Digital PR (DPR) is a cross-functional tactic in a business, which means you have to report on your work with several different teams within an eCommerce.
eCommerce often focuses on the return on investment (ROI), measuring revenue to evaluate the efficiency or profitability of an investment (in this case, the DPR team’s work). DPR primarily deals with raising awareness which is hard to quantify in terms of revenue. Thankfully, DPR tactics rely on data and can often be measured with tangible metrics to report on ROI.
What is ROI?
ROI, short for return on investment, is a measure used in business to evaluate the efficiency or profitability of an investment. While ROI is often associated with revenue generated from the initial investment, you can also use other metrics to measure it and show your client how DPR is adding value to their business. In this article, we will look at ROI as evaluating the performance of an eCommerce business investing in digital PR.
When reporting performance ROI for digital PR, it is easy to fall into the temptation of “vanity” metrics, which are the data that may make you look good but do not help fully understand the performance or inform future strategies.
What vanity metrics do eCommerces often focus on?
eCommerce businesses often use domain rating (DR), domain authority (DA) and revenue to benchmark digital PR. All three metrics are important to an eCommerce, the first two being an indicator of website relevancy and the last being a metric easily understood across all departments.
However, DR, DA and revenue have one big shortcoming: they are all influenced by much more than just digital PR work. They can reflect the digital marketing efforts as a whole but cannot inform you about the ROI of digital PR.
Let’s look at these three metrics more closely:
DR and DA.
This is often used as a business KPI metric. DR and DA are influenced by a vast number of factors. As such, this metric simply isn’t specific enough to benchmark digital PR activities alone.
Increasing website authority is key. However, the score itself shouldn’t be your eCommerce’s primary focus. Instead, focus on what digital PR can do to help the score to rise, which is generating organic, high-quality backlinks from authoritative domains.
On Google Analytics, you can report on revenue generated from referral traffic. While this is a good indicator of the positive influence on sales from digital PR activities, it cannot be used as a standalone metric to benchmark a digital PR campaign.
Digital PR tactics mainly influence consumers in the first two stages of the decision-making process: need recognition and information search. Sometimes product targeted digital PR tactics can also partially influence the third stage, the evaluation of choices.
As such, digital PR work can only be partially assessed through revenue generation. Referral revenue numbers don’t account for all the customers that discover your eCommerce through digital PR efforts but decide to purchase from your online store in a second moment through another search.
What metrics eCommerce businesses should ask digital PR to report on?
Regardless of whether you decide to track DR and revenue or not. Here are some tangible metrics you should ask your digital PR team to report on:
Referring domains are also key to helping a brand surpass its competitors. Digital PR teams will assess your website against your SEO competitors. By diversifying the referring domains, digital PR strategists ensure that your website is featured in all the key publications that talk about your brand. Having a diverse backlink profile also helps mitigate the impact of new search algorithm releases.
This is one metric that can be used to replace DR on business KPIs. Digital PR can influence the DR score by increasing the number of tier 1 and 2 referring domains and key niche referring domains.
As digital PR, we generate awareness, so what better way to report on the value of your work than looking at the traffic you generated from the links you placed?
This metric assesses how many new customers (users) have come to your website because of digital PR links. Looking at the referral traffic on Google Analytics, you will be able to quantify the number of new potential customers (users) you have brought to your client’s eCommerce site since you started doing digital PR for them. Make sure to only consider traffic incoming from a link you or your team placed, for accuracy.
Organic keyword ranking.
Digital PR leverages wider SEO practices to bring value to a website by targeting specific keywords. Digital PR campaigns often track specific keywords, so you might be able to prove ROI based on keyword uplift in the search engine results page (SERP). The higher in the search your website is featured for the targeted keyword, the more traffic your website will generate.
This can easily become a vanity metric. When reporting on it, consider that keyword ranking can be influenced by the overall search volume for that keyword in the period you are reporting on.
Ultimately, measuring the ROI of digital PR can be challenging as it is hard to quantify in terms of only revenue. However, digital PR tactics can rely on other tangible metrics, such as referring domains, referral traffic, and organic keyword ranking. It is also important to avoid focusing on vanity metrics to inform strategy, as factors beyond digital PR efforts, such as market and search trends, can influence these.