Focus on high UVPM and audience figures can mean missing key buying personas

Digital marketing has transformed B2B PR and communications – and rightfully so. PR has increasingly had to become a lead generation tool and the C-suite want quantifiable results to measure the return on their agency or in-house investment on media-facing activities.

IBA is no stranger to linking PR directly into lead generation activities – we’ve previously highlighted how it can now form a core part of a B2B content marketing campaign and run a successful event series looking at digital B2B communications.

But current metrics are still stuck in the world of old dead tree media – UVPM is just another name for circulation figures, Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) equates to the old column inches.

The flaws in UVPM for B2B companies
High UVPM figures don’t always equal high-quality leads for B2B companies. Take an influential business, or national publication such the London Times – UVPM/circulation of  11m – or The Wall Street Journal – UVPM/circulation of 23m.

My parents make up the UVPM numbers of the Times – they avidly read the current affairs, restaurant reviews and theatre critics. But they aren’t looking to make a half million-dollar investment in a software system that will improve a company’s bottom line!

AVE – column inches aren’t everything
Now let’s look at Advertising Value Equivalency. Newswires are a classic example of quantity over targeted quality. Distributing a story over a newswire will create good ‘background noise.’ You only have to Google some keywords from your newswire distribution announcement to see the whole story pasted on 20+ websites you’ve never heard of.

You’ll even receive a report at the end of the week to discover you’ve had 4.5m+ ‘impressions.’ But much of this ‘coverage’ is digitally generated, posted by machines – not by an influential journalist, and not providing targeted lead generation from a specific industry such as manufacturing, transportation or healthcare.

We’re getting there – tools available for domain authority and SEO
One of the trending topics in B2B marketing is using backlinks and keywords in placed PR content to improve SEO. The formula is relatively simple. First, by analyzing common search terms in your sector you can establish a list of keywords to add into your press releases, bylined articles, case studies and other media-facing activities. This is all good.

Next, using various third-party tools – such as Moz – you can establish the domain authority of ‘target’ publications. A domain’s authority is calculated by a number of factors. Moz explains theirs is calculated by “evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and the number of total links, into a single DA score.” Authority is scored on a scale of 1-100 – with a general consensus that the higher the score, the higher a piece of content on that website is likely to rank in search results.

But playing the numbers game still has some way to go
This is where the lure of a linkback in a publication with a readership of 1m+ is difficult to resist. We’re back to the numbers again. The need for figures and leads can sometimes cause B2B organizations to lose sight of one of the core principles of a PR campaign – finding the key buying personas and engaging with this incredibly select target audience by marrying your brand messaging to key industry topics.

Your target buying persona is not a number, but a person with a job title and a person that has to have read your content. The need for a deeper dive into the numbers is beginning to be recognised in the industry. Just last month Cision, owner of PRNewswire, has realized UVPM numbers are so high they destroy their credibility, so is offering a new service to view figures at a more granular level.

Bigger doesn’t always mean better
Buying decisions, particularly the big B2B ones, are most often made by a mix of personas – decision maker, influencer and ratifier – and key to the decision is trust with the supplier.  This is gained and earned many ways through the sales funnel, but the careful and targeted placement of thought leadership, opinion and topical industry pieces in targeted media, and interviews in highly respected media brings that coveted third-party endorsement that in turn builds trust. Those media outlets do not necessary get the gongs for numbers of readers.

Here’s a couple of examples.

First case in point. The IBA team sat down with one of our software clients which had identified a potential opportunity with the U.S. Navy. Following a briefing call, a piece of bylined thought leadership with a client subject matter-expert (SME) was drafted, looking at the level of software support required to maintain complex navy warships. Next, a targeted list of U.S. naval publications was assembled – there were less than 10 publications on the hitlist with a combined readership of no more than 150,000.

The resulting placement in one of the top naval targets packed a huge punch. Shortly after his article appeared, the SME in question was contacted by a military procurement expert and invited to speak at an event filled with some of the most influential people in the U.S. Navy. The circulation and UVPM of the publication in question? No more than 45,000 combined.

Another example. Working with a U.S. fintech organization, the IBA team were able to place an interview with the company CEO in a highly respected subscription-only banking and payments weekly newsletter. Just days after the interview appeared, the CEO took a call from an exec at Mastercard to discuss a strategic partnership. The circulation and UVPM combined – a tiny 20,000.

Track down the buying persona you want
Lead generation from B2B PR activities comes in many forms. While there can be no denying the positive SEO impact of placed backlinks in high-ranking domains, that does not mean high numbers should become the sole purpose of a media-facing campaign.

The best PR strategies deploy a number of tactics to target a sometimes single-figure pool of buying personas. Don’t be blinded by the lights of the big figures – you may be missing out on better ways to build your pipeline – something many organizations are crying out for in the current market environment.

Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International.

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