The benefits of PR as part of the mix in ecommerce marketing are one of the reasons why it’s a great fit for retailers. Effective PR can:
- Get your ecommerce brand in front of new and relevant audiences
- Help build consumer trust and confidence in your brand
- Help generate sales
- Help with your website’s SEO performance
What is data-driven PR?One side of data-driven PR is when data is used as a basis for PR stories that are then pushed out to relevant journalists, editors and publications with the aim of achieving coverage. The other side to data-driven PR is analysing relevant marketing and performance data and discovering insights to help shape your future PR strategy. In this blog, we’re focusing primarily on the use of data to tell stories as part of an ecommerce marketing strategy.
The benefits of data-driven PR for ecommerce marketingWe’ve previously extensively covered why digital PR is great for businesses, but incorporating data-driven storytelling into the strategy can help take things to the next level for online retailers. So, what additional benefits does data-driven PR activity bring to ecommerce brands, on top of all of the other positives of a good digital PR strategy?
- Unique data with a strong narrative helps your stories stand out to journalists
- Useful and relevant data helps you display your expertise and build reputation – essential trust factors for today’s consumers
- Robust statistics can add credibility to stories, which is a positive for consumers and journalists and can give potential customers more brand confidence
Why data-driven PR is great for SEOSearch engines seem to love stats! Mainly because people love stats and the search engines want to deliver results that people are looking for. Even more so when the stats being used are unique and not found elsewhere. When taking Google’s E-E-A-T into account, which is how the search engine evaluates the quality and usefulness of online content, useful and reliable data plays nicely into that, which means that Google attributes value to content that is making good use of relevant data, along with following their other guidelines. By making sure that your data-driven PR stories have a place on your website as well as being sent to journalists, you can make the most of the opportunity to drive organic traffic to your website, as well as visitors referred by online coverage of the story. For example, uploading the full dataset or more in-depth details to a landing page on your website means that even people reading the story being covered elsewhere can access even more useful information when they click through to your site. A good example of this in action is a campaign we worked on with our client, TakingCare, who provide personal alarms for the elderly and vulnerable. We used data from multiple sources to rank towns and cities across the UK for their elderly-friendly statistics, features and facilities, bringing everything together to determine the best places to retire. The full data, an infographic and useful content about the top retirement locations was all presented on a landing page, which was provided to journalists with the pitch. One of the great SEO benefits of digital PR activity is in earning backlinks through coverage by authoritative websites such as media outlets. Backlinks can benefit the specific page being linked to, as well as the website as a whole, with each link essentially giving a vote of confidence to the site that it’s a useful and worthwhile place to find information. When statistics and other kinds of data are involved, especially if exclusive, content tends to earn links above and beyond the coverage that the story earns, which is great for ecommerce SEO. People find the page when researching a topic and credit the source online, which adds a whole different dimension to link building over time.
Tips for coming up with data-driven ecommerce campaign ideasAll of this sounds great, right? But where do the ideas and data come from in the first place? There can be various sources of data that you can utilise for a data PR story, and the real key is turning figures into a story that is interesting to your target audience. This can be somewhat of a chicken and egg situation – does the data come first, or the campaign idea? In our experience, it can work either way at different times. Sometimes, you have an idea or topic and can find or generate data that supports it and sometimes it’s by analysing data that ideas start to form. Using and referencing multiple data sources can also strengthen your story further. Some of the kinds of data to consider include:
Your own internal ecommerce/customer dataThe great thing about using your own database information is that no one else has these figures and therefore your data is unique and exclusive to your brand. Digging into anonymised data about your customers, such as demographics, general location, purchase journey, products bought etc, can sometimes reveal a relevant story, especially if the data changes over a period of time. For example, if you sell vitamin supplements and your data tells you that the number of people under the age of 30 buying your products has tripled in the last five years, this data could lend itself to a story about how younger people are increasingly savvy about their health and wellbeing. When using your own data, your story will usually be strengthened by including other third-party data sources too, to back up your narrative and add more credibility to your take on the topic.
Customer survey dataIt’s likely that you’ll already have an idea for a campaign before surveying customers, so that will help to guide your questions. Be aware that although this data is always useful, your own customers will be considered to have biases and the sample size is likely to be fairly small, so you’ll likely need other sources of third-party data to correlate with your findings in order for the data to stand up to scrutiny as part of a data-driven PR campaign.
Publicly available dataData that is already in the public domain can be a great source to build a narrative around but it’s important to ensure that you’re doing something different with the data than what’s been done before so that you’re offering journalists a new angle. Whether it’s data from the NHS, Office for National Statistics (ONS), Data.gov.uk, local authorities, data.police.uk or even other people’s YouGov surveys etc, as long as you cite and credit sources appropriately, you can utilise these figures in your own story. Government and public body sources often release new figures on the same metrics annually (and sometimes more frequently), so familiarising yourself with these release dates can mean you can get a jump on the data before others use it. Google search and trend data can also be a useful source to help craft your own story. An example of this in action includes a piece we wrote about the most popular Christmas TV ads in 2022, based on the number of people searching for the various ads in the lead up to the festive season. A simple list of the most-searched brand ads, along with embedded videos so people could watch them right there in the article, was an approach that worked in this instance to gain coverage for the story.
Generate your own new dataIf you have a campaign idea, you can generate your own data and build your narrative around that. This often has an associated cost, or a significant amount of time may be required, depending on the route you choose. For example, many successful data-driven PR campaigns use Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from various public bodies or institutions, but this can take a significant investment of time, especially if lots of separate requests need to be made e.g. to individual local authorities. Commissioning surveys that include a good sample size i.e. several thousand people, through a third party agency, enables you to choose your own questions carefully. However, it’s always worth bearing in mind that sometimes the actual data that comes back from self-generation can conflict with your preferred narrative or be inconclusive. Take a look at our blog on generating creative digital PR ideas for ecommerce to help with your ideation process for your next data PR project.
Tips for visualising data in digital PR campaignsHow you display the data used in your PR story can sometimes make or break whether it’s picked up by your target journalists or not. It needs to be a visual format that works both for the website that will run the story and also the audience who read it. Depending on the context, you can consider formats such as:
- Charts and graphs
- Bubble clouds
- Text video or animation
Tips for pitching data-driven PR campaignsThe specifics of the pitch for your data story will depend on the nature and context of your story, but we’ve come up with some general tips that could help you secure more of the coverage you’re aiming for.
- Personalise your pitch for your key target titles, especially if the contact has covered comparable data stories in the past, so they know you’ve done your homework
- Reference the value that you feel the story will bring to the specific audience it’s aimed at – what impact will it have?
- Don’t try to do too much with your pitch and the data. Pick the strongest angle for that audience, a few key stats and include just those, so not to confuse the message. You can always list a few other areas you have data in at the end of your pitch so that it doesn’t distract but provides more options to the recipient
- If you have data split by region that gives strong angles, consider separate regional PR releases as well as a national or more general piece to try and maximise relevant coverage
- Include references to where the data is from so that the recipient can assess the credibility of the stats quickly and easily
- Don’t forget to include a link to your website. This might be to the landing page with the full data set (giving the journalist a reason to include the link).