I think only a gif can communicate my excitement for this.
Welcome to the first episode of my new content marketing podcast, Ask Amanda About Marketing.
This podcast seeks to answer your questions about content marketing and digital PR with straightforward, actionable tips. You can find all episodes here.
I'll be publishing weekly, so subscribe to stay up-to-date, and stay tuned for special guests in the near future!
Also, have a marketing question you'd like featured on the show? Email me your question!
Episode 1: How to Measure Awareness Campaigns - Show Notes
Thank you to Alex D. from Ubisend.com for his question:
What do you think is the best way to measure success in a PR campaign? I know it probably depends, so let's assume your client is a tech company trying to build a name for themselves & increase awareness.
Here's a summary of what I talk about on the podcast regarding what you should ask yourself when assessing the success of a brand awareness content campaign.
Note: Because my background is in the modern content marketing-based digital PR rather than traditional PR, that is the angle I took to address this question.
- Brand Real Estate Tool
- Travelmath Airport Rankings Campaign
- Yahoo! News Exclusive Placement of Travelmath Campaign
- What's the site's average traffic?
- What is the site's engagement level?
For #1, you'll need a tool like SEMRush, but for #2, it helps to do a bit of manual work. Check out the article. How many social shares did it get? How many comments, and how thoughtful are the comments?
- Does your target audience visit this website?
- Does your media coverage have a mix of broader and more narrow coverage?
For #1, the depth of this kind of analysis will vary depending on how much research you've already done into your target audience. (If you need a lot of guidance, try using tools like Buzzsumo to search for keywords relevant to your industry to find what content is performing well and where.)
For #2, you need to decide this before strategizing and creating your content campaigns. Who exactly are you trying to reach -- a wider audience just so a more general public knows who you are, or a more targeted audience that's smaller but more likely to convert?
- Where is the mention in the article?
- Is it a brand mention without a link?
- How is the brand positioned?
Not all brand mentions are created equal. The more prominent and descriptive a brand mention is, the more effective it'll be for awareness.
- Is it a positive brand mention?
- What are the comments like?
- Is the social sharing positive?
Don't forget to see how the brand is mentioned in the article (most likely neutrally), but also how people sharing and interacting with the content are talking about it.
IMPORTANT: If people read the content and think that the research your brand provided to the publisher doesn't make sense for your brand to be discussing or dealing with, this can potentially lead to negative brand sentiment. Always make sure there is a logical, subject-matter connection between your brand and the content you're creating if brand awareness is your priority.
Want to assess your current "brand real estate" (aka how thorough your brand awareness initiatives have been so far)?
Try Fractl's brand real estate tool.
Have a question you want to submit to the podcast?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Have any additional advice for Alex? Post it below! I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Amanda Milligan: Welcome to Ask Amanda About Marketing, a podcast in which I, Amanda, or occasionally a special guest, answers your questions about inbound marketing. Straightforward, right? If you want to submit a question, e-mail me at email@example.com. I'd love to hear from you. Let's get right to it.
This is the inaugural episode, so if you're listening to this, thanks for having any sort of faith that this will be worth your time. I've every intention of rewarding you for your optimism. Because this is the first episode, let me take a minute to tell you who I am. I'm Amanda Milligan and I've been working at Fractl for the last three and a half years now, though my whole career has been in either communications our content marketing. At Fractl, I work as a creative strategist, which has a lot of project management type of roles. I've worked as an account strategist working directly with our clients. and now I work on our internal marketing team.
In the case of my last two positions, I've probably worked on at least 50 content campaigns. So I've done that work in the trenches of content marketing, but I've also worked on overall strategies for our accounts. I'm hoping that the broad nature of the work I've done will help you with whatever challenge you're facing. So every week, I'll be answering a question that's submitted by you, the listener.
This week, we're starting with a question from Alex D., the founder and CTO of Ubisend.com. I'm sorry if I mispronounced that Alex, but it's U-b-i-s-e-n-d, dot com. Because this was the first podcast, I went and asked the GrowthHackers community to submit any questions they have. I've had a great time on GrowthHackers the last couple of months. I'm pretty new to the community, but I've really enjoyed reading everybody's insights and responses to some really interesting questions out there. So, Alex submitted this:
What do you think is the best way to measure success in a PR campaign?
I know it probably depends so let's assume your client is a tech company trying to build a name for themselves and increase awareness. Also before I start answering, apologies if my S’s are popping I realized I'm getting overexcited and sitting too close to the mic. So, let's address this question, which I think is a great one because marketers are always thinking about results. How do you tell your clients or how do you tell your manager that the work you're doing is actually working? With brand awareness, things aren't as simple as pulling some metrics and calling it a day, which I assume is why you're asking this question in the first place. So to address your answer, I've broken this down into four different parts: reach, relevancy, nature, and sentiment, and I think each one of these will offer some insight into how to qualify campaign coverage to see how well something actually performed.
So let's start with reach, mainly because I think this is probably the most obvious part. When you get coverage on a website, the first thing you're going to ask yourself is, “great, but how many people actually saw this,” right? This is also probably the only factor that involves some sort of tool, like SEMrush, to go in and check the traffic for these sites.
So, finding out what the average traffic for the site is a great first step. How many people actually get eyes on this content? And the second part of that is, what is the publisher’s engagement level? It's one thing if a lot of people look at the site. It's another if they interact with the content. That speaks a lot to whether your brand mention is getting out there or not.
There are a few ways to check for site engagement. The first is to see that it's being shared on social media. Almost every site has social media metrics data at the top or on the side and it's useful to see how many people are sharing it on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, etc. The second thing to do is to check the comments, and I'll actually come back to the comments later on. Comments are a great indicator of whether a site has a good community and a really engaged community. This is important because you don't want your information to simply sit there maybe be glanced over. You want your information to be consumed by your audience and comments mean that not only did the readers read the content, they feel very strongly about it. And that's a great place to be. The second point I want to talk about is relevancy, and this one involves a little more explaining. Depending on your brand awareness strategy, you'll want to tackle digital PR outreach differently. So before you even start pitching, you should be asking yourself, “What kind of PR am I looking to get?”
Say, for example, say you are a company that deals with virtual reality technology, sticking with the tech company theme that Alex asked specifically about. You want to reach two different groups of people: you want to reach the people who are already interested in similar technology, say video games or things of that nature; but maybe you also want to reach people who might not have been interested in those things, but because there's virtual reality involved they are now, because you showed really great content and got them engaged.
So those are two separate audiences and they're probably looking at different types of publications. This is the sort of thing you need to nail down and strategize before you create your content and before you start pitching that content. How to go about finding those target publications and audiences is probably a whole separate podcast, but for the purposes of this, assuming you have your target audiences defined and you have separate publications you’re targeting for different reasons, that's something to consider when you're doing your analysis at the end. So confirming that your target audience does indeed visit that website is important because the relevancy of that publication in that coverage is important.
For that virtual reality company, assuming it's B2C (B2B is a whole different ball game)—assuming it's B2C, TechCrunch would be a great place for it to get broader coverage still within the tech industry, right? And maybe even something more general like Huffington Post would be great if they're trying to reach a very general audience. Perhaps if they're looking for more niche audiences, they'd want to get coverage on a virtual reality publisher. Somebody who covers that type of information a lot and people who are big V.R enthusiasts are already reading. So this is why it's a little different from normal SEO type outreach work. Sometimes one of the best metrics is the domain authority of a website or how well known it is. In the case of brand awareness, that's not always necessary depending on your goals. So ultimately, the advice here is to circle back to your goals and make sure that when you are analyzing the success of your campaign, that you have that in mind.
The third point I want to talk about is the nature of the media mention. I've seen the whole gamut of brand mentions in publications, and this is something really need to consider when you’re thinking from a brand awareness standpoint. So if you're just trying to get a link, on the other hand, you don't really care where the link is located as much as you would if you're trying to get your brand name out there. which makes sense, as we all know, people aren't reading the whole story when they land on a page. It's more likely they're reading the beginning, maybe some headlines and looking at some images. So this is what I'm talking about when I'm referring to the nature of the brand mention. Think about the following questions when you when you see the article that's mentioning your brand: Where is the mention in the article? Is it in the first sentence? The first paragraph is in mentioned at the very bottom as a citation?
The second thing is, does the brand mention have a link? Now, this isn't always necessary for brand awareness to have a link to additional content or to the website, but it does emphasize the brand's exposure. If someone's interested and they can click on the link and learn more about your brand and land on your page, that's a better placement than one without the link.
And the last thing is how is the brand mentioned? Just because somebody mentions your brand doesn't mean it's always going to be in the best way. Obviously, most of the time, it's going to be positive mention, but there are degrees to that as well and I'll give you an example. Sometimes when we pitch content for our clients, the writer will say something along the lines of, “so-and-so client made a study about blank,” right? And that's great. That's totally fine and that's considered a win for us. However, there's an even better version of that which is, if the campaign is especially data-driven, if it's really new fresh information that you can tell the writers really excited about. Just the way they talk about it positions the brands in an even better light as an authority. Here's an example of that with an actual client.
So one of my clients that I worked with when I was an account manager is called Travelmath and for them, we did a report about the best and worst US airports. This was back in 2015. Yahoo News picked up the exclusive placement, which was a great, great exclusive. The way that the writer mentioned Travelmath is really great. It's in the second paragraph [of the article] and it says this:
“The folks at online trip calculator Travelmath have pored over reams of data from the federal government, crunched the numbers, and came up with the best and worst airports in the country.”
So let's break that down for a second. First, they say who Travelmath is: an online trip calculator. That's great. That means that even if they don't click through, the readers know what Travelmath is, that's on their radar. The second thing is that it links to Travelmath. The word Travelmath is actually hyperlinked, so that's another bonus. But then the rest of the sentence really calls attention to how much work went into this content. It shows that Travelmath is not just kind of creating whatever and sending it out to their readers. They're trying to create things that are really based on analysis and that are going to benefit their the readers and their users. So “pored over reams of data,” “crunch the numbers,” these types of phrases can go a long way in terms of establishing authority for a brand.
Obviously, when you're pitching different publishers, you can never guarantee what they're going to write about your brand. That's always a little part of the risk to this work. A lot of improving your chances is the type of content you're creating. Having that data-driven content means that writers and readers alike will be more impressed and find more value out of it.
So, a lot of these measurements for how successful your content performs goes all the way back to the idea. We can talk on and on, and maybe you have additional questions and I can make more podcasts about just how to create content that will promote brand awareness and then how to promote it. But these are all things to look for once the work is done and you're trying to assess how well some of these things performed. The nature of the mention is something to definitely consider.
The final thing I want to talk about is the sentiment. I've seen this asked before; how to measure the sentiment of a brand mention, even if it's kind of neutral. Even if it's just you know, so-and-so client, their study “blank” says this. Right, that's a neutral thing and maybe the only sentiment would come from what the actual study says. There are still ways you can identify sentiment. First is the actual terminology around the mention of the brand. That's the most obvious one. The second is the comments. How are people responding to the content that got published?
And I mentioned comments before. I really think comments can be a great source of a lot of information and they're often overlooked. But if the publication, the specific story, has a lot of comments on it, see what people are saying. How did they react to this information? And are they talking about the content or they talking about the brand? Most of the time, hopefully, if the content did its job, and remained pretty neutral, they're talking about the content. But the way that it can tie back to your brand is if the methodology is not sound, or they're questioning why the brand even made this content the first place. These are crucial things to consider in the very beginning of content creation. Does it make sense for your brand to even be making this content? Because of that link is not there, that's when sentiment can start to take a negative turn.
Finally, in addition to comments, you can also check the social sharing. A lot of the time, people don't just share links, they might add some of their commentary to it on either Facebook or Twitter. So digging around seeing what people are saying, will help you get a sense of how people are reacting to your content and to your brand.
So to wrap things up a bit, obviously, there are a lot of different ways a writer can decide to talk about your brand. So one of the takeaways just from talking about that is to not put all your eggs in one basket and make one content campaign and pitch one, you know, get one placement and call it a day. You need a diversity of media mentions in order to really get the full spectrum of results and to get your name out there as much as possible. To assess overall success or get a sense of what you need to do moving forward, we actually created an asset called the Brand Real Estate Assessment. That was a gated piece of content we had in our blog but I'm going to go ahead and post that in the Show Notes so that you can take a look because I think that'll help overall get an assessment of what you should work on and how much your brand is out there, just based on the type of work you've done in the past.
So I've had a great time getting the chance to actually speak in my house all by myself. I hope that this was helpful for you. If you have additional questions based on what I said that you please email me. I'm happy to perhaps even do a whole podcast on it. Again, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tune in next week for more marketing insights, and if you think I missed some great advice to give Alex, let me know on the podcast landing page, and it might be included in our monthly podcast wrap up.
Thanks again for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, click subscribe. Don't leave me with the realization that I'm talking to no one. And please rate and review on iTunes so I can keep making this podcast better and your lives easier. Take care.