How to Use Digital PR to Drive Sales
Content Marketing

How to Use Digital PR to Drive Sales

26th February 2020

It stands to reason that with consumers becoming more digitally savvy, the way that we market our brands needs to step up too. This combined with Google algorithm updates and an ongoing fight for the top spot in organic search equals more and more demanding targets to reach when it comes to digital PR.

I’m sure I’m not alone in being pushed for strategic thinking that delivers SEO value, brand awareness and commercial RIO regardless of which side of the agency, or in-house fence you sit on. So I have pulled together a series of tactics that can maximise your PR campaign reach across any business.

Calculating the value of online coverage

Regardless of whether you are creating content and press purely for the search benefits or if you take a more traditional public relations approach, everyone knows the value of links (follow and no follow) and brand mentions across the web.

This is why it’s vital to look further than the contribution each link provides to brands portfolio and to consider what a healthy flow of coverage does in the longer term. By tracking links earned, domain authority and keyword rankings, over 6 months to a year, you can start to work out a link to ranking ratio. Now this will vary for each brand depending on the sector they are in and how ambitious their competitors are in the digital PR space.

With the top listing in Google’s organic search results receiving around 33 percent of the traffic, compared to 18 percent for the second position, the value of domain boosting links is clear.

Percentage of organic search graph

Source: Searchenginewatch

Using tools like Moz or Majestic, you can easily start to track the links built in comparison to DA movements and more broadly, keyword rankings. Over time, this will give you a good steer on how many links you need to build to move the need on your website’s prominence. If you want to take this a step further, you can also track the same activity for your closest three to five competitors.

From here, you will be able to show the value of your work in maintaining or growing your organic SERPS, which any business can attribute sales and revenue to.

Leverage your thought leadership gravitas

It can be easy to feel like the traffic, social traction or sales leads your coverage or content marketing activity garners is a job well done, but it doesn’t stop there.

Content – in all forms – is a tool that can be leveraged for more than consumption by target audience via the selected communication channels owned by a marketing team. By thinking about how your wider teams are connecting with clients or sales leads is the difference between good and great content marketing. This is especially the case when it comes to B2B.

PR is an amplification of your business expertise and thought leadership, proven to be highly influential in the buying process. In June 2019, Edleman released a report that highlighted that decision-makers are spending more time reading thought leadership; in fact, most do so for at least an hour per week and that Senior decision-makers are willing to pay a premium. B2B buyers are likely to pay more to work with companies who have clearly articulated their vision through thought leadership.

Edleman sales funnel graph

Source: Edelman B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study

Does your sales team include the latest coverage in their sales decks? Are your business development reps quoting stats and figures from your whitepapers or survey stories in their pitches? If not, then there is room to get more for your money and pair the right insights and information across many formats throughout the business.

The R word: Remarketing

As PR and outreach professionals, we tend to focus our energy on the implementation side of things with a view to securing media hits and patting ourselves on the back once the articles roll in. What strikes me about this way of working is that the news cycle is fickle, and usually a few days or even weeks after a story goes live it’s stale and ‘old news’. The limited shelf life of many campaigns, no matter how successful can become dampened once the hype has died down and it’s on to the next one.

Strike Social Re targeting flow chart

Source: The advertiser’s guide to social media ad retargeting

This is where remarketing comes in. Packaged correctly, your PR campaign can translate into a range of inbound marketing tools to enhance reach and longevity. The nod of approval that comes from being covered by a media publication powerful to its readers so retargeting your coverage on social media like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn can get more eyes on your brand. For collateral like case studies and reports, well researched PPC ads and LinkedIn InMails can serve as a route to lead generation and community building, without the need to create new assets.

In an article from PR Moment on the topic of how PR drives sales, Errol Jayawardene, head of digital at communications agency Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, says “Typically, media relations, social and PPC can help at the awareness stage. Case-studies, remarketing or e-books can help with driving traffic and collecting contact details in the consideration stage. Even post-sale, customer news and speaker opportunities can help with organic leads in the loyalty stage. But not one size fits all. Even the final decision-maker in a company will be influenced by lots of different people from management, marketing, sales and finance. PR can play a role in delivering messages to all these groups.”

In short, there are plenty of ways to combat conversations around PR and commercial ROI from changing what and how you measure success, remembering that thought leadership is your secret weapon. Lastly, remember that making your content work harder across the digital marketing mix harnesses the power of the media to do the heavy lifting for you.

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Rebecca has over eight years of experience executing successful integrated PR campaigns for clients across travel, entertainment, fashion, tech and e-commerce sectors.
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