6 ways to prove PR value with Google Analytics

Google Analytics offers PR pros a lot more than just how much traffic a website generated in the last month.

You’ve pitched the story, secured some big placements and compiled a stellar clip book for company leadership. It’s time to kick up your feet and enjoy a job well done, right?

Wrong. With online measurement platforms at hand, you’ve only just begun.

Google Analytics helps industry pros go beyond vanity metrics such as circulation to demonstrate how PR directly affects brand awareness and sales. To illustrate PR value and highlight social media successes, add the following Google Analytics tricks to your toolkit:

1. Compare time frames to measure growth and improvement.

Whether it’s a six-month success report, the end of a PR campaign, or just time for your weekly recap, using Google Analytics’ “compare to” time frame tool can show how your work contributes to website audience growth.

For the success report, you can compare traffic from the six months before PR plan implementation to the six months during your plan. Highlight growth areas to show leadership how your work was the catalyst to those positive changes.

2. Determine which audiences are primed for purchase with behavior stats.

Getting people to your website is one thing. Enticing them to stay is an entirely different task. You can use the referral section’s behavior stats tool to monitor which news sites, blogs and social media platforms bring an engaged audience to your website.

Find the referral sites that yield the lowest bounce rates, most pages per session, and longest session durations, and make those a priority for pitching and social posting. Those audiences are the most interested and likely to purchase your products, and should therefore become your targets.

3. Use geo-tool to prove a placement’s success.

Securing a major placement is an accomplishment within itself, but print and broadcast clips can be tough to measure. The Google Analytics, geo-audience tool makes quantifying these clips much easier. It lets you break down website visitors based on geographic location so you can directly correlate placements with location-specific website visits.

For example, if your placement ran in the Chicago Tribune, monitor how your Illinois-specific website traffic increases in the months following that placement. You can also compare Illinois traffic month over month or year over year to show how the placement helped it grow.

4. Incorporate keyword search to quantify the effectiveness of placements.

Another measurement option is the organic keyword tool.

Let’s say you secured a national print placement about your company’s new high-speed toothbrush (go you!). Check the keyword section in the weeks and months following your placement. If you notice an increase in people searching for your client’s name and “high-speed toothbrush” or some variation, you can determine that your placement at least partially contributed to the site’s spike in toothbrush traffic.

5. Demonstrate how PR drives sales with conversion tool.

What’s better than showing executives a direct link between communications and sales? In a PR pro’s world, probably nothing. To find this correlation, go to the referrals tab, find the outlets in which you secured placements and monitor the conversions section. You can also show how your social media initiatives affect sales using the social-specific conversions tab.

6. Stay updated on website analytics with custom alerts.

To stay on top of the most important Google Analytics stats (while staying sane) set up Google Analytics custom alerts. Similar to Google Alerts, these will send updates about traffic or conversion spikes to your email or smartphone.

An additional note: Unfortunately, not every client or company is willing to grant PR pros access to Google Analytics. Although you should by all means request it, you can use other online tools such as Bit.ly and Clicky to demonstrate value that goes above and beyond clip count.

In today’s digital world, we have more opportunities than ever to demonstrate PR’s value and worth. We knew it all along, of course, but doesn’t it feel good to put some numbers behind it?

What tools do you use to highlight your PR accomplishments?

Stephanie Vermillion is a senior account executive at Wordsworth Communications, a public relations agency in Cincinnati . Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn and Twitter (@SMVermillion).

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