Pre-Campaign Strategy In the Pre-Season

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 | 1:59 PM

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Just three weeks ago, schools resumed session and AdWords in the Curriculum embarked on a new semester. With a portfolio including a Google Grantee's site, mission statement and contact information, students are faced with the familiar question invoked by any assignment: where to begin?

The holiday season at the end of the calendar year is well known as the busiest time for both charitable donations to non-profits and sales for profit companies. Identifying strategic goals in September will lead to better outcomes in an end-of-year assessment of marketing success.

The most important place to start for any Google Grants recipient is deciding on campaign goals -- not keywords. What should the advertising accomplish? How will it improve your organization's exposure, and what audience are you trying to reach?

Starting a campaign without answering these important initial questions can lead to a hodgepodge of keywords, ad groups and ad texts that attempt to cram an entire mission into unstructured campaigns, potentially ineffective ads, and longer term struggles with determining whether the campaign is working.

After a set of goals are established, the next step is to determine a success metric to track. Is there a particular page that would be valuable for users to reach? Or is there an online conversion such as a donation, purchase or information request that you'd like to achieve? Determining success metrics will help non-profits determine whether the campaign is bearing fruit, or if it needs further refinement. This is especially relevant for campaigns that will run during the busy holiday season when you want to ensure your advertising is as effective as possible.

When creating your first AdWords campaign, also consider using the recommended steps available on the the 'Solutions for your advertising campaign' page to help generate ideas.

The work of both becoming experts in the AdWords program and helping with Google Grants recipients manage accounts and meet their goals is now underway for AdWords in the Curriculum students. Stay tuned for an end-of-semester update that will spotlight high performing AdWords in the Curriculum accounts for local non-profits in Michigan.