Tag Archive | "Digital"

Scaling SEO: 5 levels of automated digital progression & elevation

Today, SEOs have a massive opportunity to expand their role in digital workflows, as far as both the volume and importance of tasks available. As companies increasingly look for equal parts creativity and analytical skills in digital leadership, experienced SEOs are uniquely positioned to fill the gap—that is, if they are able to capitalize on the innovations that enable them to practice scaling their best SEO efforts.

I wrote recently about the power of intelligent automation; that is, automation supercharged by a layer of artificial intelligence. Digital is encountering and even coming to rely on AI in predictive analytics, automated sales analysis, research and information aggregation, automated communications (think chatbots and email), and even virtual personal assistants.

Across digital channels, campaigns, and tactics, it seems nothing is untouched by automation. And yet the degree of automation and just how much AI informs the decisions being made can vary widely. Intelligent automation isn’t an all-or-nothing prospect—there are many different ways we can work alongside the machines revolutionizing digital.

In fact, those with the greatest understanding of how to collaborate with intelligent machines hold the keys to driving digital forward.

5 levels of automation: Elevating SEO and driving digital performance

Let’s look to the automotive industry for a model automation framework that illustrates just how much technology impacts the human experience in a defined task. The Society of Automotive Engineers created its “Levels of Driving Automation” standard to define the six levels of automation in the driverless car industry.

From Level 0 through to 5, the tasks a human driver must undertake decrease, while technological features increase.

SAE automation levels for driverless cars

Image source: NHSTA.gov

In Level 0, the driver is on her own and must constantly steer, brake, accelerate, signal, and otherwise control all aspects of the car’s performance. By Level 3, she may be in the driver’s seat but various automated driving features are engaged. The conditions must be right for automated operation, and the machine can ask her to take over at any time.

Lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and self-parking are a few examples of automated driving features you might experience in a Level 3 or 4 vehicle. (As Lance Eliot pointed out recently in Forbes, we’ve yet to see a true Level 5—a truly automated and driverless car—in action. The U.S Department of Transportation expects we’ll see fully driverless cars from 2025 and beyond).

We can apply this sort of framework to help further our understanding of the intelligent automation opportunity for SEOs. And while the automotive industry has all sorts of regulations and laws in place to protect public safety, you are a lot freer to explore the boundaries of intelligent automation in digital (and in SEO, in particular), so long as you respect user privacy.

Level 1: Manual SEO

The SEO of days gone by was almost entirely manual and incredibly time-consuming. That’s not to say that the more labour-intensive style of SEO doesn’t still happen today; there are still some SEOs who toil away in Excel, manually auditing and optimizing sites. Manual SEO gives you complete control over your entire search strategy, from selecting backlinks at the individual level to careful optimizations throughout the site. But with 53% of website traffic coming from organic search – opportunities to capitalize and scale are immense.

how much of website traffic comes from organic SEO, paid search, organic social, other

However, it’s simply impossible to ingest, analyze and activate search data at any sort of scale without automation. Manual SEO can be incredibly effective, but that value is reduced by every missed opportunity caused by slow implementation and the expensive overhead of a team of experts.

Level 2: Simple automation

Some of the tools you use in SEO today were probably borne out of earlier SEOs’ need to automate manual tasks such as keyword research and tracking rankings. Second generation SEO tools began to automate content optimizations (at least, pointing out opportunities to optimize).

Simple automation is almost exclusively about reducing manual labor for simple tasks. Gathering the same data set at regular intervals, such as daily rankings on specific keywords, for example. Scouring the web for links to your site.

Simple automation will reduce labor spent on these tasks, freeing up time and energy for more creative and strategic activities. Think of this level of SEO automation as cruise control—you can take your foot off the pedal and let the machine do some of the work, but you are very much still in control of the car.

Level 3: Application of AI for insights

In Level 3, our SEO software becomes a whole lot smarter thanks to artificially intelligent analysis. In this stage, the car is driving itself—but only under certain conditions.

From your place in the driver’s seat, you control what input you feed your SEO tools and define what you’d like as outcomes. Through the analysis of massive data sets (far more than you could ever plow through on your own), you’re able to glean greater insights and make better decisions.

You can automate the process of analyzing your site’s content and have your software return optimization recommendations based on your selected keywords, for example. This can inform your content creation efforts and ensures that you’re spending the time you do have on the areas with the potential for the highest impact.

Level 4: Real-time interactions

The car is driving itself, but you can’t throw caution to the wind and take it out in all conditions. In the driverless car world, a Level 4 vehicle may not even have a steering wheel or brake pedals installed. In a 2018 test case in Japan, for example, a driverless taxi ferried paying fares on a defined route through the manic streets of Tokyo.

Chatbots are a great example of a Level 4 automation in digital. SEOs are a natural fit for driving conversational AI strategy, as consumers often turn to chatbots as an extension of the search experience. Whether querying by text or by voice, connected consumers look to intelligent automated assistants to help them solve their immediate needs. Who understands that customer’s journey and which pieces of content best answer their questions better than the SEO team? If chatbots are being treated as a function of sales, it’s important that marketing (and search in particular) assert their will to be consulted, or even to lead.

Level 5: Real-time decision-making and automated optimizations

The fully autonomous car may drive itself, but its independence is an illusion. The car—when it comes to market—will rely on teams of skilled designers, engineers, and developers to create and maintain the systems that will enable it to make decisions and take action in the moment to keep its passengers safe.

And so it is with fully AI-integrated search software. Disparate tools that automate only a handful of functions have fallen to the wayside as platforms have evolved to ensure that all functions are able to share data and “talk” to one another. Empowering the machines to prioritize tasks and make decisions about which optimizations can be executed in real time, as consumers make their needs apparent, enables brands to be fully responsive and even proactive in personalizing the search experience.

Don’t be left holding the wrench | Add automated talent to your team

Let me us a mechanic as a generic example. Being a mechanic is a perfectly respectable profession. However, 20 years from now a person with those skills alone is going to have a difficult time finding employment. The mechanic who is upgrading his skills today, who is now studying engineering or transportation safety or automotive software development, is ensuring his employability when driverless cars hit the market.

Those mechanical skills will still be needed, but they’ll have to be complemented by a solid understanding of the computerized systems that drive the car. They’ll have to be able and willing to work alongside the machines.

SEOs today have the opportunity to elevate their role and self-drive some SEO functions with automation and be the CMOs or CDOs of tomorrow something (that my company) does with BrightEdge Autopilot. Especially if they can position themselves as the best choice to work alongside Level 5 systems.

Search’s broad impact across the entire digital customer journey gives SEOs a wide-ranging set of skills and perspectives on which to build and eventually lead. To capitalize on the opportunity, search professionals must be willing to embrace AI not as a tool, but as a collaborative digital partner—one that can be trusted to make the right decisions when guided by the right strategy.

All too often marketers find themselves in mixed debate over the merit of one digital channel over the other, the pros and cons of Artificial Intelligence and the opportunities for the next promotion. The reality is that in any thriving ecosystem balance is key. The same is true for search and digital marketing. It is particularly the case for SEO as working in technically orientated environment requires much work and a lot of balance given its influence on content and all digital channels.

Those who can intelligently embrace advancements in AI and automation are actually the ones who stand to get that next promotion and elevate their role in digital. After all – in reality they already have extra members on their team.

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform BrightEdge. He can be found on Twitter @jimyu.

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What Profitable Digital Businesses Hope You Won’t Discover

How often do you feel stuck when trying to grow your business? Since we’re creative people, we like to come…

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The Three Key Elements of Influential Digital Marketing

Ever see a numbered headline like the one above and try to guess what the three things are? Sometimes it’s…

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What You Need, When You Need It: Vital Digital Marketing and Sales Training

Copyblogger has always been a place that encourages creativity. We want to help people have creative careers and do meaningful…

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Business Prioritizing Digital Transformation For Competitive Advantage, Says Equinix CEO

“We’re seeing right now continued strength across our business because people are prioritizing digital transformation as a way to gain competitive advantage,” says Equinix CEO Charles Meyers. “The reality is people who are responding well to that are thriving and people that are not are being left behind. What companies (like Walmart) are doing essentially is using a hybrid and multi-cloud strategy. They have private infrastructure that they may house in a significant caged environment at Equinix but they interface it then with the public clouds.”

Charles Meyers, CEO of Equinix, discusses their huge under the radar role in facilitating the massive digital transformation in progress with companies worldwide. Meyers was interviewed by Jim Cramer on CNBC:

There’s A Very Deep Demand Pool For Data Centers

We continue to see a really strong set of underlying secular demand drivers for the business. We’re seeing real strength in the business globally right now. Broadly, we’ve seen the sector respond very well. We think there’s a very deep demand pool for data centers. I do think that Equinix plays a very unique role in the market and our differentiated position is allowing us to even outperform relative to our peers. Public cloud adoption is a major catalyst for our business. As enterprises are adopting public cloud and looking at hybrid and multi-cloud as their architecture of choice we’re seeing really strong demand.

We may not be a household name but I think it’s pretty safe to say we’re probably impacting the lives of millions of consumers on a day to day basis working with (many big-name companies such as Salesforce and Netflix). We play a very important role in terms of interconnecting our customers sometimes to public cloud providers, sometimes to SAAS providers like Salesforce, sometimes to other members of their supply chain, and sometimes to networks. A really big part of our legacy and history has been interconnecting people to networks. The interconnection story is a really central piece of the Equinix story.

Equinix Is The Best Representation Of The Digital Edge

Equinix is in fact the best representation of the digital edge today. That is the point at which people are interconnecting their private infrastructure with public cloud infrastructure, with networks, and with other members of their supply chain. When you hear about edge, oftentimes that edge is in fact within an Equinix facility and being interconnected over private interconnection facilities that are facilitated by Equinix.

Typically, when inside one of our facilities, we’re unlike some wholesalers which might have one or a very small number of customers, we tend to have a larger number of customers in any individual facility. They are distributed across the site typically in private cages or sometimes in shared caged environments or shared rack environments and they have their equipment. They’re all obviously very secured and something that’s available just for them to access. But they’re all across the facility. You typically wouldn’t be able to see who the customer is because they are very sensitive about that from a security standpoint.

Firms Prioritizing Digital Transformation For Competitive Advantage

We’re seeing right now continued strength across our business because people are prioritizing digital transformation as a way to gain competitive advantage. The reality is people who are responding well to that are thriving and people that are not are being left behind. So we’re seeing strong demand. I think the trade tensions, etc. probably affects some level of sentiment but we have not seen that impact the demand profile for our business.

What companies (like Walmart) are doing essentially is using a hybrid and multi-cloud strategy. They have private infrastructure that they may house in a significant caged environment at Equinix but they interface it then with the public clouds. They’re using a variety of public clouds to house some of their workloads. So that hybrid multi-cloud environment is really the architecture of choice for enterprise customers of all sorts. Retail is actually an incredibly strong segment for us. That architecture of choice, hybrid and multi-cloud, is a major driver for Equinix’s business.

Business Prioritizing Digital Transformation For Competitive Advantage – Equinix CEO Charles Meyers

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Fiverr Is The Everything Store For Digital Services, Says CEO

“Fiverr is the everything store for digital services,” says Fiverr CEO Micha Kaufman. “The way people usually find freelancers is they post on Facebook asking if someone knows a good graphics designer. What we’re doing is we’re making it a one-click experience. There’s no bidding, betting, negotiating. There’s browse, search, buy. It’s an Amazon experience to buy a digital service.”

Micha Kaufman, CEO of Fiverr, discusses today’s IPO and how Fiverr has become the Amazon for digital services in an interview on CNBC:

Fiverr Is The Everything Store For Digital Services

Fiverr connects freelancers with businesses of all sizes. Really, the uniqueness of the platform is that the experience of buying a digital service on Fiverr is very similar to shopping on Amazon. You browse, you search, you find something, you click order, and it’s done. Graphic design is one of our most popular services on the platform. Also popular are content marketing, videography, animation, music services, and marketing and advertising. Anything you can imagine.

It’s the everything store for digital services. The system helps you productize your offering. You can define what you’re offering, how much time it’s going to take you to deliver, and the asking price. All the buyers have to do is screen through the offerings, find something they like, click order and pay, and they are done.

It’s An Amazon Experience To Buy a Digital Product

In the categories in which we operate there is a volume of activity of $ 100 billion in the US alone. It’s still only a single digit percentage online. It’s a very old-school business. The way people usually find freelancers is they post on Facebook asking if someone knows a good graphics designer. What we’re doing is we’re making it a one-click experience. There’s no bidding, betting, negotiating. There’s browse, search, buy. It’s an Amazon experience to buy a digital service. Nobody has done it before. The average time to make an order on Fiverr is 15 minutes. this is unbeatable. It’s unmatched.

We take a take out of every transaction. It’s one of the industry-leading take rates of over 26 percent. If you look at the EBITDA margins, you see that they’re shrinking. The way we actually structured the business is that we continue to grow aggressively while shrinking our negative EBITDA. There is a clear path to profitability. We are operating in over 160 countries. Our growth is coming globally from the adoption of freelancing online.

Our Primary Competitor is Definitely the Offline Market

Our primary competitor is definitely the offline market. I don’t know if it’s 96 or 97 percent of the activity offline, but we don’t need to eat anyone’s lunch to grow. We just need to move offline activity to the online. The offline freelancing market is massive. we’ve estimated that market to be a hundred billion dollars in the US alone. Europe is 1.5 times bigger than the US. There are over 162 million freelancers between the EU and the US. The opportunity is massive and it’s just starting to come online. This is like 1995 for ecommerce. This is so exciting.

Fiverr doesn’t hire its freelancers. It’s just the market that connects freelancers with businesses that have their digital needs. The way the marketplace is structured is such where we don’t have any employee-employer relationships. We are not relying on freelancers. We’re just connecting that supply with a demand that comes forward. We’re the platform on top of which they actually conduct their transaction. We just provide the platform to make that happen. It is very different than Uber and Lyft.

Fiverr Is The Everything Store For Digital Services, Says Fiverr CEO Micha Kaufman

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VMware Is Now a Platform For Digital Transformation, Says CEO

“We believe that our conversations now have gone from targeted to holistic to be this platform for their digital transformation,” says VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. “That core idea of how do they get to that digital future, that’s not an IT discussion anymore, that’s a business strategy conversation. That’s why we are seeing this real uplift in the position in the conversation that we are having with customers globally.”

Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, discusses how VMware has become a complete digital transformation platform for companies in an interview on CNBC:

VMware Is Now a Platform For Digital Transformation

We believe that our conversations now as we’ve expanded from selling compute Hypervisor to a complete cloud infrastructure, complete end-user computing, a transformation of their network and security offerings, our conversations have gone from targeted to holistic to be this platform for their digital transformation. That core idea of how do they get to that digital future, that’s not an IT discussion anymore, that’s a business strategy conversation.

That’s why we are seeing this real uplift in the position in the conversation that we are having with customers globally. As we’ve positioned in the past, as people move to the full VMware offering that is a multiplier. A company or an institution that is using us as a Hypervisor, now the full cloud stack of network, compute, management, and automation, that is a business expansion opportunity for us.

VMware Seeking Ability To Be a Government Cloud Provider

As I said on the (earnings) call we are now in the FedRAMP High process. We are seeking that ability to be a cloud provider for the government and many of the government. Many of the government in defense and intelligence are big VMware footprints. We see this as a great opportunity. We are in process to get approval. As the JEDI contract gets resolved we hope to be able to be positioned with Amazon and Azure, given our relationships with both.

Even as our preferred relationship with Amazon is very strong we do see this ability for us to participate for government business being an essential element of our multi-cloud strategy where Amazon, Azure, IBM, and our other cloud partners all give us a great opportunity to participate for government contracts.

VMware Is Now a Platform For Digital Transformation, Says CEO Pat Gelsinger

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Searching for facts, directions, local businesses are top digital assistant use cases, says survey

Smart speaker ownership jumped from 23 percent to 45 percent of respondents since last year’s survey from Microsoft.



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10 principles of digital accessibility for modern marketers

Developers and designers can help differently abled users navigate websites by using CSS to control visual page elements. Here are other ways accessible websites are built.



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How to Set Up Metrics to Optimize Your Digital PR Team’s Press Coverage

Posted by Ashley.Carlisle

Over the past six years, our team at Fractl has studied the art of mastering content marketing press coverage. Before moving into Agency Operations, I on-boarded and trained over a dozen new associates for our digital PR team within a year as the Media Relations Manager. Scaling a team of that size in a such a short period of time required hands-on training and a clear communication of goals and expectations within the role — but what metrics are indicative of success in digital PR?

As a data-driven content marketing agency, we turned to the numbers for something a little different than our usual data-heavy campaigns — we used our own historical data to analyze and optimize our digital PR team’s outreach.

This post aims to provide better insight in defining measurable variables as key performance indicators, or KPIs, for digital PR teams and understanding the implications and relationships of those KPIs. We’ll also go into the rationale for establishing baselines for these KPIs, which indicate the quality, efficiency, and efficacy of a team’s outreach efforts.

As a guide for defining success by analyzing your own metrics for your team (digital PR or otherwise), we’ll provide the framework for the research design, which helped us establish a threshold for the single variable we identified to best measure our efforts and be the most significantly correlated with the KPIs indicative of success of a digital PR team.

Determining the key performance indicators for digital PR outreach

The influx of available data for marketers and PR professionals to measure the impact of their work allows us to stray away from vague metrics like “reach” and the even more vague goal of “more publicity.” Instead, we are able to focus on the metrics most indicative of what we’re actually trying to measure: the effect of digital PR efforts.

We all have our theories and educated guesses about which metrics are most important and how each are related, but without researching further, theories remain theories (or expert opinions, at best). Operational research allows businesses to use the scientific method as a way to provide managers and their teams with a quantitative basis for decision making. Operationalization is the process of strictly defining variables to turn nebulous concepts (in this case, the effort and success of your digital PR team) into variables that can be measured, empirically and quantitatively.

There is one indicator identified to best measure your effort into a campaign’s outreach. It is a precursor to all of the indicators below: the volume of pitch emails sent for each campaign.

Because all pitches are not created equal, the indicators below gauge which factors best define the success of outreach, such as the quality of outreach correspondence, the efficiency of time to secure press, the efficacy of the campaign, and media mentions secured. Each multi-faceted metric can be described by a variety of measurements, and all are encompassed by the independent variable of the volume of pitch emails sent for each campaign.

Some indicators may be better measured by using more than a single metric, so for the purposes of this post, here are the three metrics to illustrate each of these three KPIs to offer a more holistic picture of your team’s performance:

Pitch quality and efficacy

  • Placement Rate: The percentage of placements (i.e., media mentions) secured per the number of total pitches sent.
  • Interest Rate: The percentage of interested publisher replies to pitches per the number of total pitches sent.
  • Decline Rate: The percentage of declining publisher replies to pitches per the number of total pitches sent.

Efficiency and capacity

  • Total days of outreach: The number of business days between the first and last pitch sent for a campaign, which is the sum of the two metrics below.
  • Days to first placement: The number of business days between the first pitch sent and first placement to be published for a campaign.
  • Days to syndication: The number of business days between the first placement to be published and the last pitch to be sent for a campaign.

Placement quality and efficacy

  • Total Links: The total number of backlinks from external linking domains of any attribution type (e.g. DoFollow, NoFollow) for a campaign’s landing page.
  • Total DoFollow Links: The total number of DoFollow backlinks from external linking domains for a campaign’s landing page.
  • Total Domain Authority of Links: The total domain authority of all backlinks from external linking domains of any attribution type (e.g. DoFollow, NoFollow,) for a campaign’s landing page.

Optimizing effort to yield the best KPIs

After identifying the metrics, we need to solve the next challenge: What are the relationships between your efforts and your KPIs? The practical application of these answers can help you establish a threshold or range for the input metric that is correlated with the highest KPIs. We’ll discuss that in a bit.

After identifying metrics to analyze, define the nature of their relationships to one another. Use a hypothesis test to verify an effect; in this case, we’re interested to find the relationship between pitch count and each of the metrics we defined above as being KPIs of successful outreach. This study hypothesizes that campaigns closed out in 70 pitches or less will have better KPIs than campaigns closed out with over 71 pitches.

Analyzing the relationship and determining significance of the data

Next, determine if the relationship is significant; when the relationship is stated as statistically significant, the relationship observed has a high likelihood of happening in the future. When it comes to claiming statistical significance, some may assume there must be a complex formula that only seasoned statisticians can calculate. In reality, determining statistical significance is done via a t-test, a simple statistical test that compares two samples to help us infer a correlation of the same relationships in future samples.

In this case, campaigns with pitch counts below 70 are one group and campaigns above 71 are a second group. The findings below define the percentage difference between the means of both groups (i.e., the campaigns from Q2 and Q3) to determine if lower pitch counts do have a desired effect for each metric; those that are asterisked are statistically significant, meaning there is a less than a 5 percent chance that the observed results are due to chance.

How our analysis can optimize your digital PR team’s efforts

In practice, the relationships between these metrics help you establish a better standard of practice for your team’s outreach with realistic expectations and goals. Further, the correlation between the specified range of pitch counts and all other KPIs give you a reliable range of what values you can expect when it comes to the metrics for pitch quality, timelines, and campaign performance when adhering to the range of pitches.

The original theory — that a threshold for pitch counts exists when the relationship between pitch count and all other metrics of performance were compared — is confirmed by the data. The sample with lower pitch counts (less than 70) sees a positive relationship with the KPIs we want to decrease (e.g. decline rates, total days) and negative relationship with the KPIs we want to increase (e.g. placement rates, link counts). The sample with higher pitch counts (greater than 71) saw the inverse — a negative relationship with the KPIs we want to decrease and a positive relationship with the KPIs we want to increase. Essentially, when campaigns with less than 70 pitches sent were isolated, the numbers improved in nearly every metric.

When this analysis is applied to each of the 74 campaigns from Q3, you’ll see nearly consistent results, with the exception again being Total Domain Authority. Campaigns with up to 70 pitches are correlated with better KPIs when compared to campaigns with over 71 pitches.

Vague or unrealistic expectations and goals will sabotage the success of any team and any project. When it comes to the effort put into each campaign, having objective, optimized procedures allows your team to work smarter, not harder.

So, what does that baseline range look like, and how do you calculate it?

Establishing realistic baseline metrics

A simple question helps answer what the baseline should be in this instance: What was the average of each KPI of the campaigns with fewer than 70 pitches?

We gathered all 70 campaigns closed out of our digital PR team’s pipelines in the second and third quarters of 2018 with pitch counts below 70 and determined the average of each metric. Then, we calculated the standard deviation from the mean, which defines the spread of the data to establish a range for each KPI — and that became our baseline range.

Examining historical data is among the best methods for determining realistic baselines. By gathering a broad, sizeable sample (usually more than 30 is ideal) that represents the full scope of projects your team works on, you can determine the average for each metric and deviation from the average to establish a range.

These reliable ranges allow your digital PR team to understand the baselines they must strive for during active outreach when in compliance with the standard of practice for pitch counts established from our research. Further, these baseline ranges allow you to set more realistic goals for future performance by increasing each range by a realistic percentage.

Deviations from that range act as indicators of potential issues related to the quality, efficiency, or efficacy of their outreach, with each of the metrics implying what specifically may be array. We offer context into each of those metrics defining our three KPIs in terms of their implications and limitations.

Understanding how each metric can influence the productivity of your team

Pitch quality and efficacy

The purpose of a pitch is to tell a compelling and succinct story of why the campaign you’re pitching is newsworthy and fits the beat of the individual writer you’re pitching. Help your team succeed by enforcing tried and true best practices to enable them to craft each pitch with personalization and compelling narratives at the top of mind. The placements act as a conversion rate to measure the efficacy of your team’s outreach while interests and declines act as a combined response rate to measure the quality of outreach.

To help your team avoid the “spray and pray” mentality of blasting out as many pitches as possible and hoping one will yield a media mention, which ultimately jeopardizes publisher relationships and are an inefficient use of time, focus on the rates our teams secure responses and placements from publishers in relation to the total volume of pitches sent. Prioritize this interpretation of the data rather than just the individual counts to help add context to the pitch count.

Campaigns with a high-ratio of interest and placements to pitches from publishers imply the quality of the pitch was sufficient, meaning it encompassed one or more of the factors known to be important in securing press coverage. This includes, but is not limited to, compelling and newsworthy narratives, personalized details, and/or relevancy to the writer. In some cases, campaigns may have a low-ratio of interest but high-ratio of placements as a result of a nonresponse bias — the occurrence where publishers will not respond to a pitch but will still cover the campaign in a future article, yielding a placement. These “ghost posts” can skew interest rates, illustrating why three metrics compose this KPI.

Campaigns with a high-ratio of declines to pitches imply the quality of the pitch may be subpar, which signals to the associate to re-evaluate their outreach strategy. Again, the inverse may not always be true, as campaigns with a low ratio of declines may be a result of non-response bias. In this case, if publishers do not respond at all, we can either infer they did not open the email or they opened the email and were not interested, therefore declining by default.

While confounding variables (such as the quality of the content itself, not just the quality of the pitch) may skew these metrics in either direction and remain the greatest limitation, holistically, these three metrics offer actionable insights during active outreach.

Efficiency and capacity

Similarly, ranges for timeline metrics can give your associates context of when they should be achieving milestones (i.e., the first placement) as well as the total length of outreach. Deviating beyond the standard timeline to secure the first placement often indicates the outreach strategy needs re-evaluating, while extending beyond the range for total days of outreach indicates a campaign should be closed out soon.

Efficiency metrics help beyond advising the strategy for outreach, informing operations from a capacity standpoint. Toggling between tens and sometimes hundreds of active campaigns at any given point relies on consistency for capacity — reducing variance between the volume of campaigns entering production to campaigns being closed out of the pipeline by staggering campaigns based on their average duration. This allows for more robust planning and reliable forecasting.

Awareness of the baselines for time to secure press enables you and your team to not just plan strategies and capacities, but also the content of your campaigns. You can ensure timely content by allowing for sufficient time for outreach when ideating your campaigns so the content does not become stale or outdated.

The biggest limitation of these metrics is a looming external variable often beyond our control — the editorial calendars and agendas of the publishers. Publishers have their own deadlines and priorities to fill, so we can not always plan for delays in publishing dates or worse yet, scrapping coverage altogether.

Placement quality and efficacy

Ultimately, your efforts are intended to yield placements to gain brand awareness and voice, as well as build a diverse link portfolio; the latter is arguably easier to quantify. Total external links pointing to the campaign’s landing page or client homepage along with the total Domain Authority of those links allow you to track both the quantity and quality of links.

Higher link counts built from your placements allow you to infer the syndication networks of the placements your outreach secured, while higher total Domain Authority measures the relative value of those linking domains to measure quality. Along with further specifying the types of links (specifically Dofollow links, arguably the most valuable link type), these metrics have the potential to forecast the impact of the campaign on the website’s own overall authority.

Replicating our analysis to optimize your team’s press coverage

Often times, historical research designs such as this one can have limitations in their cause and effect implications. This collection of data offers valuable insight into correlations to help us infer patterns and trends.

Our analysis utilized historical data representative of our entire agency in terms of scope of clients, campaign types, and associates, strengthening internal validity. So while the specific baseline metrics are tailored to our team, the framework we offer for establishing those baselines is transferable to any team.

Apply these methods with your digital PR team to help define KPIs, establish baselines, and test your own theories:

  • Track the ten metrics that compose the KPIs of digital PR outreach for each campaign or initiative to keep a running historical record.
  • Determine the average spread via the mean and standard deviation for each metric from a sizeable, representative sample of campaigns to establish your team’s baseline metrics.
  • Test any theories of trends in your team’s effort (i.e., pitch counts) in relation to KPIs with a simple hypothesis test to optimize your team and resources.

How does your team approach defining the most important metrics and establishing baseline ranges? How do you approach optimizing those efforts to yield the best press coverage? Uncovering these answers will help your team synergize more effectively and establish productive foundations for future outreach efforts.

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