Grantee Best Practices Summary

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | 2:42 PM

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Last quarter we introduced a summary of best practices from around our grantee base, and because of the ongoing requests for best practices, we've decided to continue offering these posts on a quarterly basis.

You can expect these posts to offer information, tips, strategies and case studies from other grantees about making the most of your Google Grants AdWords account.

Mind your Quality Score
As you're moving budget around between campaigns and comparing click-through rates, keep in mind that your CTR affects your Quality Score - a key factor in determining how your ads perform.

One grantee notes that they're careful to cut their bid prices and tolerate lower click-through rates to "stretch the dollars", but only to a point, so that they can ensure that their Quality Score remains strong. The best way to improve your Quality Score is to optimize your account. Some tips for success can be found in this AdWords Help Center article.

Increase traffic
Increasing traffic is always at the top of grantees' lists. And with good reason! You know that traffic to your site means more people are aware of your cause and message. Some things to keep in mind as you work at building your site's traffic are site coverage and tracking.

Make sure to add new campaigns to your account that drive traffic to any new content you've added to your site. Spotlight any upcoming events you're having and promote seasonal or timely content too.

As you're working on building traffic, keep an eye on your new vs returning and referral traffic - metrics you can easily view with Google Analytics. Referrals are sites that have sent traffic to your site and this information can shine some light on the online habits of your viewers. New versus returning traffic is a good way to measure the impact of your marketing strategies as you strive for awareness from broader audiences. If you see a jump in new visitors, you can view their statistics to find the source of this new traffic and confirm its relevance to any new marketing initiatives.

Improve conversions
Much like increasing traffic to your site, improving conversions can be accomplished by using similar strategies.

Creating ads with targeted URLs can improve the user experience and lead to more conversions, and tracking the conversion rates while you implement a new strategy can help you see improvements or places where changes are needed. Give your campaigns time to work though - at least a few weeks- and set reasonable expectations for when you should see changes while keeping an eye on the long-term swings in your conversion numbers.

Know your audience
All the budget in the world isn't going to mean a successful AdWords account if you're targeting your messages to the wrong audience. It's up to you to learn about your audience and tailor your ads and content to their needs.

One grantee has learned that their audience responds most enthusiastically (visits most often) when they have really timely ad messaging and topic promotion running in their Grants AdWords account. Being able to update ads, URLs and keywords instantly in your AdWords account gives you the power to speak relevantly to your audience at any time. Other grantees use this functionality to promote new projects and events as they happen, informing their constituency in real-time.

Another approach to learning about your audience is to host a poll or survey on your site and track the responses and submissions. The information you get can tell you how your audience feels about your content, subject matter, approach and so on, while also helping to guide new marketing initiatives, particularly those that help develop messaging around your most crucial content.

Seek expertise
Some grantees seek outside help when managing their Google Grants AdWords account, while others bring someone in-house to volunteer their expertise in editing the account and adding to the campaigns. This approach can save your org a good deal of time and improve the performance of your account, if you don't already have someone in-house to manage your account.

Check back each quarter, or better yet, add our RSS feed to your reader or Gmail inbox, to get the latest in AdWords expertise from non-profits around the globe. If you've had a recent success with AdWords or Grants that you'd like to share, please visit our discussion forum to share with other grantees right now or share the story with our team here.