As of January 2022, Google has almost 92% of the global search engine market, processing more than 8 billion searches per day. Given its massive reach, this search engine is a powerful tool for businesses, marketers, and even nonprofit organizations.
To drive the most clicks to your website (and convert these curious web visitors into dedicated donors or volunteers), it’s crucial to rank on the first page of the search results for keywords that are relevant to your cause. There are two common ways to accomplish this: optimizing your website and blog posts using SEO best practices, or obtaining Google Ads for your organization.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, you could be eligible to enroll in the Google Ad Grants program for free. And while this program is free, it’s still critical that you measure your campaign’s performance to determine your marketing efforts’ ROI. In this guide, we’ll explore a few basic components of the program and then break down the metrics and steps you’ll need to take to measure your success:
- What is the Google Ad Grants program?
- How can nonprofits enroll in the Google Ad Grants program?
- How can nonprofits succeed with the Google Ad Grant?
- What metrics should nonprofits track during Google Ad campaigns?
- What are the steps to measuring Google Ad Grants success?
Let’s start with the basics of Google Ad Grants to set you up for success.
What is the Google Ad Grants program?
According to Getting Attention, “the Google Ad Grant Program awards select 501(c)(3) nonprofits with $10,000 in monthly ad credits to create and host advertising campaigns on Google.”
These grants enable your nonprofit to reap the benefits of a Google Ads campaign without spending a dime. However, you’ll need to dedicate time and research to finding the right keywords, learning how to use Google Ads effectively, and tracking metrics that signal success. Luckily, you can maximize the impact of your campaigns by partnering with a team of Google Ad experts at a Google Ad Grants agency (more on that later).
How can nonprofits enroll in the Google Ad Grants program?
For nonprofits like yours that are interested in enrolling in the Google Ad Grants program, there are a few things you will need to do to be considered eligible for the grant. The most important requirement is that your organization holds 501(c)(3) status. However, some organizations with this status are automatically exempt from the program, including:
- Government organizations
- Schools and universities
- Healthcare organizations
If your organization is not a part of this list, it may be eligible for the program. To apply for the grant, you’ll need to:
- Have a high-quality website
- Create a TechSoup profile
- Register with Google for Nonprofits
Once you’ve ensured that your organization meets these eligibility criteria, you can move forward with applying for the grant. Find the Google Ad Grants eligibility form in your Google for Nonprofits account, fill it out, and submit it to Google. If you’ve been approved, you’ll receive an invitation to activate your new Google Ad Grants account.
Because determining eligibility and updating your website can be a technical, complex process, it can help to reach out to a Google Ad Grants agency for help. This team of experts can clear up any confusion and assist you in preparing your website and registering for TechSoup and Google for Nonprofits.
How can nonprofits succeed with the Google Ad Grant?
Think about measuring your success like dieting. You may want to eat more protein to build muscle, but your success isn’t solely defined by the end goal of gaining muscle mass. You’ll be successful each day when you consume the goal amount of protein. Part of measuring your success is evaluating whether or not you’re taking the right steps to succeed, which is why you should start measuring following these steps:
- Identifying negative keywords: Make sure you’ve singled out and avoided the keywords that are irrelevant to your Google Ads campaign. This will help you save your ad credits for the clicks that really matter.
- Adjusting ad targeting: Check your Google Ads to ensure they match your audience’s search intent. Considering factors like demographics, affinity, and past involvement can help you identify who your true audience is and how to best reach them.
- Improving your landing pages: Make sure that your pages are accessible and readable. Add engaging graphics and visuals to capture your audience’s attention so that they won’t just click on your ad, but explore your website!
Regularly optimize your nonprofit’s Google Ads to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. Then, you can start tracking campaign metrics to plan any necessary adjustments.
What metrics should nonprofits track during Google Ad campaigns?
To launch your first campaign, your nonprofit will need to identify the perfect keywords to target. In the context of SEO, keywords are the words or phrases that your online content targets in order to help people find your website through search engines.
These keywords need to have the right balance of search traffic, relevance, and competition to ensure you win the “bid” for them (meaning that your ads appear on the results pages for these keywords). While having an ad appear on a search results page is a mark of success, it’s not the only way you should be tracking your campaign’s effectiveness.
To accurately measure your campaign’s performance, make sure to analyze these six key metrics:
Keep in mind that using a tool or software to track data and conversions that occur because of your Google Ads will make the process much easier. Google recommends setting up a Google Analytics account and linking it to your Google Ads account to smoothly record and analyze results. Because you’ll have easy access to metrics like conversions and website traffic (and which ads triggered them) you can more easily adjust your strategies.
What is it? Impressions are the total number of times your ads are displayed on Google.
Why measure impressions? Impressions tell you how visible your ads are as well as how many members of the audience you are reaching. By measuring impressions, you can quickly understand how often your ads are being shown. If the number of impressions seems too low, you can more quickly diagnose and correct problems with the campaign.
How do you evaluate impressions? In most cases, a higher number of impressions is best because it indicates that your ad is reaching more people. However, higher impressions won’t always indicate success, and you’ll need to compare them with other metrics like CTR and conversions.
What is the benchmark for impressions? There is no standard benchmark for this metric as impressions will vary greatly depending on the size of your audience, search traffic for keywords, and even your goals for the ad campaign.
What is it? This measures the percentage of users who click through to your website after viewing the ad.
Why measure CTR? CTR goes a step further than impressions, taking into account how many people were interested enough in your ad to click on it. Use this metric to assess how effective your ads are.
How do you evaluate CTR? The higher your CTR is, the better. A high CTR means that your ads are engaging the target audience.
What is the benchmark for CTR? In the advocacy industry, the average CTR for search ads is 4.41%, although some experts suggest aiming for 5%. If your CTR begins to fall below 4%, start evaluating your ads to find ways to make them more effective.
What is it? CPC represents the average cost of each click-through on one of your ads.
Why measure CPC? Although Google Ads are free through the Google Ad Grants program, this is still an important metric. It helps you understand whether you are making the most effective choices with your ads to truly maximize your $10,000 in ads.
How do you evaluate CPC? Because a lower CPC represents lower costs (allowing your organization to do more with its Google Ads budget), it is generally seen as more desirable. However, keep in mind that while a higher CPC represents higher costs and competition for keywords, it also demonstrates a demand for that keyword from your audience.
What is the benchmark for CPC? The ideal CPC will vary depending on keywords and competition. To estimate a benchmark for your unique cause and set of keywords, compare your CPC with historical data—this can help you understand how effective your ad spend is.
What is it? Conversions are the specific actions users complete after viewing and clicking on your ads. These might include making a donation, signing up for your newsletter, or completing a volunteer application. You should make this desired action clear in your ad’s call to action.
Why measure conversions? Having a viewer click through your ad and complete the desired action is your ultimate goal for individual ads. This metric represents the efficacy of your ads in engaging viewers and persuading them to complete the desired action.
How do you evaluate conversions? Because conversion rate is calculated by dividing total conversions by total clicks, you want to see a higher conversion rate.
What is the benchmark for conversions? There is no standard benchmark for conversion rate. Compare your conversion against both your conversion goals and historical data to understand how your ads are performing.
What is it? Similar to CPC, this metric calculates the cost your nonprofit incurs for every successful conversion.
Why measure cost/con? Cost-per-conversion is a helpful indicator of how effective the campaign was in converting your audience into donors, supporters, and/or volunteers. It helps you understand how financially effective your keyword choices and ads were overall.
How do you evaluate cost/con? A lower cost is more favorable, as you want to spend as little as possible to drive impactful results. A higher cost, on the other hand, could indicate that your ad spending was not as effective as it could have been.
What is the benchmark for cost/con? Like conversion rate, this metric will vary depending on your cause, keywords, and goals. Ideally, you should perform research about the ideal cost/con for your situation and set a realistic target before launching your campaign.
Google Ads Quality Score
What is it? This is a Google rating system that considers user experience, relevance to keyword, and expected CTR in order to calculate a quality score for your ad.
Why measure Quality Score? This metric directly impacts other key performance areas, such as the ad’s position and visibility on the page, CPC, and overall performance.
How do you evaluate Quality Score? Ad quality is scored on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score. In general, you should aim for a higher score.
What is the benchmark for Quality Score? Google’s benchmark for Quality Score is 5. However, these benchmarks change based on the types of keywords your ad is using (e.g., branded keywords should have a score of 8-10 while top-of-funnel keywords should have a score of 7).
What are the steps to measuring Google Ad Grants success?
To start measuring the impact of your Google Ad campaigns, there are a few key steps to follow after you get your account up and running. Here are the six most important steps to take when collecting and analyzing your data:
- Define goals. Set specific, measurable goals before launching your campaign. These goals should be realistic for your organization and consider both industry-wide and cause-specific benchmarks.
- Identify your key performance indicators (KPIs). Select the specific metrics you’ll need to track in order to measure your performance. You’ll likely need to track all of the metrics in this guide, but make note of any less common KPIs as well.
- Set up conversion tracking. The best way to measure your KPIs is to set up a Google Analytics account that is connected to both your Google Ad Grants account and your nonprofit’s web property. This way, you can accurately collect data from both sources and seamlessly generate reports.
- Compare your performance against goals and benchmarks. Did you meet, exceed, or fall short of your goals? Make sure to identify which parts of the ads you think impacted performance (whether that was in a positive or negative way).
- Adjust future strategies. Based on your campaign’s performance, look for ways to refine future campaign strategies. For example, maybe the copy on one ad generated double the conversions that you expected (in this case, keep using that strategy!). On the other hand, maybe a certain keyword generated poor results, leading you to avoid choosing it in the future.
- Continue tracking and reporting. You’ll have the most accurate insights when you have months or years of historical data trends to reference. Consistently analyze your data to ensure your organization is making the most of its ad credits each month.
The world of Google Ads and data analytics can be tricky to navigate, especially if you aren’t experienced with tools like Google Analytics. A Google Ad Grants specialist can help you measure and understand these metrics. Also, these experts will be able to design an effective campaign, tell you if your campaigns were a success, and explain how to make them even better in the future.
The Google Ad Grants program is a high-quality, cost-effective way for your nonprofit to get its message in front of more eyes. But like any marketing campaign, Google Ads thrive most when you ground your campaigns in powerful data analytics. For help with data analytics, planning your next campaign, or even registering for the program, reach out to Getting Attention today.
To learn more about Google Ad Grants and how to optimize your ad campaigns, check out these articles:
- Google Ad Grants Agencies: The Basics and 5 Top Options. Learn about what Google Ad Grants agencies are, what they can do for your nonprofit, and how working with an agency improves your campaigns.
- Hiring a Google Grants Manager: A Guide & 6 Agencies. Once you have an understanding of Google Ad Grants agencies, read up on how to hire the best agency for your needs.
- Free Nonprofit Marketing: 10 Tools to Amplify Support. Want to learn more about free ways to promote your cause? These ten tools are a great way to get started.