Two Reasons for PR Pros to Embrace, Not Ignore, Google Analytics

Two Reasons for PR Pros to Embrace, Not Ignore, Google Analytics

By Josh Tammaro

Google Analytics. Has it come up in a meeting or on a call? Have you overheard office chatter about web traffic and bounce rates, conversion rates and user flows? You’ve heard again and again about the value add of data and insights and metrics on a campaign.

Annnnnnd now your head is spinning. What in the heck are they talking about?

They’re talking about a tool that can help us as PR professionals better understand the effectiveness of our work. Measurement, one of the age-old debates in our industry, evolves every day with the emergence of more and more digital channels, many of which most of us work with on a daily basis. There’s a wealth of data to be sorted through on how those channels are performing, but here’s the truth: GA isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for all your reporting needs. Success differs from client to client, campaign to campaign and even project to project at times. So rather than dive into a “Best Practices” or more technical “How To Use” approach, both of which may not  pertain to your work, let’s explore GA for those who haven’t used the platform before.  

Please don’t let the idea of this tool intimidate you, either. Google has done a tremendous job at creating dashboards that are easy to navigate, interpret and learn from. Didn’t major in math? Don’t fret. PR professionals can use the tool at a very fundamental level to understand more about who is engaging with them and what content those people are engaging with. If this is a tool that interests you, a great place to start is by learning more about your audience and what they like to see. But there are dozens of metrics communicated on GA that can help PR professionals in their day-to-day operations, such as:

  • Tracking website traffic as a direct result of a recent media hit
  • A newsletter signup or eBook download
  • A new comment on a blog post

As an introduction, below are two areas where GA can provide you with immediate and impactful information.

Area 1: Learning about your Audience

GA can help paint a clearer picture of who your online audience is and what their motivations are:

  • Who is responding to your blog content?
  • How many readers went from the article about your client to the client’s website?
  • Where are they from, what are they searching for and how did they find you?
  • What’s the best time of day to reach them?
  • What’s keeping your returning audience happy and what’s attracting new users?

The tool provides PR professionals with a better understanding of the type of person visiting your website, reading your blog posts and responding to your efforts on social media, just to name a few. You’ll also pull some hints as to why they were led to do so. The more we know about our audience, the better we can communicate with them in the future.

Area 2: Is your Content Working?

What happens once a piece of content goes live? Is it performing well? Did an initial engagement intrigue readers enough to want more? Or did they click on a link that drives to your website, pop their head in and “bounce”? Maybe a tweak in copy generated more clicks on that social post, a longer average page viewing session or more sales on a certain day. Given the specific goals of your client, GA helps you gather information about what is working and what isn’t. If you notice that a certain story or post on social media generated a lot of buzz, you can shift and prioritize a campaign accordingly to feature more of what’s working and maybe more importantly, less of what’s not.

Customizing your goals is key with GA, as no two projects are the same and each brings along a unique definition of success. For example, a user might be most concerned with seeing how much traffic comes to their blog. To keep on top of this, they would set a goal that helps them understand how followers got there. Another project may be to understand how Twitter, Facebook and YouTube differ in driving sales for a recently launched product. You can set goals to determine which social channel is impacting purchasing decisions by watching the path customers take to a digital shopping cart. The point here is that GA helps you understand the journey of an audience to a specific goal or conversion. Help Google help you by translating those goals into a reliable tracking experience.

Need a little more guidance on GA? Google’s free and easy-to-follow tutorials are a great resource, especially as you’re working through the more technical steps up front that are crucial to your ability to analyze honest and relevant data. I’d also recommend consulting a colleague who is familiar with the platform before messing around too much, and asking them about the potential for GA in your day-to-day.

Ready to dive in further? In upcoming posts we’ll address more specific ways to set up your GA account, so you can start experimenting and tapping into that data. When sorted through correctly, your results can support decisions in upcoming work and enhance what is already out there and running.

Enough from us, though! Have you tried GA yet? Leave us a note below with your questions or comments about GA and PR.

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