Analytics: A Vital New PR Skill

A benchmark for you: If you are not spending 30% of your time in 2013 with data, Ms/Mr Marketer, you’ll fail to achieve professional success.  Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google.

That’s quite a statement. Does it apply to PR pros too?  As a rule, PR folk are not stats and metrics buffs.  Few university communication courses emphasize the need for metrics. Some teach a statistics course, but not many teach online analytics. In the digital age, however, this is a vital part of the practice.

But we’re not the ones watching the website and the traffic, you might say.  And that might be true, but the parameters of your job have changed and a large part of it is done online now. You’re producing content – or you should be. You need to know if it’s working.  You have an online newsroom and it ought to be controlled by the PR department, not I.T.

David Armano of Edelman Digital calls this a social/creative model and wrote in November 2012 that if you don’t have this kind of online newsroom within a year you might regret it. We’re almost half way there already – do you know how your newsroom is performing?

So yes, it’s time for PR pros to join the online team and that 30% statement does apply to us too.  One of the joys of digital content is that we can measure everything.What to measure is the trick. How to measure it requires learning new skills.

Google Analytics is a great tool for PR practitioners. It’s free and it’s not hard to master. Start by reading SAMS Teach Yourself Google Analytics in 10 Minutes. Once you have that under your belt follow Avinash Kaushik and read his blog, Occam’s Razor.

The Top Digital PR Google Analytics Reports

1.     Traffic Overview:

What to look for – what is the percentage of traffic coming from search, referrals from other sites, people who type in your URL directly and campaigns you’re running. For PR a campaign could be a press release with a link to download a whitepaper or outreach to bloggers.

What it tells you – A growing percentage of direct traffic indicates increased brand awareness.  Increased search traffic shows you have more phrases ranking highly and being found.  An increase in referral traffic means others are mentioning your content and linking to it.

 sources GA


 2.     Landing Page Report

What to look for:  You’ll find this report under Site Content.  You should be including a call-to-action in all your digital content and directing the reader to a specific landing page where they can get more information–either on your  website or in your newsroom. Check how many visitors came to each landing page and what the bounce rate for each page is.

What it tells you – You can get a sense of what people are responding to.  The bounce rate means that the person only looked at that page and then left.  It might mean that they found what they wanted on that page. But it also means they did not look at any other content on your site, blog or newsroom. If your intention was to lead them to other content and the bounce rate is high, it tells you that you need to fix the content on that page.

  • Is the content not relevant to the call-to-action in the release?
  • Does it have broken links?
  • Not enough content?
  • Too much content?
  • Form too long?

Test using new content till you get the bounce rate down.

3.     Top Referrers

This shows you who is mentioning your content and sending traffic to your blog or newsroom.

What to look for – Which are the top twenty sites sending you traffic. Are these sites you have been working with are are they new to you? You might be surprised by what you find.

What it tells you – Which sites have mentioned you and linked to your content. It indicates which sites you should reach out to and which ones you should build a relationship with.  It will reveal blogs and media sites that have mentioned your brand. When you are doing blogger outreach this report tells you who your real influencers are.

4.     Social Traffic

Google Analytics now has a Social Media Dashboard. To have this report show up in your Google Analytics you should have social sharing buttons on your website, blog or newsroom, have set goals and assigned a value to each goal.  An easy way to create a social dashboard is to use this plug in from Dashboard Junkie

What to look for -

  • How many new visitors came from social sites
  • The value of those visits( if you have set up goals)
  • Traffic from social with visits and bounce rates
  • The most socially shared content

 What it tells you –

  • How effective your social media activity is
  • What content is being seen and shared
  • Where people are talking about and sharing your site
  • Where your social traffic comes from and how much it’s worth
  • Loyalty of your social visitors
  • How many social shares your pages get on-site

An easy way to add a social dashboard to your Google Analytics is to use this plug in from Dashboard Junkie

There is much more you can learn once you master analytics.  A data-driven content strategy is much more effective than flying by the seat of your pants.

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