SEO-PR’s Digital Marketing Case Studies
Some of SEO-PR’s case studies have won awards and others have been finalists, but all of them tell the results-driven success stories of the digital marketing agency’s work for a wide variety of clients.
Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations
In 2019, SEO-PR and the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations (SMLR) won the award for Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign in the US Search Awards. SEO-PR and Rutgers SMLR were also finalists in the Best Integrated Campaign category.
In January 2019, Rutgers SMLR hired SEO-PR to help launch a new Online Professional Master’s in Human Resource Management (MHRM) program. Their objective was to generate 30 applications by August 1, 2019. As of that date, their launch campaign had driven 8,332 new users to SMLR’s online MHRM landing page, generated 690 leads, and produced 36 applications.
An analysis of the launch campaign found that an optimized press release on BusinessWire.com, duplicate news content on SMLR’s website, and an optimized landing page generated 4% of the traffic, but 27% of the leads:
· The optimized press release generated 1% of the new users, but 8% of the leads.
· Google organic search generated 3% of the new users, but 19% of the leads.
· LinkedIn ads generated 81% of the new users, but 37% of the leads.
· Google Ads generated 11% of the new users, but 18% of the leads.
And measuring PR using the same set of metrics and KPIs used for Digital Advertising (including PPC) is a game changer. It means that marketers no longer need to treat PR as a “faith-based initiative”. That’s why this case study won the 2019 US Search Award in the Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign category and was shortlisted in the Best Integrated Campaign category.
Rutgers Business School Executive Education
In 2016, SEO-PR and Rutgers Business School Executive Education (RBSEE) were finalists for the Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign in the US Search Awards.
In October 2015, we tested an unoptimized multimedia release vs. an optimized multimedia release. The headline of the unoptimized multimedia release read: “Rutgers Offers Next-Generation Supply Chain Strategy Program.” And the headline of the optimized multimedia release read: “Internet of Things (IoT) Impact on Supply Chain Explored by Rutgers Business School Executive Education Mini-MBA Program.”
Two hours after crossing the wire, unoptimized release had 151 release views and 1 tweet about the news by a person with 924 followers. Two hours after crossing the wire, optimized release had 886 release views, 146 multimedia views, and 29 link clicks. The optimized release also had 19 tweets about the news, including ones by @debraruh with 111,000 followers, @edaccessible with 65,400 followers, and @TheIoT with 40,100 followers.
So, the optimized release got 5.9 times more release views and 19 times more tweets. It also generated 3.1 times more sessions by 2.7 times more new users on RBSEE’s website. More importantly, the optimized news release generated 6 registrations at $4,995 per participant, or $29,970 in incremental revenue.
The optimization and distribution of the optimized news release as well as the blog outreach and media relations cost $2,323. So, the return on marketing investment (ROMI) was: ($29,970 * 70% – $2,323) / $2,323, or 8.0.
Get City Dealz
In 2013, SEO-PR, Get City Dealz, and Business Wire won both the Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign award in the inaugural U.S. Search Awards as well as the 2013 Excellence in New Communications Award in the Visual Media Category of the Corporate Division of the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) Awards.
The three companies won for their test to see if an online video news release, a photo press release, or a release without multimedia would generate better results for three local merchants promoting their best daily deals in New Orleans.
Relatively few press releases include multimedia. The reason is obvious: The costs of creating, optimizing, and distributing a multimedia news release is relatively higher than a regular press release, but the benefits are unknown.
So, Get City Dealz, a technology company in New Orleans that specializes in assisting merchants in promoting their businesses on its deal platform, SEO-PR, the content marketing agency that pioneered press release SEO, and Business Wire, the global leader in press release distribution, conducted a test in February 2013 to find out if including a video or photo in a press release generated better results than a news release which didn’t include multimedia.
Get City Dealz created three similar press releases. Each one featured a different local merchant that offered a daily deal or local bargain in New Orleans on the recently launched Get City Dealz platform. Each of the press releases was distributed via Business Wire at 6:30 a.m. on successive Saturday mornings in February.
The first release for Jazzy Nola went out on Feb. 2 and included a video. The second release for Orleans Grapevine went out on Feb. 9 and included a photo. The third release for Glam 504 went out on Feb. 23 and didn’t include multimedia. The target audiences for all three press releases were more than 1 million tourists and 5,000 media members who were converging on New Orleans for two major events – “The Big Game” and Mardi Gras.
By April 1, the first press release with a video had 5,059 release views and 230 link clicks, according to Business Wire’s NewsTrak Reports. The video, which was uploaded to YouTube, also had 69 views. The second release with a photo had 3,406 release views and 181 link clicks. The third release with no multimedia had 3,255 release views and 169 link clicks. So, the release with a video had 55.4% more release views and 36.1% more link clicks and the release with a photo had 4.6% more release views and 7.1% more link clicks than the release with no multimedia. Together, the three releases had 11,720 release views and 580 link clicks.
SEO-PR used the Google Analytics URL Builder to tag the links in the three releases. This enabled the team to see that visitors from press releases visited an average of 3.12 pages per visit and spent an average of 2 minutes and 16 seconds for the duration of a visit. It also enabled the team to see that 72% of the visits from the releases were new, compared the site average of 42%.
Rutgers Center for Management Development
In 2012, SEO-PR and the Rutgers Center for Management Development (CMD) won the Measurement & ROI Award in the Academic Division of the SNCR Awards. The humble press release has been frequently declared dead in recent years, only to reappear alive and well as a useful content marketing tool.
In 2011, SEO-PR and Rutgers CMD conducted a series of tests using press releases for new Mini-MBA programs to address 3 questions:
· Can press release SEO generate website traffic and quality leads?
· What is the ROMI for a given set of optimized press releases?
· Didn’t the tactic known as SEO PR die?
We used the Google Analytics URL Builder to tag the links in 10 press releases in a 3-month campaign. Google Analytics reported the tagged links generated 1,139 visits and 77 leads, a goal conversion rate of 6.8%. 20% of these leads converted into registrations: 7 in $3,500 online courses, 6 in $4,995 classroom courses, and 2 in $595 short courses. This was a total of $55,660 in incremental revenue.
Rutgers had spent $23,230 to optimize and distribute the 10 press releases, which delivered $55,660 in incremental revenue, and the contribution margin was estimated to be about 70%.
So, the ROMI for the campaign appeared to be ($55,660 * 70% – $23,230/$23,230), or 0.7 – a positive ROMI, but not a significant one.
However, this used the Last Interaction attribution model, which gave the last touchpoint – in this case, the tagged link – 100% of the credit for the sale.
Looking at Google Analytics, we identified some news sites and blogs that had written stories about one of the announcements and included links to the Rutgers website. For example, an Analytics magazine article, “Rutgers University offers Online Mini-MBA Web Analytics Program,” included a link to the course and another link to the “Contact Us” page. These links generated 21 visits and 2 leads, for a goal conversion rate of 9.5%. But, social media referrals were almost impossible to track.
In order to estimate the increase in referral and social traffic generated in the third quarter, we used data from the second quarter to establish a baseline. There were 2,340 visits from referring and social sites in the second quarter and 2,876 visits in the third quarter, representing an increase of 536 visits, or 22.9%. Referral and social traffic had a goal conversion rate of 5.1%, which indicates that the PR campaign may have generated about 27 incremental leads from these sources.
Looking at direct traffic, 4 landing pages were featured in one of the 10 press releases:
But, with the keyword “not provided,” organic search traffic was impossible to track. So, we compared direct and organic search traffic in Q3 to equivalent traffic in Q2. There were 7,443 visits from direct and organic search in Q2 and 9,830 visits in Q3, representing an increase of 2,387 visits, or 32.1%. Direct and organic search traffic had a goal conversion rate of 6.8%, which indicates that the PR campaign may have generated about 162 incremental leads from these sources.
If you add 5 incremental registrations from referral and social traffic, and 32 incremental registrations from direct and organic search traffic to 15 registrations from press releases, then you get a total of 52 registrations. This means that the $23,230 PR campaign may have generated $198,870 in incremental revenue.
So, did Rutgers actually get a ROMI of 5.0 from this campaign? We needed another test to find out.
In Q4, Rutgers distributed only 1 press release because its marketing budget had been cut by 90%, or $20,907. This led SEO-PR to propose a new kind of research to Peter Methot, the program manager for the Rutgers Mini-MBA program: Compare traffic to the Rutgers website in a quarter with a PR campaign to a quarter without one. Or, as Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) says in the 1989 movie Ghostbusters II, “Let’s see what happens when we take away the puppy.”
In Q3, tagged links in releases had generated 1,139 visits and had a goal conversion rate of 6.8% (77 leads). In Q4, tagged links in releases generated 220 visits and had a goal conversion rate of 9.1% (20 leads). In other words, visits from tagged links dropped 80.7%, and leads from this source dropped 74.0% from the third to the fourth quarter. And some of the traffic and leads in Q4 came from releases distributed in Q3.
In Q3, referral and social traffic had generated 2,876 visits and had a goal conversion rate of 5.1% (147 leads). In Q4, referral and social traffic generated 1,970 visits and had a goal conversion rate of 6.1% (120 leads). So, visits from referral and social traffic dropped 31.5%, and leads from these sources dropped 18.4%. Fewer influencers wrote articles or blog posts about new Rutgers Mini-MBA courses or shared information about them with their followers.
In Q3, Organic search traffic had generated 6,243 visits and had a goal conversion rate of 7.0% (437 leads). In Q4, Organic search traffic generated 5,939 visits and had a goal conversion rate of 5.7% (339 leads). So, visits from organic search traffic dropped 4.9%, and leads from this source dropped 22.4%. Natural links developed in Q3 helped to maintain the organic search traffic in Q4, but leads from this source still fell.
In Q3, direct traffic had generated 3,587 visits and had a goal conversion rate of 6.5% (232 leads). In Q4, Direct traffic generated 2,182 visits and had a goal conversion rate of 5.1% (112 leads). So, visits from direct traffic dropped 39.2%, and leads from this source dropped 51.7%. Fewer people discovered pages for Rutgers Mini-MBA courses, so far fewer bookmarked those pages to come back later and register for them.
Since Q4 included the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, seasonality may have played a role, although Q3 included the Independence Day and Labor Day holidays. We double-checked to see if Rutgers competitors for open enrollment or online programs had been more active in Q4 than in Q3; they hadn’t.
Nevertheless, Rutgers saw a drop of 25.5% from 13,845 visits in the quarter with a PR campaign to 10,311 visits in the quarter without one. Rutgers also saw a drop of 33.8% from 893 leads in the quarter with a PR campaign to 591 leads in the quarter without one.
So, cutting the budget $20,907 in Q4 may have had a hidden “cost” of 302 leads or 60 registrations worth $222,640 in revenue or $155,848 in profit. So, Rutgers may have “lost” $10.65 in revenue or $7.50 in profit for every $1.00 it “saved,” which is a ROMI of -6.5.
Rutgers Center for Management Development
In 2010, SEO-PR and the Rutgers Center for Management Development (CMD), were named to the Econsultancy Innovation Awards shortlist in the Innovation in Online PR category. SEO-PR and Rutgers compared the results generated by a normal news release with an optimized press release. Both releases included links to a page on the Rutgers website with more information about the digital marketing course.
On April 20, 2010, the university distributed a news release with a headline that read: “Rutgers to Put iPad to the Test in New Digital Marketing Program.” A week later, SEO-PR distributed an optimized press release with a longer headline that read: “Apple iPad Tablet to be Tested in New Rutgers Mini-MBA Digital Marketing Executive Education Courses.” The longer headline included additional keyword phrases, including Apple iPad, Apple iPad tablet, mini-MBA, Rutgers mini-MBA, executive education, and executive education courses.
The news release which was not optimized generated a story on NJ.com and a modest spike in page views. The optimized press release generated a blog post in Search Engine Watch, 225 tweets about Rutgers mini-MBA, a spike in page views that was twice as large as the un-optimized version, and the first registration for the course. The $4,995 registration generated by the optimized press release also gave Rutgers a 3x return on its marketing investment of $1,665.
SES Conference & Expo
In 2010, SEO-PR and SES Conference & Expo won the Best Use of Social Media award at the first Conference Awards. This award was for events which have benefited significantly from the use of social media — such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Meetup. SES was able to demonstrate that it:
- Improved delegate numbers attributable to use of social media
- Attracted delegates who would not have been contacted by other traditional marketing channels
- Improved discussion and networking opportunities before, during and after the events
- Increased value for sponsors of the event and exhibitors
- Got excellent feedback from delegates
Matt McGowan, publisher and head of U.S. for Incisive Media, said, “Social media networks have enabled us to reach attendees in ways which have been difficult in the past. All measurements from first contact through to client engagement and sales via social channels have showed double digit improvement year on year. We don’t just teach the subject, we use it too!”
In 2009, SEO-PR and Parents magazine won a Commendation of Excellence in the Influencer Relations Category from the Society for New Communications Research. SEO-PR helped Parents magazine generate 129,155 entries into its cover photo contest, according to a case study presented at SES San Jose 2009.
The Christian Science Monitor
In 2008, SEO-PR and The Christian Science Monitor were finalists for an SES Award in the Best Integration of Search with Other Media category. SEO-PR helped drive 450,000 unique visitors to The Christian Science Monitor’s website in 24 hours using press release SEO.
Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
In 2008, SEO-PR and Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. were finalists for an SES Award in the Best Social Media Marketing Campaign category. SEO-PR built 368 inlinks in two weeks from authoritative sources to a new website featuring the Harlequin Romance Report, which ranked #1 & #2 in Google for the term, romance report.
In 2008, SEO-PR and MarketingSherpa were finalists for an SES Award in the Best Business-to-Business Search Marketing Campaign category. SEO-PR increased the number of unique visitors to MarketingSherpa.com by 18.7% and to SherpaStore.com by 10.5% during a three-week test.
In 2005, SEO-PR and Southwest Airlines won the Golden Ruler Award for Excellence in Public Relations Measurement and Evaluation from the Institute for Public Relations and PR News. Over 14 months, SEO-PR and Southwest Airlines linked $2.5 million in tickets sales to a series of optimized press releases.