Keyword advertising is also referred to as pay-per-click or PPC advertising because ad buyers pay only when a visitor actually clicks on their ad. It can help your organization reach thousands, maybe even millions of people as they are search online for related information with relatively little effort and lower costs than traditional advertising channels. Using a Search Engine advertising program like Google AdWords is relatively inexpensive and can have a decent return on investment. Entry costs are low, and ongoing expenses can be easily tracked. Your organization simply sets a daily budget and a maximum amount to spend per click on the ad. Even better, Google offers "Google Grants," an in-kind advertising program specifically for nonprofit organizations. (For more information, visithttp://www.google.com/grants/.)
If you're just starting, don't enter a million different keywords, landing pages, and ads. Be strategic. Start simply with a group of keywords, one landing page and one ad. Review the performance and then expand. Otherwise, you'll have so much data and too many choices to make to be able to figure out what works best.
Here are some simple tips for getting started with using keywords and Google AdWords:
Step 1. Start with your outcomes, not your keywords
Remember that your goal is the answer to the question: What do you want people to do on your site? If you're using Google Analytics goals, you've already thought through some of this. Do you want them to read content, download a screen saver, sign an online petition, sign up for more information, sign up to volunteer, make a donation, or something else? The important thing is that is actionable.
Step 2: Think about your messaging and determine the best "landing page"
Now, start to think backwards. You have your goal. Next, think about what a person might type into the Google search box, messaging that will make them click on your ad, and where they should arrive on your Web site. That last step is called the landing page. The landing page has to make sense and it has to lead to the action you want. While you can do this thinking on the fly inside of Google Ad Words, you are probably much better if you sketch it out before hand.
Step 3: Identify Keywords and Write Ad Copy
It's a good idea to do some brainstorming with people on staff and review outside research. The question you might brainstorm is: "What would a user type into a search engine to reach that goal?" The Google AdWords software will suggest keywords. There are some other methods you can use. For example, there are some tools like Nichebot and Word Tracker, but they aren't free.
If you're already using Google Analytics, running some of the keyword reports will give you an idea of what keywords people are using to find your site. You'll get some bonus information if you have Google Analytics goals set up.
When you are thinking about keywords, be sure to include "not" expressions. For example, if you were trying to promote the movie Pirates of the Caribbean you might include a negative "Not Pittsburgh" -- so the movie fans would be clicking on your ad, not baseball fans.
You can write your ads (brief text ads) on the fly while you are in the software, but you'll probably do a better job if you do it before you venture into the software. A quick environmental scan of other ads will also be useful. Definitely type in your keywords into the search engine and see what ads come up -- that's your competition. How might your ad get clicked on?
You can learn how to write killer ads by typing in commercial words that are popular -- like mortgage. Study those ads because they are no doubt making money. And, of course use action words.
Step 4: Set up Your Campaign in Google AdWords
Now you're ready to go into the software and create a campaign and bid on adwords. You'll need the following pieces of information -- your keywords, your budget (remember nonprofit donations have a limit of $1 per click) and your ad copy and position. There you can start bidding for keywords. Remember, if you're just starting out, don't go too hogwild -- start with a few options, evaluate, and tweak.
Step 5: Monitor, Tweak, Monitor, Tweak, Monitor, Tweak
Look at the results and ditch ads or keywords that aren't getting you a good return. How to figure that out? The click through rate, cost per click, and conversion goal are the best metrics in Google AdWords. Google AdWords metrics/reports tell you about what's happening with the campaign. Eliminate ads, keywords, and position of ads that stink. It is also important to look at your results in google analytics -- which tells you how the adwords campaign relates to your overall web site. (It's nice that the two are integrated so you can easily tab back and forth)
Finally, you need to be able to "source" the people that you pull in -- so you can take it further. One option is a SalesForce/Google AdWords integration.
Once your organization has implemented its first campaign, you need to keep monitoring your campaign to improve it. Get more strategic how you pick ad words, create ads, and test test test test. The Google AdWords donation is fantastic, but just because it is in-kind -- you still need to be smart about using it. If you decide to invest some of your organization's marketing budget in the Google advertising network, which gets your ad out to the advertising affiliates, you'll want to use your dollars wisely.