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Grant Hensel 14 min read

Using Google Ad Grants to Stretch Your Marketing Dollar: 4 Top Tips

Imagine grant money that’s never claimed. Scholarships that receive no applications. Events without volunteers. Service programs that aren’t utilized. These are the things that keep nonprofit professionals awake at night. These professionals know how important their work is, but sometimes the public isn’t as aware.

This is one of the main reasons why nonprofit organizations need to invest what they can in marketing and outreach efforts. This expansion not only helps grow your base of supporters, donors, and volunteers, but it makes your programming more accessible to the people who need it. Whether you’re an animal organization, cultural nonprofit, or service organization, your message needs to be heard in order to be successful.

Many nonprofits are wary of marketing because they believe it to be too expensive. Considering their limited resources, many nonprofits don’t see the value in competing with for-profit companies for advertising space. This is sensible, but ignores the many marketing opportunities exclusively available to nonprofit organizations. One such opportunity is the Google Ad Grant.

Google Ad Grant tips for nonprofits

The Google Ad Grant is given to eligible nonprofits by Google. Organizations with the Grant are given up to $10,000 every month with which to spend on Google Ads. Unlike other Grants, these funds are available every month so long as you meet minimal compliance standards. This makes the Google Ad Grant an incredibly cost-effective option for nonprofits of all sizes, missions, and scopes.

At Nonprofit Megaphone, we help our clients acquire, manage, and utilize the Google Ad Grant. Over the years, we’ve learned a plethora of tips and strategies that help organizations thrive. We’re here to share four top tips that will help your organization get the most effective, successful marketing out of your Google Ad Grant:

  1. Assign a grant manager.
  2. Choose appropriate keywords.
  3. Conduct A/B testing.
  4. Optimize landing pages.

With these tips in hand, you’ll be ready to pursue the Google Ad Grant and jumpstart your digital marketing!

1. Assign a grant manager. 

Designating a grant manager is one of the best ways to maximize the effectiveness of your Google Grant. Whether it’s one person or a small team, it’s important to keep grant management consistent within your organization. Not only is this helpful for your workplace division of labor, but it will improve the short- and long-term performance of your Google Ad Grant.

Managing the Google Ad Grant requires a unique skillset. The manager will need to responsibly manage your account in order to maintain the minimum compliance standards. Beyond that, your manager can develop their knowledge and skills to utilize the Ad Grant to maximum effectiveness.

Skills necessary for a good grant manager include attention to detail, creativity, and data analysis. While Google gives you plenty of data with which to make informed decisions regarding your Google Ads account, it takes an analytical mind to really take advantage of it. This is one of the great virtues of the Google Ad Grant: it is flexible enough to benefit nearly any organization that uses it, but can be maximized to great effect by managers with the talent to do so.

Not all organizations are equipped to manage the Grant themselves. Whether they lack the resources to maintain compliance or lack the time to invest in the grant management skillset, many organizations choose to outsource their grant management. This allows your organization to focus on your mission, programming, and web content. Allowing your team to focus on this will help the overall performance of your Ad Grant, as high-quality programming and content creates high-quality web traffic.

2. Choose appropriate keywords. 

Keywords are an integral part of a successful Google Ad campaign. Each ad is associated with a list of keywords. This list determines when an ad is displayed. If the keywords are relevant to the search terms, the Ad is eligible for display.

You may think that this encourages the creation of a huge list that encompasses any and all relevant keywords. Google counters this with one of their most important compliance standards. In order to remain compliant, your account must maintain an average of a 5% Click-Through Rate (CTR). The CTR is calculated by the number of times an ad is clicked on divided by the number of times the ad appears.

The 5% CTR requirements means that a long list of keywords is likely to have a negative impact on your overall CTR. While it may be a good idea to start your campaign with a broad list, your grant manager should be diligently watching their performance and pausing any that are underperforming. Pausing or removing keywords that are not performing well is one of the most important responsibilities of grant management, as it affects the success of your account.

A higher CTR not only keeps you compliant, but is a good marker of how successful your ads are. A good CTR means that your ads are relevant and are enticing people to click. While this may not be sufficient to create the high-quality traffic you’re looking for, it is a vital first step.

We recommend that you keep your list of keywords short and concise. Once you find one that works, develop a list around it using variations of that keyword. This will help you maintain a good CTR. Also keep in mind that your keywords should reflect your ad copy. Keep an eye on their performance and don’t be afraid to make changes.

3. Conduct A/B testing. 

A/B Testing is a common practice among successful grant managers. Each Google Ad group contains ads, keywords, and a landing page that the ads are linked to. Within the group, you can (and should) have multiple ads with slightly different copy. A/B testing is the process of having two ads whose copy differs in a minor respect and analyzing the difference in their performance. For example, let’s say ad A performs much better than ad B. As a grant manager, you should note the difference between the two. Take note of that difference and tweak ad B. Keep doing this until ad B outperforms ad A. This is the process of A/B Testing.

This process is a great way to improve the overall performance of your Google Ads account. Further, it showcases some of the necessary skills of successful grant managers. Whether you’re an experienced grant manager or simply trying to stay compliant, A/B testing can give you valuable information that will help you achieve your long term goals.

4. Optimize landing pages. 

As mentioned in the previous section, each Google Ad group is attached to a particular page on your website. These pages are appropriately called landing pages, as that’s where visitors “land” after clicking on your ad.

Often, this will be a visitor’s first impression of your website and your organization, making landing pages an increasingly important part of your site. You may be inclined to lead visitors to your home page, as that’s often the most welcoming page to new visitors. This may be wise in certain cases, but not in others. A skilled grant manager needs to know when an optimized landing page is more appropriate.

An optimized landing page is one that is specifically designed to handle Google Ads traffic and channel it to a specific goal. It should be concise, addressing the search query using its associated keywords. After addressing the query, an optimized landing page should prompt the visitor to take a next step. This is often done in the form of a Call To Action (CTA). 

CTAs usually entice visitors to click by being displayed as a button or other visually distinct feature on the page. What the CTA asks them to do will differ depending on the page and your priorities. It’s good to experiment with different CTAs to see which are successful and which need to be tweaked. For instance, a CTA that asks someone to donate may be less enticing than one that asks for a newsletter sign up. Keep an eye on the data and make appropriate changes.

Regardless of size, mission, or location, nonprofits often have to do more with less. This means they have to make difficult, prudent decisions in order to use resources efficiently. Thankfully, programs like the Google Ad Grant give nonprofit organizations a useful and cost-effective way to stretch your marketing dollar. With no upstart funds or cost-sharing requirements, the Grant is available to any organization capable of allocating the time and energy to meet the minimal compliance requirements. For organizations with more resources, optimizing the Grant or outsourcing grant management can provide tremendous benefits that can help share your mission with the world.



Grant Hensel

Grant Hensel is the CEO of Nonprofit Megaphone, an agency focused 100% on Google Grant Management for nonprofits. NPM is honored to manage the Google Grant for 370+ leading nonprofits worldwide and to be an inaugural member of the Google Ad Grant Certified Professionals community.