Digital marketing for non profits can be tough. How do you advertise without any money? To raise awareness and lift overall traffic and donations can take a substantial amount of money for any business. However, when a company solely relies on awareness to stay afloat, there’s a lot at stake.
In this 5 part mini series, we’ll go through different tactics that you can use to market your charitable organization without breaking the bank.
Part One: AdWords
Many organizations don’t want to use pay-per-click advertising for the reason that it is… pay-per-click. Paying for each click? No, thank you. But, what a lot of charities aren’t aware of is that Google AdWords offers grants of up to $10,000 USD a month for non profit organizations.
Of course, Google isn’t just throwing money away — nonprofits have to go through an application process. In order to be eligible, nonprofits must hold a valid charity status, acknowledge Google’s certifications for nondiscrimination, and have donation receipts. Nonprofits must also have a live website with a strong amount of content, as you are driving users to your website after an ad is clicked.
Specifically, for Canadian charities and nonprofit organizations, you must also hold an account with Techsoup. Techsoup is a great program that enables charities and nonprofits to have access to a wide range of different technologies and learning resources. Whether you are looking for an AdWords grant or not, this is a resource I strongly encourage using. Techsoup will help validate your AdWords grant account and verify that you have the charitable status that the AdWords grant requires. There is no cost to registering for a Techsoup account, and it will only take up to 48 hours to be verified once all the information is completely filled out.
It’s important to note here that there are certain organizations that are not eligible for AdWords Grants. For example, government organizations, hospitals and medical groups, and schools are not able to receive this grant.
To start the application process through AdWords, proceed to Google’s application page.
Once the application process is complete and you’ve been approved to move forward, there are two types of accounts that you can proceed with:
- AdWords Express: If you’ll be managing your AdWords account yourself, I suggest going with an AdWords Express account. This account can be set up in a short amount of time and does a lot of the work for you. You simply have to pick your audience targeting (location), write one ad, and set a daily budget. This account will choose keywords for you and populate the rest of the information. This is a more hands-off account, so if you don’t have a lot of time to manage and optimize, I suggest this type of AdWords account.
- AdWords: This type of account has great tools for targeting and includes more features than the express account — however, it does take an ample amount of time to set up and manage. This is the type of account that is better left to an agency to set up and manage, unless you’re well versed in AdWords and have time on a daily basis to go in and make optimizations. With this type of account, you can create different campaigns, ad groups, choose your own keywords, make your own bids on a keyword level, create different ad extensions, and set specific modifiers based on location, time, device, and more. This type of account allows complete granularity, which will help serve your ad to the right people.
There are some limitations with using Google Ad Grants. Some of the terms include:
- Ads must be entirely text based. No videos or images are allowed with Google Ad Grant accounts
- Ad grant accounts will have their ads displayed lower on the page. This means that accounts that pay without grants will take the top spots above the fold
- All campaigns have to be keyword targeted
- The maximum cost-per-click that you can spend on a single keyword within the auction is $2.00 USD
- The maximum grant that you can receive on a monthly basis is $10,000 USD
You must also follow a few rules to stay qualified each month for the grant:
- Link ads to the main domain that was approved during the qualification process
- Log into the account once a month
- Make at least one change to the account every 90 days. These changes can include changing bids, ad copy, extensions, and so on. Any change on the account will count towards this rule
- Ensuring that the ads and keywords match the services and programs that you offer
- 100% of the proceeds made through AdWords must go to the program you offer
- Ads cannot link to pages that are resource pages — i.e., majority of the page links to other websites
- Ads cannot offer any financial products, such as credit cards
- Ads cannot request donations of property, such as cars. This is important to note as many charities work with the donation company, Donate a Car Canada. This must not be mentioned within the ad copy but is okay to have on the landing page
- Your landing page cannot display Google AdSense ads or other Google affiliate links
Google Ad Grants are a great offering for any non-profit organization that has a tight budget and is looking to get started with advertising and create brand awareness. We have seen great successes with a number of non-profit organizations spreading their cause with the Google Ad Grant system.
Part Two: Social Media
Social media is becoming increasingly important for an integrated marketing strategy not only for non profits, but for any business. Social media platforms are a great tool to use to tell a story, communicate with followers, and engage with users who are interested in your cause and organization.
Social media should not just be used on it’s own and in no way should be implemented with a set-it and forget it mentality. You want to use your social media channels as an integrated approach with other marketing efforts, while targeting the appropriate users on each platform. This will enable you to capture users’ attention and receive high levels of engagement, not just on your Facebook page, but high donation engagement through your third party donation website.
When talking about an integrated marketing strategy on social media, we are talking about consistent content and imagery. Your content should always tie back into the main message and cause of your organization. Think about what content is on your blog and website to determine how to bring all of the content back to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
When launching any campaign, there needs to be a pre-determined purpose. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to educate children in underdeveloped areas, or trying to rehabilitate wildlife. What are you looking to get out of your posts? Your end goals could be anything from raising awareness for your cause, getting your community together, gathering volunteers, or even soliciting donations.
Once your goals have been determined, you need to figure out how to measure success.
See an example of measurement:
- Raising awareness can be measured by the amount of reach (impressions) your ads and posts are receiving. This proves that your ads are getting in front of users and brand recognition should, in theory, increase.
- Involving your community on Facebook can be measured by engagement on posts. This includes comments, likes, reactions, and so on. You can also leverage a specific hashtag for your campaign cause to measure the level of conversation around your organization.
- Gathering volunteers and soliciting donations can be measured through event tracking within Google analytics, or third party websites such as Canada Helps. Facebook is also offering Lead Ads, which gather a user’s information directly within the platform. A lead form submission will be sent directly to your email which contains lead information, including interests. These ads are customizable and can therefore be set up for donations and volunteers.
Audience targeting is one of the most important components of your social ads. You may be thinking that you want to reach everyone, but that really means you’re talking to no one. Certain messaging is created for a specific set of people, and it’s imperative that they match, or you won’t see good results.
So, how do you determine who your audience is? Create a customer persona. Look back at who has engaged with your posts and who has donated to your non profit organization in the past. Use that information to start building your customer persona. This is also where Google analytics can play a big role, as there is a lot of information that Google gathers about your website visitors, entirely at your disposal. Social media platforms are also offering audience insights now. You can see user demographics (age, gender, location) within each platform. Depending on the platform, you can also see user interests. From these insights, you can make assumptions on who your target demographic is and target these users on Twitter and Facebook. Keep in mind that the subset of your audience who wants to volunteer will be different than that of those who want to donate. It’s important to keep your audiences segmented by campaign and goal.
Now that you know what your goal is and who you want to target, what are you going to share? A content strategy needs to be created. Your content strategy isn’t necessarily just for social but flows through all of your marketing initiatives. If you’re starting from scratch, this is the time to A/B/C test. You need to see what resonates with your audience. This could be an image, a story, a piece of information, a video, an infographic, and so on. When it comes to non profit organizations, we at TechWyse generally see imagery lead to more engagement and higher results. When you have a powerful story, tell it through a carousel of images. Images are known to generate an emotional response and drive action, which is what we want.
How often should you post? That depends on that platform. There’s a number of published infographics on this topic, which include posting frequency and time to post. It’s most important to post enough that users will remember your brand, but not enough that your community will become annoyed. You should also be following what’s known as the “80/20” rule, in which you link out to other websites 80% of the time and keep promotional posts at a 20% maximum.
Once you start posting, you will become quite the busy bee! An important factor when it comes to social is engaging with your community. That means your users are expecting responses. The majority of your time should actually be spent engaging with your users, followed by planning your next posts. You will also need to spend time analyzing the engagement levels from previous posts. This insight will help you come up with your next posts, as you’ll know what resonates with users the most.
Tracking results is incredibly important, especially when nonprofit organizations are on social media. You need to stretch your time and money as much as possible. Having this information handy will also help to build a budgeting case, if you need to bring it to your board committee. Measurement can come from the goals we set and discussed previously, alongside how much website traffic was sent via social channels. This can be measured through Google Analytics, which we always recommend having set up on all web properties.
Keep in mind there’s two routes on social: organic and adverts. We generally suggest a mix of both. Organic posts are important, as it promotes trust and allows you to really engage with all of your users. However, adverts are an easy way to get your message in front of the right people (using audience targeting, as previously discussed). The adverts area is also where non profit organizations on social media can really excel, as imagery really resonates with those targeted users. However, please keep in mind that adverts on social media do require a small budget.
I’d be happy to run through your options and any more questions that you may have in regards to getting your nonprofit organization on social media!