A press release, when properly optimized and distributed for search engine visibility, can be a good source of traffic, depending on how newsworthy your press release is and how popular your industry (or rather, your target keywords) is.
By tracking the traffic from your press release distributions, you can accurately measure the success of each press release and do the following:
- Use the ROI to determine how much you can afford to spend on further press releases.
- Determine what you need to do to improve your results (better content, increase distribution, more optimization, etc.)
Tracking the success of a press release requires measuring four important metrics:
- Distribution – how many media outlets your press release was effectively sent to?
- Publication – What is the conversion rate for your press release, or in other words, how many reporters ran your story?
- Traffic – What sort of traffic to your website / interest for your company has the press release generated?
- Costs vs. Benefits – Do the results of your press release distribution justify the costs?
Let’s look at them one by one.
Online press release distribution services usually provide hard numbers on distribution up front to woo customers. This is precisely why PRWeb boasts about “more than 100,000 media contacts in our database”.
The truth is a bit different. Packages usually allow you to target only one or just a few sub categories / markets. To go further, and significantly increase your distribution, you’ll have to pay more.
Make sure that you have a clear idea of your distribution figures, and that you know where your money is going. This will in turn allow you to determine if what you’re spending on a particular service is actually worth it (considering the results), and allow you to decide if you need to try out a new service.
This is tough to calculate, and almost impossible to predict. One tactic to find out if your press release has been used for a story is to use a very neat feature, Google Alerts. It sends you email updates of the latest relevant Google search engine results and fresh content based on the search terms you provide.
For our purposes, this is a powerful tool for measuring the impact of your press release. Simply use your company’s name as a search term, enter your email address, select “News” as category and you are set to go. Here’s the link again: Google Alerts.
Note: At the time of writing the top ranking website for ”Google Alerts” is a venture by Indigo Stream Technologies, http://www.googlealert.com. They are NOT affiliated with Google.
Google Alerts will send you regular updates on your search engine visibility from your press release. Alternatively, some press release distribution services also offer tracking facilities, which are far more advanced (and therefore cost accordingly) than Google Alerts, which is free.
A quick-fix method of measuring the increase in traffic for your website through a press release is to use a specific URL in the press release in the contact information section. For example, instead of using http://www.yourcompany.com use something like: http://www.yourcompany.com/press. This will allow you to directly measure the hits generated from each press release.
Of course, there will always be an overlap as some readers will manually enter the URL and thus miss the special page, and some people would probably arrive at that special page through another link of your website. A complimentary technique is to use your website’s traffic tracking software / service to measure the number of hits from particular URLs.
This technique might not be so necessary as all distribution services offer a minimal hit tracking service, but this allows you to monitor things at your end instead of going to the distribution service and checking traffic statistics every time. If you are tracking your press release across multiple press release distribution services, you’ll need an easier method of accessing your traffic data.
Once again, PR services offer comprehensive press release traffic monitoring services that go far beyond what you would be able to manage on your own. This includes detailed traffic analysis and reporting, and as always the only downside is the cost. Luckily, all such services provide free trials, so use that to your advantage and find out if you need it.
[box]Cost Benefit Analysis[/box]
Costs for writing and distributing one press release through a single distribution service can easily exceed $500. With such expenses, you’ll want to know where the money is going, and more importantly, whether it’s bring back comparable benefits in terms of publicity and revenue.
It is important to break down your costs into individual components to see how much you spend on press release writing, optimization, distribution and tracking. This will also help you pinpoint where you can cut your costs for your next press release. In addition, you need to look at the benefits of a press release.
Theoretically (and I say this without sarcasm), a press release is supposed to announce your product / service / business event to the media. As such, it is a wonderful tool and no price is too less for promotion.
In reality, a press release is only useful if it is effective – that is, it generates an interest in the media and inspires a newspaper or news forum, however big or small, to run your story. Those are the only hard results you should be looking at.
Sure, traffic statistics sound very pretty – getting 1,000 hits on your website through your press release is great, but if you have spent $500, and all you get for that is a mention in two small publications and $200 in sales, the venture is an unfortunate failure. Also, you have to take care to measure the results within a certain time frame, usually a few days (3 minimum, a week at most) at least.
Also, ensure that you can differentiate between regular traffic and sales and promotion due to your press release.Tracking your press release is a must if you want to use it as a marketing tool.
Just as you would measure the results from a regular advertising campaign, and test your market with a trial period, use your first press release as a trial. In other words, if your first press release is not a success, don’t throw the idea out of the window. Go back to the basics and try to determine what you can do to improve results, and see where you can cut costs without compromising on results.
Do you have any tips on how to to test your market with press release?