Ryan: Do you see many nonprofits maxing out the $10k they’re given by Google?
Andreas: Actually not really. I think a lot of people are kind of depressed if they can't reach the $10,000. I have to honestly say, it's very unusual to reach that level. Look at the $10,000 Google is offering you. It's like you participate in the lottery, and sure, you could win $10 million, but if you get $2,000 back from the lottery, or if you get $500, why not? Why would you not invest some time into possibly getting $500 from Google every month in perpetuity, basically?
And to be clear, it's not Google paying you. It's Google saying, "We will cover up to $10k of Google Ad Grant spend."
Eric: And you're getting the $500 from Google, but you're also getting the value of the traffic to the site, and the conversions, and the donations. It's not just the $500 that you're getting. It's $500 of value, of hard cost cover that you would be spending otherwise.
Eric: If a nonprofit is managing this in-house, what should the be prepared for?
Andreas: Because of the requirements, you have to put a lot of time into management. The account has to be actively managed. You have to be throwing conversions, and there has to be activity. Even if you're achieving the 5% click through rate, if Google doesn't see activity on the account they can turn it off after a few months. They just want to see you engaged, which makes sense. It's like a parent saying, "Here's $10, but I want to see you do something with it. Invest it wisely."
Ryan: Being engaged and more proactive will only benefit the Google Ad user in the long run too, right?
Andreas: Exactly. It makes Google happy, because Google doesn't want a loser market, where the ads aren’t being updated, landing pages aren’t optimized or performing. Google wants it to be good, so Google's exerting a little bit of pressure.
Eric: Being active will also help to keep you aware of updates too.
Andreas: Exactly. Google does like to update the requirements. Be on top of that. Take the 5% click through rate for example. If you weren’t paying attention for two months, you were under 5%, then that could be it. Google would pull the plug on you.
Eric: Once you're shut down, that's it. Right?
Andreas: I think it would be very tough to re-institute an account. Similar to issues with organic ranking, if you have problems with your website, it's very difficult to repair that. If you were shut down and then attempted to get reinstated you could be going up against 1,000 other companies that haven’t yet had their account approved yet and again it’s a free service that Google is providing so they’re more likely to spend their resources on new companies instead of ones that have failed their obligations.
Eric: Let’s talk a little bit about campaign strategy, if you're a yoga apparel company, it's pretty clear what your ad should focus on. It's pretty clear that people will be searching for yoga products.
Why are people searching for nonprofits, or are they even? How is it different for those kind of campaigns where the search term or goal parameters aren’t as clear? Let's take a nonprofit that's focused on clean energy as an example. Are people really searching Google for clean energy companies they’re interested in supporting? Or are they just researching clean energy in general? How does that play into the campaign strategy, again, from more of a nonprofit perspective?
Andreas: That's where Google Ads is so cool, because that's exactly what you can figure out by using Google Ads. You can answer those questions for yourself, and for your executives, and whatever. One example is, locally, we worked with Santa Cruz Shakespeare Company. We looked at, what's the final product? One of the products was a membership? Well, what does that mean? What does a membership give you? That's a little more nebulous, because it's sort of like being a donor. If you’re a member you may get reduced or free tickets from time-to-time.
But SCSC also sells one-time tickets to plays. For those, it was very simple. They could focus on a tourist vertical keywords like "What to do in Santa Cruz?", or "Theater in Santa Cruz," something like that, "Theater in Monterey Bay." Then you look at the tickets themselves and get creative with up-sell ideas like "Hold on. You can buy these tickets here, or if you get a membership, you just pay a little bit more, but you're part of this. You get better seats."
That's where you can use Google Ads really nicely to experiment, to do some A/B testing, and see if that works for you.
Eric: In that example, it's arts and culture, entertainment, a little bit more clear what people might be searching for, and the value that you're providing is a little bit more consumer focused still. I'd say the same goes for civic institutions like museums and libraries.
When you get to nonprofits that are more advocacy focused, or are trying to make a change at a systems level, I think it gets even more challenging because you're not offering a ticket or an experience, you're offering change to society in a positive way.
I feel like that is where Google Ads could come in to help. The focus then could be more on branded terms. Helping people who’ve heard about you find you more easily, or focused on people who are researching your cause. They're aligned with the cause at the mission level, but they don't even know that you exist. Here's a good way for them to find you. I think those are things you should think about if you're in one of those less consumer focused nonprofit organizations.