Public Relations: an Essential Component of Online Marketing Strategy
This week we will talk about online Public Relations (PR) and paid placement for eCommerce companies. Mind that we’re not really talking about paid ads that you see on Facebook or AdWords. When we say online PR, it has to do more with branding and less with selling products. You have to understand that.
We do not believe that anybody that’s doing less than $2 or $3 million annually will benefit much from an online PR campaign. A single campaign can cost upwards from $5,000 to $20,000 per month. We always suggest a three to six-month engagement to be able to see the results. With other clients, we see some great results when you combine online PR with influencers.
Let’s say that I’m already on Google Shopping, Amazon, and Facebook. My website has good visibility in terms of SEO and content marketing. I am doing retargeting on Facebook as well as on Google AdWords. I’m spending some money and making money.
We have a lot of clients who come to us and say, “What else can we do?” That’s when we turned to online PR.
What is so essential about online PR? Why is it helpful?
Online PR allows you to tell a story. It gives your company a voice and allows you to create a persona around your brand than just your typical online store can’t really offer. So, I think that’s why it’s a great opportunity to create brand awareness and customer loyalty that turns into retention.
What does that process look like? Obviously we need different levels of content, right?
First things first, what is the story going to be? That strategy needs to come from your internal team plus the creatives of whoever it is that’s going to be handling these campaigns.
Many people hate that because we ask a very difficult question: “What is it that you do that none of your competitors do?” But that’s your value proposition. The story needs to be around that concept.
Then we need to start creating this content, right. You’re going to have copywriters or video editors depending on your choice of media. You also want to see what type of content can really get this story and give it the most visibility or how can you make it the most impactful.
Once you get that created, now where’s this content going to live? What channels are we going to use for distribution? Knowing that will help you reach your consumers.
So that’s the process. It’s the brainstorming, and then the creation. You always need a strategy before the creation and distribution aspects.
There has to be an angle in what you are trying to acquire. Obviously, yes, we want the most number of impressions, eyeballs, or engagement. But at the end of the day, we want to elevate your brand to the next level with an online PR influencer campaign.
Let’s talk about platforms. If I create this awesome content, incredible content that directly relates to my target audience demographic, where do I place this content? You first need to do some research and find those potential consumers.
Where are your target demographic’s going to see it?
If your target demographic is on Forbes or the Huffington Post, that’s where you want to distribute. Usually business to business (B2B) occupies that domain.
If your target demographic is younger, they’re probably going to be on YouTube. You can easily identify a YouTube influencer to go and post it to their channel, so as to hit their subscribers. The same goes for social media like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Locate your target demographic online.
The Importance of PR for eCommerce Businesses
Full-Service PR With Influencers
During this online PR process, we take care of all those placements, we take care of the influencers. We find the influencers and then we pitch our products to them for endorsements. If it’s a product, obviously they need to test that. If it’s a service, we need to find the right audience.
Let’s talk about the results of a PR campaign like this. Because when we say online PR, a lot of people get nervous because they get people watching them. And if you don’t have a ton of money or a big company, watchers don’t pay your bills.
What is the best way to calculate ROI on an online PR campaign?
You’re asking the wrong question. I wouldn’t think of it as what’s the ROI for your business, but what’s the ROI for your brand?
Gary Vaynerchuk said, “What’s the ROI on your mother?” He means that you can’t just take a monetary look at your campaign, but ask how valuable you are and how well you can perform a service or provide a product to your audience. A good PR campaign will show how valuable your brand is.
The question triggers this thought process: if you want to be in business for the next five, 10 years, what’s the ROI on your brand? If you come to me and say, “Hey, you’re going to get a ton of negative press on Optimum7 and here is how you can fix that,” I’m not going to worry about ROI, because that’s a pain point for me.
I want Optimum7 to be the best company there is. If you look at it on a positive note, what is the ROI on your brand visibility, telling its story, and highlighting the value proposition to your target demographic? It’s hard to calculate it, but what else?
We say this a lot. What else are you going to do? You’ve already done everything and you’re coming and you’re saying, “What else can I do?” And we’re saying online PR. Most of the time here is what we’re trying to say.
Don’t worry so much about the ROI when you are building an advanced strategy. That doesn’t mean we don’t track it, but the end result for you in the next 60 days or 90 days might not be an influx increase in orders. It might be that people are getting friendlier.
Your conversions might be affected, which you’re not tracking. Then you will never be able to tie it back to whatever you’re doing with the PR. But people see you and your visibility more, and that’s really what makes a difference.
It is very difficult to track ROI from online PR. You can definitely track engagement, however, and visibility. That’s the value.
What is the difference between the online PR that we do and paid placements?
We don’t offer the latter service. We can name it that way, but we choose not to because it’s not really paid placement. The content needs to be incredible for us to convince anybody to actually go and publish this content or carry this content.
When I hear paid placement, I think of paid ads. Banner ads and site takeovers are more visual. You have just a few pixels to really make an impact. Whereas with PR, you’re given the opportunity to tell a story.
Again, if you are an eCommerce company, you’ve done most of these things and are making money. You’ve done the content marketing, the Facebook retargeting, Instagram, you’re on paid ads, AdWords, you’re doing the retargeting, you’re on Amazon. Did I say retargeting already? Then you say, “What else can I do?”
Data-Driven Blog Topics
We would recommend online PR just because that visibility of you telling your story and highlighting your value proposition can be very valuable. We’ve done campaigns where we were able to get 20-30 million views on YouTube for specific brands with influencers.
If you have the right kind of product, and just happen to catch that formula where you are in front of your target demographic, it can build miracles for you. If nothing happens, you can take those views and use them as a case study with your clients or with your customers.
Stop ignoring online PR and start growing your brand.