Google Analytics Reports for the Public Relations Team

Published October 24, 2014
Your public relations (PR) team is celebrating. They just placed an article on the front page of TechCrunch and its driving huge traffic to the website.
It’s great news, of course. It’s a verifiable PR homerun! But, as a web analyst, you want to know more about the traffic that’s coming in from that article. Are those visitors engaged? Do they come back? Do they convert? What is the value of the placement to the business?
In the coming days, you’ll be able to measure the effect of this placement. As the data guru, your job is to identify the most effective campaigns and share that information with your PR team to help them produce the biggest bang for the marketing dollar. So, how will you communicate that analysis effectively to them?
To be effective, your report to the Public Relations team must present a clear picture of the quality of the traffic they generated, as well as the volume. This post shows some ways that you can do that.

Cartoon Image of PR professional


Compare Traffic Across Campaigns

The standard conversion funnel has three parts:

The top of the conversion funnel is about awareness. This is where people first hear about your company or product.
The middle is the informational stage. This is where visitors seek out information to answer their questions before deciding whether to make a purchase.
The bottom of the conversion funnel is where conversion takes place.

For many, PR is about growing the top of the conversion funnel for your company or client. It is about building brand recognition and brand authority. But that doesn’t mean PR specialists don’t also care about the results coming out at the bottom of the funnel. A good PR person knows it is the quality (engagement level) of the traffic sent into the funnel that determines the conversions happening at the bottom. So, in addition to measuring the volume of traffic generated, you, as the data guru, need to help them look at engagement metrics like Pages / Session and Avg Session Duration. And, of course, look at conversions.

In addition, a single campaign, reported in isolation, does not provide as much insight as a comparison with previous campaigns. By comparing the effectiveness of at least two campaigns, you will help the PR team to understand which news outlets drive traffic that is most valuable to your company or client.

In Google Analytics, you can compare the results from PR placements using custom segments. Here, we are using the segment builder to create a segment named “TechCrunch” that tracks the traffic from the TechCrunch placement.

Creating a Google Analytics Segment to Track a PR Campaign


Next, create another segment, named “PR Campaign B” to track an earlier campaign you want to compare with the TechCrunch campaign. In Google Analytics, navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic and select the two segments you’ve just created.

Google Analytics Report that Compares to PR Campaigns


PR Campaign B was a series of two articles – so you can see two small spikes in traffic. The TechCrunch piece shows a single large spike – it clearly drove many more visitors.

However, to really compare the value received from these campaigns, you need to look at the engagement and conversion metrics in the table below the graph. Traffic, alone, doesn’t equal success.

In doing so, we see Pages / Session and Avg. Session Duration are much lower for the TechCrunch campaign than the comparison. Even more interesting, the TechCrunch campaign produced only two conversions (for a conversion rate of 0.27%) whereas PR Campaign B produced 26 conversions (for a conversion rate of 5.07%).

The numbers show PR Campaign B produced better results than the TechCrunch article – at least from a conversions perspective. Help drive that point home to your PR team by including a chart showing the conversions over time in your report.

Graph Conversions, not just Traffic

By default, graphs in the Google Analytics standard reports show traffic measurements like Sessions or Pageviews. However, you can select a different metric by clicking the button in the upper left corner of the Google Analytics chart.

How to select the metric used in a Google Analytics time series chart


Here, we have selected “New Account – Trial (Goal 1 Completions)” to graph the conversions from each campaign.

Google Analytics chart comparing the conversions from 2 PR campaigns


This graph provides a totally different perspective on these two campaigns. Here, we are looking at the bottom of the funnel, and PR Campaign B is clearly producing superior results. Not only did it produce more conversions, but the conversions are continuing to happen, weeks after the two articles ran.

Which Campaign is Better?

So, which campaign is better? The answer depends entirely on your company or client’s objectives.

If the objective is building brand awareness and credibility, the volume of traffic and the authority of the news outlet is most important. An article in TechCrunch can build great credibility for a small technology company. Beyond just the traffic generated from this article, being featured in TechCrunch is something that can be used for promotional purposes on the website and other marketing materials.

But, if the objective is generating new business, conversions are most important.

Be aware, however, the conversions shown in the standard report above do not capture the complete impact of a campaign like the TechCrunch article. The TechCrunch visitors may have learned about your company or client for the first time from the article. As a result, many of them may have later performed a Google search for your brand, or clicked on an AdWords ad. If this kind of follow-up action led to a conversion, the Google Analytics Acquisition > All Traffic report will attribute the conversion to Organic Search or AdWords – not the TechCrunch article that influenced the conversion.

For a PR campaign like the TechCrunch article, it is important for you to do some analysis to measure influence.

Measuring Influence

One way to measure influence is with the Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions report. Check out our post on Properly Attributing Lead Sources with Multi-Channel Funnels for details on using this report. Justin Cutroni also offers some good insights.

Here, we are going to use this report to measure and compare the influence of two campaigns. To do that, first create a custom Channel Grouping that tracks the two campaigns you are comparing.

Creating a custom channel grouping for Google Analytics attribution analysis


Here, we have defined a channel for the TechCrunch campaign. You also need to define a channel for the comparison campaign. Use the same rules employed when creating the segments.

Once you have defined the rules, save the campaign grouping, and you will see a comparison in the table below.

Assisted Conversions for Custom Channel Grouping in Google Analytics


We can see the TechCrunch campaign assisted in five conversions (“Assisted Conversions” column). This means that five people visiting from TechCrunch came back later, via another channel, such as Organic Search, and converted.

Looking at the “Last Click or Direct Conversion Values” column shows the number of people converting directly from each source. From this, we can see that TechCrunch is better at assisting than converting. PR Campaign B, on the other hand, converts more than assists.


When putting together a report for the PR team, be sure to focus on more than just the volume of traffic generated by the campaigns. Look at the engagement metrics and conversions as well, as this will help them to understand the true value their placements are creating. Reports are most useful when they compare two or more campaigns, as this helps provide insight into relative traffic volumes and behavior across news outlets.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.