Saturday, May 15, 2010

Google Analytics: Measuring ROI

To know whether or not PR activities are making an impact, and to know if people are at least reading your hard work, it's a good idea to monitor activities using Google Analytics. Just as bloggers monitor their statistics, it's important to do this with client and organizational websites as well.

For instance, one client I was working with decided to change their company name because they realized that visitors were spending an average of 8 seconds on their blog after the majority migrated from search engines. They didn't find what they were looking for so readers left. This got the organization thinking that they should rebrand in order to boost interest in the company and attract people to their website for the right reasons. They did that and within five months after the rebrand, their readership improved significantly with 47% of unique visitors spending 5 minutes or more on their site- evidence that they were clearly reading content. Not a bad improvement!

It's also a great way to make a case with senior decision-makers on what's working and what's not and where to focus web dollars if there are multiple sites to manage. You can also access valuable data on how well the site is doing with referring sites, and build on ways to secure cross-promotional references if you feel you need to improve in that area.

According to Wikipedia, Google Analytics is the most widely used website statistics service with 57% of the 10,000 most popular websites using it.

Another great tool is Technorati Authority Rating which ranks blog popularity based on its influence in the blogosphere by evaluating linking behaviour.

Food for Thought: What is the most effective online measurement tool you've come across?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Developing Kid-Appropriate Company Responses

Humanizing company responses is an area where PR communicators can come in handy.

Eight year-old Harry Winsor loves planes. His vivid imagination takes him to exotic destinations, and his plane sketches inspire him so much that he decided to send one to Boeing with a note suggesting that they build it. You can see little Harry's photo on the left.

Unfortunately Boeing wasn't amused.

They issued a letter from their legal department documenting the risks his unsolicited ideas posed to intellectualy property infringement, and highlighted that their engineers had already thought of everything.

After Harry's father received the letter from Boeing, he was not sure what to do with it: show it to his son and crush his creativity, or keep it from him and feign ignorance. So he did what any savvy father would do: put the matter up for discussion on his blog where he received a lot of feedback.

Having started to use Twitter only a couple of weeks earlier, Boeing's spokesperson Todd Blecher who manages the Boeing account, responded to little Harry's supporters by issuing this post:

"@arun4 we're expert at airplanes but novices in social media. We're learning as we go."

He later went on to say:

"We don’t have a more children-appropriate response for things like that... We get a lot of these, and anything from an adult — especially if it looks like an official proposal — has to get a form letter to protect us. Then, it’s frankly a matter of whether someone has the time to go the extra mile, even for a child."

This is a key corporate learning, especially for large bureacratic organizations, and one which we know to be true. The notion of discretion in providing responses is important. As PR professionals we often build relationships one person at a time. It requires forethought, empathy and consideration in light of company policies and procedures, rather than a mere application of the rules.

In the end, Blecher ended up calling little Harry to praise him for his submission, and the company is now working on developing a better way of handling submissions from children.

This is a great example of how social media can be used to keep companies more responsive in engaging the human side of relationship building... one kid at a time.

Food for Thought: What's an example of a good customer service move on the part of a big company that you've experienced?