Why Google Analytics is a PR Professional’s BFF – Part 1

As a data-driven agency, we rely on a variety of data tools to make the most informed decisions for our clients. From how well a blog post is performing to the best times to post to Twitter, data isn’t just about numbers, it’s about a roadmap to success.

Google Analytics is one of our go-to tools – and thankfully it’s very intuitive, making it possible for even the non-mathletes to make sense of data and accurately articulate what the information means for not only a PR program, but the client’s overall business. So how does it work?

Where do I start?

The first step is ensuring that a client has Google Analytics set up – if not, that’s another conversation entirely. From there, ask if they’d be willing to grant an individual or the entire PR team access to view the analytics. Simply letting the client know that Google Analytics will better inform the proactive media relations campaigns, social media engagement, blog content, and strategy, etc. helps outline the benefits for both parties.

I have access, now what?

Once you receive the analytics access email from Google it’s time to start exploring. A PR program traditionally leads with the number of secured coverage, quality of the coverage, and caliber of the publication. Say for example, your client’s #1 goal is to land on the cover of the New York Times. No easy feat and a definite reason to celebrate when that happens. But, what if you were able to say that the New York Times isn’t really where they should focus, but instead set their sights on trade press. I’m not crazy, stay with me…

Within the client’s Google Analytics page, on the left side of the screen, under Acquisition –> All Traffic -> Referrals, there is a list of referral sites, or websites users left to visit your site. This data shows how a piece of secured coverage drove traffic, and one would argue awareness, for the website. For example, if the PR team secures a feature article in the top trade outlet and it drives a significant amount of traffic to the client’s website as a result of the company’s URL linked in the article, the team can definitively say that the PR program had a direct impact on company awareness and website visits.

Compare the referral traffic number to the referral traffic from earned coverage in a business publication. The referral traffic number from the business coverage could be significantly lower, begging the question, “How did that piece of coverage benefit the client?” Sure, one could argue that it has an impact on awareness, but the earned coverage in the vertical press has hard numbers associated with the benefits.

Taking the referral traffic into account, Google Analytics helps show that the PR team should focus on earned trade coverage to drive significant traffic to the site, helping the sales team move qualified leads through the marketing funnel.

Before leveraging Google Analytics, PR teams did not have a quick, tangible way to connect earned coverage to business goals. Instead, awareness was more of a “fluff” factor within programs. Now, with easy access to a client’s Google Analytics page and referencing referral traffic, PR professionals have a tangible number to connect to their earned coverage.

Stay tuned for future Google Analytics blog posts for other reasons why Google Analytics is a PR professional’s BFF.

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