How to turn public relation’s media impressions into flesh-and-blood customers

New Zealand is yet to feel the tremors of dissatisfaction with digital advertising running through London and New York, but they’re coming. It all started when Proctor and Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard stood up and demanded greater transparency and accountability from their digital advertising agencies and channel companies like Facebook and Google – ‘likes’, ‘views’ and ‘clicks’ and ‘media impressions’ aren’t cutting it anymore.

Part of P&G’s dissatisfaction stems from the lack of industry standard viewability metrics – some companies and agencies are counting views even when less than 50% of pixels are on-screen for less than one second – yes, less than one second. The US’s Media Rating Council defines an ad impression as viewable if at least 50% of pixels are on-screen for at least one second in an ad. For video, it’s if the video player is on screen for at least two seconds.

But what does this have to do with PR, you wonder?

The problem is that P&G and others are even satisfied with ‘views’ or ‘media impressions’ at all. And the problem is not with views or publishers like NZME, Fairfax, Facebook and Google Adwords, but with marketing and communications departments and agencies who fail to put enough emphasis on converting those views into tangible customer relationships.

Marketing public relations success should not be a flash in the pan – here today, gone tomorrow –- but it often is, because very little effort is put into turning views, traffic ‘impressions’ and likes into equity.

Harvard Business Review’s research reveals that a whopping 70% to 90% of spending “goes to advertising and retail promotions that hit consumers at the consider and buy stages – yet consumers are often influenced more during the ‘evaluation’ and ‘enjoy-advocate-bond’ stages”.

In other words, we spend too much money on getting attention, and not enough on turning that attention into equity, like relationships, leads and sales.

Why anybody would be satisfied with intangible, vague metrics like ‘readers’, ‘views’ and ‘likes’ is puzzling to me.

The point is that organisations need views, likes and ‘eyeballs’ (essentially traffic), but we aren’t doing anything to turn that traffic into relationships (a two-way interaction).

Put in place a conversion process for PR and content marketing

A hundred thousand readers are meaningless if only a few (or none) become customers. Public relations and content marketing here in New Zealand – whether you are selling a product or service, building a brand or looking to influence an outcome – only begins to provide a real return on investment when you put in place a process to capture those ‘views’ and ‘likes’ etc. in a way that allows you to begin a meaningful relationship with each those in your target market segments.

My advice is to evaluate what efforts your business is putting into converting ‘eyeballs’ into customers or influencers.

It begins by creating messaging and content for every stage of the customer journey, rather than just at the top of the funnel, attention/awareness stage.

Do you have content, a call-to-action and conversion tactics in place for each stage of the customer decision making journey? (Awareness, Consideration, Evaluation, Purchase, Use/Enjoy and Advocate stages).

‘Buy now’ and ‘contact us now’ as CTAs are too threatening to new visitors

How easy do you make it easy for your audience to engage?

Most organisations give only one option e.g. ‘contact us to book an appointment’ or ‘buy now’. The customer has only just arrived at your website. Why would he or she leap in and buy or make direct contact until they’ve learned to trust you?

Instead, begin the conversation with less threatening conversion tactics than the typical ‘contact us’. For example, an RSS-to-email facility.

An offer to encourage closer engagement may include the invitation to download an educational eBook, sign up for a webinar or a face-to-face workshop; perhaps an opportunity to attend a wine and cheese with a local celebrity.

When your conversion offer actually delivers real value, you begin to build relationship and trust. That’s how ‘views’ and ‘media impressions” turn into flesh and blood interactions.

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