Most small businesses aren’t taking advantage of online press releases as a way to get the word out about themselves. This is the finding of a recent survey conducted by my company, Ventureneer, and Message Medium. And of the companies that are using them, most don't know how to measure a press release's impact.
Here's an example of what online press releases can do: Touchscreen monitor maker MimoMonitors use Web-based PR as virtually its only form of marketing, other than appearing at a few trade shows. In three years, the company has gone from zero marketing to having Google as a major client.
Why Online PR?
MimoMonitors sells touch-screen monitors that attach to your computer with a USB connection. The monitors are used both for play and for work so the company has two target markets.
Andre Liu, chief operating officer of MimoMonitors and his partners understood that for anything tech or consumer-electronics related, online press releases and reviews work because that is where those customers prefer to spend their time. “Whether I buy from Amazon or directly from the manufacturer, I will research online first,” Liu says.
Getting the Word Out
Whenever MimoMonitors launches a new product, has a special event, such as a sale or peak buying season, a press release goes out across the wire while also being sent directly to top-tier media, such as Gizmodo, CNET, and Wired.com, with a personalized pitch. For new products, review models are made available to the bloggers. The resulting reviews all contain links back to the MimoMonitors website. People may click and buy right away.
There’s a long tail to these reviews. “Over the years, the Internet is seeded with archives of articles about us,” Liu says. “Even when nothing is going on, our daily website traffic grows.” And even on a no-news day, those old articles bring in 1,000 or 2,000 visitors, and a percentage of them buy. A second wave of press releases is sent to lesser known reviewers and then some postings on YouTube, all with links back to the website.
Online press releases are useless without serious attention to metrics. Any marketing tactic loses value if you don’t measure it. Liu tracks all activity. If one review brings 50,000 visits, with a 2 or 3 percent conversion rate, and another site brings in one tenth of that, MimoMonitors will focus on the first site. “If you don’t have this information, you don’t have any idea who is buttering your bread and who is driving traffic,” Liu says.
There can be some surprises in the metrics. For Liu, an upsurge in visits from a website he never heard of led him to a group of hobbyists who automate systems in their homes and cars. They share techniques, including how they use MimoMonitors. Metrics also showed him that the monitors were being used by another special niche: flight simulator hobbyists who offload flight controls to the monitors.
Capitalizing on Online Marketing
So how can you make the most of your online press releases and marketing efforts? Here are a few tips.
See what’s going in your market. MimoMonitors surfed the Web for articles and even other press releases about new tech toys. A single press release can be picked up by 100 to 200 other websites. However, if you put in the time to find out who the influential bloggers are in your market and cultivate a relationship with them, you can get reviews that will generate even more linkbacks to your site.
Do your research. It doesn’t matter what you sell, the key to a successful press release program is upfront research to find out where your customers go for information and reviews. Then, as Liu now knows, focus your press releases on the bloggers who generate the most sales.
Measure your metrics. Make sure you track what sites are driving the most traffic and sales. Then, do some digging to see where the most interest in your products is coming from. It might lead you to some unexpected users—or uses—of your product.
OPEN Cardmember Geri Stengel is the founder of Ventureneer.com, which provides values-driven small businesses with the insights, strategies, techniques and solutions to succeed—both as businesses and as social-change agents.
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