Chris Barlow is the author of this article, the founder of Beeline Marketing, and has been working with nonprofits since 2015. If you’d like to read more articles about attracting donors, Google Ad Grants, and more, check out Beeline’s nonprofit marketing blog!
In a previous article in this blog, we shared 3 reasons spray and pray marketing doesn’t work.
This article stands as a foil to that one – reasons why Google Ads is the opposite of spray and pray, and how by consistently filling your pipeline with new leads it serves as the perfect engine to drive the MarketSmart process to help you find and cultivate new major donors.
These are the 3 factors that set Google search ads (and Google Ad Grants) apart and make them particularly effective for nonprofits:
1. Google Ads are timely.
Most advertising platforms put your message in front of an audience at the time you choose. Even if your message might be relevant, the timing probably isn’t – which means you are interrupting your audience and have an uphill battle to get results, starting by just getting their attention.
This is not the case with Google search ads (i.e. the only type of Google Ad Grant accounts can use.)
You aren’t putting an ad in front of someone minding their own business, hoping to turn their attention away from that and toward yourself.
Instead, you are responding to them at the very moment they are looking. When your ads are timely, you don’t have to work hard just to get their attention. Instead, you can focus your message on being as relevant to the user as possible. This means your audience is already far warmer than when you get them to click after interrupting them. This leads us to the second reason Google (search) ads are effective.
While there are other strategies to help your ads be timely (such as retargeting), nothing is quite as timely as what a user is wanting to find right now.
2. Google Ads are relevant.
As shared above, search ads are based on user demand. People go to Google to look for an answer, solution, idea, or entertainment. Instead of trying to guess what would be relevant for a user based on the data available and an audience profile, you can instead target what the user is searching for.
Here’s a question for you: what’s more a relevant ad:
- one that responds to what a user is searching for, or
- one that targets the user based on a purchase they made or a website they visited six months ago?
The answer is obvious: the ad that shows the most recent interest and intent is more relevant!
Why is relevance important? Google uses relevance to determine how well the platform is working and how much people value it.
Relevance is important both for advertising and SEO – the more relevant your website or content is to the user doing a search, the more likely it is that Google will show your content on the first page, and the more likely that your target user will click on it and take action.
Beyond the fact that your ads will be more effective, relevant ads can actually be helpful.
Instead distracting someone from their main purpose to be online, search ads can help people find the answer, solution, or idea they are looking for. Because the intent is coming from the user and you as the advertiser are seeking to meet it, your ad (and offer) needs a lot less context and explanation.
However, if you are interrupting someone who wasn’t thinking about your organization, mission, product, or service, your ad has to include a lot more context so the user can even understand what you’re talking about (you interrupted them, after all).
Less explanation and no need to grab attention means your ads can be a lot simpler. Moreover, because Google search ads are text based, they are very easy to create.
3. Google Ads are low effort
In comparison to ads that interrupt a person scrolling their social feed, search ads are and low effort (don’t require constant changing). This doesn’t mean they don’t require maintenance and upkeep, only that in comparison to social media (or ads that interrupt a user), they are far less effort. Because ads on social media platforms have to grab users’ attention, they take significant work put together and have to often be replaced (they get stale and effectiveness drops).
While Google ad campaigns do require optimizing (such as focusing limited budget on the most effective keywords, ads, and offers), Google ads can produce consistent results month after month, and few other platforms can rival this consistency.
How is this consistency possible? One reason is that as your ads begin to reach your conversion goals, that data gets fed back to Google’s algorithm, which further helps to improve your ad performance. This creates a positive feedback loop, where succeed breeds success.
The Google Ad Grant, providing $120,000 per year in free ads to 501c3 organizations, makes advertising even more low maintenance because you aren’t wasting real money if a campaign isn’t performing optimally. When spending money on social media ads, it’s incredibly important to steward the budget carefully to avoid waste. With Google Ad Grants on the other hand, while it’s important in the long run to optimize the $10,000/month budget, it’s also not a big deal if some of that free ad money gets wasted because you or your team didn’t have time to review and optimize.
But how are consistent results achieved? What can nonprofits do to grow their donor email file?
That leads us into the last topic we want to talk about in this article:
How to Get Consistent Results from Google Ads
At its heart, advertising on Google search is about providing a helpful, relevant response for the user. After a quick glance of your ad, you want users to conclude that your ad is the most relevant result (i.e. worth clicking on) and to be intrigued by how you can help (your offer).
For nonprofits, this means understanding your strengths as an organization, such as skills and knowledge you have from fulfilling your mission, then finding a problem that many of your donors have that can be solved using that knowledge or skills.
What if you create an eBook to help people learn a skill, solve a problem, or simplify the research or decision-making that they would normally have to go through on their own?
Here are some examples from very different sectors:
- If you’re an animal sanctuary, teach people how to clip their cat nails or crate train a dog.
- If you’re a food bank, partner with a company whose already developed a meal planning app, and offer it to your audience along with a cookbook with convenient, healthy meals.
- If you help people with basic financial literacy and support, create a quiz to help everyone else gauge their financial health and the areas they need to learn more about.
- If you’re a museum, create a digital calendar for star-gazers to help them know when and where to point their telescopes at the night sky when interesting things could be visible.
- If you provide clean water to places in the world where it’s not available, provide an eBook on water filtration for home or outdoor use.
Regardless of your organization’s mission, there are ways you can use your knowledge to create resources that serve and attract potential donors, and then utilize your Google Ad Grant to promote the resources you’ve created.
If you’d like to know if Google Ads (and the Google Ad Grant) is the right strategy/platform for your organization right now by taking this free quiz.
This quiz was developed by a partner and author of this article, Chris Barlow and founder of Beeline Marketing. If you’d like more nonprofit marketing ideas or what you do with Google Ad Grants, read more on their blog.