How 4 customers showed ROI on their switch to readership

Return on investment. It’s a phrase used relentlessly in all aspects of business, and a particularly difficult metric for Comms teams to measure. Put another way, “being asked for ROI is the perennial thorn in my side,” per one Memo customer.

Determining a hard ROI from earned programs – that is, a quantifiable bottom-line outcome resulting directly from money invested – is in practice impossible. Not because earned press isn’t valuable, but because it is part of a larger customer journey and should be evaluated more holistically with an integrated marketing program.

For example, any traffic or sales you can directly attribute to an editorial product review only represent a fraction of that article’s wider impact. That press also drove brand awareness, product consideration, and purchase intent – even if that purchase happened several months after the fact. 

(That’s not to say there aren’t better ways to report the value of earned media. Memo’s goal has always been to help our customers prove with data what we already know: earned media is extremely valuable, we just need better measurement for it. Whether it’s providing metric parity with paid media, or even helping calculate the paid media cost of your earned engagement, readership is making the results PR delivers more tangible and moving us closer to isolating its ROI within the greater marketing mix.)

But given all the intangible outcomes that earned ROI fails to capture, proving out ROI on the tools you need to get the job done is even more difficult.

Fortunately, four Memo customers have paved the way, sharing how Memo’s data and team of experts helped them demonstrate a return on their platform investment. In brief, it comes down to showing how readership helped them move faster, plan better, and respond smarter.

#1: Time is money (return on media research)

A home-goods company was launching physical stores in a new location. They wanted to get the word out, but having no relationships or prior experience in this new region, they needed help determining which local outlets and journalists to pitch. 

To ensure they were spending their time and resources wisely, they leaned on Memo readership data to quickly identify the most-read local outlets and journalists to create a go-to-market strategy with assured success.  

#2: Don’t make a small problem a big problem (return on crisis response) 

A global fast food brand was in crisis, but didn’t know just how deep. Was their most recent crisis a national or maybe even global dilemma? Or was this actually only capturing attention in local markets where the incident occurred? 

Enter readership. Memo was able to confirm that while readers were somewhat engaged on local outlets, the story was generating very low readership on national news outlets. Based on this finding, the brand was able to minimize harm by not bringing more attention to the crisis with a national response, and instead developed a response strategy that was targeted locally.

#3: Turning good data into great data (return on business analytics)

An American automotive brand already had an impressive media quality scoring algorithm that they used to inform their communications strategy. It included inputs like sentiment, tonality, message pull-through, and potential reach. However, this last metric was inflating and skewing their dataset, creating a less valuable scoring output.

By replacing outlet-level potential reach with article-level readership in their algorithm, the brand was able to uncover a whole slew of insights by identifying varying performance at the article level and adjusting their strategy accordingly. (More on UVMs vs Readership here.)

#4: Timing is everything (return on campaign planning) 

A Comms team for a global streaming service was trying to understand why some competitors were more successful than others when promoting new content. 

Utilizing Memo insights reporting and our team of analysts, they found that while there were many similarities in the publications and even journalists writing about these launches, the clear indicator for success came down to timing. Memo analysts ran a timing analysis that pointed to higher readership on shorter campaigns. Specifically, campaigns that launched closer to the content release date were getting more engagement, with the sweet spot being 14-20 days prior to release.

The brand was able to use this insight to alter their launch strategy to minimize promotion and spending too soon, and ramp up efforts when they were 20 days out from release. This adjustment not only resulted in higher readership, but also time and cost savings leading up to the launch.