May 6, 2011

Click! to a new PR measure

Outputs, Outtakes, Outcomes! Three measures for three types of goals you can hope to achieve through your PR. While these are formally defined in the IPR’s Dictionary for Public Relations Measurement and Research, they are also explained very intuitively in terms of Exposure, Influence and Action by metricsman.

Measuring Outtakes (influence over your targeted audience) brings you one step closer to a true evaluation of ROI than measuring Outputs (the amount of exposure your PR bought you), and measuring outcomes (the action consequently undertaken by the audience you reached) is obviously even better. But the apparent complexity of a thorough A to Z measurement plan often leads to measuring Outputs almost exclusively and relying on such indicators as Advertising Value Equivalency in the hope to estimate financial profit from the measurement of Outputs only.

Click! Dollar!

Internet publication has both simplified and complexified this debate, as a quick glance at #pr20chat on Twitter will confirm.

  • On the one hand, it has multiplied the number of publication outlets and corresponding measures of success. A consequence of this diversity is the emergence of holy grail indicators just as silly as the AVE in the hope to justify ROI in a simple fashion.
  • On the other, the growing number of websites (e-commerce or not) with a well-known marketing funnel has given us easier access to an understanding of what financial outcome can mean.

If your website and its social media outposts have been designed around such a funnel, the relative value of a visit to any page is fairly well understood and any traffic driven to it by PR efforts can easily be measured in very practical terms.

So a click is a financial outcome?

It can be! But before some people get red in the face: it can also be an output. Or an outtake, for that matter … It all depends on the document you linked to. And it doesn’t have to be financial to matter.

What was the goal when the document/page you are linking to was written? Every click contributes to this goal. No more, no less:

  • If you are linking to an article written about your product, you are driving more exposure and measuring outputs.
  • If you are linking to a health warning campaign and know that 3% of readers begin the program you are promoting, then every 100 clicks mean 3 new programs started.
  • If you are linking to the contact form of your B2B program and know that each such lead is worth 2000£ to your company and that the rebound rate is 80%, then each click is worth 400£.

Integrated and holistic

Just as important as knowing the practical value of a click is being able to benchmark the various channels for efficiency. Counting clicks is a first step towards measuring engagement (which really requires monitoring comments and sentiment).

Clicks on a link published on various social networks

It shows how many contacts were willing to perform your intended action and understanding whether this was easier on Twitter, Facebook, in your Newsletter, on your blog or on Linkedin is precious information for the planning of your future campaigns.

Counting clicks is not the Holy Grail of PR Measurement for two reasons: (1) it lacks the monitoring aspect mentioned above and (2) contrarily to searching for the Holy Grail, it is easy to do well and derive meaningful information from.

So are you still counting fans or are you clicking to a new PR measure? What are your thoughts?

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