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How to use digital PR and cross-channel data to amplify organic growth

November 23, 2022 No Comments

How to use PR and cross-channel data to amplify organic growth

30-second summary:

  • With the right strategy, digital PR can help drive both brand awareness and organic performance
  • During an economic downturn, brand visibility is essential to maintain brand advocacy in the long-term
  • Brands that will come out on top are those that take a cross-channel approach to drive more ROI, using data from other channels to inform their approach

Despite being tempted to pull back on spending during a recession, I believe that it is critical that brands stay visible to maintain brand advocacy — and Digital PR is a great, low-cost way to do so.

Future front-runner brands will be those that adopt a cross-channel approach to drive more ROI, utilizing data from other channels to inform their approach and ensure it resonates with target audiences.

With the current economic climate, brands and businesses are understandably scrutinizing every cent, and will likely make cuts to marketing budgets across the globe. 

Businesses need to be realistic about their growth trajectory over the next few months and ensure every marketing dollar they invest is accounted for. While this may naturally lead to greater investment in performance channels, such as paid media, this will result in increased cost per click (CPCs). A way to still stay measurable but reduce costs is to get creative and focus energy on earning attention rather than continuing to pay for every click and impression.

As a result, I would argue that digital PR is one of the most important tools in your marketing toolkit, as, with the right strategy, it can drive both brand awareness and organic performance.

You’re missing a trick if you’re just using Digital PR to drive links

Digital PR is used to build high authority, and relevant links to key category pages to drive search performance through organic growth. A targeted strategy that aligns closely with SEO objectives will enable you to track ROI if you have the right measurement tools in place. This activity feeds into lower funnel marketing activity as it helps to harvest demand, as increased rankings capture better traffic and conversions. 

However, if you’re only using it for this purpose, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity further up the marketing funnel. 

Through securing brand-led, high-impact coverage on authoritative and influential publications, digital PR can also be used to drive search demand and upper-funnel brand awareness. This third-party validation is the perfect way to build salience, credibility, customer advocacy, and trust while simultaneously driving organic performance through high-quality links.

In order to achieve both brand and performance though, you need to be creating relevant and engaging content that your target audience wants to read and share. You shouldn’t be creating content ‘just for a link’ but taking into consideration wider business goals – and making sure you’re actually targeting press that your audience is reading.

In summary, digital PR shouldn’t just be an ‘intent-led’ marketing discipline to increase rankings. It’s a discipline that can both drive demand and awareness, whilst helping to capture intent-led traffic. 

Why brand visibility is even more important during a recession

Recessions are difficult and uncertain times, which is why it’s even more important to continue to build visibility and salience – as with tighter budgets, consumers are likely to become more selective and want to buy from brands that they trust that stay relevant to them.

We have seen in previous economic uncertainty brands that maintain their brand awareness and relevance, retain more market share, and are able to bounce back quicker. Mark Ritson’s marketing recession playbook provides further information and sources on this subject. 

In order to use digital PR to deliver true brand performance, you need to ensure you’re creating it based on as much cross-channel insight as possible.

Sharing cross-channel insight to deliver better ROI

While many marketers say they work ‘cross-channel,’ the reality is that many teams are still working in silos – especially across brand and performance teams.

To drive the best results, it is essential to break down silos and take data insights from each channel to develop one overarching strategy.

For example, to drive organic growth, while it’s critical to start with key SEO insight, search volumes, brand traffic, non-brand traffic, relevance, and the number of backlinks, you should be considering other channels to maximize performance. 

Another example would be that your PPC and paid search teams will have a lot of useful data that you can use to inform your organic strategy. Which are the keywords that are costing the most? You can tailor your efforts to improve organic rankings for these keywords, effectively allowing you to spend less on those terms. 

Your programmatic team will also have access to display placement reports which will provide insight into the publications and websites your in-market audience is visiting. This should then inform your target outreach list. From a paid social perspective, this team will have lots of useful information on what content performs the best providing valuable insight for your PR brainstorms.

Amplifying your Digital PR coverage further

You shouldn’t just be working with other channel teams to define your strategy, you need to work with them throughout the whole process, to amplify results. 

For instance, if you generate a truly fantastic piece of linking digital PR coverage, on a very credible publication. Whilst this will drive SEO performance and some brand awareness, in order to maximize the opportunity, and the valuable third-party validation, make it work even harder by amplifying through paid social.

Mini case study: Maryland cookies use PR to reach 5+ million people

Maryland came to us because they needed to align PR, programmatic, and paid social to drive mass awareness of their new Sugar-Free cookie and deliver an immediate surge in new customer sales. Through an integrated approach of PR, paid social, and programmatic, we reached 5.3 million people across all channels. View the case study here.

We have seen in past campaigns that by utilizing PR content as part of your social ads, not only can they actually perform better than the ad creative, but they can also help to prevent ad fatigue and provide you with additional assets (that you don’t need to pay anything extra for!). 

Immediate steps to help your 2023 marketing plan

In order to be successful, it’s important to create a framework that helps to pull all channels together. 

At Journey Further we use the ‘4Ds’ – Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver. 

Discover

This phase involves asking all the channels to provide insight and data based on their recent campaigns and learnings to date. It is recommended to assign a client lead who can be tasked with pulling together a list of questions and a briefing document to ensure the discovery phase is as useful as possible. This will help identify where the biggest opportunities are across channels. 

Define

Agree on the best objective and goals based on the insight provided by all channels. Create an overarching strategy that will deliver against them and drive maximum ROI. 

Develop

Set a clear roadmap, with roles and responsibilities outlined across each channel. Whilst in the case of an organic growth strategy, SEO and PR will take the leading role, it’s important other channels are clear on the ways they can amplify the activity at each stage, and what learnings they can also gather from the activity to improve their own results in-channel. 

Deliver

Marketing activity is activated. If this is a digital PR campaign then influencer marketing and paid social tactics may be used for example, alongside outreach, to bolster the campaign and drive more buzz and engagement. 

Reporting on the right metrics

Another benefit of working cross-channel is that you will be able to report on many more metrics, giving a more holistic and accurate view of ROI. 

Creating a live, 24/7 reporting dashboard utilizing tools such as Data Studio will allow you and your team members to check in and monitor progress at all times. This will provide you with a continuous cycle of insight to allow you to continuously improve your marketing efforts and deliver one overarching strategy that enables you to remain visible while also driving performance.


Beth Nunnington is the VP of Digital PR and Content Marketing at Journey Further, leading Digital PR strategy for the world’s leading brands. Her work has been featured in The Drum, PR Moment, and Prolific North. Find Beth on Twitter @BethNunnington.

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Think Big About Cross-Channel Data!

June 2, 2021 No Comments

Set up your agency’s own PPC data warehouse for cross-channel reporting and push optimization changes back to the ad networks.

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Cross-channel marketing: why you shouldn’t put all your eggs in the Google basket

March 27, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Very few SMBs use multiple channels for their online advertising
  • Facebook is the most effective channel based on the cost for CPM and CPC
  • It’s important to remember that every business is unique when it comes to deciding on budget allocation

For any business in the software as a service (SaaS) space, data analysis and science are crucial to ensure they keep pushing ahead to reveal those insights that can really make a difference. With this in mind, the Cambridge MBA team looked to leverage Adzooma’s extensive data to identify new ways for SMBs to maximize their ad spend with cross-channel marketing.

For the team at Cambridge University, this was an exciting opportunity to produce some truly unique insights, given that even the big players such as Google and Microsoft only have data that pertains to their individual channels.  The project promised to provide a much broader view and deliver some new insights thanks to the access to anonymized data from thousands of accounts across the three big platforms via Adzooma.

A cross-channel approach

The findings immediately identified that very few SMB customers use multiple channels (Facebook, Google, and Microsoft).

Although this wasn’t part of the main project, it was a really interesting piece of analysis and it’s something we’ve stressed the importance of a lot. Most people just stick to Google, for example, as that’s where they think they should be but that’s not always the best case for everyone’s business, and being seen across multiple touchpoints – or at least trying out multiple channels – can be crucial to digital marketing success.

Our analysis found Facebook to be the most conducive channel for SMBs based on cost (CPM, CPC) as well as return (impressions, clicks), however, it was Microsoft that came out on top for reaching a more professional and affluent audience.

The research highlighted the importance of pre-determining your specific target audience. Hence, when it comes to choosing the channel – or channels – for your business it’s really worth thinking about what you are trying to achieve with your ad spend and who you’re truly trying to reach.

What are you really trying to achieve?

Right at the offset, it’s important to think about your end goal and ask yourself who are the customers you are looking to target and what is the most efficient way to get to them.

Existing research told us that for SMBs acquiring new customers was the most chased goal on the customer journey followed by ‘generating awareness’, ‘generating leads’, and ‘retaining customers’.

Taking this into account, the Cambridge team found that merging the traditional sales funnel with the customer lifecycle model would be the best way for an SMB to manage its overall marketing goals.

Overlapping resolution methodology then allowed the team to determine the impact of cost on different marketing channels. This way, SMBs would be able to effectively determine which platform is best to use when similarities occur.

We found through the research that it was the choice of the channel itself that had the most significant impact on both CPM and CPC. Having determined a connection between channel and cost KPIs, further research was conducted to find out the average CPM and CPC across Google, Facebook, and Microsoft Ads.

While it was Facebook that was the most cost-effective channel on average for SMBs overall, the recommendations were that businesses should still look at the click-through rates of other channels to determine whether other factors such as industry or geography could make a significant difference.

If you’re choosing between Google and Microsoft, the results suggest using Google due to its high reach and low cost, however, Microsoft could also be useful, particularly as it offers high-level targeting and demographics that can be suitable for specific business types.

What is your ad saying?

Another factor that perhaps many businesses don’t consider when deciding on a platform is the sentiment of their messaging.

When analyzing the data this was another area where the research team saw differentiation depending on the channel where the advert appeared.

cross-channel marketing and advertising CTR stats

Microsoft proved to be the most popular platform when it came to a positive sentiment with a CTR of 4.2 percent, compared to 3.6 percent for neutral and 3.3 percent for negative sentiment.

Interestingly, the opposite was true for Google ads where negative sentiment proved most popular with users, gaining a CTR rate of 6.5 percent compared to 5.7 percent for neutral and negative messaging.

Again, it highlights how important it is to take that time to tweak your ads for testing purposes and learn what works best for your target customers so you can capitalize on your spends.

Every business is unique

It’s no secret that the one size fits all approach doesn’t necessarily work. All businesses are different and therefore their ad spend and utilization will of course differ.

Some people, as we all do, want to go with the stats and what has proven to have worked historically for businesses, and whilst that can be taken into account, that’s not to stay that it will work for every business. Therefore, it’s always important to remember to take the time to consider where you are spending and who you are trying to reach.

Plus, it is worth remembering that although GoogleFacebook, and Microsoft Ads are the most popular online advertising platforms, there are alternative (and less expensive) places to list your ads including Reddit, Amazon, and industry-specific sites such as Capterra. Despite having fewer users, these are still effective as it’s often easier to reach your exact target audience and could work as an addition to your primary platform.

Looking ahead

We hope that through this research we’ve provoked SMBs to think carefully about their target audience and specific objectives prior to ad spend allocation.  What we’ve showcased here is that the advertising platforms explored within this study work effectively in their own right depending on the end goal and we hope these insights will enable SMBs to achieve greater overall results.

These learnings help determine how cross-channel partnerships can be best leveraged for SMB customers. As Facebook seems to be the most used channel by 70 percent of SMBs, and data analysis suggests it is optimal in terms of cost and return, the data will be used to scale Facebook features and opportunities. A lot of the learnings we unearthed from this study will also go directly into the core technology of the Adzooma product.

Rob Wass is Co-founder and CEO of Adzooma.

Akanshaa Khare is currently pursuing an MBA at Cambridge University and has five years of Product Management experience and three years of Consulting experience, helping consulting firms such as BCG and ZS Associates.

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Cross-channel and cookieless: How measurement will evolve in 2021

March 3, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The pandemic has caused major shifts in the way that advertisers operate, making it more critical than ever to be able to prove ROI and make every ad dollar count
  • The inability to track reach and frequency is one of the biggest problems with cross-platform ad measurement that marketers face
  • As marketers enter the new year, they will need to have measurement solutions in place that account for cross-channel, cookieless, privacy, and walled gardens
  • Early adopters of cross-channel measurement, truly cookieless solutions, privacy, and consumer-centric policies, and data collaboration will gain insights needed to ensure future success

Marketers have faced an incredible number of challenges over the past year. The demise of third-party cookies, the loss of device identifiers, and evolving privacy regulations have forced the industry to come up with new solutions for identity. With consumer behavior shifting rapidly and market volatility expected to continue this year, proving ROI with accurate measurement will be more important than ever. Half of U.S. marketers say the inability to track reach and frequency is still one of the biggest problems with cross-channel ad measurement. Better measurement solutions are needed.

Advertisers need to take the time now to evaluate their measurement solutions in order to ensure every dollar spent has a purpose. Marketers should look for solutions that overcome measurement challenges and form a single view of the customer journey. Only then can they truly improve the customer experience by delivering personalized messages and offerings based on insights gleaned. In 2021, measurement solutions will evolve and improve to account for cross-platform, cookieless, consumer transparency, and walled gardens.

Cross-platform measurement will enable flexibility and control for TV and other mediums

Recent trends indicate that consumers are purchasing multiple streaming services and cutting the cord at an alarming rate. As consumer behaviors and viewer fragmentation across a range of digital mediums and streaming platforms accelerate, it’s important for advertisers to measure cross-platform reach and frequency in real-time and adjust course quickly if needed. This is nearly impossible to do using traditional TV metrics.

To determine where and how to best reach the consumer, measurement offerings must capture cross-channel metrics and normalize disparate data sets to better understand the actual viewer. For example, one spouse might be responsible for all the streaming subscriptions in a household while another manages cable and internet. To further confuse the issue, their online and offline purchases might be equally mixed.

With more accurate cross-screen metrics and measurement tools, including impact and reach, advertisers can track spend against specific KPIs to determine true ROI within a set audience. As advertisers and distribution players adopt new measurement solutions in 2021 and report these metrics more accurately, the industry will be forced to embrace flexibility in areas that have traditionally lacked agility and required firm budget commitments.

More accurate measurement gives advertisers key insights that require flexibility for optimizations and the need for more real-time control with TV and premium video. Measurement offerings that capture metrics across OTT and linear and link impact to actual outcomes will take center stage in the new year as advertisers are forced to prove ROI and can no longer rely on traditional TV metrics.

The deprecation of third-party cookies acts as a catalyst to better measurement

With less than a year before Google pulls the plug on third-party cookies and the simultaneous restrictions placed on certain mobile identifiers such as IDFAs, the advertising ecosystem is responding with a flurry of identifiers of their own. Despite this, the industry has yet to establish a standard for a universal way to measure reach without cookies, creating confusion in the marketplace and reinforcing the need for secure, privacy-conscious, and interoperable identity solutions that maintain neutrality.

Campaigns using people-based identifiers rooted in authenticated user data perform better across key metrics such as return on ad spend, cost per view, and cost per mille. In fact, certain types of cookieless solutions make it easier to measure results and prove ROI. Campaigns will be people-based and nearly 100 percent addressable—allowing advertisers and publishers to uncover undervalued inventory and see an improvement in their overall performance.

The industry is working diligently to build a better ecosystem – one with trust and transparency – that isn’t reliant on unstable identifiers like third-party cookies. A stronger, trusted ecosystem will ensure advertisers can measure across all consumer touchpoints long after the third-party cookie disappears. This helps to ensure the most relevant, tailored messages reach customers across channels – which ultimately leads to an increase in brand loyalty that will help strengthen businesses and improve outcomes for marketers and publishers alike in the post-cookie world.

Measurement evolves with privacy at its core

As privacy regulation continues to evolve, our industry faces a complex challenge — regaining consumer trust. There’s a conscious effort and trend towards consumer transparency, and that’s not going away. Thus, in addition to adhering to the law, advertisers are updating their policies to ensure transparency about how consumer data is being used. We need to do a better job of explaining that the data individuals share is part of a mutually beneficial value exchange that’s essential to developing products and services that serve consumers better.

As consumers engage across media — they opt-in, log-in, subscribe — and identify themselves in different ways. This data can be used to build and scale the right audiences and enhance measurement to better under which tactics are moving the needle on business outcomes. Advertisers should only use measurement solutions with privacy at the core to ensure the delivery of a seamless customer experience on the individual’s terms.

One example of where measurement is headed is LiveRamp’s integration with Google’s Ads Data Hub. This approach enables first-party data linkage to Google data within the ADH environment in a privacy-first way. An individual’s data cannot be directly viewed, edited, or manipulated in ADH, but actionable insights can be extracted.

Amazon sets the bar when it comes to understanding and measuring the customer buying journey and then executing against that data. Marketers are looking to create that type of measurement engine, without moving data or comprising privacy, that will form data partnerships to fill in the gaps in their line of sight, leveraging data from outside their four walls to measure the customer journey along with all endpoints.

The industry will embrace data collaboration to improve measurement

Walled gardens offer a prime example of how access to data at every point along the customer journey unlocks measurement of the whole customer experience. Following this example, consumer brands will seek to build a strong data foundation to form a unified view of the customer, then to optimize marketing touchpoints as part of the larger improvement to the customer experience. We’re seeing CPG brands analyzing sales lift by comparing data from retail partners to understand the holistic shopping journey of each customer.

As The Winterberry Group found in their January 2021 report ‘Collaborative Data Solutions’, one of the areas with the greatest adoption today is for insight and analysis. Data collaboration will only become more important as marketers strive to measure results and optimize budgets. With the right privacy-conscious structures in place, data science and analytics teams will be able to work across data sets, accelerate analysis, and forge a level of insight that is deeper than ever before.

Conclusion

After the year we had, evolution in measurement is imminent. In what will likely be another financially-difficult year, proving return on advertising investment will be the driving force behind this progression to more accountable metrics delivered with more speed.

Early adopters of cross-platform measurement, truly cookieless solutions, privacy and consumer-centric policies, and data collaboration will provide customers with the best in class experience today and reveal insights needed to ensure future success.

Matthew Emans is VP of Measurement Products for LiveRamp, and the co-founder/CTO of Data Plus Math, acquired by LiveRamp in 2019.

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How to Fuel Cross-Channel Growth with PPC

July 9, 2019 No Comments

As you’re probably aware, there’s no magical lever that helps us better understand the attributed effects of PPC.

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