Google Grants is an AdWords program that provides nonprofit organizations with $10,000 a month of free advertising. Although Grant accounts serve as a great opportunity for nonprofits to promote their cause, there are several limitations and recently announced updates that should shift the way you approach your search engine marketing strategy.

The main limitations within these accounts are a $2 max CPC, a daily spend cap of $330, and the inability to use other networks aside from the Search Network. In this post, we’ll outline several strategies you can implement in your Grant account to maximize the return on these free dollars.

Maximize Conversions – Exceed $2 Max CPC Limitation!

As of January 1st, all Grant accounts can exceed the $2 max CPC cap by switching to Maximize Conversions bidding. When Maximize Conversions is used, Google’s algorithm automatically varies your bid based on how likely it is to result in a conversion. In other words, CPCs can (and will) eventually exceed $2! Although this is great news from a bidding perspective, it also introduces several challenges.

After enabling Maximize Conversions, we have seen CPCs get as high as $9, conversion volume increase by 33%, and CPA improve by 54%. Although these are extremely positive shifts, we also had a 56% decrease in spend. Since these are free dollars at our disposal, we were then quick to pivot strategy to ensure we were also taking advantage of the full $10,000.

One strategy to maximize spend while taking full advantage of the Maximize Conversions feature is to implement a tiered Alpha – Beta – Gamma campaign structure.

To do this, enable Maximize Conversions on your Alpha and Beta campaigns and set your Gamma campaigns to utilize Manual CPC bidding. Depending on the volume you see after setting this up, apply the Alpha and Beta keywords as negatives to the Gamma campaign. This will give you control over which campaign your traffic is funneled to.

It is important to note that when setting your Gamma campaigns to Manual CPC, the campaigns will still have the $2 CPC limitation. However, the negatives in place will funnel high-priority traffic to the Alpha and Beta campaigns that have Maximize Conversions enabled. The Gamma campaign’s main purpose is to pick up the rest of the traffic and ensure the daily $330 spend limit is reached. Keep a close eye on your daily spend, as well as your CTR (read below), and make adjustments accordingly.

5% CTR Or Bust

The most notable update that Google announced for Grant accounts is the CTR requirement. If your account does not meet a 5% CTR for two consecutive months, your account will be cancelled. Even though you can request that it be reactivated, you will need to restructure the account to ensure it meets the new requirements.

A few quick changes you can implement right now to increase CTR are:

  1. Turn on your “Optimize: Prefer best performing ads” setting
  2. Pause low CTR keywords
  3. Value CTR when making device bid adjustments
  4. Add relevant ad extensions
  5. Ensure your ad copy is as relevant as possible. This can be done by utilizing Dynamic Keyword Insertion or, preferably, manually matching each headline to each ad group’s keyword coverage.
  6. The Alpha – Beta – Gamma structure will also help increase CTR as long as your ad copy aligns with your keyword coverage.

Please note several other Google Grant Account Updates here.

Test DSA Campaigns

One thing you will notice right away is that you are only allowed to use the Search Network within your Grant account; you cannot launch Display, Remarketing, or Video campaigns. However, this still leaves DSA and Call-only campaigns at your disposal.

The all-site DSA campaign launched within our Grant account (with Maximize Conversions enabled) has proved to garner the most conversions for us and has served as a great method to dynamically accumulate search queries to then promote into our keyword coverage. When creating your DSA campaign, do so within the AdWords interface as it is easier than it is within Editor.

Use Your Grant Account as a Testing Ground

When approaching Grant account strategy, you can also think of it as a free testing ground. Although the Grant account environment is slightly different than a paid account, you can still get an initial sense of whether an initiative is worth launching on the paid side of things.

For example, after seeing our DSA campaign perform extremely well within the Grant account, we will be launching it within our Paid account. Since we already have demographic, device, geo, etc., data garnered, we have a sense of the optimizations we can quickly implement within the Paid account.

 

If you’re not in the Google Grants program, here’s how to apply. Good luck!

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Kaitlyn Couture
Kaitlyn joined 3Q Digital in 2016 after receiving a master’s degree in Digital Social Media from the University of Southern California. Kaitlyn played Division I lacrosse at USC. Aside from digital marketing, her interests include yoga, cycling and trying new restaurants. Kaitlyn was born and raised in San Diego.