Grantee best practices summary

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 | 10:37 AM

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The best practices this quarter followed very similar themes, with a focus on analysis and strategic planning. You can check out more grantee tips on our testimonials page as well. There are new additions coming all the time and you can submit yours, too.

Evaluate your success metrics
In a perfect world, visitors would donate to your cause or complete your intended action on their first visit. But, as you likely know already, this isn’t always the case. There is often a “getting to know you” period before a visitor becomes a sponsor, for instance. However, if you learn about the true lifecycle of your sponsors (their actual behavior on your site and the time/visits it takes them to convert), you can set your goals accordingly and see more accurate results.

While it’s crucial to track and measure the goals associated with your managed marketing initiatives (AdWords campaigns, email newsletters, etc), don’t forget to track conversions from organic traffic and integrate them with your success metrics. Donations made from folks who found your site via organic search results are just as valuable as those who came through your pre-determined channels.

While donations are a high priority for most non-profits, try tracking connections you’re able to make between your constituency and the information you offer to see the less direct value of your marketing initiatives. Downloads, pageviews and time on site are good ways to measure the level of connection between those you’re serving with the information you provide.

As much as your goals differ, the method by which you track their success should differ as well, so that you’re able to see true progress and success for each unique goal. For instance, you could set your campaigns up by goal, so that you can customize their messaging and tracking accordingly.

For example, an awareness campaign with an offer for information could have a success metric of a certain number of pageviews and a donation campaign with a strong call-to-action could have a success metric of a certain amount of donations made.

Just knowing that visitors aren’t converting on your site isn’t usually enough to fix the problem. By understanding abandonment rate, you’ll be able to see where visitors are leaving your site and at what rate so that you can improve those points on your site and the messaging that leads people to those pages.

This seems like a no-brainer, but one of the easiest ways to make the most of your AdWords budget is to remove or optimize underperforming keywords (low quality score, low CTRs) and “reward” keywords and campaigns that perform well by allotting more budget to those efforts.

Know your constituents
In the same vein as the previous topic of sponsor lifecycles, tracking metrics other than clicks can help you gauge the success of these other visitor activities. For instance, by tracking time on site by new visitors, you will be able to see how your marketing initiatives impact these activities and when time on site increases you’ll know you’re going in the right direction with your strategy without having to wait for improvement from more direct goals, like donations.

Most businesses, for-profit and non-profit, have a “high season” during which time a large portion of the year’s revenue is generated. Some savvy grantees have developed strategically focused campaigns to get the most out of their “high seasons” so that they can maximize donations and make those funds work for the rest of their calendar year. Once you've determined the span of your org's high season, you can work on a focused plan to take advantage of it.

We’ve posted lots of AdWords tips and strategies on this blog and in the Google Grants Help Center that some grantees are using to improve their CTRs and conversion rates. Paired with consistent testing, these strategies can help you improve your campaigns.

Use all the tools at your disposal
If you offer informational resources of any kind (like PDF downloads or specialized pages on your site), you can track usage rates and/or requests to measure involvement or interest in your organization’s programs.

When you’re building new marketing strategies, think about what keywords and ads you’ll focus on and then build an AdWords campaign to support your new strategy.

Many non-profits are feeling the pinch from the recession, but some are letting their Grants AdWords account take up the slack from costly marketing initiatives. Moving marketing messaging and initiatives to your Grants account is an effective way to keep your name out there and achieve your org’s goals despite the impact of economic hardships.

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. You can read previous summaries like this by clicking here or searching this blog for "Grantee best practices summary". 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.