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Google is no longer giving away $40,000 to NFPs, but our director and NFP champion, Richenda Vermeulen, writes there’s nothing to fear. Rather it’s a great wake up call for NFPs and businesses alike to optimise their Google Adwords Account.

This month, Google made a quiet announcement that affects not-for-profits in a BIG way. With no explanation, and no formal press release, Google closed off applications to its premium Ads Grantspro program, preventing NFPs from accessing $40,000 in free advertising when they optimise their standard $10,000 account. Only a single line on the Ad Grants support page made us all aware of the change.

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It’s a great wake up call for NFPs to understand how to optimise your Google Ad Grants accounts to truly get the most out of your free $10,000 spend each and every month.

Here’s a few tricks of the trade to do just that…

1. Spend your entire budget, not just a fraction of it

 

You wouldn’t leave donations sitting in a bank account, when there’s so much potential to do good. Well the same goes for your Google Ad Grants account.  Yet we’ve found that so many of the NFPs we’ve worked with haven’t even been using half the monthly spend, and without a roll over feature it means that not only are thousands of dollars wasted each month, but the opportunities to increase your visibility, donations and engagement are too.

Despite the $2 bid limit, it’s still possible to take full advantage of the entire $10,000. Try bidding on a broad list of keywords related to your NFP. Keywords can be built from the services you offer or to the content that you have on your website. Once you have a large list of keywords, you can then adopt a test and learn approach to see which keywords are the most valuable to your NFP and begin refining your account (e.g. spending more of your budget on those high-value keywords).  

2. Use ALL of the available features on your grants account

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Although there are many restrictions for Google Ad Grants accounts, there’s still a surprisingly large arsenal of free and easy features available to it. Features such as the new expanded text ads, which gives you more ad real estate; dynamic search campaigns, which automatically generate ad headlines based on a user’s search query and your website content; ad extensions, which enhances your ads with locations, callouts and phone numbers; and even App Install ads, which allow you to drive app installs. All these little additional features can help your campaigns go that extra mile!

3. Get a paid account to complement your grants account

 

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With a well-built Google Ad Grants account, NFPs have an edge that most commercial businesses don’t. They are provided a cost-free and risk-free testing ground for a truly holistic AdWords strategy.

With both an Ad Grants account and a paid account, it means NFPs are able to save big dollars overall on their AdWords campaigns. The trick is to use your Google Ad Grants account to identify high-value and lower-value keywords and redistribute them to the relevant account.

As an example, your branded keywords (keywords that have your brand name) typically have a very low maximum bid, this means you should have these keywords on your Ad Grants account to save your NFP big advertising dollars, while moving those more competitive keywords (such as ‘donation’) to your paid account.

The secret is looking at both of your accounts as one holistic campaign.

4. Optimise your landing pages for conversions

Remember that AdWords are only half the story, and not even the important half. You may be able to direct traffic to your website, but are you keeping them and making conversions? At the end of the day, you won’t be able to get donations if your landing pages are poorly optimised.

How do you optimise your landing pages you ask?

First build trust, and second make it a seamless process. If you are directing people to your donation page, you want to make sure you are telling a story as to why a user should donate, building their trust in you through your content. On the more technical side, make sure your donation forms are easy to fill out, with clear calls to action, dollar handles, a simple process and mobile friendly. World Vision Canada’s child sponsorship page is a great example.

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So while the news about the closure of the Grantspro account is certainly a shock to the NFP community, we don’t think it’s something to fear. It’s a great reminder for NFPs to continue optimising your accounts, plus you may be interested to know that Google did the same thing a few years ago in 2013, reopening Grantspro in 2014 with new eligibility requirements, so there’s no knowing when they’ll just as sneakily reinstate the program.

This article was first published on Pro Bono News because we are nerdily passionate about all things Google Adwords. We’ve even been endorsed by Google themselves as a recognised agency and maintain industry-rivalled return on investment for leading Australian charities – having managed one client’s most successful AdWords campaign to date, boasting a return of $72 for every $1 invested. We have a great Adwords Best Practice Checklist to help you optimise your account. Send us an email and we’ll send one your way!