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How to Monitor Pitch Performance with Google Analytics

Scott Benson is Senior SEO Manager at Vocus.

After reading Frank’s post about giving good pitches time, I was reminded of a tactic I’ve used to monitor how HARO pitches have been received. Having sent one or two HARO pitches and then sat around waiting for a response,  I want to know whether journalists are researching the information I send them.

Using Google Analytics Custom Alerts and some URL campaign tagging, it’s easy to be alerted when journalists are checking out the content you’ve sent.

This tactic can be applied to any pitch, or indeed any email communication, in which you expect the recipient to click through on links you send them. Here’s what to do:

Have you registered for Scott Stratten’s UnPitching webinar on better media pitching yet? Click here.

Step 1: Write your pitch.

That’s all you – no advice here.

Step 2: Tag your links with Google Campaign Parameters

Google Analytics and Adwords use campaign parameters to assign the traffic source of your marketing efforts. Using the Google URL Builder, you can manually override the Source, Medium and Campaign values you see in Google Analytics. If you’re not familiar with these values, the Source field is associated with the referrer, like Google, or newsletter; the Medium is simply the marketing medium you’ve used to send traffic to your site, like email, cpc, organic; and the Campaign is more of a free-form field where you can assign a specific name to the marketing campaign you are creating.

Following the HARO pitch example, let’s create a Source of “haroquery” and a Medium of “email”. These two values can be used for all HARO pitches. Again, the Campaign is free-form and should be unique to the pitch you’re sending. For our example, let’s use “scotts-pitch-example”.

Now, plug those values into the URL builder, along with the page you want the reporter to read as they research your pitch. Again, for example, I’ll use a post I wrote on duplicate content;  The output looks like this:


Google URL Builder

Use this Source, Medium and Campaign for any links you send in the email pitch, even your email signature. You never know how the recipient will want to research your work. Now send it!

Step 3: Set up a Google Custom Alert for your Campaign

Navigate to the Admin section in Google Analytics and select the “Custom Alerts” feature under the “Assets” tab. Create a new alert and give it a name that is specific to your pitch. Then select whether you want the alert via email, as a text message or both. The Alert Conditions is where you utilize the Campaign value you set in step 2. In the field labeled “This applies to”, type in “campaign” to trigger an alert when someone visits your site with the campaign that “Matches exactly “scotts-pitch-example”. Choose to send the alert when “Visits” is “greater than” zero. Here’s that that looks like:

Google Custom Alerts

Step 4: Sit back and wait for your great pitch to work (you wrote a great pitch, right?)

Rather than anxiously waiting for a call or email follow-up, let the Google Analytics Custom alert inform you when your pitch is being researched. The moment you receive the alert, you know your pitch worked to some degree. It’s up to you to determine your follow-up plan, if any. The one drawback of this system is you generally receive the alert 24 hours after the visit occurs. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world either and here’s why…

Step 5: Analyze your pitch performance

At the end of the month – or within whatever timeframe you like – review your analytics to determine which of your pitches received a click-through and how the visitor interacted with your content. In the Traffic Sources report, choose “All Traffic” and then use the search feature to look for the traffic source “haroquery”. Once you’ve narrowed down your pitch sources, you can choose a Secondary dimension of “Campaign” to list all your pitches in one report.

Monitor PR Pitch

Click for larger view

Which pitches are missing? Did you answer the query correctly, or were you off-base with your approach for that specific media opportunity?

Of the pitches that did receive some interest (clicks), which of those resulted in a follow-up from the journalist? Can you replicate the performance that led to that follow-up? And obviously, if you earned some coverage from your pitch, you can learn from that experience all the way from pitch to publication.

You can even go so far as to create a conversion rate for your pitching for a month. Your goal then becomes to improve upon that rate as you analyze your pitches and learn from your experiences.

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