PR, for many businesses, is one of those things that you feel could be generating sales but apart from what you can see gets published, you’ve no hard numbers. Unlike more direct response forms of marketing, like Google Adwords and email, PR is indeed harder to track but by no means impossible, particularly if you do most of your business online.
Here are 5 ways you might see the effect of PR on your web site.
1. Check Those ‘Assisted Conversions’
Customers may visit multiple sites including yours before purchasing or enquiring. For example they may:
- Be made aware of your offering on their favourite media site and click through to your site.
- Then forget it for a week.
- Then do a google search for the product name they vaguely remembered and land on your site again.
- Then check out a competitor site to see if your prices look good.
- ..and finally enter your URL directly to buy.
That’s 3 interactions with your site but, by default in most analytics (including Google Analytics), only the source of the last click will show!
The big issue for PR is that it tends to drive clicks at the early ‘awareness’ stage, in our example it was the media site mention and so many site owners can overlook PR’s role in generating a sale. So that’s where the ‘Assisted Conversions’ report comes in. If you use Google Analytics it’s buried down in the ‘Conversions’ menu but it’s well worth familiarising yourself with it. Change the ‘primary dimension’ to ‘Source / Medium’ and it’ll show a list of sites and the medium e.g. ‘Organic’.
What this is reporting on are sources of visits that were involved in all the clicks that drove people to your site except the last click ie. the sites that triggered the early awareness of your business or product. Look out for sites where your PR activity got you mentioned, for example a Home Decor magazine’s blog featuring your product and a link back to your site. If any of these sites are listed in the ‘Assisted Conversions’ column, then you know that your PR has helped generate sales.
2. Did the ‘Direct’ to Site Sales Jump?
Another typical scenario with PR, particularly that which results in coverage in printed media, is that you’ll see a rise in ‘Direct to Site’ traffic and sales. You could well have done this too – you’re reading a magazine, see something that appeals and you then fire up Chrome and enter the URL mentioned in the article.
Whether these sales are logged in your analytics as coming from a ‘Direct’ source were actually from the magazine article or people that were already aware of your URL before can be debated but you’re looking for peaks of traffic and sales that correlate with an article being published.
If you use Google Analytics go to ‘Acquisition’, then ‘All Traffic’ and ‘Channels’ to view all conversions broken down by channel, ‘Direct’ will be listed as one of these.
Google Analytics has a nice ‘Create Annotation’ feature that allows you to add notes to any graph so you can log when you got a media mention and see if sales jumped afterwards.
3. Brand or Product Searches Rising Over Repeated Mentions
Another tell tale that your PR could be generating additional sales is the subtle effect of brand awareness that repeated mentions of your PR can have. This can result in rising brand searches for your company name or perhaps products you offer. That ‘drip drip’ effect of repeated mentions of your brand in the media can be very valuable as it can result in customers googling your site and not even looking at alternatives.
If you’re using Google Analytics go to ‘Acquisition’ then ‘Campaigns’ and you’ll see ‘Paid Keywords’ and ‘Organic Keywords’. ‘Paid’ keywords relate to any pay per click advertising you’re doing like Google Adwords and ‘Organic’ are the natural listings in search results below the ads. What you’re looking for here are increases in visits and resulting sales over time (e.g. months) coming from brand related terms. If you’re not doing other forms of brand advertising it’s likely PR is driving this.
4. Referrals from Media Sites
If you’re lucky, you might be able to see traffic and sales generated directly referred from media sites featuring your PR inspired article.
In Google Analytics go to ‘Acquisition’, then ‘All Traffic’ and ‘Referrals’. Set the date range to cover the period your PR went live to date and see if you recognise any sites that might have featured you. Check back every few weeks as remember, those links will likely be live for a long time potentially generating referral traffic and sales.
5. Uplifting your Organic Traffic
The last and probably most subtle effect of PR coverage you might get online can be an increase in Organic traffic. PR online can result in good quality links to your site from media sites and influencers. Google and other search engines love quality links and will push your keywords up the search engine rankings over time so watch out for your Organic traffic going up over time.