We have all heard the expression about the shoe cobbler’s son having no shoes. Do accountants file their own taxes on time? Do financial planners have solid complete, water-tested financial plans? Do public relations executives and firms have websites that communicate differentiators instead of clichés, engage their readership (prospective clients for public relations firms and personal branding visibility for public relations professionals) and, most importantly, what is the main objective of a website in an overall digital strategy? My sense is that the website is dying a slow death as a centralized hub for branding. Contributing to this includes the availability of multiple social media platforms and the expense/effort, i.e. perpetual care, required to keep it fresh and up-to-date.
Public relations professionals, including agencies and firms, need to consider the “website” and its waning importance in the digital landscape. Firms and individuals need to ask themselves the question of “Is my website a tombstone?” meaning it’s simply a marker of some information which is updated infrequently, if ever. For public relations firms and public relations executives, their digital messaging and continually refreshed and compelling content for their own personal/firm branding is essential due to the behaviors of Gen-X and Gen-Y prospective clients. But sadly (myself included) I believe that most firms and individuals have a more current social media profile and messaging and a “sidebar” website which has become a tombstone on the Internet cemetery. The amount of maintenance or perpetual care required to maintain a “proper,” updated, digital profile is significant. In other words, you must continually post new and fresh content to keep your readers engaged! What can you do to ensure that your investments in perpetually maintaining and updating your online content is “worth it” – that your ROI on all this effort it positive?
Most firms don’t know the ROI on their investments of time and money in their website and social media. I asked my favorite “quant,” Jaime Fitzgerald, what he thinks about this challenge. The founder of Fitzgerald Analytics, he specializes in using metrics to unlock profits, as you can tell from his twitter handle, @Data2Dollars. This is essential as digital platforms and now even websites have a limited “life span” in technology before they are replaced with the next fad-ish site. How can public relations as a profession allocate their resources for maximum online impact, for maximum ROI? Here is Jaime’s advice:
Jaime began by paraphrasing John Wannamaker, the father of modern advertising: “Half the money we spend on promotion is wasted…the problem is we don’t know which half.” Jaime says that in today’s world of online media, the challenge Wanamaker described has been magnified. “As much as 90% of online effort is wasted or low value,” Jaime says, “while high-impact initiatives are generating massive returns. This makes measurement essential: “you must know where your ROI is coming from.”
So what should we be measuring? Jaime described a simple 3-step process.
- First ask yourself what “offline actions” by prospects, customers, and influencers are the keys to your success and profitability. For example, generating high quality inbound leads.
- Then, focus on measuring which online investments “trigger” the offline actions that drive your success and impact your profitability.
- Periodically assess the “relative impact” of your online investments, and reallocate resources towards the highest ROI activities, and away from things that are not.
I asked Jaime why most firms don’t do this well. “The technology exists to do this, and the math is simple. We human beings take longer to adapt, but I’m seeing more firms upgrade their measurement to go beyond page views and visitor profiles to measuring what really matters.”
April J. Rudin is CEO of The Rudin Group, a communications/public relations firm specializing in wealth management marketing strategies. Follow April Rudin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheRudinGroup