Did you know that search ads (like Google Ads) have the highest ROI for nonprofits using paid advertising? According to Double the Donation, the average ROI for these types of ads is $4.78.
Especially considering that the Google Ad Grant program allows nonprofits to create search ads for free, this marketing method is an incredibly valuable opportunity for mission-oriented organizations to show off their work and gain new support. However, participants in the program must put in the time to develop a clear Google Ad Grants strategy in order to see results.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five Google Ad Grants tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of the program. Here are the best practices we’ll cover:
If you’re new to the Google Ad Grants program, we recommend doing some additional research to find out if your organization qualifies and then applying to the program. For current participants, follow along as we help improve your organization’s Google Ad Grant experience!
If you’ve been part of the Google Ad Grants program for a while, you’re likely very familiar with the program's website requirements. While the website policy is a good starting point for improving your website, there’s more you can do to make your website the best it can be.
It’s important to continuously update your website so that it drives value, provides an exceptional user experience, clearly communicates your nonprofit mission, and encourages interested users to join in.
One area for improvement the program’s website policy doesn’t cover is accessibility. Simple actions like adding alt text to images and breaking up larger paragraphs can make your website much easier for visitors to navigate. Consider referencing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for more tips on how to make your website inclusive and accessible to all.
Make sure your website also offers a clear path for users to experience all your organization has to offer. While the Google Ad Grants website policy mentions navigation, it doesn’t go into depth about what it entails. To offer the best user experience, include your most important resources in the top or bottom bar of your site, implement breadcrumb navigation so users can backtrack to previously visited pages, and add a menu to your homepage.
Lastly, make sure your website can adapt to different devices. Mobile-friendliness is not only important for user experience, but it’s also a part of Google’s ranking algorithm. To check if your website is performing well on mobile devices, use a tool like Lighthouse.
Let’s say you have a high-quality website that follows the Google Ad Grants website policy and goes beyond it to offer an extraordinary user experience. A visitor clicks through to your site and lands on an outdated, unhelpful piece of content. Do you think they’ll stick around?
Chances are, that user will bounce right from your site. Even if your website itself is new and improved, the content must match that level of quality. In order to ensure your content provides value to users, incorporate the following elements:
In your journey of converting readers into supporters, having high-quality content is key. That way, readers can learn more about your organization and make an informed decision about whether they’d like to get involved.
These days, data should back most, if not all, of your nonprofit decisions, and Google Ad Grants are no different. When you use data, you give important initiatives a basis in quantifiable information rather than guesses. As a result, you can make more logical, evidence-based decisions on behalf of your nonprofit.
When it comes to the Google Ad Grant, look at your CRM to analyze supporter data. The messages you craft for your Google Ads should be geared toward your current supporter base. For example, if many of your supporters live in a certain area, tailor your ads to that location. You should also take supporters’ ages into account and create different campaigns with language oriented to specific age groups.
Use your CRM to help determine your campaign goals. If you have your supporters segmented by their involvement, you can identify opportunities to grow certain segments. For instance, you may notice that you have a significant donor base but are lacking in volunteers. Then, you could produce a Google Ad campaign aimed at volunteer recruitment to close the gap.
It’s also important to rely on data when you’re choosing your Google Ad Grant keywords. Getting Attention recommends doing extensive keyword research through platforms like Google Keyword Planner, Moz, and SEMRush so you can target keywords that your audience is actually searching for. For example, an animal shelter may compare the analytics of “rescuing animals” and “pet adoption” to see which performs better with users.
Once your ad campaigns are up and running, Google provides program participants with its own data and insights you can use to analyze your results. Google Analytics allows you to keep track of the conversion goals you set at the beginning of your campaigns and determine how many conversions they’re actually producing.
For nonprofits, there’s a variety of potential conversions you may track, including:
Make sure to turn on conversion tracking for each of your campaign goals. Then, regularly check on your campaigns’ progress and adjust your ads as necessary.
While the Google Ad Grant is a great marketing tool, don’t forget about your other marketing strategies. A robust marketing strategy is the key to meeting your supporters where they are.
For example, if your nonprofit uses email newsletters and marketing automation technology to streamline supporter communication, you should keep those techniques in your marketing mix.
Instead of thinking about the Google Ad Grant as a replacement for your typical marketing activities, plan how you’ll use it alongside other strategies. Try incorporating the data you glean from your ad campaigns to inform your other marketing efforts.
For example, let’s say you ran a campaign targeting the keyword “habitat conservation” and another targeting “saving the planet.” Your conversion tracking shows that “habitat conservation” resulted in 52 more conversions than “saving the planet.” Based on this data, you may consider creating new blog posts surrounding the keyword “habitat conservation,” mentioning the phrase on your social media channels, and developing new habitat conservation video content.
The Google Ad Grant can increase traffic to your website and convert searchers into supporters for your organization, but it’s important to maintain a variety of marketing tactics in order to reach your target audience in new and exciting ways.
Participating in the Google Ad Grant program is already such a valuable opportunity for nonprofits to expand their reach, but by maximizing the impact of your Google Ad Grant, you can gain even more visibility and support for your organization. Since your only investment in the program is your time and energy, consider setting aside a portion of your marketing budget to partner with a Google Ad Grants agency. That way, you can get the most out of your Google Ad Grant while diverting more of your team’s time to mission-driven initiatives.
Jessica helps nonprofits acquire and manage the Google Ad Grant to expand their impact. Prior to her work at Getting Attention, Jessica worked in nonprofit and higher education organizations focusing on communication and digital marketing, and most recently in search engine optimization in the mission-driven sector. Jessica holds a master’s degree in communication from Virginia Tech. In her free time, you can find her reading, building furniture, and hanging out with her cats, Benny and Olive.