Creating and outreaching digital PR campaign content is one thing, making sure it does it’s job is another altogether. Ultimately, you’ll want to make sure the time and investment you put into a campaign translates into hitting tangible SEO and brand awareness goals.
Here at Melt Digital we specialise in using data to prove ROI in real terms. To give you an idea of what that means for digital PR, we’ve created this guide to campaign reporting. Lots of people get caught up on links, but in reality it's much more important to remember you should aim for a well-rounded approach that hits multiple metrics.
So to track how your next campaign performs, and take away some key learnings, here are 10 things you should be measuring.
1. Number of backlinks
Always keep a comprehensive log of all the backlinks you earn to your campaign page, and organise the list into categories (such as national newspapers, women’s magazines, bloggers), so you can see where most of your links come from.
At the end of the campaign you can compare this list to your initial outreach list and see how successful your outreach strategy was. Plus, that way you’ll also see if you won links from knock-on effect coverage that you didn’t outreach for.
2. Backlink domain authority
When logging all of the backlinks you generate, make sure you also track information about the sites these links come from. You’ll want to look at each site’s domain authority and size, to get an idea of which links hold the most weight for SEO performance.
3. Backlink relevance
While domain authority is key for SEO, securing links that are genuinely relevant to your brand and target audience is just as important. When logging your backlinks, we suggest you set up a scoring system for link relevance, and allocate a higher score to those which are most relevant to your brand. This way you’ll be able to attribute a higher ROI if you have lots of relevant links that are likely to result in great brand awareness or conversions.
4. Number of other links
As well as explicitly logging backlinks, keep further logs of all mentions (which are also known as inferred links) as well as follow or no-follow links and any anchor text. Follow links are the main priority here, but no-follow links are also valuable, as they diversify your link profile and help brand awareness and referral traffic. As for anchor text it might not be a big ranking factor, but Google does take it into consideration when scraping external sites, so it’s important to report on this to give a well-rounded view.
5. Referral traffic
Make sure you add UTM code to your landing page URL when you outreach it, as this will mean you can easily track traffic coming to your site. If that’s not possible (or the journalist forgets to use it!) then you can still pretty safely assume that all traffic to the landing page is attributed to the success of the campaign. Keep an eye on traffic throughout the outreach process and then pull a log of it at the end, so you can see any spikes and look at which channels most traffic came from.
6. Keyword ranking
Throughout the digital PR campaign you should be tracking your site’s keyword rankings, to see how the campaign has affected your overall organic site performance. If you’re securing quality, relevant backlinks you’ll hopefully find that your site gradually moves up the rankings. Don’t be deterred if this doesn’t happen straight away, it’s a delayed process and the impact of those backlinks will start to show in SEO metrics after a month or so.
Always add some code to your campaign page and purchase widgets, so that you can track any conversions which come from people who landed on that page. Unlike many of the reporting metrics on this list, a conversion is cold hard proof that you’re getting ROI from your digital PR campaign.
8. Social media engagement
As well as outreaching your camping to journalists, we always recommend outreaching it on your own social media channels. Not only does this increase the chance of pickup and traction, but it’s also great content for your existing followers to engage with, and could even earn you lots more followers. Make sure you track the engagement of any posts you do about the campaign, and also keep a close eye on your follower number and social media mentions.
Traditional PR tends to rely on readership as its main reporting metric, which in simple terms means the assumed number of readers for every piece of published coverage. You can use various PR platforms (such as Cision) to get readership stats, and although it’s usually not an exact figure, it can be helpful, alongside domain authority and relevance scoring, to get a sense of which backlinks provide the best ROI.
Good digital PR campaign content should be easy for journalists and users to digest and engage with. To check that yours is, consistently track the time spent on page and bounce rate for your campaign landing page. That way you’ll quickly know if people are staying around to read or jumping off the page straight away, and you can make changes if you need to.
So there you have it, a quick guide to digital PR reporting.8 Don't forget, the best campaigns will be successful across most of the metrics above, so aim to look at the bigger picture and not get bogged down just by links. After all, you can generate all the backlinks in the world, but if none of them are relevant, or the campaign doesn't drive conversions, then they're not doing their job and you won't see long-term results from the campaign.