Expert Advice from Eastern Michigan: AdWords in the Curriculum Students Share Best Practices

Thursday, May 14, 2009 | 10:10 AM

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A major benefit of Google AdWords is that it allows you to self-manage your online advertising. Unlike other advertising platforms that require long contracts, tearsheets, or the laborious creation of ad material, AdWords gives non-profits and businesses alike the ability to build successful advertising campaigns from the comfort of your office, home, or both.

That said, Google Grant recipients are always eager to hear advice from people who are well-versed in the best practices of AdWords campaigns. This advice can come from the new Google Grants Help Center, the Google Grants Help Forum, or the Google Grants blog.

Recently, we asked two members of the Eastern Michigan University
AdWords in the Curriculum course to offer their expert advice to nonprofits using AdWords.

Avoid Placing All Your Eggs in One Basket: Tailor Ad Variations and Ad Groups to Specific Goals

"My biggest pointer would be: don't try to do too much with just one ad," said Eastern Michigan University student John Hanna. "Keep the ads very focused on one objective and tailor the ad, keywords, and landing page to that objective. You can always make other ad groups if you are trying to accomplish more than one thing with AdWords."

Taking advantage of using multiple ad variations and ad groups in AdWords can lead to improved clickthrough rates and ad performance. Let's say your organization is seeking volunteers for a community event and would also like to encourage online donations. Having one ad group for each goal--with carefully tailored ad texts--will lead to more success than writing a single, generic ad text that applies broadly to both aims. By separating ad groups and ad texts based on goal, you could have one ad text with the call-to-action phrase 'Sign Up to Volunteer!' and another with the call-to-action phrase 'Donate Online!'

Set It, But Don't Forget It: The Value of Flexibility and Frequent Revisions

"I think the most important thing to do with Google AdWords is to be very creative and willing to make changes," noted Eastern Michigan University classmate Steven Pottenger. "If you target your audience to what you want, you will see a increase in accomplishing your goals."

After creating a successful campaign, it may seem risky to make any changes for fear of ruining the strong performance. But search trends change on an hourly basis, and search volume can vary a great deal from one week, month, or season to the next. What worked beautifully before may no longer be working, which is why we encourage Grantees to monitor campaigns and make regular revisions. Google Insights for Search and the Keyword Tool offer insight into what people are searching for and will help you keep your keyword lists timely.

During their time with AdWords in the Curriculum, John and Steven worked with Heritage Works, Habitat for Humanity for Huron Valley, and the Organization for Bat Conservation.