4 unique (and lesser-known) ways to measure the ROI of digital PR

Look at your data differently.

Unconventional PR measurement

Lucas Miller is founder of Echelon Copy

One of the biggest challenges for any PR professional is to prove the return on investment (ROI) of their work. The link between a traditional media appearance and an increase in sales can usually be inferred, but proving the direct link isn’t always so simple.

With digital PR, on the other hand, you have a better opportunity to show that your efforts are delivering a tangible result for your client. The increased visibility that digital PR brings to your business allows potential customers to easily find you, learn more about your brand, and transition to loyal customers.

This form of digital footprint is harder to track, but there are some unique ways to figure the ROI of digital PR. By incorporating other ways to measure digital PR’s ROI, you can showcase your full worth to your clients.

  1. Domain authority

Yes, domain authority also has a lot to do with SEO. But digital PR and SEO are closely intertwined. Domain authority measures a website’s relevance and perceived authority with search engines for a particular topic. The higher the score, the more visibility the site has, and the more traffic it is likely to receive as a result.

While not an official search engine ranking factor, Moz’s Domain Authority can help you better gauge how you stack up against the competition. Notably, much of your domain authority is derived from obtaining high-quality external links (a key focus in digital PR).

By pitching to relevant and authoritative sources, you can grow your domain authority in a manner that delivers meaningful results for your clients.

  1. Brand awareness

Like traditional PR, digital PR prioritizes the reputation of your brand and building relationships with your audience.

As Relevance explains, “One of the ways digital PR helps is by providing people with an opportunity to get to know you and your brand. Done right, this opportunity shows up in a low-pressure, low-stakes encounter. If a target customer (a person most likely to want and need your services) does not know your company exists, they cannot even consider that you might be able to solve their problem.”

If target customers are unaware of your brand, new customers will be harder to come by. Digital PR provides a pathway for potential customers to become loyal ones because of the increase in visibility and credibility it brings to your brand. If your brand has become more recognizable to the public, chances are your digital PR efforts are paying off.

  1. Branded search lift

As awareness for a brand increases from digital PR efforts, it can actually change customers’ search habits. For example, for an automotive brand, this could be seen in searches shifting from broader category searches like “best hybrid cars” to searches for a specific vehicle brand or even model.

This is a relatively easy metric to track through Google Analytics. Simply track how many search queries include the name of your client each month. As digital PR efforts take effect, you should see the number of branded search queries increase month over month. With increased brand awareness, more people begin searching for the brand itself, because they have come to know and trust it.

Tracking brand search queries can also help you uncover trends and public perception related to your client. For example, if you were to notice an uptick of searches with the phrase “[company name] scam,” this would warrant further investigation and a discussion with your client to determine why this has become a topic of concern.

  1. Share of voice

Share of voice (SoV) is another metric that can help you gauge whether your digital PR efforts are helping shape online discussions. Share of voice is a way to measure how much of the online conversation is dominated by your brand, compared to its niche as a whole. While this is most often done with social media mentions, it could also be used with web traffic and other metrics.

As Rebecca Riserbato explains for HubSpot, “To calculate share of voice, divide your brand’s measures by the total market measures. This could be your social mentions, paid advertising clicks, or website traffic. To find these numbers, you’ll need to use some of your marketing tools. You can look at your social media automation tool, for instance, to count how many mentions your brand has. Then, you can calculate how many mentions your competitors have. After you add all those together, you can divide your mentions by the total to find the share of voice percentage.”

Measuring share of voice can give you a channel by channel breakdown of where your clients’ brands have the greatest awareness, and where they can improve. Social listening tools can help you dive even deeper to understand the sentiment behind brand mentions to better gauge PR effectiveness.

Prove your worth

While digital PR campaigns can often contribute to direct sales, any public relations professional worth their salt knows that PR is typically a long-term game. By incorporating these other metrics in your ROI measurements, you can gain a big picture understanding of your campaigns’ effectiveness and prove your true value to your clients.


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