Google Grant Lessons Learned the Hard Way
You’ve done it: your nonprofit has secured a Google Grant. You are primed and ready to use that $10,000 advertising credit to your nonprofit’s advantage. But before you sprint off at the sound of the whistle, you should be aware of the kinds of mistakes your nonprofit could make in operating Google Grants, as well as how to improve your Google Grant. The Google Grants program offers exciting potential for any nonprofit, but it is those who approach the tool with a willingness to learn who ultimately stand to benefit the most. To help you do just that, we’ve compiled a list of potential pitfalls for you to keep in mind as you navigate the Google Grants process.
What are the most common Google Grant mistakes?
1. Leaving money on the table:
Yes, Google has essentially given you free money to advertise your nonprofit, but don’t get carried away just yet. One of the worst things you can do is let your grant go to waste due to lack of planning. Remember, you have up to $10,000 per month to spend, but if your approach only leads to a few hundred clicks, you will leave thousands of dollars in free advertising on the table. It’s up to you to take full advantage of what Google is offering.
For example, one of the mistakes your nonprofit could make is investing all of your Google Grant funds in running one ad campaign. In order to get the best results, you need to know what combinations of words and ad designs will be the most appealing to users. Running just one ad campaign will not give you the data you need. Invest your money in running multiple campaigns or ad groups to help you determine the most effective strategies to invest in moving forward.
2. Choosing the wrong AdWords:
What are AdWords? They are the keywords you prioritize when creating different Ad Groups, which we’ll discuss soon. Below we share a few problems nonprofits often face when choosing AdWords for their Google Grants.
• Lack of strategy: When starting Google Grants, it can be easy to get caught up in all of the options that become available to you, including grabbing a bunch of keywords, lumping them together, and then launching them in an ad, hoping that they’ll somehow work their magic.
In How to Get Free Advertising for Your Nonprofit with Google Grants, Sarah Beauchemin recommends choosing the top 5-8 relevant keywords for your organization as your AdWords. Choosing more than 10 means you are not being focused enough, and choosing less than 5 means you are limiting your potential by being too specific.
Tip for success: Though you only need 5-8 keywords, that doesn’t mean you should list the first 5-8 keywords that come to mind and be done with it! Challenge yourself and your team to list at least 20 potential keywords, then work to rank the top 10 based on relevance, specificity, and uniqueness.
• Lack of focus: Look beyond the obvious keywords, like the name of your nonprofit. Instead, suggests Brett Gerstein in Common Adwords Mistakes, you should thinking about reaching a new audience (who doesn’t know your name yet!) and work to create keywords to appeal to those groups. Use a keyword tool to identify related terms that might not immediately come to mind—remember, not everyone knows the industry jargon that you do.
As Meciek Serafin cautions in 5Mistakes Made with the Google AdWords Grant, “don’t have expensive taste.” This means avoiding broad, overly-common keywords—your nonprofit’s ad will be booted by larger organizations and you’ll be shuffled out of the spotlight. Instead, look for more specific keywords that are unique to your organization and less relevant to others.
3. Not using Ad Groups to refine your strategy:
Don’t create one ad and think your Google Grant is running on autopilot. Create several (at least two!) Ad Groups for the same Ad Words using varying design and copy, then test to see which ads draw more people in. Don’t forget to make sure that your ads are in pristine shape—avoid formatting errors, run-on sentences, lack of punctuation, and other common mistakes that deter readers from clicking your ad. While it’s important to closely monitor your Google Grants, don’t change your configurations morning, noon, and night. Give your ads some time to circulate. Pulling an ad or making adjustments before the ad has time to gain traction could mean missed opportunities and wasted staff time.
4. Creating irrelevant landing pages:
After someone chooses to click your ad, don’t barrage them with donation content that’s totally irrelevant to what they were originally searching for! Bring the people who click on your ad to a corresponding page that makes sense to them based on what content was promised in the ad. It’s basic, but often overlooked—you already spent the time to create an eye-catching ad, you must also spend the time to keep the viewer’s interest and capitalize on their click to your website.
The landing page that users are brought to after they click on your ad is just as important as the ad itself. Make sure that your landing pages are operating at optimal levels. What does that entail? Follow these three simple rules: it’s clean, responsive, and easy to navigate.
Your landing page should have content that is understandable, informative, and highly relevant to the search keywords that brought users there. If your landing page isn’t in great shape, it will affect your ad’s performance. Remember, the landing page should inspire the user to see your content as valuable and want to know more. Make sure you provide them a way to do that, such as following you on social media or subscribing to your newsletter.
5. Not putting a plan in place for Google Grant management:
For some nonprofits, Google Grants is a fun new toy that is played with at the beginning and then left alone and never fully utilized to its full potential. To be successful with your Google Grant, you must put in place a management strategy from the beginning.
• Set it, but don’t forget it: Take advantage of the tools that come with Google Grants. Run analytics and test different ad groups at least once a week.
• Make adjustments accordingly: After letting an ad have its run, if it isn’t performing well or is not performing at all, make some modifications or delete the ad entirely. Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself back at square one; it takes time and practice to find the campaign that will be the best for your nonprofit.
Invest your time wisely by hiring the right help.
While Google Grants is technology based, the most important element of this process that should not be overlooked is the human element, the person or group of people who will manage your Google Grant on a long-term basis. One sure-fire way to let your Google Grant go to waste is to pass it on to someone who doesn’t know much or anything about it. Take steps to provide your staff the training they need or seek out an agency (like ours) to manage it for you. By hiring a team of experts, you will ensure informed management of your Google Grant and spend your staff’s time in the most productive way.