How earned media drives consumer behavior: Relevance and headlines | Techy Kings

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How earned media affects customer behavior

Last week I wrote about some unexpected insights into the relationship between publishing authority (reputation and reach) and consumer behavior.

More surprises await this week as we continue our conversation about connecting earned media content to desired consumer actions.

What are these consumer actions?

They include website visits and activity at the top of the marketing funnel, as well as new customers, sales and brand loyalty at the bottom of the marketing funnel.

And thanks to modern PR technology, it is now possible to make this connection.

During a recent quantitative analysis of global PR measurement data here at Onclusive, we sought to understand the relationship between certain characteristics of media articles – such as publication authority, brand relevance, brand engagement and sentiment – ​​and PR-driven website traffic and actions.

Brand relevance appears to be a strong predictor of consumer behavior. Or is it? Well, let’s look at the data.

Brand relevance and consumer behavior

Brand relevance measures how much the article is “about” a particular company or brand, from a single mention to a dedicated feature.

Based on global data from over 100,000 articles, article brand relevance is found to be only moderately correlated with website traffic.

Articles with medium relevance lead to less website traffic compared to low relevance. And while highly relevant earned media content results in the most website traffic (13% higher than low-relevance articles), this number points to a weak correlation between relevance and traffic.

There is another surprise in the data: article brand relevance is not at all predictive of website actions, with low-relevance articles driving slightly more (14%) website actions than highly relevant articles:

Website traffic is affected by relevance Site actions influenced by relevance

What does this mean? We believe the key variable in driving desired consumer action is the quality of the brand website itself – certainly more so than the relevance of earned media content that drives those readers to the website.

Your website is as important to the success of your PR initiatives as it is to your marketing, talent acquisition, investor relations and other business functions.

How you can use this in your PR strategy:

  • Make sure your brand website has comprehensive, relevant and fresh content, as well as effective calls to action (CTAs).
  • A/B test your landing pages, CTAs, and other elements to determine which ones are most successful.
  • Monitor your SEO ranking over time to confirm consistent content quality on your website.

Inclusion of Brand Headlines and Consumer Behavior

The article title refers to the title at the top of an article.

So, “branded headline” means that your brand appears in that headline and readers can spot it right away.

Like the brand relevance of the article, the presence of the brand in the headline is only a moderate predictor of website traffic, with headline mentions resulting in 16% more traffic than no mentions.

However, the inclusion of a branded headline pays off when it comes to influencing website activity. On average, headline mentions tend to lead to 27% more actions than no headlines—almost twice as predictive as they are for website traffic:

Website traffic is affected by headline Site actions affected by header

How you can use this in your PR strategy:

  • As you know, a good headline is very important to the success of both your pitch and your first impression on readers – keep creating headlines that grab attention (and lend themselves to a brand mention if the reporter chooses to do so).
  • Because an article’s overall relevance to your brand only somewhat predicts its impact on your website traffic, don’t be overly focused on “feature stories.”
  • However, always make sure your content is highly relevant to your industry or category – you can benefit just as much from being mentioned in this type of article as you would in a story that is mostly about you.

A word about our research methodology

We analyzed over 100,000 media articles published globally between January 1 and December 31, 2021, on a representative sample of business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) brands across a broad set of industries. The articles in the study included only earned media content published via digital media (excluding social media).

Zack Jenkins is the US general manager of Onclusive. Want more insights? Stay tuned for the final article in the three-part “Earned Media Attributes That Drive Consumer Behavior” series, which will reveal the relationship between brand engagement, brand sentiment, and consumer behavior.

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