January 25, 2021

How to super-charge e-commerce and digital sales


Adrian Ma

What is PR’s role in helping drive e-commerce sales?

The sale of Debenhams to Manchester-based online fashion retailer Boohoo.com has further demonstrated the dominance of e-commerce as we turn into an increasingly digital-first world. As a result, the customer journey is more complex than ever with more channels and formats including the rise social-commerce and now voice-commerce.

With the digital world continuing to dominate, what is PR’s role in helping drive e-commerce sales? New customer journeys and channels have shaken the PR industry to its core, and the old ways of the PR profession are changing. This piece will be a guide for anyone who wants more value from PR, and those who want to give their organisation a digital advantage.
What channels drive e-commerce sales?

PR has a role to play across many channels, and alignment in terms of story-telling must span across everything – email, social, display etc. Here we’ll look at five channels specifically, organic search, paid search, voice and the impact of algorithms on story discovery.

Boosting organic search visibility

PR’s role in organic search has been well documented, with many highlighting the importance of citations, follow and no-follow links in coverage to boost the all important search rankings for keywords. Further to this, and without dwelling too much on the basics, other way to optimise PR for organic search include taking a campaign-based approach rather than on-going monthly “link- building” to allow for more focussed activity around key trading periods, plus, engineering the campaign story so that on-site content becomes a critical part of the story, so that reporters writing about it are more likely to link to it.

How PR informs paid search

Today, ‘search’ has a huge impact on a brand’s reputation and PR’s role and objectives can and should be aligned to paid search tactics to manage any sensitive issues that may affect brand reputation. An example of this is when a brand is recalling a product. There will be media coverage and likely negative social posts about the product. To counter this, a brand could bid on specific key words relating to the issue, draft ad copy and create web content to direct customers accurate and neutral recall information.

Algorithms are the new editors

More often than not, algorithms are playing the roles of editors in our lives. The latest Ofcom reports shows that those using social media for news in the UK rose by 44% to 49%. As PR practitioners, we need to understand this and its impact on news discovery. Furthermore, understanding the role of Programmatic PR, where we can automate actions based on data, has landed. Optimising work and generating stories and actions based on these data sets is now a part of our job.

A new content strategy for Voice

Voice search results differ from mobile and desktop search and as a result, a whole new discipline of Voice Optimised Search has emerged. PR should be focussed on building content that focuses on both questions and answers. Tactics that could give your company a first mover advantage in this field include finding the natural language keyword phrases that your target audience is most likely to ask then building content around this (e.g. an FAQ page), marking-up PR-led content with HTML language, and answering any existing questions on your Google My Business Questions and Answers section.

This is just the start of a bigger conversation about how to engineer your PR and comms efforts for e-commerce and digital marketing, and I believe that there’s plenty of value to be squeezed out of PR from well- considered efforts and education.

For more details you can download a full copy of the white paper here.

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