agree that ultimately, the customer’s interests have to be served by the messaging.

“We should be aligned around how the customer talks about the problem,” notes Edelyn.

“You have to create content that is useful and interesting to the people you’re trying to reach,” adds Hardman.

The awareness and visibility public relations generates can be measured today in terms of inbound web traffic, lead scores and conversion rates, as well as in the adoption and use of specific language on social channels and search behavior.

Explore this topic further by viewing our free, on-demand webinar:How to Drive Demand Generation with PR Tactics” 

sarah avatarAuthor Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of strategic communications, and is the author of  the ebook Driving Content DiscoveryFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.