How to Revive a "Dead" Google Ad Grants Account

Last month, we started working with The Evolve Project, a group that conducts anti-bullying seminars for kids, their parents, and teachers. The account was left for dead by their previous consultant, and hadn’t brought in any traffic in months.

Through solid strategy and Ads management, we were ultimately able to resurrect the account. All it took was some patience and TLC. And the best part is, it’s still growing! Read on for the full story.

The Evolve Project’s Problem

TEP needed to attract more visitors through Ad Grants in order to promote an online auction & book more seminars. But the situation quickly got more complex once we looked at their account.

Their previous Ad Grants consultant had set-up the account, then disappeared and left TEP out to dry. Google Ads require constant management in order to be effective, so The Evolve Project’s account quickly devolved into nothing. Below you can see the initial, strong performance, but then a quick drop-off once maintenance was neglected.

Performance had ground to a halt

Performance had ground to a halt

By the time we got in touch with TEP, they had only gotten 14 Impressions, and not even one click in the past month.

So we took a big breath and got to work.

Step 1: Build a Solid Campaign with Manual Cost-Per-Click

The first thing we did was scrap all the existing campaigns to start from scratch. In hindsight, it may have been a good idea to export them for archiving purposes first, but it all worked out okay. Google uses historical performance as a factor for when & where they decide to show your ads, so we wanted to get as far away from the past as possible.

We then dove into Google’s Keyword Planner and TEP’s website to devise a keyword strategy that promised lots of relevant traffic. Ultimately we settled on campaigns targeting searches like “how to stop bullying” and “motivational speakers for schools”.

The most critical piece of this entire stage was to take TEP’s campaign off the “Maximize Conversions” bid strategy, and re-impose the $2 per click bid limit with Manual Cost-Per-Click.

Why would we want to restrict our bids to $2? Because Maximize Conversions uses past performance to analyze when the best time to show an ad might be. For high-performing campaigns, it’s an awesome way to extend your reach and bid limit. But in our case, it penalized us for the previous consultant’s poor job.

Manual CPC allowed us to further divorce ourselves from the past, and start appearing in relevant searches. For the first month, we allowed the account to proceed like this, just gaining some traction with Google’s algorithms:

Progress was slow, but steady with our initial strategy

Progress was slow, but steady with our initial strategy

Step 2: Flip the Maximize Conversions Switch

By the beginning of January, the account was performing well enough for us to consider flipping Maximize Conversions back on. But before we took that jump, we made sure to update what qualifies as a “Conversion” in TEP’s Ads account.

The updated Conversion Actions

The updated Conversion Actions

The whole point of Maximize Conversions is to well, maximize the amount of people performing an action on your website. If the actions you defined as conversions are broken, irrelevant, or really obscure—as was the case with The Evolve Project—Google won’t see anyone convert, and your ads won’t show as much.

By defining new conversions like “visit the contact page”, which we already know a lot of people do, we ensured Google’s algorithm will notice people engaging with TEP’s site. So when we finally went back to Maximize Conversions, the increase in traffic was dramatic!

You can see how much more traffic Maximize Conversions brought in on Jan 9th vs a whole month of Manual CPC.

You can see how much more traffic Maximize Conversions brought in on Jan 9th vs a whole month of Manual CPC.

Conclusion: Does this work?

Although The Evolve Project still has a ways to go, the initial data are telling us that this method of reviving an old Ad Grants account does indeed work.

By removing everything that would penalize us in Google’s algorithm, starting off slow in Manual CPC, and then finally moving to Maximize Conversions, we were able to build momentum towards better and better engagement.

If your nonprofit is suffering from a poorly managed Ad Grants account, contact us using the form at the bottom of the page, or leave a comment here. And as always, keep growing!

How We Increased Donations by $3,800 in 10 Minutes

Welcome to the new year, and The Digital Nonprofit’s new blog! Our new year’s resolution is to share insider tips, insights, and tricks we’ve learned on nonprofit marketing—and do it every Monday! This week, we’re sharing some interesting numbers on how a small tweak to your website copy can dramatically increase donations. Let’s dive right in:

The hypothesis

New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia is our longest-standing client, and this winter they wanted to make sure their website was ready for end-of-year appeals. It was a great inclination, since their traffic surges in December—so even just a 1% increase in donations could result in an extra thousand dollars.

One area we highlighted for an update was the main navigation. As it stood, NSM’s donate button was hidden in an awkward pop-up menu that appeared once someone moused over “Get Involved”. You can see it in the image below:

The “before” picture of New Sanctuary’s website

The “before” picture of New Sanctuary’s website

Knowing that small changes in website copy can have a big impact, we suggested simplifying the navigation.

Our hypothesis was that every little bit of extra friction reduces the chance that someone will complete their donation. In this instance, we guessed that the “Get Involved” title, pop-up menu, and distracting “for congregations” links were all points of friction. In the old menu, visitors might not have known there was an opportunity to donate at all!

In the end, we swapped out the “Get Involved” button for a simple, but more meaningful “Donate”. Here’s the result:

The “after” picture: a much clearer navigation

The “after” picture: a much clearer navigation

Since their website is Wordpress-based, it was no problem at all to re-arrange the navigation. For the time being, we put the other links in that sub-menu in the footer. All in all, it took 10 minutes.

It was sort of anti-climactic really—once the quick change was made, we just had to sit back, enjoy our holidays and wait for the numbers to roll in!

The cold, hard, numbers—did it work?

After the holidays, I dug into the data to see if anything happened, and was pleasantly surprised at the results!

Our small change increased the donation rate by 27.38% over the previous year!

Graph of donations in December 2018 vs December 2017

Graph of donations in December 2018 vs December 2017

Or put another way, 19 extra people donated this year because of these website changes! (Since 69 people donated during the given period, 27.38% of that number would be 18.8, rounding to 19).

This increase is even more important because overall website traffic decreased since last year (that’s why the first number is red in the image). So even though NSM attracted less people to their website, they got a lot more of them on average to donate once they arrived, mitigating the impact of the decreased traffic.

But what we really want to see is the difference in dollars and cents, right?

To do that, we’ll multiply the 19 extra people by average amount people donate to NSM, $200. That gives us $3,800 in donations that was brought in by this simple change.

I’ll rephrase that in case you didn’t catch it:

This 1 change that took all of 10 minutes brought in $3,800 in just one month!

Better yet, it will continue to improve NSM’s bottom line over time, and additional improvements we make will boost that number even higher.

Now, this wasn’t a perfect experiment, because we’re comparing year-over-year results rather than an A/B test, and we’re just below the number of conversions necessary to make the results statistically significant. That said, NSM’s website has not dramatically changed during that year, and since we already know from other studies that these changes do in fact work, we can confidently claim at least some improvement as a result of this tweak.

Although not statistically significant, the margin is large enough to confidently say it made a difference.

Although not statistically significant, the margin is large enough to confidently say it made a difference.

The power of small changes

I mean, even if it only brought in an extra $100 a month, wouldn’t that be worth the 10 minutes we spent?

I think it would—that’s what we’re all about at The Digital Nonprofit. Using data, industry knowledge, and insights from real donors to find the smallest possible change that will yield the biggest possible impact.

Especially in small organizations like New Sanctuary, this philosophy is especially powerful. In the past year, they’ve likely spent less than $2000 on our services, and just this one change brought all that money back in, and more!

If you want to discover small changes that can increase your nonprofit’s donations, schedule a call with us by clicking the button below. We’ll take a deep dive at your challenges, offer tips, and crunch the numbers to see what you stand to gain.

Announcing: Weekly Nonprofit Marketing Insights!

Data-driven nonprofit marketing pros are always testing, iterating, and looking for ways to grow. And looking back over 2018, we can see we’ve grown a lot! Some of our clients increased their online donations by 50% or more, others extended their reach to thousands of new people. Every week, it seems like there’s a new trick learned or insight gained.

But once we gain that new knowledge, it’s written down somewhere and starts collecting dust. Maybe is even forgotten. And we’re guessing the same thing happens to you.

Wouldn’t it be better if we had somewhere to share what we’ve learned, so others can grow too, and maybe even offer an insight we didn’t see at first? What would happen if we shared all the “trade secrets” we learn along the way, so others could follow in our footsteps?

That’s why we’re reinventing this blog to create a community for growth. Here at The Digital Nonprofit, we preach continuous improvement by listening to real humans and hard data. So we’re going to put our money where our mouth is, and start sharing real, behind-the-scenes insights for growing your nonprofit through digital marketing

Every Monday, we’ll post about what we’ve learned, including:

  • Real nonprofit success stories

  • Mistakes you can learn from

  • Quick tips to grow your nonprofit

  • Q&As on creating “lean” growth at your nonprofit

And you’ll be able to share your responses, tips, or rebuttals in the comments, along with 700+ other nonprofit marketing pros!

The first batch of marketing insights is dropping this Monday, 1/7/19, We’ll share how much of a difference “Donate” vs “Get Involved” makes, and how to use Google Grants even for super-niche campaigns.

Click the button to subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss them!




What is Google for Nonprofits? The complete run-down

What is Google for Nonprofits? The complete run-down

You may have heard rumors about a little-known program Google runs for non-profit organizations. Officially known as Google for Nonprofits, it’s great for cash-strapped organizations, but there’s plenty of confusion on what it includes and how to apply.

This post will tell you exactly what Google for Non-profits is, what the eligibility restrictions are, and help you decide if it’s right for your cause. So without further delay,