Online marketing has shifted public relations measurement to a new way of thinking. While it is difficult to set goals and measure the methods to determine whether they are creating sales, it is important to come up with goals and a definitive plan to ensure that online public relations are worth the effort. Clear, business specific goals is the key to ensuring that public relations promotions are successful, therefore before you start worrying about making your online efforts pay off, you will need to think about the following methods of measurement.
If you spend enough time on the Internet, you probably hear the word “quality” thrown around nonchalantly in every day conversation. Is the content that you are posting on your website and your blog “quality”? Are the services that you are offering “quality”? Or, if you are marketing a product or products, are they considered “quality”? The most important concept to remember about the use of the word “quality” in this case is that it is not the PR relations specialist’s perception or the company’s perception of quality that is crucial. On the contrary, it is the consumer’s perception of whether the products or services are quality or not that is vital to sales.
How can you measure the consumers’ perceptions of quality? Social media networks, although confusing when considered for public relations measurement, can be easily tracked by the interaction that occurs and the amount of times that potential and current consumers talk about the products and services in a positive, promotional light. These mentions and shares can be directly measured and monitored to determine whether they are increasing sales or not. Of course, not all sales will be able to be tracked back to the original mention, but start keeping track of positive reviews, posts, tweet, pluses and pins touting the quality of the product or service that stir up a lot of buzz about the product and service and watch for increasing sales.
The Internet is so expansive that when you promote a campaign, it is extremely difficult to follow the various directions that the brand name is branching out to. However, public relations measurement should include figuring out the sheer volume of people who are chatting about the product or service that the campaign is promoting. There are tricks to the trade that companies use to do this. For example, most companies have figured out how to create and encourage the use of hashtags on Twitter to help to calculate the volume of the campaign. Another way to calculate the volume of the campaign is to monitor and calculate shares on Facebook.
Links that other websites or blogs create to your website pages, blog, product (or service) categories, or products (or services) pages will provide you with an idea of positive volume for your product. The amount of backlinks can be tracked by your Pagerank, but you should never completely count on Pagerank to gauge whether consumers are saying positive things about products and services, because the links could quite possibly link to negative feedback, criticism or neutral reviews, so be careful counting on Pagerank alone.
Cost effectiveness is usually the most difficult aspect to gauge in your public relations measurement, because of how hard it is to track exactly where sales are coming from. Linking the two together is tricky, however when you break down different aspects of your campaigns, rather than trying to look at the “big picture”, you will start seeing patterns occurring in your sales and your online public relations. Once you determine the volume and the quality aspects of your public relations campaigns, you will be able to determine the cost of your campaigns versus the reactions that you are getting from them. Be sure to track any sales influxes and pay close attention to the campaigns that were occurring at the time to figure out which campaigns can be attributed to the sales and try to replicate those campaigns with new concepts that are similar to keep the ball rolling in the right direction.
Eventually, once you get into the swing of tracking mentions and links and positive reviews on the Internet, you will also be able to better determine where the sales are coming from and how your public relations campaigns are contributing to them. Hence, you will be able to calculate factors such as your cost per link and the cost per mention, as well as the cost per clicks. You will also be able to establish how much each different aspect of your campaigns is costing you, versus how much they are bringing in financially.
While online public relations has become more of a hit-and-miss, trial-and-error type of position, these techniques are going to help you in ensuring that you better understand where your sales are coming from and how to increase them in the future using the same techniques. You may need to alter your techniques and tweak them until you determine the “sweet spot” that you need to hit before your public relations promotions are strong and obviously tracing back to sales. Or, you may need to check out what your competition is doing for campaigns and promotions, and how effective they seem to be, and mimic their actions to attempt to increase your sales.
There is an art to accurately assessing today’s public relations measurement. Whether you are just starting to venture out and attempt new public relations methods or you have been struggling with measuring the ones that you already have in place, you will learn to be watchful of certain signs that will ensure you that your promotions and campaigns are working – or not working. The most vital thing to remember is that public relations measurement can still be accurate, so do not allow yourself to believe that just because these methods are more difficult to track that you cannot determine whether or not your efforts are working or not.