Bennis Inc. | How to Use Data to Improve Your Public Relations and Marketing Strategy
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How to Use Data to Improve Your Public Relations and Marketing Strategy

data

We have more data available to us now than we ever had before. While this sounds like it should enable us to create stunningly sophisticated public relations and marketing campaigns that are fine tuned to attract our target audience, I have found that rarely is the case.

Rather, I often meet clients when they are completely overwhelmed by the data available to them. Instead of doing anything with it, they spend hours reviewing each morsel until they’re simply paralyzed by the thought of making a meaningful assessment of it. The following phase is frustration. Where do I find my data? What data really matters? How do I analyze my data? And what do I do with my analysis?

These are all valid questions and ones I aim to answer in this blog. What I’m about to say might shock you and that is that data alone will not be what makes – or breaks – your public relations and marketing strategy. While data absolutely plays an important role, don’t let it overwhelm you to the point you feel you aren’t qualified to learn how to extract its most important information – quickly and easily. Let me show you how!

Where do I find my data?

As you might have already learned, and the reason you’re reading this blog, is that data is available to you just about everywhere these days. “Analytics” for your website, “insights” for your social media profiles, “statistics” for your blogs and then you can get into highly sophisticated and targeted data tracking like heat mapping for your website and much more.

My point is not to make you feel like you need to be monitoring all of this data each and every day, rather I simply want you to be aware that data is available virtually everywhere you have an online presence. By first learning how different platforms refer to and present their data to you, you will have taken the first major step toward taming the “data monster” and turning it into a powerful ally for your business.

What data really matters?

Who is you target audience and what do you want to know about their behaviors? The data that shows you this is the data you should pay the most attention to. Say I am a local plumbing business what a small service area that’s about a 60 mile radius. I look to Google analytics to tell me who is visiting my website and if they are people who reside within my service area. If I find that a large percentage of my pay-per-click (PPC) ads are pulling in people from 100+ miles away, this data matters to me a lot! Why? It means I need to refocus my PPC campaign to target only people in my service area. If I don’t, I’m throwing money away on clicks from people who I’ll reasonably never take on as customers.

It all ties back to your PR and marketing strategy. Knowing your ideal customer allows everything else to fall into place. If you’re looking to hit millennials, you’re going to place a higher value on your Instagram insights than your Linkedin business page. Know your audience and you will know the data that really matters.

How do I analyze my data?

First, you need to establish a baseline. What is “normal” traffic to your website or interactions on your social media? Spend a few months first tracking what takes place prior to implementing anything drastic. What do these results tell you? If you’re like most small businesses, these results are going to be pretty boring, even borderline depressing.

Now the fun begins! Based on your PR and marketing strategy (because everything, and I mean everything you do should align with this), you may start to roll out a social media advertising campaign, contest or promotion, or a Google AdWords campaign. Give it 30-60 days and compare your new data against your baseline. What changed? What didn’t? You’re likely to be surprised by the answers to both of these questions. This is when you need to take your data analysis and use it to refine your PR and marketing strategy. And this brings us to…

What do I do with my analysis?

So you’ve made it to the point of actually analyzing your data on a regularly basis. You’re on your way! You will likely have identified quite a number or trends, good and bad, that you want to adjust in some way or another. But what changes need to take place and how do they fit into your overall PR and marketing strategy? This is a critical question to answer!

Let’s look at an example. By tracking and analyzing your blog’s traffic over the last quarter, you see that two of your blog posts received substantially more views than the rest. You dive deeper into the data to find most of the traffic was because another website linked out to these posts from their own blog. Without looking at the data, you might not have known your blog got a back link! Seeing that this website gave your blog a new burst of traffic, you should reach out to the owner and start a conversation. Work to build a relationship with them where you can collaborate on future blogs and cross-promote them to your audiences. Though driven by data, ultimately it’s the human relationships that result from the data that are most valuable.

Here’s another example to consider. When analyzing your Facebook insights, you see that a recent photo you shared of your staff got a significantly higher engagement from your fans than other posts that shared things like links to other articles, quotes or a promotion. Take note! Your fans appreciate seeing the “human” side of your business and want more of it. Change up your social media content calendar to include more personal photos of you and your staff, biographies and the story of how your business started.

While these are two pretty brief examples, I hope they give you inspiration for how you might take the analysis of key data and turn it into beneficial change for your business. Though we would be foolish to ignore the data available to us, be careful you don’t lose focus – or common sense. Data is merely one of many tools we must learn to use appropriately. Consistency, quality and authenticity should always remain the backbone of your business’s PR and marketing strategy.

How do you incorporate the analysis of data into your public relations and marketing strategy? Share whether this is something you do – or don’t do well and why!

Stephanie Shirley

stephanie@bennisinc.com