CDPR-105: Fall 2013

It has been quite awhile since my last post which was last winter. I am back in school however, this is my last week in this course called: Research and Program Evaluation at Ryerson University

I enjoyed this course and all the reading associated with research and evaluation. I  now catch bits of conversation association with qualitative research every day. There is so much to say  about the benefits to learning which I will leave up to your experience. This blog is to share some of my learning experiences this fall. For example, a free app from Google to track visitors on your website or blog, read on:

The Value of Google Analytics to Public Relations

Google Analytics is a useful, one might argue indispensable tool for the twenty first century public relations professional. Google Analytics has the potential to help you deeply analyze who is visiting your site, how deep and long they spend on your site, where they come from, both geographically and in an electronic social media sense. Google Analytics has the capacity to measure the extent that a particular campaign or advertisement in a particular publication whether in print or electronic is having the desired impact. You can also measure trends and when people are most likely to visit your site. Since one of the cardinal goals of public relations is to know your audience, Google Analytics is an essential tool to use and deeply understand.

With Google Analytics you can measure whether people are visiting your site through basic Google searches, social media such as Twitter or Facebook or if they are visiting primarily through other websites that provide links to your site. Since it is very important to keep your ROI (Return on Investment) in mind it is extremely useful to know if you are spending time and resources trying to attract customers in ways and sources that are not providing expected traffic. Google Analytics can also be used to analyze your own website by tracking which pages people tend to spend the most time or the pages that are most visited. If there was a particular tab on your website that you want people to go to and you find that there is not much traffic there, then it is important to identify this gap and address the issue so that customers will go as easily as possible to where you want them to go.

It is also possible to segment the data so you can isolate people who are visiting your site from only one referring website. This could prove very useful if there was a new partner’s website that was providing a link to your website. You might be interested in determining how valuable this association was in attracting those who you were aiming for. It would also be possible to see if a particular article or campaign launched through some specific electronic media site was providing the intended readership and interest in the good or service that your organization was offering.

Another valuable feature of Google Analytics from a public relations perspective is the real time monitoring feature. In the case of some positive news or a crisis it is important to measure the impact as soon as possible so an appropriate plan can be devised to address the news or crisis. With the real time reports you can get a count of the active users on your website, where they came from (geographically), what brought them to the site (traffic sources) and what they’re looking at (content). This is once again an invaluable tool to get up to the minute data of how your audience or a particular segment of your audience are reacting and how they feel about your organization.

Alicia Lawrence recently identified in Ragan’s PR Daily 4 Google Analytics features for refining a PR campaign. The recently unveiled feature that particularly struck me was the Demographics menu that allows you to identify the demographic information of your audience, their interests and which users are buying your products. As she points out “Knowing the demographics and interests of your core customers can help you determine whom to target with your PR efforts and what angles to take.” She also pointed out that Google Analytics can also help you discover the languages and locations of your buyers which can help when deciding where a particular event or launch should take place and in what languages the promotional materials should be published in. Finally being able to track what are the top referrals to your site and how the largest number of conversions come about can greatly help focus public relations campaigns to best align to the company’s goals.

Clearly this report has done little more than outline the enormous possibilities of Google Analytics for the public relations professional. Like any such tool, regular use for a specific purpose and to meet specific goals is the key to optimum use. It is clear that any research that a public relations professional might need or want to do that relates to the ever growing use of electronic and social media will be greatly facilitated by gaining a strong working knowledge of the features offered by Google Analytics.

Have a very enjoy festive holiday season.

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