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The value of product-led PR for eCommerce

Georgia Anderson from NovosGeorgia Anderson in Digital PR

5th April, 2022

In digital marketing, we can often get consumed in fancy campaigns or activations with a tenuous link to the brand’s industry but we mustn’t forget one of the key pillars of growth: product-led PR. 

Product-led marketing is a methodology in which user acquisition, expansion, conversion, and retention are all driven primarily by the product itself. At a time when there is more competition than ever, and more choice for consumers, a product-led approach allows potential customers to quickly and easily understand your offering while simultaneously supporting key categories and product pages. It’s arguably one of the most important marketing tactics for eCommerce businesses, wouldn’t you agree?

 

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • How product-led PR can support marketing and growth goals
  • Tips on getting your products placed
  • How to monitor the success of your product-led placements
  • Real-life case studies from eCommerce brands at NOVOS 

The key to successful product-led marketing is authenticity so keep reading to find out how you can incorporate this traditional yet modernised marketing approach to raise your online presence.

 

How product-led PR can support marketing and growth goals

Product-led growth marketing is like the business equivalent of really great storytelling. Building a narrative around the brand’s offering is one of the oldest tricks in the PR handbook but it has remained a certified way to build authority and brand awareness. 

While campaigns and other tactics are important when building deep links, product-led PR can generally provide some quick wins by landing coverage without the need for massive amounts of data, which can often be time-consuming. Some businesses don’t understand how link building works and are generally more receptive to seeing their products featured online so it’s a great way to start building trust and a strong relationship between the brand and marketeer from the get-go. 

When looking at your brand’s online strategy, find out where the biggest opportunities are. Are there certain products or categories that are already ranking well that could benefit from some external link building? Or is there a new collection the brand wants to HERO? Or is there a certain category that isn’t performing as well as others on the website?

These are all questions you need to ask yourself and will help inform your decision making on which products to push.

Our Head of SEO, Tom Gandhi, says, “Product-led link building is a great way to improve the rankability of new products due to increased visibility through a heightened backlink profile and product exposure, & to enhance the position of linked categories as we see link value passed to all linked pages, not just the link destination. This can result in improved product rankings (long-tail) & improved rankings for category pages (PLPs).”

Product-led growth marketing also allows you to target transactional keywords such as “gift sets” which will help you drive awareness, traffic and revenue. We take a deep dive into this below, in our case study, so stay tuned. 

 

Tips on getting your product placed

With product placement, it should be straightforward with no confusion or unnecessary cleverness, and feed into the brand’s overall identity. The content includes everything a writer needs to know about the product and a call to action button so they can easily shop or find out more. 

Our Digital PR Manager, Hannah Marshall says, “When it comes to getting your client’s products placed online, it’s key to make sure you really know your target media. Get to know who the shopping editors are, what slots they regularly write and which ones may be good to organise product reviews with. Make sure you focus on what the USP of your product is and always put forward your best lifestyle and cutout product imagery.” 

 

Identify your USP

Once you’ve identified the biggest growth opportunities, you can analyse the product(s) in more detail, identifying what the unique selling point (USP) is. Ensure this is highlighted in the introduction of your pitch email so the journalist has a reason to include or add your product to their article. 

 

Find writers in your niche

Once you’ve identified your USP, find journalists who have written about the topic before, starting granular and then building out your media list from there. The more unique or niche your product is, the better your chances are of getting covered. Remember, while it’s great to obtain links from top-tier publications, search engines have hinted that backlinks from publications that are industry-specific are just as important.

There are so many opportunities in getting your client’s products and services placed online by targeting search uplifts, calendar days, occasion days and more! In fact, these product-led ‘round-ups’ have become so prominent, that there are now dedicated shopping, commerce and SEO writers.

 

Start on socials

Social media is also a great starting place as you can look into the brand’s products and see if they’re trending online, particularly on popular platforms such as TikTok. One eCommerce brand we worked with made some pretty cool design-led homeware products that had amassed millions of views online. We took these trending products and created a press release on them and landed plenty of coverage including Yahoo!, Huffington Post and Real Homes. While, for another plant-powered drinks brand, Gwyneth Paltrow had personally recommended the juices so naturally, we included this in the pitch. By having external validation, it’s much more likely that journalists will see the value in your products and cover them. 

 

Try before you buy

Finally, always offer the writer the option to review the product, for free, and without the added pressure of having it placed. Many editorial policies mean writers have to test and review a product before promoting it to their readers – you know, journalistic integrity and all that. It’s important that you understand and explain this to your client to not only manage expectations but also to protect your own relationship with the writer. Chances are, if the product is good, and it didn’t get covered in the first instance, it will be in the writer’s mind for similar opportunities in the future. Never underestimate the power of brand awareness. 

 

How to monitor the success of your product-led placements

Being able to monitor the success of your product placement is very important. When done right, you can use this research to discover just how successful different product-led marketing campaigns are at attracting and retaining customers, and supporting your growth strategy.

You can monitor the success of your campaigns in many different ways. The key is to track the progress and the results consistently. Some key metrics include:

  • Where the backlink is directed
  • Placement of the product within the article
  • Reach and authority of the publication featuring your product or service
  • Anchor text linked
  • Conversions
  • Referral traffic 
  • Revenue

Monitoring your product-led marketing campaigns can help you map out customer experience more accurately. Something as simple as a classic A/B test can help you learn things like whether one method had better engagement than the other and which type of publication returns the most benefit.

It is worth mentioning that if your client has a large affiliate network, this can hinder the success of your product placement. It’s best to get a list of your client’s affiliate network and target publications with no affiliation. However, that’s not to say you shouldn’t go after publications because they do use affiliates. When outreaching, be clear in what you expect in return for your story. There’s always a way to find a mutually beneficial relationship, even if that means including an image link as opposed a text link. 

 

Real-life case studies from eCommerce brands at NOVOS

 

NIO Cocktails

For one premium ready-to-drink brand that has partnered with NOVOS for nearly two years, they identified product placement as a key focus. With this in mind, we created a strategy in late 2021 focusing on new product launches and Christmas product placement. 

There was a big push around “cocktail gift sets” seeing 16 keyword uplifts with 10 ranking in positions 1-5. Their website’s domain rating increased by 21% from 33 to 40 (April 2021 – January 2022) from primarily product-led placements as well as on-site technical work. Coverage included titles such as BBC Good Food, The Week, Tatler, Chatting Food, The Grocer, The Telegraph, Cosmopolitan, Glamour and more!

 

cheesegeek

Another great example is from an artisan cheese-based subscription service that partnered with the agency in mid-November 2021 again, with the focus of landing the brand in Christmas round-ups. Despite starting effectively immediately, we secured 17 pieces of Christmas coverage, 1 feature in Speciality Food Magazine, 6 Valentine’s Day pieces and 5 ‘best subscriptions’ coverage with links to key category pages (Avg. DR 68). 

In three months, the website’s domain rating increased by 15% (32-37). While the referring domains increased by 56% (331-515). With this off-site work, along with on-site technical work, the brand ranked for an additional 900 organic keywords since the start of the digital PR project. Keyword uplifts include:

  • 81 additional keywords in positions 1-3 (+810%)
  • 39 additional keywords in positions 4-10 (+65%)
  • 780 additional keywords in positions 11-100 (+153%)

In November 2021 the brand had 1.1k estimated visits from organic search traffic (581 keywords). As of February 2022, they saw 8k estimated visits from organic search traffic (1481 keywords).

 

Product-led is Paramount

Product-led growth is a bottom-up approach that speaks directly to the needs of a brand’s end-users. It’s a highly effective way of attracting new customers and driving revenue with the added bonus of supporting the growth of a brand’s online presence. We hope you have found this guide useful and would love to hear your feedback in the comment section below!

Georgia Anderson from Novos
Article by Georgia Anderson
Georgia is a former TV journalist, where she worked for Australia's largest news network. Now based in London - she is NOVOS' digital PR strategist and has truly seen the best of both worlds. She has successfully managed PR campaigns for leading eCom brands and continues to create meaningful partnerships with top media houses thanks to her deep understanding of the PR landscape.

The value of product-led PR for eCommerce

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