Quality PR professionals must stay on top of the results their efforts produce. After all, without knowing the return on their investment, how will they know what strategies and techniques should be adjusted and which are working? This principle has always applied in some form to PR reps; the means by which they measure their success, however, has changed substantially. Even today, different companies and situations will require different means of measuring PR success and failure.
One of the oldest and most traditional ways to determine the impact of a particular PR strategy was simply to analyze the circulation of a publication used for advertising. Determining how many people bought a given newspaper or magazine would give a rough estimate of how many people would see the ad.
PR personnel once could simply pick the publication or publications that gave them the most media impressions for the least money. Now, of course, measuring PR success is quite a bit more complicated. That is not to say, however, that impressions are not worth analyzing, simply that the concept has evolved substantially. For example, any company that runs online advertisements or promotions should track the number of hits, or impressions, each website, page and advertisement receives. However, this is just the beginning; PR reps today can analyze the actual value or impact of those impressions far more effectively than used to be possible.
A far more accurate way to measure your ROI, or Return on Investment, is to examine your conversion rates. For instance, suppose that someone clicks on an advertisement that sends them to your website. Some advertisers would simply pay a small fee for that click and call the visitor to their site a victory. However, just because people walk in the door of a store does not mean that they will actually buy something. Similarly, a visitor to your site will not necessarily become – or “convert” to – a customer or supporter. Tracking your conversion rate can help you determine which visitors actually perform the action you hoped they would, along with related details about how they reached your site and how they browsed it.
Conversion rates can examine more than simply whether a visitor made a purchase or a donation; they can also examine such other factors as whether that visitor signed up for an email newsletter or visited a particular page. Regardless, your conversion rates have a much stronger impact on your bottom line than your total impressions; studying them can help you make your promotional efforts much more efficient and productive.
How do you gauge the success or failure of your PR efforts, and how have you changed those measurements over time? Tell us what works for you below!