If you don’t already know, a ‘Google Grant’ is one of the features of their nonprofit programme. You can find out more about it and how to apply for it in my Toolkit article about digital marketing on a shoestring.
Assuming you’ve already been accepted onto the programme, how can you get your spend as high as possible, and hopefully qualify for the ‘Grantspro’ upgrade to a $40,000 per month budget? Note that as of 2013 the rules for managing your Google Grant have changed. The maximum cost-per-click has doubled from $1 to $2 – but on the other hand your free ads will now always appear underneath any paid ads. It seems to me that these changes will be of more benefit to bigger charities than smaller ones because their paid accounts are now more powerful, and their .50c paid ads are now going to be more visible than your $2 free ones.
1Don’t hire an agency.
There are many AdWords specialist agencies out there who will offer to help you manage your AdWords account. They will probably do a good job and most should get your account up to the $10,000 limit within a few months. They will charge you about £3,000 per month to do so though, and it’s very unlikely that your AdWords are directly generating that much income every month.
2Read the Textbooks, but ignore some of their advice for the time being
There are some really useful books on Amazon about Google AdWords management. Their advice on creating campaigns, finding keywords, copy writing ads is really useful. Bear in mind though, their mindset is all about spending the least money as possible by driving down the average cost-per-click. In my opinion though, until you’ve qualified for the ‘Grants pro’ upgrade, your aim is to just spend as much money as possible. After all, it’s Google’s money and they’ve got plenty of it. Don’t worry yet about reducing your average cost, just concentrate on spending over $9,500 in two months as soon as you can.
3Go for the long tail
Although you may he hoping that you can get your ‘donation’ ads to appear and bring donors straight to your site armed with their credit card numbers… it isn’t going to happen. Pretty much every charity with a Grant is doing the same thing, and to get on the front page for these lucrative keywords you need a paid AdWords account and to be bidding at least $3 per click. Remember that under the new Google Grants system, a paid account bid of 0.75c will still appear above your ‘free’ grants one of $2. Going after the keywords that the bigger brands don’t pay for is going to be more important than ever.
Instead you need to be thinking of as many less competitive keywords as you can, and designing and testing ads around those.
4Hook up your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts together
It’s easy to link your Analytics and Adwords accounts together as they’re both Google tools. That way you get access to much better data when examining your Traffic Source Analytics report.it’s not too hard to go a step further and connect both up to your online donations system via the Analytics ‘Goals’ tool. Then you’ll be able to measure how many donations came from someone clicking on your Adwords ads – and hopefully you’ll be able to see the value of those donations. It’s likely to be a lot less than the £3,000 management fee mentioned earlier!
5Make your campaigns $330 a day each, not in total
You’ll have to trust me on this one as it’s not how the Google grants advice tells you how to do it. They very rightly advise you to split up your account into numerous Campaigns but say that you should spread out your daily budget of $330 per day between your campaigns. This makes it much harder for you to spend your daily limit because each and every campaign has to be working perfectly.
Instead, you should allocate each Campaign a budget of $330, even if your daily budget then runs into thousands of dollars. Regardless of what this number is, Google won’t let you spend more than $330 (provided you don’t have a paid AdWords budget in the same Account – which you shouldn’t have). Using my method, even if one or two of your campaigns are struggling to meet their daily spend limit, it gives the others the chance to overcompensate for it.
6Focus on the weekends
Once your spend starts getting close to the maximum, you may well notice that it’s the weekends that are struggling to reach the $330 limit. You won’t meet the $9,500 Grants Pro requirement whilst the weekends aren’t pulling their weight. People tend to do more online shopping at the weekends, and plan their events. Try to make sure you’veghot plenty ads and campaigns aimed at those kind of keywords.
7Some months are more important than others
To qualify for the grants pro scheme you need to spend more than $9,500 for two or more months during a year. February only has 28 days so that’s going to be tricky. July and august are generally quieter because of the summer holidays, and late December / early January are also tough to spend $330 a day in because people are in Christmas mode.
Unless your charity has some kind of inherent seasonal trends, I would target your efforts on March, May and October as your prime months (as they have 31 days) and April, June and November as your other important months. A few days before they start is a good time to revisit your account and to add some new keywords. During your key months, keep a closer eye on your account as a few extra clicks here or there can push you up over the eligibility threshold.
8Capitalise every word
At least all the important ones. Skill all the pronouns if you want. It’s a small thing, but you’ll see that that’s how nearly all of the paid ads do it.
It’s hard to make your ads stand out because there are strict AdWords rules about excessive or writing words all in uppercase. You can experiment though by keeping some of your ads as short as possible, or asking an unusual question in them, or trying a funny or cryptic approach. If it piques their interest enough to click on it then the ad has done its job.
10A good ad can get half your clicks
Although it can seem like an uphill struggle to actually spend all your daily allowance, take heart from the fact that you’re only ever 5minuts away from creating that one killer ad. Just one alone can get a thousand clicks a week. The last account I managed had a really short ad that stood out because of all the white space in it. It built up a great Quality score and was always at number one. Find yourself a couple of those and you’ll easily hit your maximum daily spend – then you can start defining your keywords and driving down your average CPC.
11Every time you add a new page to your site, think about an ad for it.
That’s one of the easiest ways to manage your weekly AdWords load and to overcome the creative block. Because you’ve just written the page, the keywords will be obvious, and the Quality score is likely to be good. Events lend themselves well to AdWords, and you should aim for an Ad Group for every new event you list on your website.
One of the best things about AdWords is that you can see the fruits of your labour almost instantly. Unlike SEO efforts that take months to work, you can write an ad and get traffic from it within 5 minutes. Trying to second-guess what will or won’t work can be fun. And coming up with a creative new ad that gets you 10 more clicks a day than you had last week can be rewarding. ‘Little and often’ is the best approach in my experience. Try to add a new ad or set of keywords every day, rather than save them all up to do once a month. You might just find that you become addicted to checking that little blue graph as soon as you’ve turned your computer on in the morning!