Measure Results- It's Art and Science 1If you’ve been following along with our content creation series, you have created your content plan, researched your keywords and competition, and integrated owned and earned media.

Now it’s time to measure results. 

At a high level, your metrics are going to be as simple as:

  • Your domain authority has increased; and
  • You’re ranking on the first page of Google for your topic.

If you hit these two out of the park, everyone will be happy.

When people search for your keywords, you’re there.

When people are looking for a solution that your organization solves, they find you.

They see you on the first page of Google results, they click on your amazingly compelling headline, they visit your site, they fill out a lead form, they go through your lead nurture process, and they become a customer.


A B2B Example

But domain authority and search results are just the beginning of how to measure results.

Ideally, you want to show a conversion from website visitor to customer.

Let me give you an example.

We have a client that is a business-to-business manufacturing organization.

It’s not a super sexy business, but we’ve been able to have a really big effect on their bottom line and help them reach new audiences through contributed content.

And I love them for that reason.

We worked with Cincinnati media outlet for more than a year, in support of a new facility they opened there.

We had a few phases, including pitching interviews, contributed content on third-party sites, and ghost writing content for the CEO on the company’s blog.

The owned and earned media was around:

  • Their negotiations with the city
  • The ground-breaking for the new facility
  • Hiring in advance of the grand opening
  • The ribbon-cutting ceremony

This is not exciting content by any stretch of the imagination, but it was very, very effective for them.

Measure Results of Owned and Earned Media

To measure results, I created a quick spreadsheet, listing all of the places the client was mentioned during the plant launch and opening.

Quickly scanning the list, I can see the SmartBlogs entry was a piece of contributed content from the CEO.

Their domain authority is 58, which is higher than the company’s blog.

That piece sent 47 visitors, who spent an average of one minute and nine seconds on the site.

The call-to-action on that piece was to subscribe to the blog, and you can see that the piece generated one blog subscription.

One subscription from 47 visitors isn’t a great conversion rate.

But it gives us something to use in our second piece of contributed content.

As you can see, the more content we produced, the better the conversion rate.

We had about a 35 percent conversion rate and return-on-investment for our contributed content, bringing 277 new visitors to the site with 98 leads generated.

This means people did something on the site such as apply for a job, subscribe to the blog, or contact the company through their contact form.

What to Track When You Measure Results

This is how you start to measure results of contributed content.

You track all the places you are placing content, and the resulting traffic to your website, and the conversion of those from visitors to potential clients.

You want to track activities such as:

  • Subscribing to your newsletter
  • Downloading a white paper
  • Watching a video
  • Registering for a webinar
  • Submitting a job application
  • Any other call-to-action you are using on your website

This can be any sort of action that you can track.

You’ll note we stopped at the point the visitor is converting into a lead.

With this particular client, moving a lead into a closed sale is the job of the sales team, which is pretty typical.

But if you can prove a new customer began with your work, you’ve won.

Of those 60 people who applied for jobs with our client, we don’t know how many of them were offered a job.

What we do know is 10 percent of their qualified leads turn into customers.

We can use that on our end to measure results and show a return-on-investment.

Why Links in Articles Are Important

If there were 30 customer leads, 10 percent conversion is three customers.

And, if their typical customer generates $250,000 per year in revenue, that means our efforts can be attributed to $750,000 of revenue, which is a pretty great return on their monthly PR retainer investment.

Of course this is only directional.

But it’s a start at showing the direct business value of the work we’re doing. 

Let’s dig into how you get these numbers.

Here’s an example of one of our articles in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The anchor text you see here in blue was linked directly to the company’s contact form.

We specifically chose to use “broke ground last year” as our anchor copy because we knew people would be searching for plants in Ohio that had recently broken ground if they were looking for a job in manufacturing.

And, because our objective was driving job applicants, that’s who we wanted to attract.

Here’s the form that the site linked to.

As you can see it’s pretty simple, and doesn’t ask for a ton of information.

It really just acts as a conduit for communicating with the company from their website.

Submitting this form is the call-to-action.

A SaaS Example

As you start placing contributed content, and seeding it with your trackable links to your website, you can begin to measure results.

This example is data from a different client.

I have removed incriminating information, so you can see an example of real results without breaking their confidentiality.

In the tracker, we log:

  • The date of the article
  • Its title
  • The publication name
  • Their domain authority
  • How many visitors the piece sent to the website
  • How many pages they viewed per session
  • The amount of time they spent on the website.

You can track this data manually in a simple spreadsheet, or you can move into a more sophisticated automated tool.

We like DashMetrics, Domo, Geckoboard, or Raven SEO tools.

Steps to Measure Results from Analytics

To get the data you need to populate this tracker, log into Google analytics.

Choose the desired date range at the top of the page— I chose Jan 1, 2014-December 31, 2014 because that’s when we started working with the SaaS client above.

Then click on Acquisition in the left-hand navigation to expand that menu, then on All Traffic, and then on Referrals.

This will bring up a search bar.

In this search bar, input each of the domain names for the publications where you’ve placed articles and search for them.

For example, for the Chicago Daily Herald piece we placed, I’m going to type in “dailyherald” and hit the search icon to return the data on the referrals from that domain.

It’s important to make sure to use the media outlet’s URL and not their name.

Google Analytics tracks the referring URLs and not the names of the websites that refer traffic to you.

The Data Helps You Make Better Recommendations

When I hit return on my dailyherald search, here’s what I see.

In 2014, the Daily Herald website sent this website three visitors, all of them new users, but the bounce rate was 100 percent.

That means that every one of the visitors came to the site, didn’t find what they were looking for or didn’t find the content interesting enough, and left without viewing any other pages on the website.

In this case, it’s not a good return-on-investment.

The lesson here is, although the client was interested in local publications, and that’s where we worked to get placements, those stories—here and with Crains and the NBC Chicago affiliate—did not generate website visitors.

These placements might make the client feel really good when their friends and family excitedly tell them they saw the mention, but it’s not doing anything for them—it’s not driving business results.

That means it’s time to consider revising this content strategy.

With the data in front of us, it’s easy to recommend focusing on KMWorld, VentureBeat, Forbes, CMSwire, and TechCrunch.

In this example, we have the publication name, the number of visitors, the number of conversions, and the revenue generated by those conversions.

Back into the Conversion, if Need Be

For this client, their conversion rate is 1.35 percent.

Using Forbes as the example, we take the number of visitors, 209, multiplied by 1.35 percent, which would give us three as our number of conversions.

Next we take the number of conversions, three, multiplied by the typical revenue per conversion, which is about $21.39, which gives us revenue of $64.18 for that Fortune placement.

TechCrunch sent more than 10,000 visitors to the site, and accounts for about half of all the revenue generated for the year from these placements.

That context makes it pretty easy to decide where to double-up your efforts.

It also gives you the ability to show that your owned and earned media efforts are directly responsible for generating revenue—it’s not just an expense.

While $7,000 in revenue doesn’t pay for all the time you spent on communications for the year, it’s better than $0.

It’s a Little Bit Art and a Little Bit Science

And that, in a nutshell, is how you’ll get to a list like these examples.

You now know how to measure results and show the ROI of your owned and earned media efforts. 

Once you begin to measure results, it’s possible you may want to go back and refine some of your topics, based on what you’re seeing is driving the best conversions for you.

This is where the art part of what we do comes into play.

Don’t be afraid to tweak your plan or make different recommendations after you read the data.

You can do this—and be ultra successful at it!

Now…what questions do you have?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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