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5 min read

Layering in Digital PR: How to Set Fair KPIs and Drive Greater Returns for Your Business

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Digital PR is one of the most effective tactics to earn high quality links at impressive volumes.

But while digital PR is often viewed as one of the most exciting parts of a marketing plan, like all marketing disciplines, it still requires clear planning and preparation to get the highest possible return on your investment.

While it’s very difficult to make guarantees in digital PR, it’s important that any investment in it reap rewards in the long term. Here, we’ll look at what you should expect from a successful digital PR investment and how to layer tactics to maximise gains.

What does a ‘good’ digital PR investment look like?

The first step to an effective digital PR strategy is to define success. What is the goal? Why did you consider digital PR in the first place?

Simply put, what does good look like? What are your measures of success, your KPIs?

For most brands, the key performance indicator of any digital PR investment is links. If you’re investing in SEO and want to improve your visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs), it’s likely that link acquisition will play an essential role. In the vast majority of cases, that’s what digital PR is all about – and what differentiates it from traditional PR techniques.

In some cases, the decision to invest in digital PR comes from the wider goal of rankings. This is something we know to be affected and influenced by link acquisition, but not solely dependent on it; improving your search rankings will happen as a combination of off-page promotion and on-site optimisation.

It could also be that your request for digital PR services comes from the much bigger picture. Perhaps you’re looking for a digital marketing channel that can help you speak to a specific part of your target audience. Maybe you’re looking to position your brand favourably in a specific niche. While links and rankings are of course important, the nature of digital PR means that it can also support these wider goals. So while these are more difficult than other metrics to measure, audience expansion and brand awareness are valid goals that, once defined, can help to shape the digital PR strategy.

Whatever your goal, a solid digital PR strategy should always start with agreement of the goals and definition of what will be measured, so be sure to define those internally and work closely with your PR agency/team to ensure those goals are tracked and measured.

Being bold with big ideas

If you’re not used to investing in digital PR, it can feel a bit scary to ‘go big’ with a campaign. But, as the old adage goes, sometimes you need to speculate to accumulate so if you can be bold, you can see greater returns in the long term.

Now this doesn’t mean spending frivolously without thought. A well planned PR strategy comes from research and knowledge. Specifically, it requires an investment in really getting to the core of what your brand is all about and understanding your target audience, as well as the media landscape in which you wish to feature.

On this foundation, you can build a strong campaign which has the potential to earn widespread coverage through multiple angles and newsworthy content. It may also include visuals or even an interactive asset which can itself have the potential to rank in the SERPs or earn you audience data for remarketing or emails in the future.

These larger campaigns will also require time, hence the larger investment. In order to capitalise on the newsworthy stories within, your PR team will need the time to outreach every potential angle and to tailor that outreach to each individual publication and journalist. Be prepared for a campaign to span preparation, production and promotion time, with each componant as valuable as the others in achieving your overall goal.

Link velocity is a term that’s fallen in and out of favour over the years. Whatever your take on it, it’s logical to think that Google (and users) will prefer a backlink profile that is growing all the time because it shows that the brand is always worth talking about, as opposed to its link-worthiness resting on the peaks of big campaign launches.

During those ‘trough’ periods where the big campaigns aren’t being launched, it’s important that your digital PR strategy include smaller campaigns that ‘plug the gaps’ and create a more natural and varied backlink profile.

That might mean your digital PR team will want to invest in campaigns that maybe don’t include an on-site asset and therefore have reduced prep time. Or it might be that your larger campaign focuses on the ‘core’ of your circles of focus while your smaller campaigns go beyond that and into more of your secondary and tertiary layers where the relevance of the coverage is not quite as high but the quality is still there and the topics you cover speak effectively to your target audience higher up the funnel.

Equally, there are ways to build links without digital PR! Though digital PR is a very effective link acquisition tool, it has only really existed for the past 5 years so techniques like citations, broken link building, resource based link building, partnerships, sponsorships, offline tactics can all play a part in building your backlink profile.

Structuring a successful digital PR strategy

Layering your strategy with different tactics will help you develop a more natural backlink profile while also mitigating against risk. Your digital PR team should be able to plan well in advance to ensure the structure of your strategy is clear, while still being agile enough to adapt to the media landscape.

At the same time, this forward planning also enables your digital PR team to plan to re-use content. Especially when investing in larger scale campaigns, it’s always beneficial to consider topics that will be ‘evergreen’ – i.e. content that will be relevant and newsworthy over time and which can be brought out again at various points in the future to maximise their gains.

And, of course, be sure to measure everything. No matter how impressive the strategy may sound, if it doesn’t achieve your KPIs, it needs review.

If you’d like to discuss your PR strategy, get in touch today!