Google Grants: Are you making the most of yours?

In the second of two articles, digital marketing expert Rob Salmon explains how to make the most of the search giant's grants programme

Rob Salmon
Rob Salmon
If you haven’t heard of Google Grants, I’d recommend reading my introduction to Google Grants feature first. If you already have a Google Grant, please read on. 

Your charity has a Google Grant that gives you $10,000 (£6,200) a month to spend on AdWord pay-per-click advertising. Or maybe you have qualified for Grantspro, which gives you a whopping $40,000 (£25,000) to spend. Either way, you have a large sum of money available to help you meet your marketing objectives.

Yet, as Google states on its website, "the typical grantee in our programme receives just over $300 worth of advertising on Google.co.uk per month". A simple sum shows that a typical grantee on the standard grant has $9,700 of unspent inventory every month.

So the question is this: are you making the most of your grant, or are you looking a gift horse in the mouth? Here are 12 tips that I hope will help you do just that.

1. Dedicate time How much time do you dedicate to your Google Grant? If your answer is "not much", then maybe you’ve ended up taking your grant for granted. To really make your grant work requires time. Time to come up with campaigns, track their effectiveness and optimise on an ongoing basis. The more time you dedicate to your grant, the better the return you will get from it.

2. Mirror your website structure Have you got adverts set up for all the different areas of your website? If not, it could well be an opportunity waiting to happen. Go through your website and set up a campaign for each section of your site. See: http://bit.ly/third_sector_grant6.

3. Your brand territories When I worked at a drinks brand, we found only a limited number of people searched for "lager" but lots of people searched for areas with which we had an association. An example is music, with large numbers of searches going on for terms relating to venues and music festivals. This opened up many opportunities to introduce our brand to consumers (once they’d navigated past the age verification page) through something they were passionate about. In a similar way, really think about the content you have that you could point to from adverts. If you have places at running events for fundraisers, for example, be sure to be bidding on the name of the events.

4. Think about the action What actions do you want people to take? Donate, volunteer, download a report, sign up for emails? Simply getting visitors to your site might help to drive brand awareness, but if you can prove that the activity has led to X number of actions everyone in the organisation will be able to see the value. Make sure you include a strong call to action in your advert text – for example, "Donate now", "Volunteer today", "Download the report", "Subscribe to the email newsletter". Repeat the same call to action on your landing page.

5. Track conversions Use the conversion tracking tool that will show which of your adverts and keywords are the best at driving those all-important actions outlined above. Once you know which work well and which don’t, you’ll be able to optimise your campaigns accordingly. More on this here: http://bit.ly/third_sector_grant7.

6. Measure, measure, measure In addition to conversions, you’ll want to analyse the quality of the traffic your campaigns are delivering. Are people coming to your site and spending a good amount of time or are they straight in and straight out again in the blink of an eye? Link your account to Google Analytics and you’ll be able to tell this and a whole lot more. More on this here: http://bit.ly/third_sector_grant8.

7. Get other site URLs approved If you have other sites that are related to your organisation, send them through to Google at googlegrants-uk@google.com. If they are approved, you’ll be able to set set up campaigns to point adverts in their direction. As Google says: "Other websites belonging to your organisation require our review and approval before they can be promoted through your AdWords account. Please notify us if you wish to promote additional websites through your ads."

8. Use negative keywords One of the examples Google uses when explaining why it’s worth using negative keywords is the word "bears". If you have a charity that runs a bear sanctuary, you’d want your adverts to show for bears but perhaps not "teddy bears". You could therefore specify "teddy" as a negative keyword. It’s worth doing because if your advert shows for searches relating to "teddy bears", it is not likely to get many clicks, it will get a poor quality score and it will be displayed less. More on this here: http://bit.ly/third_sector_grant9.

9. Pay attention to the terms and conditions There are certain terms you need to adhere to or you could lose your grant. Google asks that you "actively engage" with the programme, which means replying to any emails that come in and logging in at least once a month to see how your campaigns are performing.

10. Learn how the auction works Do you know how the Adwords auction works? If not, take a look at this video - http://bit.ly/third_sector_13. As you’ll see, the quality score of your keywords plays a factor, as well as your maximum bid. So even though you are restricted to $1 maximum cost per click, your adverts can appear higher than those bidding more if you can improve your quality score.

11. Quality landing pages Optimising your landing pages on the actions you want people to take will improve your conversion rates but will also have an impact on your quality scores. As Google says: "Landing page quality is one of several factors that determine a keyword's quality score. The quality of a landing page is influenced by the usefulness and relevance of information provided on the page, ease of navigation, load time, how many links are on the page and more." More on this here: http://bit.ly/third_sector_12.

12. Spread the word Have you shared the fact you have all this ad spend with other departments? If not, organise a Google Grant seminar where you explain what the programme is and ask the various departments to think how they might be able to use the grant to meet their objectives.

And finally, a suggestion. If these tips help you spend more of your grant or if you are already spending the majority of your $10,000 on a monthly basis, why not aim for Grantspro status? The things you need to do are outlined here: http://bit.ly/third_sector_grant10 – if successful, you’ll have $40,000 a month to help you achieve your organisation’s objectives.

Read Rob Salmon's introduction to Google Grants feature

Rob Salmon is director of marketing at Torchbox. You can contact him on Twitter @rsalmonuk

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