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Hack The Funnel: How to Leverage Performance-Driven PR

July 18, 2021

Performance PR

iOS 14's effects on Facebook advertising has everyone feeling it right now. The precision that Facebook has in their algorithms, thanks to the intricate ways the platform interprets how each dollar is spent (seeing who's clicking what, how far they get, how to use all this data to model the next best candidate to show an ad to), had us addicted to a paid media drug. One that allows so many people to ignore the steps of building a brand people are excited to shop from, not just one that is convenient and shows up when they need it most.

Most of my conversations the last couple of weeks have all touched on the question of, "So, now what should we try?"

I always say, with good advertising you must be contextual in the feed you are showing up on. If you're running a billboard, your ad needs to be something that gives the punchline in a split second. If you're running a TikTok ad, your ad needs to feel the same way as the best performing organic content in the platform — it can't be overproduced. It won't work. But now for a platform like Facebook, what's next?

Going back to the Performance Branding presentation that I put together with the crowdsourced help of this incredible list, aka you, there was one tactic I touched on that has never lead me the wrong way. It was highlighted in that presentation because it does what I call, "Full-funnel marketing". You don't need to have the "shiniest" ad for this to work, and it has a high share rate. It's called PPR, or performance PR.

Put simply, it's the concept of taking your organic earned media and amplifying it, giving more life to something that had a great impact on your brand, but didn't see as many eyeballs organically.

PR does a great job with telling the story about your brand, but they usually suck when it comes to promoting it, especially nowadays when the majority of the content we consume comes from what algorithms decide the content we consume, not what we pre-selected to read, watch, see, etc.

Unless someone went out of their way to read their daily dose of a publication you were featured in, there's a good chance your PR piece didn't see more than 5,000 to 30,000 eyeballs. The "UVM" or "Unique Visitors per Month" metric that PR agencies send in press roundups is BS. It's like saying that an influencer campaign's success depends on how many followers they have. Makes no sense, right?

So what does PPR look like?

Sometimes you'll know right away. You'll have a press piece go up, and almost instantly you see sales being generated that are tied to that article. You might see it from Google Analytics, or if they used an affiliate link, you'll see it pop up as affiliate traffic. If you see a higher conversion rate from people who read that article, that's your signal.

If you don't notice that bump right away, it could just be a result of being a smaller publication. But if you think it's good, and others confirm it does a good job of telling a story where your product becomes the solution or the punchline, then it's worth testing.

Ok, so now you have an article. It might look like this Snif article written by Byrdie, or if you're an old school DTC marketer, you remember this Mack Weldon article in GQ that took over Facebook for 2 years. You'll notice a couple of similarities in these pieces:

  1. They tell a story. The editorial "I tried this and..." angle always does great for introducing new products.
  2. They aren't cluttered. You'll notice you're not getting tons of pop-ups, programmatic ads that crowd your reading experience, etc.
  3. They really describe the product. If you just read the article, you almost get a real feeling for what the product is, how it feels, how it'll help you.

Your next step is to begin experimenting in ads with copy, headlines, and creative.

Going back to my Audience, Creative, Experience model, you have now solved for the "Experience" part, and you know that it'll convert well once people get there, so now let's talk through "Creative" next.

You have 3 main inputs here:

  1. Headline - catchy, not clickbait, but you should get curious
  2. Ad text - describe the punch line of the story with a quote, except, or just in your own words
  3. The image - you want something that feels editorial-ey or UGC-like. Don't overproduce this, you won't get the click.

When I used to do this at hint water, it would be 48 or 96 ads going live at a time to see which was the best possible combo. Now you can do all of this within DCO on Facebook, or just put together a handful of options at a time with individual creatives.

The last piece here is the audience. Depending on what you're optimizing for in the campaign (clicks, view content, add to cart (ATC), initiate checkout (IC), or purchase), you can decide how broad or narrow you want to get. 

If you're going for a lighter objective, like clicks or view content (meaning someone has clicked the article, and then clicked to get to your site), then you can probably go broader in audience targeting, maybe even completely broad (M/F, 18+). But if you want to get conversions around ATC, IC or purchase, then you should be smarter with narrowing down — try 1%, or 2% lookalike audiences (LALs), more niche-targeted categories, or even start with website retargeting. Seeing a positive piece of earned media might be what gets your customer back and over the fence about buying.

Try this out, see how it does. If it doesn't drive conversions, it's going to help at least make your other more direct-response ads more effective, because this tactic does well educating a new audience about who/what/why you are.