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