Whenever a company runs a PR campaign, it invests considerable money and efforts in it. It, therefore, becomes necessary to measure the success of that PR campaign. Besides, measuring the effectiveness and the impact of a campaign will also help you identify the loopholes in it, which can be studied for improving future campaigns.

Unfortunately, measuring the success of a campaign is a highly-debated issue as there isn’t a single dedicated method to calculate its impact. Instead, digital marketers have started using different marketing metrics for proper assessment of a campaign.

So, how do you measure the success of a PR campaign?

Here is the list of matrices that you need to consider while measuring the impact and success of a PR campaign.

How to measure the success of PR campaign

But here are the ones you need to consider:

  • Sales statistics
  • Social media reach
  • Engagement on social media
  • Media impressions
  • Brand mentions
  • Keyword rankings
  • Social shares
  • Website traffic
  • Number of backlinks
  • Lead generation

The data for these variables needs to be collected before the campaign starts and then compared with the end results to find out how successful your campaign did.

Here’s how to use each metric:

Sales

For a product-based or B2C company, sales is the most important factor. While PR may not give an instant boost to sales, it will certainly cause some changes. In fact, a well-executed digital PR campaign can generate significant sales over time. If there is no change in sales, you will need to audit your strategy again.

Factors to consider when measuring sales

Look at the socioeconomic factors that possibly affect your sales.

Location or territory

  • Calculating the changes in sales volume using location or territory allows you to identify new sales opportunities.
  • Revise your PR strategy in areas where sales figures didn’t show a positive change.
  • Focus marketing and sales efforts on lucrative locations.

Age group

  • This is also an important factor to measure your sales, especially if your target audience belongs to a particular age group.
  • Verify if your digital PR campaign has successfully connected with your target audience.

Time frame

  • Find out how much sales your PR campaign was able to generate during a specific period. For example, you can calculate the sales after a few days, weeks, or months after the commencement of your campaign.
  • Identify the issues that are hampering sales performance.

Type of sales channel

  • One key factor to consider when measuring sales is the type of sales channel, particularly for B2C companies.
  • Make sure to break down your sales data by types of channel. For example, you can check if your consumers preferred using your online store or buying from your brick-and-mortar retail store after launching your campaign.

Social Media Reach (Improvement in Number of Social Media Followers)

Why facebook stats to measure the success of PR campaign

In a technology-driven world, social media influence is growing rapidly. According to Pew Research, 79 percent of internet users (68 percent of all US adults) were active Facebook subscribers in 2016, while 32 percent were on Instagram and 24 percent on Twitter.

If you want to know how many of them saw your post or message, social media reach is your best bet. It refers to the number of followers you acquire on various social media channels. People will follow your brand on social media only if it offers content that’s entertaining or valuable to them.

Why calculate social media reach?

  • It enables a digital PR agency to understand the context of its content and how far it can circulate on social media.
  • It also enables you to measure the audience growth rate.
  • It can help a PR agency understand the latest algorithm of a social media platform and design the campaign accordingly for maximum effect.

How to measure

The easiest way to measure social media reach is to compare the number of followers on various social media channels before the start of the campaign to the number at the end of the campaign. However, most leading social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube now offer inbuilt tools to calculate your reach.

How to Calculate Social Media Reach on Facebook

Facebook Insights

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Facebook Page Insights

Facebook Page Insights

 

Facebook insights to measure the success of PR campaign

  • Go to your company’s Facebook page, select Insights, then go to Posts. Click on Reach: Organic/Paid.
    To calculate the total organic reach for your digital PR campaign, add the organic reach for each post published in the last 30 days.
  • To calculate average monthly reach for your posts, divide this sum by the number of posts published during the same time frame.
  • Divide the average monthly reach by the number of Facebook fans your page has to find your page’s average monthly organic reach.

Engagement on social media

Though social media reach metrics can tell you how big the audience for your PR campaign is, it can’t tell you everything. It is also important to know whether or not people are engaging with your social media posts and updates. Engagement is measured by the actions taken by users on the posts.

Key indicators

  • A positive or a negative mention on social media
  • If a consumer opens or reads an email or a newsletter
  • Retweets, likes, and shares on a social media channel
  • If a consumer clicks on an online advertisement
  • If a consumer sees an online advertisement

Why look at engagement?

  • It helps a digital PR agency to identify if their message or post is resonating with the target audience. If not, you need to recreate your content.
  • It also gives you a glimpse of how your brand, product, or service is perceived by potential users.

How to measure engagement

Every social network offers different engagement touch points which is why you may have to calculate engagement differently for each social media channel. Fortunately, several social media management tools can be used to calculate engagement metrics for multiple accounts.

Hootsuite is one such tool that offers a host of features at affordable prices. It lets you manage your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn profiles. The tool also has support for FourSquare, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Vimeo, and several other platforms via third-party apps.

Using Meltwater to measure audience engagement

Meltwater Engage

Connect your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts to Meltwater Engage and you get an overview of your entire social community across channels from a single platform. Apart from analysing the effectiveness of your social communication, you can also identify influential people by topic and location, measure the efficiency of your social media team.

Media impressions

Media impressions is one of the most common metrics often used by companies providing digital PR services. It is the number of times your audience saw your content. For example, if you receive a news feed twice on your Facebook page, it will be counted as two impressions. In simple words, it is the total number of clippings multiplied by the total number of circulations.

Why calculating media impressions?

Though both social media reach and impressions measure the visibility of content, the latter can help you understand how frequently users view your posts, messages, or ads on social media.

How to measure media impressions

Whether or not impressions count for anything is a matter of debate. Most marketers believe that media impressions can’t be used to calculate the impact of a PR campaign. However, when used in combination with other metrics such as social media reach and engagement, impressions can prove to be instrumental in determining the impact of your campaign.

Brand mentions on blogs and social media

A well-managed PR campaign can easily result in an increase in the number of brand mentions on other blogs as well as social media. However, 96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles. Therefore, companies need to monitor those unbranded channels to know what people are saying about their brand online.

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Why monitor online brand mentions?

Listening to social conversations can help you connect with your most active target audience. If they are satisfied with your products or services, you can connect with them to increase brand awareness. On the other hand, if they are criticizing your brand, you can take appropriate action to minimize the negative publicity.

Tools for monitoring brand mentions

Meltwater

Meltwater offers comprehensive media and social media monitoring.

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  • Type in the keyword of the brand or topic you would like to monitor in the search box and hit enter.
  • You can choose results based on a particular region or country, time frame, and source.
  • The results will show you articles from social sources such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Product Reviews, Forums, Comments, Blogs and  YouTube.
  • Right within the platform, you can also get real-time insight on social share counts below each article.

Number of times PR content was shared

Even if your PR content gets through a famous online publication, it is useless if it’s not getting enough shares and likes. That shows that either the audience did not like it or you probably missed your target audience.

By measuring the social share metrics of your article, you can get an idea of the popularity of your content. It can also help you devise a better strategy in the future.

You can use a free tool Meltwater Impact Reports by Meltwater

How to use Meltwater Impact Reports

Impact_Reports

Impacts

Copy and paste the URL of press releases, blog posts, or any content to instantly view pickup results, which publications generated the most audience engagement, trends and relevant key phrases.

You can also track the web traffic generated by your content with Google Analytics integration.

Increase in web traffic

For any PR agency, the biggest task is measuring the growth in web traffic for their client’s site. In fact, it’s an important factor to consider to evaluate the success of a PR campaign. You can find out whether your efforts are reaching your target audience by evaluating variables such as location, device, and age group, among others.

Thanks to Google Analytics, tracking website traffic has become much easier.

Using Google Analytics to calculate website traffic

  • The first thing you need to do is identify which social media sites send the most traffic to your website. Go to Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Source/Medium menu. Here, you will be able to see a list of all websites that send traffic to your site.
  • You can check this data from the last thirty days. Collect this data at regular intervals to determine if there is an increase in website traffic.
  • Next, go to Audience > Behavior > Frequency and Recency menu. Here, you can see the total number of visitors on your website in one month. It shows the number of people that visited your site once, twice, thrice or more in the last 30 days.
  • Go to Audience > Behavior > Engagement menu. Here, you can see how long people have stayed on your site, i.e. rate of engagement. If the number of people staying longer on your site is higher, it means they like your content.

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Number of backlinks generated

Backlinks do matter. Measuring the number of backlinks generated during a PR campaign can help you determine the popularity of your content. The increase in the number of backlinks indicates that people consider your content valuable, useful, and relevant.

Using Ahrefs to collect backlinks data

ahrefs paid account insights

Ahrefs is one of the best backlink analysis tools out there. It started off as a backlink-checker tool, but now you can also review your keyword ranking positions and perform keyword research and content analysis using this tool.

  • Head over to the Ahrefs website to sign up. Add a new domain name or website URL to the dashboard for continuous monitoring.
  • Go to the site explorer tool. It will show you a detailed report for a domain name.
  • The Backlinks and Referring Domains data show any gains or losses in backlinks or referring domains over the last four weeks.
    You can set up email alerts for new and lost backlinks, web mentions, and keywords rankings.
  • The link-intersect tool allows you to find out who is linking with your competitors, but not with you. Just add the domain name of your target competitors in the tool bar and click the Show Link Opportunities button.

Improvement in keyword rankings

Did you know that keyword ranking also plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of your PR campaign? Improved keyword rankings can lead to better organic search results, which in turn, can help you retain more customers for a longer time.

How to measure keywords rankings

Though there are several keyword ranking tools, Advanced Web Ranking is my personal favorite. Here’s how to use it:

  • Once you have successfully logged in, go to the keywords menu in Settings and click the Add button. Then, click the Type Keyword button and enter the target keywords for a project.
  • Next, add the search engines by selecting the ones in the list. AWR currently supports the top three search engines—Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
  • You can also perform a variety of keyword functions in this menu including set priority, set a color, organize in categories, translate your keywords, check their spelling, or research new ideas.
  • Use the Import/Export button in the keyword menu to import keywords from other programs. You can import keywords from Google Analytics, a file, or a website.
  • If you wish to view the rankings of a specific website for all the keywords it is optimized for, go to the Keyword Rankings tool in the Reports menu.
  • You can set up daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, and on-demand updates for your projects. It shows the position of your website for each keyword.

Improvement in lead generation

The importance of lead generation can’t be overemphasized, especially for B2B businesses. Leads refer to people showing clear-cut interest in your services. If there is an increase in the number of inquiries, it means your campaign was successful. The potential leads may interact with your sales team through phone calls, emails, or even social media.

Make sure to maintain a separate sheet for leads generated from each resource to get a detailed report of the overall improvement in lead generation. Compare the data collected before the start of your campaign with that collected after its conclusion.

But merely measuring the volume of leads generated will not be enough for proper assessment of your lead generation efforts. You will also need to track and monitor other important metrics to gauge the success of your campaign.

  1. Click-through rate (CTR)

This is the ratio of people who clicked on a specific link to the total number of recipients of that particular link. High CTR indicates improvement in lead generation. Low CTR indicates that either you are targeting the wrong audience or your content is not engaging enough. Below is a simple formula to calculate CTR for a campaign.

CTR = Number of clicks/number of media impressions

  1. Conversion rate
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This is the ratio of people who have completed sales transactions to the total number of website visitors. It is an important lead generation metric. In fact, almost 57 percent of B2B marketers believe conversion rate is the most useful metric for analyzing landing page performance, i.e., efficiency of lead generation. The formula:

Conversion Rate = Number of customers who have completed a transaction or made a purchase/total number of website or URL visitors

Conclusion

The importance of strong public relations can’t be stressed enough in the presence of burgeoning social media influence. Companies have to come up with innovative ideas to acquire new consumers and retain the existing ones. But running PR campaigns frequently is not enough.

Considering the significant investment of resources and efforts involved in running a PR campaign, it becomes necessary to evaluate its effect and impact on the target audience. With the emergence of digital marketing, however, measuring the success of a PR campaign has become more challenging. Hopefully, the 10 ideas discussed above can help you evaluate how successful your campaign was.

This is an opinion piece.

This article was first published on PRmention blog

Taral Patel is PR Executive at PRmention, a Digital PR Agency helping businesses grow through their highly-innovative approach to engaging with audiences. Being a certified digital marketer, he understands how modern technology shapes the PR industry. In his free time, he loves to hang out with his friends, and cheers for FC Barcelona. Connect with him on Twitter @connect2taral