More and more marketing leaders are being called on to adopt revenue marketing. Rather than simply provide MQLs, they are responsible for driving measurable customer acquisition and sales. All activities they pursue, from easily tracked digital ads to PR campaigns, must show ROI.

Not all PR programs are set up for this nor are all PR programs meant to track sales metrics. Some campaigns are strictly for brand building; sales aren’t a consideration. There could be a host of other strategies that don’t tie to sales. However, for those brands and clients looking for deeper measurement, it’s essential to work with a PR partner capable of exploring the impact of media placements – and using it inform future strategy.

As a Google Analytics certified agency, SHIFT regularly uses Google Analytics to track sales, referrals, backlinks and other goal conversions for clients. At the beginning of a partnership, SHIFT works with clients to pre-determine KPIs within Google Analytics for that program. As the PR program earns placements, SHIFT measures which have the most significant impact on sales, assisted sales, website visits, or other metrics.

What’s measurable

Through Google Analytics, SHIFT measures website traffic referrals from earned media placements. We’ll determine which metrics are essential to track for a specific campaign and then track those on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. We analyze how an article drove referral sessions (clicks to a client website), conversions (usually sales, a demo request, or lead gen form), assisted conversions (the article was read on the customer journey to an eventual sale) and other metrics such as page clicks, bounce rates and time spent on page.

What’s immeasurable

We can’t ever prove the exact value of a placement. While we can point to the metrics above, some customers drop off and purchase elsewhere. Or they purchase outside of the tracked window. They could share via word-of-mouth to others, influencing additional purchases or a variety of other events could occur. After all, much of public relations falls squarely within the brand building, credibility building and brand awareness categories. Even if we can prove that one article generated or assisted a certain amount of revenue, there’s an argument that it still produced far more value beyond that quantifiable number due to brand awareness, familiarity, word of mouth and other factors.

How calculating sales will alter strategy

When you’re able to track which placements drive more click-throughs or sales, you’re able to determine where to focus future earned media efforts and where to allocate additional paid media spend.

If you notice an article driving more sales, you can syndicate the piece to ensure it continues to get eyeballs and click-throughs. You can take the same approach through boosting social media posts. Continue to boost posts with the article link across owned social media platforms. When a placement is bringing success, you want to ensure it spends a longer time on the virtual “front page” through paid spend.

Take note of which articles are driving the sales. This could alter your entire PR strategy. Maybe you thought a product was geared towards men in their 30s, but you start to notice that men’s publications are not driving sales. Surprisingly, women’s publications are the larger driver. A resulting strategy could be to pivot the storytelling focus to women’s magazines to support sales. Another surprise would be if top-tier publications with huge impression numbers drove fewer sales than smaller blogs and influencers. If that’s the case, a pivot towards a more grassroots influencer strategy could serve the client better.

There’s a lot of data to unpack when clients allow PR to dissect Google Analytics. Not only can it lead to more successful PR programs in the short-term, but it can help develop long-term media strategy.

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