How likely are you to ask a roomful of your company’s top sales professionals: “Are we making your life easier? Do we help you close business?”
If you’d hesitate to ask this question, the old adage “Don’t ask a question you already know the answer to” may have sprung to mind.
Marketing communications professionals all need to be willing to ask that question. It’s our true north and the only way to earn a top net promoter score from the sales organization. The current economic landscape brings heightened attention to this idea, increasing the pressure on marketers to deliver revenue-driven metrics and results.
|This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Jun. '20 PR Firm Rankings Magazine.|
There’s a way to know the answer to the question before asking. Top sales professionals report using earned media coverage throughout the entire sales cycle. Capturing that direct revenue attribution is challenging and not the goal to chase. The air cover generated by increased brand awareness, strong media coverage, content marketing and organic social media flushes out prospects with intent to purchase. That we can measure.
The earned media measurement goal is to capture the correlation between coverage—air cover— and known digital metrics used to forecast the marketing and sales funnel, otherwise known as the pipeline. To do so, we recommend you partner with your digital analyst, web team or agency and ask them to build reports capturing the data that truly matters.
Once built, reports can be automatically sent at regular intervals or when key metrics indicate a change +/- 5% (or desired order of magnitude change). Tracking changes allows you to quickly flag and analyze potential earned media coverage.
Here are seven metrics that will help attribute your earned media efforts to the bottom line:
Branded search visibility. Branded search visibility represents the click-through rate of branded terms in organic search. It’s an estimate of the percentage of clicks your site receives, based on the ranking positions across brand-only keywords. Earned media drives brand search volume.
Strategic search visibility. Search Visibility represents the click-through rate of strategic terms in organic search. Typically, this is no more than a dozen keywords, and the strategic terms map to core services and products sold. It’s an estimate of the percentage of clicks your site receives, based on the ranking positions across all keywords you are tracking. Earned media featuring product launches and thought leadership should increase rankings.
Organic web traffic with conversion. Organic traffic is the opposite of paid traffic, which defines the visits generated by paid ads. Organic web visitors find your website after using a search engine like Google or Bing, so they aren’t “referred” by any other website. Web traffic with conversion data highlights web sessions that result in a conversion. Conversions are predefined actions—demo request, contact sales, downloads, video views—set up in your analytics application. Earned media coverage drives search traffic.
High-value page traffic. Percent of organic web traffic to top-10, prospect-centric web pages. It’s critical to ensure overall traffic increase is reported relative to pages known to contribute to conversions. These are the pages designed to move a prospect to the next best step in the buyer journey. Earned media focus is often aligned to critical announcements, tracking impact on key related pages during strategic times demonstrates earned media attribution. The demand generation team has long tracked the correlation between campaign timing and increased traffic. Apply this methodology to capture the correlation between coverage and online search activity, which drives organic traffic to the website.
Key linking domains. Inbound and mutual links are a key metric in the Google search algorithm. Domain authority is a Moz-calculated metric for how well a given domain is likely to rank in Google’s search results. Earned media links often have high authority. While not all media allow for links back to your site, the percentage that do allow you to track how PR links positively impact search visibility.
Referral web traffic. Referral traffic is Google’s method of reporting visits from sources other than direct traffic, search engines and your social channels. This metric is the PR catch-all. Ask your colleague or agency to create a Google Analytics segment for traffic from specific media URLs, including Wikipedia. Wikipedia is often the independent third-party site referenced in coverage. This allows you to report on traffic coming from coverage.
Social media SOV. Share of voice measures how much of the conversation your brand owns with target prospects versus what your competitors own. This analysis looks at social media channels. When your earned media coverage is integrated into organic social media, traffic to the site will rise.
Reviewing metrics early and often
When grounded in business goals and measurement, team members at all levels have the contextual stickiness needed to learn and manage revenue campaigns. With a focus and shared responsibility for moving the needle on these metrics, PR professionals can help solve the most pressing question in your organization: Do we have enough in market to hit our marketing attributed revenue goal?
The average sales cycle is too long for the likes of your C-suite and anyone with variable compensation tied to winning opportunities. They want more, faster. Adding these seven digital metrics to your existing earned media coverage allows you to provide insights and actions related to building pipeline velocity and marketing attributed revenue.
Good marketing captures the attention of those with the intent to purchase. If you don’t grab them, your competitors will.
Michele Frost is vice president of integrated marketing at PAN Communications.