Be a PR Superhero With Data
PR professionals are like the Harry Potters of the business world. They do awesome things and can produce amazing results for their companies and clients, and yet are often relegated to the metaphorical room under the stairs. In a recent webinar, NUVI partnered with the amazing Serena Ehrlich of BusinessWire to talk about ways PR can use data to demonstrate ROI for each and every press release. In the webinar, Serena explains that one of the biggest impediments for PR to get the credit they deserve for the value they create is data. Marketing, she says, uses data and metrics all the time and as such gets much more praise for the leads and website traffic they create. PR, on the other hand, isn’t getting the same praise because they don’t have the numbers as evidence of all the great things they have done. Bragging rights aside, PR typically gets paid less than marketing for doing much of the same work and producing much of the same results. The difference? Data.
And that needs to change.
In the webinar, Serena provides a plethora of advice for PR professionals to optimize their content, share it, and effectively measure its impact. For the purpose of this blog, however, I am going to focus on the measurement aspect as I feel that is one of the most difficult aspects of any campaign.
Track Inbound Traffic With URL Builders
“What good is a news release if you can’t track the results?”
One of the most important steps you can take with every release is setting up tracking. You want your work to get noticed, right? You want it to contribute to solving business goals. And you also wouldn’t mind showing your boss just how much traffic and how many leads it generated. In order to accomplish all of these, you need to be able to track your work and measure its reach and how many people clicked through to your site. This is where URL builders/UTM links come into play.
What are URL Builders?
According to BusinessWire, “Provided by your analytics program, URL builders or UTM links are lines of text you add to the end of a URL that allows the program to track the inbound traffic activity you are generating. URL builders allow you to connect the dots between your reader and your website, tracking the impact of your communications program directly on your business goals.”
This is a great resource that provides you with a snapshot of who is reading and sharing your content and which social platforms are the best to leverage distribution.
Here’s what it looks like (click here to see it live):
What’s great about using a URL builder is that, as you can see in the image above, there are many different ways to track content. For example, if you have blogs, newsletters, and press releases all from the same campaign, you can create a different URL for each medium and tie them all into the same campaign. This gives you the ability to measure which piece of content did the best. Likewise, you can differentiate by the campaign, allowing you to measure and compare them against each other. Google probably does a better job explaining it than I do:
By adding campaign parameters to the destination URLs you use in your ad campaigns, you can collect information about the overall efficacy of those campaigns, and also understand where the campaigns are more effective. For example, your Summer Sale campaign might be generating lots of revenue, but if you’re running the campaign in several different social apps, you want to know which of them is sending you the customers who generate the most revenue. Or if you’re running different versions of the campaign via email, video ads, and in-app ads, you can compare the results to see where your marketing is most effective.
How Do I Use The URL Builder?
Now that you know what it does, how do you actually get it set up and start using it? I’m glad you asked. We’re going to use the tracking I set up as a test for our NUVI blogs. Now keep in mind, this tracking is just for our blogs. There are already additional campaigns for newsletters and paid ads. As you start to track multiple mediums it will get more complex than merely tracking blog clicks.
This is where you want to send visitors. If you are tracking website traffic, then this would your homepage. If you are sending to a landing page, you would put that URL there. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
Required parameter to identify the source of your traffic such as: search engine, newsletter, or other referral. In the example above, I am testing which blog post has the best click through rate so I chose the date I published the blog as the campaign source. This way, when looking at clicks through to take a demo, I can see how many people came from which blog. If I were testing clicks from Twitter, for example, the campaign source would be “Twitter.” If I want to know if a landing page is converting, the source would be “landingpage.”
Required parameter to identify the medium the link was used upon such as: email, CPC, or other method of sharing. For example, if I want to test how a banner ad within an email converts, the source might be “newsletter” and the medium would be “banner1” or “productimage” if I had a picture to click to buy a product.
*UTM Codes are case sensitive! Make sure you don’t vary from uppercase to lowercase or it will skew your data since it will show up as a new campaign and not part of an existing campaign.
Want More Data?
I don’t want to overwhelm you, but the possibilities really are endless on the type of data you can accrue and the information you can learn from UTM codes. Here’s an example of an actual use case from a NUVI client:
We helped a client create an opportunity monitor with terms such as “pet therapy”, “pet pain”, “dog arthritis”, “dog anxiety” etc. Using NUVI, they were able to curate all these mentions and then tweet out to each individual.
Here’s an example: let’s say I go on Twitter and complain to my immense (not really) fan base that my dog has terrible anxiety. The NUVI monitor identifies the keywords “dog” and “anxiety” and curates that tweet. Then someone at this company would reply to my original tweet, something like, “Sorry to hear your dog has anxiety, here are three easy ways to fix that: LINK TO BLOG.” I would see that tweet and think wow that’s nice of them to reach out to me personally, I could then click that link and go to their blog. While on the blog I buy some stuff for my pets. Now, thanks to that UTM code, our client could trace that sale all the way back to Twitter.
NUVI created the opportunity by collecting all relevant mentions, and our client was able to prove ROI to their bosses because they had the data from their UTM code.
In the case of a press release, you are sending visitors back to a site. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to show just how many people came to the site from the press release and how many of them became leads?
You can also customize each UTM code if you are doing A/B testing. For example, I create two different Facebook ads with the same headline but different pictures. Each ad would have a separate UTM code. After a given amount of time, I could look and see which image performed better. I could then start over and keep that higher performing image but change headlines in the ad.
Overwhelmed with possibilities, yet?
One More Caveat
If you are anything like me, you will get immensely frustrated when you log in to Google Analytics, go to Acquisition, and click campaign expecting to find a virtual treasure chest of new data, only to find nothing. I was so confused. How do I connect this new random link created by the URL builder to my Analytics account? How are they going to talk to each other? Well, after reading many different blogs and watching a ridiculous amount of YouTube videos, I finally reached out to Google chat support. I was then informed that the campaigns will automatically be added about 24-48 hours after you create it and start distributing it. Evidently, everyone already knew this, because no one talks about it.
UTM codes are an awesome way to measure the traffic you drive back to your site. It is also an invaluable way to optimize releases as you can test different verbiage, headlines, and images with different UTM codes. It can get overwhelming trying to manage the different codes so building a spreadsheet on Google Sheets is an excellent way to keep track of all your URLs. Here is one we built as an example for you to reference. For the full webinar, (because there is a ton more valuable information) you can check it out here.