How to Attribute Economic Results to Press Releases

An image of moving publications to illustrate the concept of how to attribute economic results to press releases.

For the past two years, I’ve been teaching a class entitled, “Using SEO as a PR Metric,” during Paine Publishing’s Measurement Base Camp. At Measurement Base Camp Spring 2022, I shared a new case study that compared three press releases to see which one would generate better results for SiteLogic, a marketing education consultancy located in Canton, Ohio. This study demonstrates how to attribute economic results to press releases. It also provides a quick introduction to what you can learn at Measurement Base Camp Summer 2022.

Background of the SiteLogic case study

In January of this year, Matt Bailey, the founder of SiteLogic, announced a new series of Digital Marketing Certification Courses, which feature more learning by doing and less watching video. My company, SEO-PR, conducted an A/B/C, or multivariate, test of press release versions for this product launch. We sent out a multimedia press release, distributed in three different ways:

  • The first version was posted to Matt’s blog.
  • The second version was distributed via Business Wire.
  • The third version was distributed via EIN Presswire.

The 600-word long press releases included identical text, but each version used a different photo, a distinctive video, and unique tracking links.

What is a tracking link? Basically, it is a normal URL with tags appended to the end of it to allow you to count the number of users of the link. I used Google’s Campaign URL Builder tool – which is free – to add campaign parameters to the URLs in each press release so I could measure this as a Custom Campaign in Google Analytics.

Final results of the SiteLogic case study

In early March, Matt Bailey examined his Google Analytics account and reported that the first version of our press release, which was posted to his blog, had 24 views. And the 0:50-second long version of the video embedded on that page had 4 views.

By comparison, I looked at Business Wire’s NewsTrak Report and the second version of our multimedia press release had 6,428 views. And its 1:47-long version of the video had 331 views.

EIN Presswire doesn’t provide similar data for the third version of our press release, which included an embedded image and video.

So, 40+ days after the test began, 99.6% of the views that we could track had been generated by the second version of our multimedia press release, distributed via Business Wire.

Calculating the economic results of a press release

How to calculate the economic value of a total of 6,452 total views of our press release and 335 total views of the related videos? We established a baseline and used it to compare overall traffic from organic search, direct, referral, and social channels before and after the press releases. This general strategy will work for you to evaluate your product launch or other PR campaign.

For a baseline of web activity and leads, Matt used Google Analytics to see that his Course Landing Page 1 had received 262 views and generated 6 leads during the 87 days from November 1, 2021, when it was created, to January 26, 2022. This is an average of three views a day, and one lead every two weeks.

After the press releases were distributed, Matt saw:

  • His Course Landing Page 1 had received 132 views.
  • His Course Landing Page 2 had received 129 views.
  • His Learning Platform Landing Page had received 90 views.
  • His Website Course Landing Page had received 52 views.

That’s a total of 403 views, or almost 10 a day for the 41 days from January 27 to March 8. More importantly, he had generated 33 leads, about 11 every two weeks. And he had already converted three of these leads into sales, worth a total of $8,850 in cold, hard cash.

The link tracking allowed Matt to see that the Business Wire release had driven 16 visits to his landing pages, his blog post/release had driven 15 visits to his landing pages, while the EIN/Release had driven three visits.

He also saw that visitors from the Business Wire release had spent an average of four minutes on his site. When he emailed me this information, he said, “Visits from Business Wire were significantly longer than any source or referral. Just thought that was interesting: like they were actually reading the page!”

Now, the 34 direct visits from the two versions of our three press releases is only a small fraction of the total number of visitors to the landing pages during those first 40+ days after the press releases. Many other visitors may have read one of the press releases and then conducted a search later to find out more information. Someone may have read one of the press releases, visited the website, and then emailed a link to a friend, relative, or colleague. Both these are hard to track. But they are still valuable steps towards a micro conversion (a lead) or macro conversion (a sale).

The remaining 30 leads that haven’t converted to sales—yet—also have an economic value. Above we saw that during the first 41 days about 10% of leads converted to sales. So if 10% of the people who are currently leads go on to take Matt’s $2,950 Digital Marketing Certification Course, then each lead has a value of $295 (i.e., 10% of $2,950).

In other words, you can calculate the economic value of filling the pipeline for the next six weeks, even if a lead hasn’t converted into a sale within the first six weeks.

Matt, who also teaches a course entitled, Analytics 1: Build an Analytics Strategy, understands all this. So, when I asked him what he thought of the overall results, he said, “This test confirmed everything I’ve ever trusted about PR as a dual purpose driver for both immediate impact and long-lasting results.” ∞

Thanks for the photo above to Mario Calvo on Unsplash.

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