In today’s episode, we’re happy to have Wendy Bonham-Carter! Wendy is a certified Google Adwords specialist, co-host of the Social Action for Climate Change Summit, experienced web designer & all round digital marketing geek.
We brought Wendy on the show to talk about the Google and Bing Ad grants, how you can apply for them, and how to get the most of them with your marketing campaign.
David Pisarek: Get $156,000 just by listening to this episode. You get 13 grand. Did you know that you’re losing $13,000 a month?
Welcome to the Non-profit Digital Success Podcast. I’m your host David, and in this episode, we’re going to be talking with Wendy about Ad grants, how you can get them and what you are and are not allowed to do with them. So keep on listening. Don’t want to miss out.
After a ten-year career in the fashion industry, she transitioned into the non-profit sector when she was afforded the opportunity to work with an international NGO. Over the last five years, she’s been supporting grassroots non-profits, enabling them to louder their voice, reach new supporters, and drive true impact for their cause.
Wendy has worked with a variety of organizations, including environmental education, mental health, wellbeing sustainability, youth support, cancer, and local community initiatives. I think that was eight. There are probably a dozen more that don’t come right off the top of the mind there, but she’s a busy person, so not only that, she’s a certified Google AdWords specialist, co-host of the Social Action for Climate Change Summit, an experienced web designer, and all around digital marketing geek. Wendy, thanks so much for joining on the show.
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Thanks for having me, David. Real pleasure to be here.
David Pisarek: We’re going to be talking about Ad grants and what you can do with them, what you can’t do with them. Let’s, I guess, first talk about them. There’s two out there. Tell us about those.
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Yeah, I think the one that people know the most is the Google Ad Grant. As we were just talking about before we got on the call, it’s been around for a decade now. It’s changed a lot in the last ten years. But yes, Google offered the eligible non-profits $10,000 a month to spend in Google Search ads through their Google Ads platform. So that’s the big one. And then more recently, in the last couple of months, Bing have introduced their own Ad Grant, which is Ads for Social Impact, and that’s offering $3,000 a month in spend on the Bing advertising platform as well.
David Pisarek: There you have it. That is the $13,000 of the Microsoft Bing ads for social impact, is very new. We’re hearing chatter that it’s, like, “overwhelmed”. They have too many applications. It’s taken a really long time to process. Don’t get your hopes up. Go and apply. If you’re listening to this, you’ve probably already heard about the Google Ad Grant I think I’ve mentioned in another episode or two, but you might have known about it anyway from your own research. So let’s begin into Google Ads grants. What are you allowed to do with it, and who can get it?
Wendy Bonham-Carter: There are so many organizations that are eligible for it. In fact, providing that you are a registered non-profit in one of the 55 countries that are now eligible for it, you should be eligible providing you’re not a school or education institution, a government organization, or a hospital or healthcare organization. Although with that healthcare organization, there is a slight caveat in that as well, because a lot of the sort of mental healthcare charities are eligible. But yes, providing you’re kind of not one of those key organizations that to do with school, government, or hospitals, you’re probably going to be eligible as long as you have a high quality website, and you’re a registered non-profit in one of the countries that are eligible.
In fact, the application process for it is extremely, extremely easy. So all in all, for you to get set up and apply for this and get approved is probably take you around about an hour. It’s literally a case of filling in a few forms, updating the proof of your charitable status and waiting. You have to wait a little bit of time in between each of those forms for you to get approved for different things, but actually time in front of your screen, getting approved will take you about an hour. It’s very, very easy to get set up for it.
David Pisarek: The question is, is it worth an hour of time to get $120,000 a year in free ad revenue?
Wendy Bonham-Carter: That’s a great question. It’s debatable realistically because not every non-profit is suited to the grant, and I’d like to explain why that is.
There are really a few key things that you need to make the grant work well for your organization. Number one is, you need personnel resources. You need to have somebody within your organization, within your team, that has an understanding or a capability for learning Google Ads. So if your organization is largely built on volunteers that kind of come and go through your organization, you’re probably going to struggle with the Google Ad one because you need somebody to work on it, and you need somebody to work on it consistently. The alternative for that is that you have a budget to be able to outsource that to an agency to manage it for you.
The third thing, and this is kind of one of the most crucial things, is that you really need a decent audience size to work with. So if your organization is super niche or very local and only caters to a small area or small population, you’re probably not going to have enough prospective supporters to actually make the grant work and for the ads to run through the platform. That’s another really important thing to consider if you’re deciding to get involved with the grant.
The fourth thing is, not only do you need a good quality website for it to work, but you need to have good quality content on your website for people to engage with once they land on your pages through your ad.
And the fifth thing that you need is, a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that the grant can be aligned to. This is not a stand-alone tool, despite the fact that some people kind of look at it and think, “oh great, $10,000 of advertising a month”, the only way you’re going to really see true value of it is if it aligns to your larger digital marketing strategy, and you understand where the grants can help you leverage some of those goals and objectives that you’re trying to reach. For me personally, having worked with a number of different organizations over the last five years with the grant, the non-profits that I see that tend to get the most value from the grant are offered some kind of revenue or donation generating programs or products and that’s where they truly see the most value in the grant. If you’re offering something like that within what you’re doing, the grant is definitely for you.
David Pisarek: Awesome. You mentioned it twice, and I just want to touch back on that… You keep saying “high-quality” website. What does that mean?
Wendy Bonham-Carter: What it means is it needs to run quickly. And that’s one of the key indicators from Google. It’s one of the reasons that we see a lot of people actually being declined for the grant at the moment. So realistically, it needs to pass Google’s speed test scores. But what it also needs to do is it needs to be laid out clearly, it needs to have good, clear calls-to-action, it needs to be easy to navigate, and it needs to have a reasonable depth of content on the site.
David Pisarek: I think those are all really important things, whether you are applying for the grant or not. You want your website to load quick. One of the benefits is Google uses page speed as part of their algorithm-metric crazy system of indexing and ranking websites in search. If you have a fast site, if it’s running on SSL, (it’s HTTPS instead of HTTP) that makes a difference as well. Google is giving preference for HTTPS as well.
You want to have a modern website for something that works on mobile, and that also plays into Google’s algorithm where they’re giving preference to sites that operate and function properly on a mobile device.
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Absolutely. And like you say, it’s outside the ground. These are all things that organizations should be aiming for anyway. It’s only going to serve you well in the long run. We know that sites that run quicker convert better, so people are waiting around for pages to load. They tend to lose interest and leave your site. This is only going to benefit every element of your overall digital marketing strategy by making sure that the website is really high in quality, functions well, and most importantly, like you say, it really functions well on mobile devices.
David Pisarek: 100%. Absolutely. If your site isn’t running smoothly, look at who is hosting your site and start there. See if they can add more resources budget for better web hosting for your organization. It is the cover page to your book. It is the resume for your organization. It’s essentially an employee that works for you 24/7 in a marketing function and trying to drive volunteers and donors. How many times have you gone to a website, it was just slowed alone, and you’re like, “forget this”, and you go back. People are doing that to your site if it’s running slow, and it will be foolish to think that they’re not doing that because you’re a charity or non-profit. That’s just the nature of the beast.
So, “My non-profit is qualified for this ad grant. I’ve gone, I’ve applied, I’ve done the forms, I’ve spent, maybe, an hour and a half of my time, kind of like getting all the information and putting it in and doing all that and I get approved”, awesome. What’s kind of the next step? How can you use the advantage to drive donations?
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Yeah, you can absolutely use the advantage to drive donations, but the way of looking at this is that donations are very much a secondary action. I see a lot of organizations coming to us and saying we’re not seeing the results that we want from the grant, and a lot of the time it’s because they’re using keywords, like “donate to local charity”, and when you think about that, if you think about why people are using search engines, they’re not using search engines to search for ways to give away their money.
It’s important to recognize that you need to be able to draw people into your site and really use the Google Ad brand as this kind of top funnel marketing activity. It’s really about brand awareness, and what we want to do is, we want to drive as much traffic to the site as possible, but for terms and topics that pertain to the work or maybe the impact of the organization. And then once those people reach the site, then it’s time to really “wow” them with compelling content and ideally start funneling them further down into the donor marketing funnel and whether that be through funneling them onto the email list or funneling them into your social media following. But as I say, the donations are very much the secondary action.
So yeah, we want to make sure that the site is optimized for donations, but I think it’s quite interesting to note that we now know that it takes around five to twelve touchpoints with your marketing messaging before somebody is actually ready to hand over their money to you.
And I know that that’s very much a statistics from the e-commerce world, but it’s relative, even more so, I think, to non-profit organizations when you’re not getting anything tangible back for your money. You really need to build that trust and like-factor before someone’s going to donate to your appeal or your cause. Now, obviously there are a couple of exceptions when it comes to this if you think about disaster relief campaigns, but as a general rule of thumb, we know that people aren’t actively looking to give their money away, but they’re compelled to give their money away once they reach your content, once you tell your impact stories. So, yeah, it’s very much treating this as a top funnel marketing exercise, drawing people in with things of topics and slightly, maybe broader topics and terms that relate to your organization, relate to the work that you do that people are actively searching for and then making sure that you’ve got content that engages with them, and you’ve got vehicles in place on your website to help pull those people further down into your marketing funnel and then being able to nurture that interest, whether it be through email marketing or social media, to tell more of your story to tell more of the work that the organization does and then compel people to actually donate.
David Pisarek: So here’s a question for you. Actually, before I get to that question, what I’m hearing is you need to have a compelling case and really create a story behind what it is that your organization is doing, right? If somebody were to walk up to you… You’re walking down the street, and they approach, “Hey, can you donate to our cause?”, versus, “Hey, can I tell you about how we save at-risk youth from going down this path? Let me tell you a story about how we do that” and then engage them in that way. Having said that, the ad grant… Great, I’ve created the copy, whatever imagery for the visual part of the ads, if it’s going to be displayed versus just text ad, that kind of thing, homepage or maybe a new landing page.
Wendy Bonham-Carter: It very much depends on the keywords that you’re using. In each ad group, you should have a set of tightly related keywords. I’ll give you a real life example: One of my clients offers a paid course, they are a non-profit. They offer a paid-for-course in mindful stress reduction, that keyword itself is high competition.
The other thing that you’ve got to remember about the Google Ad one is, your ads are always going to sit in position of below paying advertisers. We know that keyword is quite high competition, we’re going to struggle to show for it, but we’ll still put an ad in place there so that we can try and scoop up some of that traffic, if our ads are showing for that.
And I wouldn’t take those people to the home page, I would take them directly to the page that pertains to that specific thing that we’re advertising for. Where we saw the most impact with the Google Ad grant was not around the terms relating to that specific course and that specific teaching, but it was, what could those people get out of that teaching? We actually set up ads of what to do with dealing with anxiety, coping with chronic pain, all of these things that are actually results that people can see as a result of taking this course, but they may not be aware of the program itself. So you can see. And obviously we want to drive those people directly through to the page that makes most sense to the keywords that we’re displaying, but also ensuring that we’re thinking about what is of interest or what can people achieve or learn from the content that we’re putting out there or the programs or the services that we’re offering without directly using those kinds of high volume keywords.
David Pisarek: I think that’s really important. You want to drive people into relevant content based on the keywords and what it is that ad is talking about. You don’t want to just take them to some kind of generic page, and then they’re going to get lost. They’re like, “what is this?” and then they’re going to leave. There’s a trust moment there as well, they click through, and they’re seeing something radically different or not related at all, or it’s really hard to find the related content to whatever that ad was speaking to. So I think that’s an important takeaway for sure.
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Yep.
David Pisarek: Okay, so we touched on this a little bit in terms of what you just said, but is there a right way and a wrong way to use the ad grant? Are there things that you’re absolutely not allowed to do?
Wendy Bonham-Carter: I mean, there are sorts of things that you’re not allowed to do with the grant. I see a lot of people getting tripped up saying, you know, “We just can’t get our campaigns published”, and nine times out of ten, it’s because they are trying to create the wrong type of campaign.
It’s really important to remember that with the Google Ad grant, you can only create search campaigns.
You can’t use display ads, you can’t use the smart shopping ads, you can’t use anything that is not the specific search campaigns. I think a lot of people get tripped up there, don’t understand why they can’t even get past that first hurdle. The other thing is, as well, is remembering that within the grant, you cannot use the search partners network. It’s really only the Google search engine itself is where your ads are going to show up.
One of the things that we kind of understandably frowned upon is, people that are using competitor keywords. So as a non-profit, yes, I guess there’s to a certain extent, some people are in competition with others, and there’s a bit of a tactic with normal paid campaigns, especially for a lot of the sort of brands that are out there to bid on their competitor keywords. And that’s really frowned upon because we’re all in the same boat as non-profits, trying to do something impactful. I would say definitely don’t do that.
We are all in competition with each other, but we’re also in competition with the people that are paying for the ads. So that’s an important thing to note. But there’s definitely a right way to utilize the grant, and it really comes down to strategy. As I mentioned earlier, it’s about really integrating the grant within your current digital marketing strategy. Understanding if you’re producing content, whether it be for your blog or for your website, how can that integrate with your grant, how can you utilize the grant to drive more traffic to those specific pages?
And then also thinking about it from a reverse angle is, what content can you actually produce that’s going to facilitate more of your ads and your grants? Is there specific content that you can produce to actually draw traffic in through the ads? The other thing is as well, is that really, it’s so incredibly important to ensure that if you’re using the Google Ad grant and, really, if you’re using any form of vehicle to drive traffic to your website, that you are integrating that with email marketing. I mean, we know the statistics when it comes to email marketing, people are so much more likely to convert and donate through email than any other channels. So if you’re taking the time to set the ground up and create your ads, you definitely want to make sure that you’ve got that email marketing element within your website to funnel those people through.
One of the best ways to use this is really to define your objectives by identifying which of your online goals in your digital marketing strategy the grant can support. And like I said before, treating it as a top funnel marketing touchpoint. Not necessarily concentrating on how many donations am I getting as a result of this, but how many people are interested.
And one of the key ways to do that as well, though, is to focus on conversions. When we’re looking at the metrics in the grant of what’s working, and what’s not, a lot of people get hung up on how much is my grant spending, how much of that $10,000 a month am I able to utilize? And actually, people don’t like to hear it, but spend is just a voluntary metric.
You could be spending $10,000 a month and reaching thousands of people that have absolutely no interest in what you’re doing. Or you could be spending £1000 of the grant a month and getting some really good quality conversions, whether that be through email sign-ups or social media follows or fundraising pack downloads or even purchases and program sign-ups.
If you’ve got revenue generating programs within your organization, but one of the keys as well is to make sure that you’re taking the time to actually really build out a solid structure, a solid foundation for your campaigns. And by defining those objectives, that really helps to identify what campaigns do we need to have in place. Do you want to do something to do with volunteer recruitment? “Yeah”, okay, so set a campaign up for that. Is it something that’s more brand awareness generalized? Can we just put all of our sort of generic, the topics, the terms that relate to our work in one campaign? “Great”. Then maybe you’ve got fundraising events, so creating a separate campaign for that. But it’s also about adhering to best practices, and best practices are there, definitely for a reason.
One of the common things that we come across when we do audits of accounts is that people are saying, “My ad isn’t spending”, and I hear this word and I say, “Did you say ad singular?” They said, “Yeah”, I said, “Okay, we can see where the problem is”, so it’s about making sure that you’ve got enough ad groups and enough ads in place, and about making sure that you’ve got conversion tracking set up, and you’ve got it set up properly and that it’s working correctly, that Google has enough data to actually learn from what’s going on in your ads, or learn from the actions that people are taking on your website to be able to use its machine learning to really optimize your account for the best results.
David Pisarek: 100%. And there are three things that you mentioned that I think are really important for everybody to really take to heart. One is that strategy. Strategy. Strategy. You need to have a clear plan so that you can build things that work with that plan, and ads should be part of what that plan is. But keeping in mind, are you going to get a $30,000 donation because you had an ad in Google? Honestly, probably not. Let’s just be realistic. Is that going to happen? I would say it’s really doubtful. If it happens, phenomenal. Let us know what you did to make that happen, and we’ll feature you in a podcast episode as well. Even if you were able to get a $2,000 donation or $1,000 donation because of an ad, let us know, because we would love to hear what your secret sauce, your formula was for making that happen.
Think of it as top of funnel a brand awareness piece in, driving people into the content they want and trying to bring them into your ecosystem of awareness. Get them on your email list, get them to share content of yours to their social platforms that they are a part of, and things like that. Get them to really feel what your organization does and understand the importance of it. And the third thing was analytics.
Without any data, you’re just going blind with it.
You don’t know what it is that you’re doing, and you have no way of knowing if you tweak a word, if you make a slight change, how has that impacted in a positive or negative way? Not every month is just going to be increasing and increasing an increase, and there are going to be ups and downs with it as you’re playing with it, especially if you’re doing it yourself. It might not be your only focus in your organization.
You need to expect that it’s not going to go perfectly all the time, and that’s totally acceptable, and don’t worry about it, it’s all good. This isn’t money that you’re actually spending out of your budget, this is money that is granted to your organization. It’s okay if you goof up. It’s okay if you only spend $2,000 this month. It’s about the quality of the people that are coming in, not necessarily the quantity of the money spent, which is what Wendy’s already mentioned. I think those are some really key takeaways.
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Yeah, and I think you touched on an interesting point here as well.
We know that marketing is 95% about testing and testing and understanding what’s resonating with your audience and what’s not.
And actually the Google Ad grant is a great way to do that in terms of being able to test your ad copy and like you say, with very minimal risk because it’s not really your money, your ad spends that’s being spent. Now, a lot of non-profits will actually couple the grant account with a paid account so that they can actually bid on those high competition keywords and get shown for those. If you’re doing that, the grant can provide a great test bed for working out what copy, what headlines, what landing pages are really helping to drive interest and engagement. And you can then apply that to not only a paid Google account, but also potentially your social media ad copy or your email marketing copy. Again, it’s a great tool for being able to test a lot of different things as well.
David Pisarek: We’re just talking about testing, you don’t have to use the ad grant to test the ads. You can use the ad grant to test what happens on the page when people get there. You can set up a B testing with different calls to action, or you can test different headings that are on the page or different positioning of an image versus the copy or video and that type of piece. But scientifically speaking, if you’re testing, it’s going to be one thing that changes for one thing. You don’t want to have one thing drastically different. You need to know, “Okay, well, was it the color that affected it? Was it the placement? Was it the wording? Was it because I had a video instead of an image?” Or maybe no image, maybe just a whole bunch of copy, right? If you change too much, then you don’t know what actually affected the results. And you need to give it time. It’s not like you run it and then two days later, you know, “Okay, here’s what it is”.
Google… They’re giving you $10,000, but that’s not where they make their money. They’re making their money off of businesses and organizations that are paying for paid ads. So, to your point, when do you think it’s a really smart idea if your organization has budget to set some aside in terms of digital marketing budget for actual ad spend? If you don’t have a budget, see if you can work it into your plans for next fiscal and start having some conversations about why it might be important, and do it as maybe a one-year kind of test. Or six month test where you put a few thousand dollars a month aside for ads or a couple of months whatever you’re able to spend on it because you are going to see results from it.
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Absolutely.
David Pisarek: Okay, I’ve got money set aside, and I’m going to do some paid ads. And I’ve got the $10,000 from Google, the $3,000 from Microsoft, and I’m doing all these ads, and I’m working on it and spending maybe eight to 10 hours a week kind of playing with the ads a little bit and reviewing the data and tweaking and stuff like that. What are some of the common mistakes that people listening or watching this on our YouTube channel can avoid by listening to this?
Wendy Bonham-Carter: So one of the services we offer is an account audit and recommendations report. So what we do in that is we really do a deep dive into the account, identifying areas for improvement, and we see a lot of the same issues and mistakes being made. I think the most common one that we see is people that are only using high competition keywords in their ads. So when you start setting your ads up in Google, you’ve got the keyword planning tool, which is a fantastic tool, and it actually gives you an indication in that tool of how much competition is against each of those keywords.
So as we know with the Google Ad grant, your ads sit below the paying advertisers. If you’ve got high competition keywords, what that means is, there’s a whole lot of people that are already waiting to pay for that keyword ahead of you.
So quite often, if you’re only using high competition keywords, you’re not going to see any impressions. I highly doubtful you’re going to see any clicks because there’s too many people in the queue in front of you. So a good tip there is to look for high volume, low competition keywords, which are what I like to call as “low-hanging fruit.”
The second thing we see is there’s just not enough ad groups and ads in place. So somebody will set up a campaign and there may be one or two ad groups and an ad under each of those and. It’s simply not enough to get traction on the account. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend having a minimum of four to five ad groups per campaign and still having two ads in each ad group. Despite the fact that Google is now moving away from the expanded text ad, the requirements do still require you to have two ads in each grade group, so two responsive search ads. But one of my top tips for this is if you just try pinning some of the headlines or the description in your second ad, then it can just give you a nice A B test between the two.
The third thing is, as I touched upon before, not having conversion tracking set up or set up incorrectly. It’s so incredibly important to have conversion tracking set up. We want to make sure that we’re capturing those actions that people are taking and not just from, as we would determine, a hard conversion perspective. So it’s not just your donations or your contact form submits and those are obviously going to be your most valuable conversions, but also about building in other conversions which just show engagement and intent. By that, it could be somebody’s watched a certain percentage of your video, or they’ve been on your page for more than a certain amount of time, or they’ve viewed a specific page. Although those don’t show that sort of really valuable action, they do still show intent and engagement. What that does for Google is, again, you’re feeding the machine, learning more data to work with, so it can then analyze. Well, I know that type of person is going to come and watch the video, and if they’re going to come onto your site and watch your video and engage with your content, you’ve got a much higher chance of actually converting them into a donor or a supporter further down the line. Although not as valuable, they are still valuable actions that you should be tracking.
And the fourth thing is not thinking about interest targeting with keywords. By this, like the example that I gave before about having this one specific course and only putting the keywords in that are that sort of course name, but thinking more outside the box. In terms of “what terms are people actively searching for” that don’t directly describe my organization and the work that I do, do still represent that and would still be of interest to that particular search term. When we think about this, it’s a bit like SEO from this standpoint, in the sense of long tail keywords are much easier to rank for. It very much works the same with Google Ads, given the parameters that we have to work within under the grant regulations. Just thinking a little bit more outside the box in terms of “how can we describe what we do without actually telling people what we do.”
David Pisarek: Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting idea, to think about your topic or your focus for your organization. What are those, if you think, in terms of concentric circles? You’ve got your really narrow, a little bit broader, and then wider range. Do some thinking, some brainstorming, bring your executives and bring some of your volunteers and have some sessions where you’re thinking about: if you’re focused on mindfulness as an organization or children, what are those words that are associated with it? Talk to the people that are coming and using your services or buying your products and see what is it that they’re looking for.
Without analytics, you’re not going to know those things without asking, but getting the actual conversations flowing and talking to people, you’re going to build out like a mind map, essentially, of keywords that are going to help you be able to target these ads in ways that maybe you wouldn’t have been able to previously.
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Yeah, exactly. And I think just taking the example of a charity that supports children in some manner, it would be interesting to look at what’s your donor profile or, is your donor profile predominantly parents because they resonate more with the work that you’re doing because they have children of their own? And if that’s the case, then it’s about, as we say, “reverse engineering” that content to think about what would bring those people in. If you’re working with children and that’s your area of expertise, the chances are you can put together very easily some great resources, whether it be a blog article or maybe it’s a PDF download or something that actually is going to support parents in their role based on what you’ve already understood, what you understand and what you teach as an organization and already there.
Then you can pull your target demographic into your website with something that really is of interest to them without you saying, “we’re a charity, come and donate with us”, but actually giving them something of value that meets the need or meets a want that they currently have. What you’ve subconsciously done is, you’ve subconsciously bought them into your ecosystem, and you’re able to start introducing the work that you do, and you know that they fit your ideal donor profile.
David Pisarek: Something else that people could consider is, hopefully you have analytics installed on your site (ideally or not, maybe not necessarily ideally). For better or for worse, we can argue the merits of Google Analytics versus other platforms, but let’s just say Google Analytics for now, it’s free. It’s super easy to get up and working on your site. (If you’re listening to this, if you don’t have analytics on your site, let me know, reach out to me. We’ll do it for you for free. We need you to have access to your data).
Now, if you are running analytics, something you should know is that, I think it’s beginning of July 2023, universal analytics is going “bye-bye”, and it’s going to be at Google Analytics 4, so you need to transition if you’re using UA Three right now, over to GA 4. Putting that all aside, take a look at your analytics. Look at the top five pages of your website in terms of page views, look at what those topics are on those pages. Look at the words that are on there because that is what is attracting people into your site from organic search. And it’s going to have keywords that people are searching for to start thinking in terms of, “All right, these are words, this is content people are interested in. What are some other words around these topics?” and you can start looking at your analytics to help you build ads. So going the other way in terms of that.
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Absolutely, and the possibilities are endless depending on how many resources you’ve got to put towards this. But, like I say, one of the great ways of drawing people in, whether it be through the Google Ad or through organic SEO, is through having a blog, because a blog is also a great way to be able to really drive home those keywords that you want to show for, and I think more than anything else now, is that non-profits are also expected to function like any other business that’s marketing themselves digitally.
You need to provide some level of value to your audience, especially on that first touchpoint, and a blog is a great way to be able to do that. It’s also a great thing to be able to utilize in your social media through organic SEO and to actually drive traffic through from the Google Ad grant to those specific blog articles as well.
So, again, it just shows how the grant is a really integral part of the overall digital marketing strategy, and not just that standalone piece that’s going to bring you in donations. It’s got to work with everything else. When you start thinking about it in this way, it actually becomes very interesting into what starts feeding both in and out of that in terms of ideas of things that you can do with the organization, to market your organization not just through the grant, but in every activity that you’re carrying out.
David Pisarek: Absolutely. And again, it all comes down to having a strategy. Does your strategy have to be 100% perfect? No, it doesn’t. Honestly, it probably never will be 100% perfect because technology changes, things changes, different platforms, etc. World’s richest people buying social media platforms are not right, and then who knows what they end up doing to them. You can’t rely on those. There’s going to be an evolution that happens kind of organically over time, so the question is this, Wendy, is it better to work on this in house or work with a partner or like an outsource agency?
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Great question. There are a few questions, and it largely depends on your organization, so there are a couple of key questions there. First one is, what capacity do you currently have in your marketing team? We would say, is somebody able to dedicate a minimum of four to 5 hours per month to manage just the ad account?
Then you’ve got to look at what is the skill base of the current team. Is there anyone within your current team whose skill profile would fit naturally with taking on this responsibility? If you’re running paid advertising already, it’s an easy thing to integrate into a sort of paid advertising role, but if you don’t have that, then it’s about thinking, do we have the right skill profile for somebody to be able to pick this up? I think one of the most important things is how much budget do you have available. Can you actually afford to outsource it?
And then, one of the most important things is thinking about what is your expected outcomes from this.
So as I mentioned, organizations that have something to sell or a donation generating product, or service, are more likely to see a better return on investment than those that are just soliciting for donations or volunteers. Again, you’ve got to work out what are your objectives and, is the money spent outsourcing going to be worth what you get back in return?
And then the last thing is just considering how big is the audience size, small? Local charities are not going to see the same return on investment as those operating on a national level. If you’re operating on a national level, you know you’ve got a big audience, it’s going to be much more worthwhile for you to probably outsource it. But again, if you’re sort of operating on a national level, you might already have the skill set of somebody within your team that can manage it themselves with a little bit of training.
Then there are also hybrid options out there. We offer one, and I know a few of the other agencies do the same, which is actually to have an agency build out the account for you and then provide training for your team to be able to manage it on an ongoing basis. That can also be a more cost-effective means of getting all of your ducks in a row, getting those really strong foundations built out, and then getting the training that your team needs to be able to continue the work from there.
David Pisarek: If you want to work on this on your own, I think it would be really wise to get some training, take a course or two, maybe a month or two, to upgrade skills. For anybody that can think analytically, this would probably be a really natural fit because you have to look at the data, you have to analyze and review and kind of create some strategy around moving forward for the next month of the ad or next quarter, depending on how you’re structuring your strategy around that.
Having said so, maybe having a little bit of budget for educational and maybe a little bit of upgrading in terms of knowledge base, that type of thing. But I think it would still be really valuable to hire somebody who is an outsider to come in and take a look at your documentation, at your strategy, at your expected outcomes to go, “You know what? This makes sense, great job”, or “Let’s tweak this a little bit because based on our experience, because we work with 20 other non-profits doing this type of work, we know this and this and this to be true.” So in terms of best practices, think about doing it this way, or maybe they set up the first one or two and work with you in order to give some of that knowledge transfer piece there as well. I think that would be a really wise investment, not just in terms of helping you get more eyes on your ads, but helping the people that are going to be working on this in your organization have a better understanding about the process and thinking around it.
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Absolutely. And I think there’s just one thing that I want to call out there because it’s something that I have come across too many times that I care to mention. But if you’re going to outsource this, if you’re going to employ an agency to do the build out for you or train your team, please make sure they are well versed in the Google Ad grant, because I have seen a lot of organizations come to me and say, “We paid a PPC, a paid advertising organization to build out our ad grant, and it’s not working”, and it’s because the two things work very differently. So please just make sure that you choose somebody that has experience working with the grant, not just with Google Ads, because they are two different animals.
David Pisarek: 100%. So this has been super awesome, I know you’ve got like three things in terms of giving away to the audience, in terms of resources. Let’s talk about those, what do you have for everybody listening?
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Okay, just a couple of things to give away. If you’re currently running Google Ads within your organization, and you’re not seeing performance that you want, we’ve got a ten point checklist that you can use just to check off to make sure that you’ve got certain things in place. What we find is that nine times out of ten, if an account isn’t working as it should be, is down to one of these reasons. So download that, and also one of the other things is, I touched upon the importance of being able to funnel people further down into your donor marketing funnel using the grant, so we’ve got a great guide on how to develop an irresistible lead magnet for your non-profit, which is really going to help you to convert those people and pull them further down into your funnel and guarantee you those additional five to twelve touchpoints that we mentioned earlier, and be able to nurture their interest and convert them into donors.
The other thing that we do have as well, for anybody that just wants a bit of additional support, is, we do have a dedicated Facebook group which is purely for the Google Ad Grant. Within that group we’ve got some fantastic experts, actually some agency owners, people that are very well versed in the grant. So please feel free to join that. If you want to ask me any questions directly, you can do so in that group. And if you’ve got any general questions about the grant itself, how it works, post them in there, and you will get some fantastic responses and support.
David Pisarek: Wendy, amazing and super inspiring insights into what people running their organizations can do, how they can do it, what they should, shouldn’t do. All kinds of great information in this, plus the added bonus of what you just mentioned is phenomenal. Thank you so much.
I hope the people listening to this episode or watching it have been able to pull at least one piece of information from this that will help them. And I want to challenge everybody that’s listening to this to in the next ten business days, go and apply for the Google Ad Grant and the Microsoft Ads for Social Impact Grant in the next two weeks after this, I want you to go and apply. It’s really about taking some kind of action and putting 1 foot in front of the other.
If you don’t apply, you’re never going to get that $10,000 and the $3,000 to be able to do anything with. You’ve got to at least apply. It doesn’t happen immediately, it’s fairly quick, but it’s not certainly overnight. Apply and start figuring out what you’re going to do once you’ve got the grants available to you.
So, everybody, you can head over to Wendy’s website, it’s at Do-Nation.world. On our show notes page, we’re going to have links to the template, checklist, and the lead magnet cheat sheet, there’s a link there for the contact page. There’s also a handy guide that she put together a questionnaire on her website to know whether you would qualify for the grant or not. Super easy, it’s a handful of questions, and it’ll tell you whether you’re eligible or not. So head over there, Do-Nation.world or go to our Show Notes page and get the links.
Thanks again so much, Wendy, for hopping on the podcast. It’s been great having you here on the Non-profit Digital Success podcast.
Wendy Bonham-Carter: Thanks, David.
David Pisarek: Head over to our Show Notes page, nonprofitdigitalsuccess.com/podcast. Click on this episode for all the details, and until next time, keep on being successful.