It's been said that marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed. You may have a vague destination in mind, but it's unlikely you will reach it without clearly seeing your path.
Is it really possible, though, to measure results of your PR with hard-core numbers? Isn't B2B PR about creating credibilty and thought leadership? How can those be measured?
Why the Numbers Matter
I know that you know the numbers matter. If they didn't, why would you even be in business? The bottom line is, if you're engaged in a B2B PR campaign or marketing campaign of any sort, you want results in the form of currency.
Now, if you launch an ad campaign and see an uptick in revenue, you have a pretty good idea that your campaign is doing what you wanted. Unfortunately, PR is not that easy. Building trust, increasing engagements, and building brand awareness can be difficult to measure, but not impossible.
In the pre-internet age (we're talking antiquated here), PR was often measured by press clippings. While that was acceptable for the time, the PR world is so over that now. After all, what did that tell you? It was impossible to know if you were reaching your target audience. How did people react? Were they motivated? Did anyone care?
Today's PR world is filled with opportunities to make the most of your dollar. Therefore, when choosing a B2B PR firm it's critical that you find one that has kept pace with current methods of tracking the performance of your marketing. Here's a simple guide to metrics.
Page views can be a way to track the progress of your campaign. To be clear, page views do not equal impressions.
For instance, when you see a banner ad at the top of your screen, that is recorded as an impression. When you click on the ad and are taken to a website, that's now a page view. Therefore, impressions are important, but page views reflect more engagement.
That interaction may not yield immediate dollar rewards. However, knowing who is visiting your site will give you insight into which campaign is attracting which visitors. In addition, you will find that different content attracts different personas. You can then gear your marketing efforts in the right direction.
If you find something of value you want to let everyone know. We do it when we find a good deal, and we do it when we find something we consider to be of high quality, often regardless of the price. "Look at the craftsmanship on this boat. You can't find that anymore."
Measuring the number of retweets, shares of a blog post, a press release, or a social media post lets you know what your target audience cares a out.
Other Online Channels
Blog post subscriptions, requests for downloadable info (ebooks, etc.), interactions on your site and on social media, SlideShare views, and CTA clicks can all be measured to help you determine the success of your marketing and B2B PR.
Measuring your results allows you to determine exactly who your audience is, and also what they are looking for. Not everything you put out there is going to be a win, but if you know what flops, you can put your efforts elsewhere. There are numerous tools to help you do this.
Ultimately, the most important number is in regards to your conversion rates. You're goal is to win them over.
It's About More Than the Numbers
While there is no excuse for not measuring your results, the fact of the matter is, you can't measure everything. You don't know who has passed along a good word about your company to a colleague, or who has saved an article you wrote so that six months down the road he or she can contact you.
Let's say 30,000 people viewed an article on Forbes but only 5 subsequently visited your website. You would likely rate that as poor engagement. And on the surface, it doesn't look very good. However, six months later, someone who saw that article may call you and end up buying a big ticket item. These types of results are not immediately evident when you look at your analytics. It's important to account for those less measurable items so you can get a more complete picture of your results.
I have a colleague who receives a call every time he navigates to his ink and toner supplier's website. If he doesn't purchase anything immediately, a follow up call comes later that day. While I would find this incredibly annoying, he actually prefers it. The company's name is the first to pop into his head every time he needs ink.
So, there is something to be said for purely creating brand awareness. A client might contact you for the simple reason that your name popped into his head due to high exposure of your brand. How long might that take? Which impression motivated him to finally call you? It may be impossible to tell.
The point is that measurement will give you helpful guidance but you need to also look beyond it.
While dollar signs are important in order to keep your doors open, you also want to build trust in your brand and build credibility as a thought leader in your industry. Never lose sight of that as part of your mission.
How do you measure the impact of your B2B PR? Tell me about it in the comments below!