Probably one of the oldest debates that still rages on in the PR and marketing world is how to prove communications’ impact on sales. We know, at a gut-feel level that its extremely valuable, but it’s also very tricky to evidence.
Over the years numerous methods have been tried, including using “advertising value equivalents” (AVEs) or “opportunities to see” (OTS) for example. Whilst they have played their part, they have their issues. AVEs particularly are a very outdated method for measuring communications and are unhelpful as you aren’t measuring like for like (who spends as long reading an ad as they do an in-depth review or interview?!). Even OTS aren’t that useful as they are so vague, it’s a potential number of eyeballs who have seen your communication – not how many people definitely did and then took action as a result.
This was the topic of a recent virtual workshop hosted by PRMoment. The event, which featured speakers from Vodafone, Chameleon and Barracuda Networks, covered off some of the key issues surrounding this important issue.
Communications is traditionally seen as a “top of the sales funnel” activity, meaning it is more often than not linked to awareness raising. It does do this very well but now communications can impact all parts of your sales cycle. For example, testimonials, case studies and reviews are key for the consideration phase, research papers and reports are essential for conversion, and thought leadership and client communications are a must for the retention and advocacy stages.
Across the board, the speakers agreed that the key to getting better data regarding the impact your communications is having on your sales is to track the metrics that sales teams care about. Speak to them to find out what they are and then devise a measurement programme that crunches the data the business needs.
The specific measurement metrics will differ for every business but could be around: achieving coverage in key titles that directly influence your target market, correctly attributing PR-driven social media traffic, share of voice against competitors, key message inclusion, using tracking codes on PR links and use of the Goals function in Google Analytics to measure PR-driven sales indicators, such as content downloads.
Through working in partnership between communications, sales and marketing, there will be ways to more effectively measure the influence of communications on sales within your business.
Additionally, it is worth considering the hugely significant role that PR and communication plays in managing a brand’s reputation. For example, how do you measure the impact on sales of the negative story that didn’t get published because your PR lead managed to stop it thanks to their great relationship with the editor? Or the role communications plays in being the conscience of an organisation and guiding the C-suite to do the right thing, not for commercial gain today but because it will benefit the brand’s reputation in the future? There is a concern that in our constant pitting of PR against marketing in terms of achieving commercial success for our clients that we risk making PR’s role purely transactional, which it isn’t. Building and protecting a brand’s reputation goes far beyond that and is one of the corner stones of effective communications.
What are your thoughts on the role communications plays in sales? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and feel free to contact us if you’d like some help with creating a communications measurement strategy that works for all of your business.
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