Gini Dietrich

How to Measure PR: A Case Study and Examples

By: Gini Dietrich | February 17, 2016 | 

How to Measure PRBy Gini Dietrich

Yesterday, when we were having a fun debate in the comments on my AVEs blog post, it occurred to me that—while you have that massive PR metrics blog post to show different types of data to use—it might be helpful to see how to track something very specific.

So specific you shall have.

We have a client who has a $100,000 revenue goal for this year…from our efforts, alone.

It’s easier to track because it’s all online and we have access to two tools: Infusionsoft and Google Analytics.

It wasn’t easy, but we got their eCommerce set up in Infusionsoft (which we jokingly call Confusionsoft or Infusionhard) so we know exactly how much we’ve generated by day.

Then, to create our metrics, we had to work backwards.

We began working with them last July so we had five months of data to pull from to give us a baseline for our metrics (next year will be much easier because we’ll have more than a year’s worth of data).

How to Measure PR

Here is what we knew:

  • We had 55 buyers in five months last year and they averaged $551.87.
  • Our conversion rate from person entering the website to buyer was 1.47%.
  • Our goal this year was set at $100,000.
  • This meant we had to get 20,000 new people to come to the site and work through the funnel.
  • With a 1.47% conversion, our goal is to have 294 new active users (which actually puts us at $162,250).

Now, that said, there also is a goal to increase the conversion rate (businesses like this one tends to have a 3% or higher conversion), but we were working on data just from the last part of last year.

If we do that and still work on the 20,000 community number, we have 600 new active users, or $331,122.

There are lots of ways to look at metrics, but we decided to work solely from the data we had from last year, and not from projections.

Weekly Metrics

To track against our new revenue goal, we look weekly at the following:

  • Community (blog and website visitors and social media followers);
  • Subscribers (anyone who has given us an email address through newsletter or blog subscription, free downloads, or a starter kit);
  • Members (attendees at speaking gigs or workshops, taken free trial all the way through); and
  • Active users (anyone who has purchased something).

The 20,000 metric sits in the community goal, but we had to add it to last year’s community number.

In other words, that number was at 17,000 last year so our goal is 37,000 this year.

To create actual numbers to track, we had to look at conversions from last year:

  • Community to subscriber was 29%
  • Subscriber to member was 11%
  • Member to active user was 25%

So, to look at the conversion percentage from community to subscribers; subscribers to members; members to active users; and community to active users (this is what we want to increase from 1.47%), we had to create the following annual goals:

  • Community: 37,000 (the 17,000 from last year + the 20,000 goal for this year)
  • Subscriber: 10,730 (29% of the community number)
  • Member: 1,180 (11% of the subscriber number)
  • Active user: 295 (25% of the member number)

And, of course, we look at revenue generated.

To give us a stretch goal (beyond the $100,000 the CEO set), we take the active user goal and multiply it by $551.87.

So our goal is $162,802.

Integrating PESO Into the Metrics

On the back-end, we also track how many of the community and subscribers are coming from earned media efforts and what percentage they are of the total conversions.

It’s significant—in the 60th percentile.

This tells us, of the 20,000 new community members we’re expecting this year, 12,000 of them will come from earned media efforts.

The rest come from social media campaigns, from blogging and amplification of that content, and from speaking engagements.

You can see that we have the full PESO model covered on the front-end:

  • Paid through social advertising and email automation;
  • Earned through media relations;
  • Shared through social media and community management; and
  • Owned through blogging, LinkedIn Pulse, and Medium.

Then, as people go through the funnel from community to subscriber to member, they go into a pretty aggressive marketing automation workflow that leads them to becoming an active user…and our gold star: Revenue.

Monitor, Tweak, Improve

I’m not going to sit here and pretend it was easy to figure all of this out or that it was easy to get Infusionsoft to report the way we needed it to on a dashboard.

And we tweak constantly.

I’ll bet I’m in Infusionsoft, myself, at least five times a day looking at the data and pulling reports against certain campaigns.

But, once we got it all set up, it became really easy to monitor, tweak, and improve.

Now that it’s all set up, our job is to execute on the program and make sure we’re hitting weekly and monthly goals that lead to the larger annual goals.

There will be changes along the way and things we certainly didn’t expect, but that, my friends, is how you measure PR.

image credit: shutterstock

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • Wait – where are the Clydesdales? You know we need the Clydesdales if this is to be taken seriously… 🙂

    Good stuff, miss, and the perfect riposte to the AVE fans from yesterday’s post.

    • Danny, I’m with you! I was skeptical when I didn’t see even one mention of Clydesdales.

      • Waiting on the business experts rubbishing these metrics in 3…2….1… 🙂

        • howiegoldfarb

          I thought you just needed a ruler to measure pr?

          • No, abacus. Maybe some parchment paper and a quill.

      • Dang it! I forgot to mention the puppies!

    • It’s hard to argue against numbers.

  • Lubna Sadik

    Excellent post. So well explained.

    • Yay, numbers!

    • howiegoldfarb

      She also didn’t use one onomatopoeia.

  • Jodi Echakowitz

    This is a fabulous follow on post for marketing types to read (especially those that still think AVE is a suitable metric to track)! Now if only companies would follow your clients’ lead and measure against outcomes like this rather than outputs.

    • It wasn’t easy. That’s for sure. In the beginning, they only wanted to know the community numbers (and, more specifically, the LinkedIn followers). We gave it to them—and I made fun of them to their faces—and then, after five months last year, we had some data to show why it didn’t matter.

  • I love data so much. It sounds like a solid plan and I’d love to read a follow up with how it’s going for this client later on, if they don’t mind.

  • howiegoldfarb

    You did a great job isolating your work to ensure you get the full credit or failure for the work (not that you will fail).

    You also prove how simple math is all you need to figure this stuff out.

  • Great conversation here. Perhaps it’s the APR in me coming out (a scary thought, I know) but I was taught that results from public relations programs should be based on measurable objectives regarding awareness, acceptance and action. Would welcome to know whether these metrics are employed today.

    • Don’t throw anything at me… those are old ways of measurement. And they were created because we didn’t have anything else that could be measured. I remember spending thousands of dollars on aided and unaided brand awareness studies to see if we’d made a difference.

      But just because someone knows about your brand does not mean they will buy. It’s the same reason I’m frustrated with the Super Bowl ads. Spend upwards of $6MM that don’t equate to the same in sales. Yes, everyone may be talking about you, but so what?

      As an industry, we have to do more than awareness and acceptance… we have to get to action and we have to prove we got them there.

  • Really, really interesting – and fantastic justification for why figuring out the math matters.

  • I certainly understand, and rest assured — there will not be any projectiles heading your way. Sometimes, what’s taught in textbooks doesn’t always translate to the real world. I still maintain the awareness/acceptance/action measurement standard has value today; perhaps more in shaping opinion versus selling a product or service.

    • I agree. Awareness and reputation building DEFINITELY have a place. But it’s not all we do. Not anymore.

      • Thank goodness. I was worried for a second that you didn’t think awareness mattered any more. They can be very important for some clients but the bottom line is, well, the bottom line.

  • Hanna Knowles

    Thank you for breaking this down in such a clear manner. It is fascinating to read about all the different pieces coming together. As a follow up, i’d be interested in seeing how annual goals are broken down into smaller targets.

    • Give me more about the smaller targets…what do you mean by that?

      • Hanna Knowles

        Was thinking in terms of quarterly, monthly, weekly goals. How do you know if those goals are actually going to progress you to your final/big/yearly goal?

        Is there a best method to break the yearly numbers into smaller chunks or does this really hinge upon the different tactics being used? I hope that makes sense…

        • Hanna, one way to do that is to look at your past performance and see when you’ve had highs/lows. Then you can get quarterly targets based on that history, and course-correct as needed.

          • Hanna Knowles

            Thank Shonali, that helps. So many moving pieces to the puzzle!

        • What Shonali said and I would add two things: You can easily break down your annual goals by four and now you have quarterly goals. Not super scientific, but it works.

          Or, after you run a test for 90 days or so, you’ll have some data to help you make some informed decisions. In the example I used in the blog post, we want the majority of our revenue to happen in April so our second quarter goal is significantly higher than the rest of the quarters.

          This also allows us to tweak and re-frame later this year if we don’t meet the big goal next month.

  • Marte Arink

    First of all: well done. This is the kind of thinking that a lot of us PR-people are scared of but we simply can’t ignore any longer. (Awareness studies eat your heart out!).

    Where I got a bit lost is the explanation of the PR efforts. What kind of PR are we talking about? And how do you split PR results from other online marketing results like SEO and SEA?

    • We always split out the media relations efforts from the rest. So, say you’ve placed a story in the NY Times. If you sign into Analytics, along the lefthand sidebar, you’ll see Dashboard, Shortcuts, Intelligence Events, Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions

      Click on Acquisition, then All Traffic, and then referrals.

      In the middle of that page, you will see a blank search box. Type nytimes in that box and hit the little magnifying glass. One thing to note: You want to use the URL of the site. Not the whole URL, but if you typed New York Times, it wouldn’t shot up. It has to be the way the site is addressed.

      That will bring up how many visitors have come directly from that article.

      Now you can create goals in Analytics that are associated with your earned media efforts to show you what they did after they came to the site from that article. Perhaps they downloaded a white paper or subscribed to the blog.

      Now you have real data that shows how your more traditional PR efforts are working.