On the surface, Ad Grants seems like a great deal. However, many organisations struggle to make the most of the cash. Part of this will be down to your organisation and how people search. If you’re a medical charity, there’s probably quite a lot of relevant search for symptoms and support. If you’re a lifeboat charity, or a frog charity (as random examples), the “at need” search is probably very different. 

The subheadings below: objectives, keywords, ad copy, landing page aren’t big news as things to get right. And yet many organisations still overlook best practise, or fail to think creatively enough to get strong results. Ad Grants are TOUGH to get the most out of. To reap the benefits, you need to put in more work than you would for a normal PPC account. But once you’ve found a process and framework that works for you, it gets quicker, easier, and it pays off.

If you’ve got any questions on the points below, or you want to have a chat about improving or starting your own Ad Grants campaigns, get in touch.

Decide on your objective(s)

If you’re using the “maximise clicks” objective, you’ll find your bids capped at £2. For many industries, this makes it very difficult to compete. Instead, change to the “maximise conversions” objective. If you have a really compelling conversion action for your visitors, such as sign up to X and receive Y in return, this might be enough to get a strong conversion rate that the algorithm can learn from and optimise towards. Great examples of this are animal and conservation charities that give away soft toys in return for sponsorship.

However, if you don’t have an incentive, or your audience are less emotionally attached to your cause, it might be difficult to drive a hard conversion from a cold click. Instead, set up “soft” conversion goals in Analytics. Check out how long people tend to spend on your website before they convert. For example, if they tend to spend over three minutes, or view four pages on average, you might create a goal for “session over two minutes” or “three pages viewed”. This allows the algorithm to optimise to slightly less qualified traffic, but still with a strong indication that people who enact these behaviours are likely a relevant audience to attract and optimise towards.

Look for mid-tail keywords

Too long a tail, and there won’t be enough search volume for ads to show at all. But for highly competitive terms, that bid cap isn’t going to be enough for your keywords to show. Google will always prioritise fee-paying advertisers over Ad Grants. And if your ads do show but at the bottom of the page, it’s going to affect your click through rate – which needs to average a healthy 5% for your account to stay eligible for the grant. Which leaves many organisations in a tight spot!

If you provide support services, think about what kinds of searches someone might conduct before they are in need of your services – what are the risk factors or the causes that might show up in search? For example, if you are a homeless charity, you might target people searching for information on eviction rights. Are there themes in the media or soap storylines than you can piggyback off the back of that your organisation can provide information on? Or try qualifying your search queries with location based keywords, such as “manchester charity” or “North Wales sanctuaries”. Use the Answer The Public tool to look for questions, or just use Google yourself to see what specific questions appear in the People Also Ask box, and target those.

Write cut-through ad copy

The number one rule of ad copy is that it needs to match closely to the user’s search query. But aside from this, be creative. Numbers can often uplift click through rates, such as “5 Things You Need To Know About X”. Controversial wording that drives an urge to know more can help, too. Try along the lines of “Three Excellent Conservation Projects, and Three Doing More Harm Than Good”. You’ve probably noticed my use of sentence case in the above – the grammarians amongst us might shudder, but use of caps increases click through rate, too.

Get your landing pages RIGHT
This is absolutely critical. If your landing pages don’t relate closely enough to a user’s search term, your quality score will crash. Create multiple pages – you can “no index” them if you don’t want them appearing in Google search. Make sure the query, the ad, and the page are all very closely linked. Check the headline, subheadline and the introductory paragraph every single time – is the user’s need clearly addressed? To be honest, it’s very unlikely that an existing page on your website will be your strongest opportunity for an Ad Grants landing page – we always encourage our clients to create bespoke pages where they can. 

The page needs to deliver on whatever you promised in the ad, and it also needs to stimulate your conversion action – whether that’s making a donation or signing up to a newsletter, or spending more time or viewing more pages on your website. Whatever you have set up as the conversion action for the campaign needs to be borne in mind when designing the content and linking on your landing page.

Let’s face it, 2020 has been, as the Germans might say, “ein absolut Shitstorm”. On every level, we’re surrounded by tragedy, mistrust, a drop in income for individuals and organisations, and a struggle to maintain any semblance of normal life whilst keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.

With the cancelation of major events, charities in the UK (and worldwide) are facing a huge struggle to keep operating, and to attempt to mitigate this drop in income, the 2.6 challenge has been created, to encourage individuals to create their own micro fundraisers they can participate in safely at home. This post looks at how you can drive awareness of this challenge with your supporters as well as activate them to participate.

Search Landscape

“2.6 challenge” didn’t even exist as a concept a week ago (for Google, anyway!) This makes it a brand new search landscape with a lot of opportunity, even for smaller charities who might struggle with visibility for generic charitable terms the rest of the time.

Searching “2.6 challenge” on desktop, and you’ll only see paid results above the scroll. On mobile, the three paid ads take up even more space.  The top result for me showed non-extended site links, but otherwise its bare-bones basics PPC ads, so it’s critical to get it right to secure that click. Within those characters you need to establish who you are, why you need support, why somebody should choose you, and what they’ll get by clicking. One of the most popular secondary terms is “2.6 challenge ideas” – create a blog post specifically geared to this query to show your supporters (and Google!) that your organisation has what they’re looking for. It’s also a good time to brush up on your Brand PPC – if potential new supporters discover you by researching the 2.6 challenge, they may research further before making a decision to choose you over another cause. Make sure your brand PPC is comprehensive, to the point, and engaging. Have you been running any ad copy tests recently? Launch the winner now and create a few new options to test. It’s a very different emotional and financial landscape to our normal daily life and you may find that your typical messaging isn’t as successful as normal, and different messaging is more effective. Also look at your landing pages – for brand PPC we typically use the homepage as a landing page. Have you referenced your current campaign work (including the 2.6 challenge) clearly on your homepage as your single call to action? Or perhaps test sending brand traffic directly to a 2.6 challenge landing page?

Further down the page we see a few news results – interestingly, as well as the Mail, we see local news outlets appearing too. This tells us that seeding local interest stories with local press about what your fundraisers are doing could be a way into this section of the search results page, increasing your overall visibility and likelihood of driving traffic. Are you contacting your supporters as they sign up, and as they complete their challenges? Are any of the challenges quirky or interesting, or are the participants particularly inspiring (not that all supporters aren’t inspiring!) Major Tom walking 100 lengths of his garden on his 100th birthday for the NHS couldn’t be a more perfect story if it tried. A genuine, inspirational man, celebrating a key milestone by participating in an unusual activity, and in the name of a highly topical cause. Could someone celebrate their 40th birthday by doing 40 keepy-uppies with a banana? Or their 5th wedding anniversary with a 5k three legged race round the garden? Enable and inspire your supporters to think creatively if they like – if you have a Facebook page or forum for your supporters this is the perfect time to use it to help them inspire each other.

Getting back to our search results page, we also see some video results. As before, this includes “smaller” results. Individual videos from supporters, with views not even in triple digits are appearing on page one of Google! Now is the time to act – encourage your supporters to produce content, and promote that content via other platforms to increase the view count and help increase your visibility within the search results page. This opportunity won’t last long.

Social Media

You’ve probably already announced this campaign on your social channels – make sure to keep it up. Shout out supporters who have already started, but make sure to stress throughout that “it’s not too late” so that the rest of your audience don’t think the ship has sailed. Ask questions – “who’s running/baking/painting?” “Who’s getting the family involved?” “who is doing this in place of a canceled event?” The Great Manchester Run was canceled this year, so I’ll be running my first 10k in the streets around my house – and I bet plenty of others are planning this too. Brainstorm what common ground your fundraisers might have and encourage conversation around this. Your fundraisers can use platforms like Strava Routes to share their planned route with their supporters, or use Facebook or Instagram to livestream their challenge attempts – make sure to help your fundraisers with tools like this, so they can engage their supporters as much as possible.

Email and on site

Keep your sign up journey as simple as possible, as with any campaign. Once on your site, inform, inspire, and activate. Can you create and send a digital fundraising pack (perhaps a quick rebrand of an existing fundraising kit?) Make sure they feel their fundraising will be valued, and they know exactly how to create their own fundraising page. If your service users have been affected by the Covid crisis, mention how you’ve adapted your services to support this change in need and operating environment. Timeliness like this helps drive urgency, and urgency drives action.

Good luck – and stay safe.

 

 

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