Top Five PPC Tips for Small Charities

Lorna Rose Gill Posted by Lorna Rose Gill

image showing a charity box with coins in it

Even charities need good marketing strategies, which means it’s time to explore how PPC can boost the visibility of non-profit-making enterprises.

There’s no denying that one area of marketing at which charities excel is the viral initiative. Campaigns like the no-makeup selfie phenomenon started by Cancer Research UK or the Ice Bucket challenge for ALS awareness attract both praise for raising funds and awareness and criticism for courting self-promotional impulses and behaviour.

But there are other ways for charities to get their name out there, and sponsored search is one area that should always be considered.

Despite the fact that charities must carefully review how each and every penny is spent, sponsored search doesn’t have to be expensive. It must, however, be intelligent to ensure you get the maximum ROI.

Here are our top five tips for charities that want to make PPC part of their marketing campaigns:

1. Sign up for Google Ad Grants

Although you may be a little concerned that using PPC will end up costing more than the charity has to spend on marketing, Google offers grants that can be used to promote charities on search.

To be eligible, charities must register themselves and have a functional website with substantial content. There are some exclusions to Google’s policy though, including governmental entities and organisations, hospitals, medical groups, schools, childcare centres, academic institutions, and universities.

If you do qualify, you can apply for the grant, which can amount to up to $10,000 per month. You run the Google Grant account as you would a normal AdWords account, but there’s a $2 CPC limit on any keywords you bid on, and you can only run text ads.

You can’t advertise any commercial activity (such as buying items or a store), you must only bid on related keywords, and each of them must have a direct and easily explainable reason behind them.

If you’re happy to play by Google’s rules, apply for a Google Ad Grant to start using PPC as an essential part of your marketing toolbox.

2. Choosing the Keywords

If you’ve never used PPC before, it’s likely you’ll feel completely overwhelmed about where to start once you’re accepted into Google’s scheme, particularly when it comes to choosing the keywords you want to concentrate on.

Competitive intelligence allows you to start off with some knowledge of this new landscape. By comparing what your competitors are bidding on and looking into their ad copy, you can pick up the information that can ensure your campaign gets the clicks it needs to attract people to your charity’s work.

Adthena’s competitive intelligence for search allows you to see what your competitors are bidding on, what share of the market they have, and how they adjust their campaign according to market conditions.

Rather than you choosing the words you want to monitor, you can choose to view the whole market and uncover keywords you never even imagined would be getting your competitors traffic.

You can also use free tools like Google Trends to see what people are searching for, but it won’t provide deep insights or show you how your competitors are gaining traction.

3. Crafting a Maximum-Impact Message

Because your maximum bid is only $2, you will need to make sure your quality score is tip-top, and that means making your ad copy as impactful and relevant as possible to get ahead of your competitors, who may be paying a whole lot more for their bids.

In fact, despite ad copy’s importance to any successful PPC campaign, a report by Strategy Refresh and The ATO Co revealed that the top 20 charities in the UK are wasting more than 25% of their budget (some of this is Google Ad Grants money) by making bad decisions about their ad copy.

By having a lower quality score as a result of their bad copy, these non-profits’ CPC increased by up to 600% – presumably pushing prices way outside of Google’s $2 maximum for charities using its Ad Grants programme.

When creating your ads, consider the message. Here are some pointers:

What makes your charity or campaign unique? Why should someone donate their money through you rather than another charity?

Ensure you include at least one relevant keyword, but don’t litter your ad with keywords, which is known as “keyword stuffing.”
Match your ad to your landing page – especially if it’s promoting a particular campaign.

Experiment – create three ads for each keyword and try them out to see which attracts the most clicks.

Check that the copy is grammatically correct and doesn’t include common mistakes, such as extra spaces, capitalised words, or unclear URLs.

Use calls to action to ensure the person searching for your keyword clicks on your ad before any other charity’s.

4. Go Mobile or Go Home?

Don’t limit your campaign to just desktop – increasingly, mobile donations are becoming just as important to charity campaigns.

In fact, Holly Spiers, Director of Fundraising at Sue Ryder, told the Guardian it is essential charities start embracing all online platforms to ensure they stay current.

“The charity sector believes there will always be a place for traditional fundraising alongside online,” Spiers said. “However, organisations that fail to embrace online and mobile payments risk limiting their fundraising potential and could restrict future growth.”

But before they’re able to donate via mobile, you need to make sure your supporters have an easy time finding your charity when they search for it. Therefore, it’s essential that your sponsored search campaign covers all possible bases, whether on desktop or mobile.

Adapting your message according to mobile support will also be a big draw, so if your charity does allow for mobile donations, don’t be afraid to voice this in your ad copy.

5. Analyse the Performance

Once you have your ads up and running, don’t just leave them to work for themselves. Take care to analyse their performance, taking onboard what worked and what didn’t. Which keywords performed best? Which ad copy for those keywords worked best?

Also, continually analyse what your competitors are doing because it’s pretty likely that they’ve been adapting their strategy at the same time.

Finally, make sure you plan for any events or periods of time when it’s likely donations will increase or decrease, and set up campaigns for these well ahead of schedule.

For example, the London Marathon isn’t just about one weekend in April – the whole buildup to the London Marathon should be a great opportunity for you to push the event, and your planning should start months, if not a full year ahead.

Competitive Intelligence Is the Answer to PPC Success

Using competitive intelligence for search will guarantee success when marketing your charity online.

Adthena’s platform allows you to pit your charity against its competitors across all relevant keywords – whether you’re already using them or not. You can view the ad copy both you and your competitors are serving and see the quick wins.

Moreover, whether you’re using mobile or desktop (but hopefully both), you can get all the stats you need for a better ROI from your sponsored search.

We’ll be covering how bigger charities can manage their PPC agency more effectively in a future post, so keep your eyes peeled!

(Main image credit: Mike Mozart/flickr)

About the author

Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna Rose Gill
Lorna is responsible for acquisition marketing at Adthena, communicating their award-winning product and generating demand. She has developed her career in fast-paced, start-up environments, including two tech track 100 companies. She is curious and passionate and likes to find stories in data and technology.