By Rebekah Schelfhout

Find out more about how you could be using your Grants account and what will keep you ahead of the curve when optimising your account.

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Google Ad Grants is a programme designed by Google to allow non-profit organisations to spend up to $10,000 per month on Google AdWords with Google footing the bill for this click spend. This is just one of Google’s great initiatives to help charities spread the word about their mission statements and goals! We have a range of charities that we manage Google Ad Grant accounts for within AdWords, so this blog will cover some basic points on things to look out for when setting up and optimising your own accounts.

If you’ve not yet set up your grants account you can visit the link here to find out more and send in your application. There are a few exclusions on organisations that are not eligible to apply so please take a look at the eligibility section on that link – hopefully that doesn’t apply to you!

How to structure your account

Assuming you’ve already been accepted onto the grants programme you’ll need to think about how to structure your campaign. If your campaign is already up and running then please use these points to review your strategy and see if you need to make any adjustments.

I would always recommend that you try and base your campaign structure on your website. With this in mind you might come up with several sections that you need to cover. Let’s use the Down’s Syndrome Association as an example. Their website has 9 main tabs along the top of their website, as shown below:

From scrolling through these tabs I can deduce that I may need 2 types of campaigns. One which will provide people with information on the Down’s syndrome and charity and one that covers fundraising and campaigning events. The reason for splitting these out is that I would expect these 2 types of campaigns to perform completely differently. The first one would be expected to have high click through rates, higher ad positions and high quality scores with perhaps lower cost per clicks (depending on how many other similar non-profits there are in your space). The second one would be expected to have much higher cost per clicks, lower click through rates, lower quality scores and lower ad positions. This is due to the nature of the fundraising sector on AdWords. Almost every charity that arranges events will be targeting the same usual suspects: Virgin London Marathon, Great North & South Runs etc.

Within both of these campaigns I would then have an ad group for each of the sub sections that falls within it, i.e. information about Down’s syndrome, research about Down’s syndrome, adults with Down’s syndrome in your informative campaign. I could then have London to Paris cycle, Spartan race, zombie evacuation, etc. run in my fundraising campaign.

I would also want to have a separate campaign for my brand name in order to be able to see how that is performing separately too. Results for brand name terms can often skew data in your main accounts if you combine these keywords so it’s best to keep them separate.

Consider these factors in your own campaigns in order for you to be able to effectively analyse and report on your data and manage your budgets.

What kind of keywords to use

Rule number one here is to always go for the long tail approach and add keywords as quick as you can. If you’re the first advertiser in the game then you’ll be able to make improvements to your click through rate quicker, which will lead to you having a higher quality score and showing in a higher position.

With informative terms it is good to include short tail variations too still as you’ll have a higher expected click through rate on these. However, with fundraising event terms if you don’t go for the longer tail keywords you’ll soon find that you have low quality scores for your shorter terms and may need to delete them. It’s better to go in with longer tail terms such as “apply for a place in the London marathon” to try and build up your click through rate. Avoid using broad match and try to have all keywords in phrase match as well. Including any shorter ones in exact match can bring in as much relevant traffic as possible.

What kind of ad copy to use

Getting your ad copy right is crucial! Google have always been strict on the type of ad copy you can use in a grants account, the main factor being that you need to be advertising your mission and organisation’s focus, and not solely asking for money or asking people to buy things. Here is a quick screenshot example of an ad copy that would be allowed and an ad copy that could be disapproved so you’ve got some guidelines to work with!

If you’re writing ads on behalf of a charity make sure you clear the wording of these ads with them first. Remember that if this is a charity that deals with disabilities you’ll need to consider things like putting the person before the disability in ad copy, i.e. Information for people with Down’s syndrome rather than Information for Down’s syndrome people. This may prove rather frustrating when writing ad copy, especially if you plan to include your charities name in the ad copy too. Persevere and be creative with the space you have!

Common issues you may come up against

• Max bid changes

Earlier in the year Google Grants accounts were allowed to increase their max bid from $1 to $2. Whilst you may see this as a great thing, there have also been some disadvantages; Companies who have raised their max bid to stay in line with the “competition” may have seen a decrease in their total number of clicks coming in for their maximum $10k budget. So while ad position has mostly been maintained, click volumes will have decreased.

• Changes in policy

We don’t see too many of these, but when we do, they are usually game changers. Over the last year the auction system changed and Google put a new system in place whereby paid adverts would always appear above grants adverts. This meant that even with the $2 bid change advertisers were struggling to maintain their ad positions (see example below). Grants policy also changed to state that you could only advertise 1 url per registered grants account. This led to issues for some advertisers who had several websites for different services.

• Account reviews

The grants team periodically review all grants accounts so it’s important to maintain adherence to all the policies at all times, including making frequent changes to your grants accounts. If you leave them unmanned and don’t make any changes over a 30 day period you could face losing your account.

• Low quality score

Most charity accounts will battle with this. You need to always be as relevant as you can be with the keywords, ad copy and landing pages you are sending people to. Keeping an eye on any keywords with super low quality scores that you feel may be detrimental to your overall account quality score is important. As mentioned earlier, getting your keywords up ahead of the crowd for things like events will help you with this. Taking the longer tail approach and using match types other than broad match will help too.

Key points for optimising your grants account

  • Set up conversion tracking via AdWords or Google Analytics event tracking. You might want to track when people contact you via your contact us form, when they purchase something from your online store, when they sign up to events etc.
  • Optimise your account based on conversion metrics. Use filters to track down keywords that are working well for you and are bringing in high volumes of conversions at a lower CPA, and try to expand on these keywords. To build out your reach here, you may want to consider using the broad match modified match type to help you with this extended reach.
  • Make bid adjustments. You don’t need to always bid $2, if you are limited by budget and need to make savings decrease bids for poor performing terms. Use filters to find the keywords that are not performing as well and decrease bids in these areas to allow you to flourish in others.
  • Analyse the Google Analytics engagement metrics which are available in AdWords under the columns options if you don’t have conversion tracking. This will give you an idea of which terms are working or not. You can then look at terms which are delivering a higher quality traffic by means of lower bounce rates, higher amount of time spent on site, larger number of page views etc (see sample data below).
  • There are lots more ways to optimise a grants account such as testing your ad copy, adding in ad extensions, adding mobile specific ads, analysing your time of day data to make use of ad scheduling and using bid multipliers where you can etc. Remember you can only ever bid $2 max so keep this in mind when thinking of using multipliers.

    Why you might consider having a paid and a grants account alongside one another

    As outlined earlier the auction process is different for grants vs paid because paid ads who are competing in the same auction will always be shown above those for grants accounts. With the benefit of having both accounts you can then move keywords from grants into paid if you need to get more exposure and reach a higher ad position.

    With a grants account you can only use search text ads. This does limit your strategy slightly as you can’t take advantage of things like remarketing. Using a paid account to carry out remarketing could be a great strategy for your organisation to try and bring people back to the site when you release new information, hold events etc. You can then also take advantage of Remarketing Lists for Search Ads strategies such as targeting more generic terms but only to people who have been to your site before. Other features you could take advantage of are display & search companion campaigns as well as new betas like image ad extensions.

    What else could you take advantage of?

    As mentioned earlier this is just one of the great areas where Google is able to help our non-profit organizations. They also offer a YouTube program for non-profits whereby you can add a donate button directly into your channel and a program called Google Apps for non-profits which is worth checking out. You can find more info on these here. If you would like any more information on joining this program or think you need help managing your Google Ad Grants account please get in touch.

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