Public relations can be a powerful driver of brand awareness, reputation, and sales for eCommerce and consumer product companies. But how do you know if your brand is ready to invest in PR? The key is examining your current marketing metrics and performance across critical areas.
Analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) before you begin a public relations campaign gives you a benchmark to measure the impact of future public relations efforts. It also helps shape realistic expectations on when you may see results and how a PR program can complement other marketing initiatives.
Here are 12 essential KPIs every retailer, eCommerce, or consumer product brand owner should evaluate before hiring a PR agency.
Before initiating any PR efforts, it’s important to take stock of your current marketing position and performance. Analyzing key metrics and benchmarks will allow you to set realistic PR goals and have clarity on what you want to achieve. Here are some to consider:
Media Mentions: Track your current number of media mentions in relevant press outlets. This could include digital publications, print magazines, newspapers, broadcast segments, or industry influencer blogs. The goal is to assess your existing visibility and media relationships.
Website Traffic: Review website analytics to understand your monthly visitors, top referral sources, pages per visit, and bounce rates. Traffic levels can set early expectations on how much a public relations campaign may be able to amplify brand awareness and increase customer interest.
Social Media Followers/Engagement: Audit followers and engagement rates across social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. A strong existing social presence expands PR possibilities, but in the same manner, a weak social presence or sales-oriented (instead of helpful, entertaining, or educational) message can weaken brand credibility and desirability with media.
Brand Sentiment: Monitor online conversations for positive, negative, and neutral sentiments around your brand name and products. This establishes a reputation benchmark and also helps you take into perspective the conversations that are happening around competitor brands.
SEO Performance: Assess organic search rankings and traffic for target keywords. PR and content boost SEO.
Competitor Benchmarking: Compare your KPIs against competitors. Gaps can help to reveal areas where your brand could benefit from a strong public relations campaign.
Sales and Lead Generation Benchmarks
While driving brand awareness is a major component of PR, it’s also critical to look at existing sales and lead generation numbers. Having pre-campaign data will help determine the role PR can play in impacting revenue and ROI. Here’s what to look for:
Monthly Website Leads: Count newsletter sign-ups, product inquiries, and other leads generated from your website monthly.
Monthly Sales Revenue: Track overall eCommerce revenue across both direct and third-party sales channels.
Customer Acquisition Cost: Calculate cost per new customer. PR provides “earned media” impressions often at lower costs than paid advertising.
Customer Lifetime Value: Estimate the revenue generated over the entire customer relationship. PR aims to increase loyalty and retention.
Conversion Rates: Measure website visitors that convert to sales or leads. PR creates opportunities to engage high-intent audiences.
Setting Expectations: The PR Roadmap
The results of a strategic PR program build over time by cultivating strong media relationships and consistent brand messaging. Outlining a phased roadmap, the 12th KPI that must be set, establishes proper expectations regarding when certain metrics may start to move the needle.
It takes time for PR efforts to drive measurable results. Consistent and strategic messaging across 3-6 month campaigns or longer can be required, so be sure decision-makers understand the process and expected timelines.
Here is a roadmap of what to expect from a one-year PR program:
Months 1-3: Focus on establishing thought leadership and introducing your brand to media. The goal is to secure first-round placements while pitching additional outlets.
Months 4-6: Leverage existing media relationships and look to increase placements by 25-50%. Your business will want to promote any content published in order to amplify reach.
Months 7-9: Activate other marketing channels like social media and email around PR to create support and drive customer interest. Aim for 60-90% more coverage than the first quarter, but do not ‘blitz’ media, or your brand may get banned from coverage.
Months 10-12: Maximize placements through strategic newsjacking (the process of adding your thoughts and opinions into breaking news stories), relevant cultural moments, and expanded media outreach. Analyze the impact on KPIs and consumer sentiment by using listening tools and monitoring software.
Patience and persistence are critical in PR. By tracking key benchmarks throughout a campaign, you can understand and optimize the impact PR has on your overall marketing mix.
Sustainable PR takes time to build. If you’re patient, craft the right message, get laser-targeted with your ideal customers, and stay in front of them early and often during the buying cycle the results will be worth the wait!