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Google Ad Grants tips and strategy for success in 2023

If you haven’t read the Google Ad Grant management tips I gave in 2022, many of these are still relevant, so it’s worth reading this page first. Then come back here as I have included a bonus section on strategy.

Remove Expanded Text Ads

Yes, this was one of the tips I gave in 2022, however 90% of the accounts I’ve competed a free audit for in the last 6 months are still using this old ad format. This format ceased being editable on 30th June 2022, so it’s time you moved on and used the newer Responsive Search Ad format. I recommend that you only have one Responsive Search Ad in an Ad Group because it’s not necessary for any more than this. A feature of the Responsive Search Ad is that Google automatically A/B tests different combinations of headlines and learns which combinations perform best so you don’t need to. Aim for an Ad Strength that is at least Good or Excellent by following the tips given to you in the ad builder, you may need to avoid pinning headlines to achieve this strength.

Learn about Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

I think a lot of people (obviously, not you..) will wait to learn about GA4 until they are forced to migrate. To remind you, Universal Analytics properties, which will stop processing data on July 1, 2023 so from this point forward you will be reliant on your knowledge of Google Analytics 4 (GA4). So, set it up and if you haven’t already, start learning about GA4 as it will take a while to get your head around it.

If you’re a bit scared of migrating to GA4 yourself, email me for some help.

As one of the first to understand how to use GA4, you’re building a competitive advantage into your charities digital skill set. Note that many of the reports you love using in UA don't exist in GA4 but with some knowledge you will be able to recreate them.

Once you have set up GA4, you will need to configure some events and conversions. I’m not going to explain how to do that here as there are loads of great tutorials such as Analytics Mania which will explain in depth with videos and screenshots.

Discover the latest trends

Google Trends is a free tool that allows users to see how often a particular search term is entered into Google's search engine. This can be useful for a variety of purposes, such as seeing which topics are currently trending, comparing the popularity of different search terms, and getting a sense of how interest in a particular topic has changed over time. By using Google Trends, you can gain valuable insights into what people are searching for on the internet, which can help you to better understand their needs and interests.

For example, using Google Trends I can see the top search related to the cost of living is “cost of living payment” and if I dig a little deeper I can also see popular searches include “cost of living help”. Both are keywords I could target if I was a charity looking to target people on a low income that need support during this difficult time.

Define your goals and target audience clearly

It is important to define your goals and target audience clearly because this will help you to focus your efforts and resources on the right things. Having clear goals will help you to determine what success looks like, and will give you a way to measure your progress. Knowing your target audience will allow you to tailor your message and content to the specific needs and interests of the people you are trying to reach. This will make it more likely that your efforts will be successful, and will help you to avoid wasting time and resources on strategies that are not well-suited to your goals and audience.

Defining your goals and target audience clearly will help you create effective Google Ad Grant ads and measure the success of your campaigns.

Please stop targeting “all countries and territories” 😭

This shouldn’t really need to be said as it’s been a Ad Grants management policy since 2017, however, I see it all the time, most recently “all countries and territories” was selected for a charity that only works in one small region of the UK. Ad Grant Accounts must have proper location settings to remain compliant. Returning to my previous point, be very clear about who and where your target audience is and stick to this targeting, don’t be tempted to go for a wider geographical area just to spend the extra budget as it will effect the overall performance of your ads.

Use Maximise Conversion Value

Maximising conversion value is a strategy that involves focusing on generating the greatest amount of value from each individual conversion, rather than simply trying to increase the total number of conversions. This can be useful because it allows you to prioritise the most valuable visitors to your website, and to allocate your resources in a way that will maximise the return on your investment. By focusing on Maximising Conversion Value, you can improve the profitability of your Ad campaigns and ensure that you are making the most of every opportunity.

For example, if you have a conversion set up to track successful volunteer applications and each successful submission has a value to your charity of £100 and another conversion which is users who sign up to your charity newsletter which has value to you of £5, Google Ads will prioritise volunteer applications because it has a greater value.

Explore other free/discounted software for nonprofits to turbo charge your Ad Grant efforts

It’s amazing how many free software licences and charity discounts are available. If I was in charge of digital marketing for a charity, these are just some of the tools that I would have in my toolkit for powering up my digital marketing and Google Ad Grant efforts.

Moz Pro subscription for $25 p/m (nonprofit discount)

Moz is a software company that offers a variety of tools and services for improving search engine optimization (SEO) and online visibility. Some of the tools provided by Moz include a keyword research tool, an SEO audit tool, and a link analysis tool. The company also offers educational resources and training on SEO best practices. Additionally, Moz has a blog and community forum where individuals can learn more about SEO and digital marketing.

SEO is a crucial part of achieving success with Google Ad Grants. If you have high quality pages that have a strong organic performance then your Search Ads are likely to do well.

10,000 free emails per month with VerticalResponse

VerticalResponse is an email marketing platform that offers tools and services for businesses to create, send, and track the results of their email marketing campaigns. The platform includes features such as customizable templates, list segmentation, and real-time tracking and reporting. VerticalResponse also offers a variety of integrations with other marketing and sales platforms, such as Salesforce.

It’s not easy to get online donations especially when the UK’s in the middle of a cost of living crisis. Why not try getting visitors to your website to sign up to your mailing list and use emails to build a relationship with them so they are much more likely to donate when you have an appeal. Consider implementing a popup that encourages users about to leave your website to subscribe to your emails.

Alternatively use the free version of MailChimp.

Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud is a platform that provides tools and services specifically designed for nonprofits. It includes features such as fundraising and donor management, volunteer and event management, and advocacy and outreach tools. Nonprofit Cloud also offers integrations with other nonprofit-focused tools and applications, such as marketing automation and payment processing platforms. The goal of the platform is to help nonprofits improve their operations.

The reason I have put this in my toolkit is because a CRM is essential for building relationships with donors but you could also try other alternative low cost options such as Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofits or Raisely.

Facebook Fundraising Tools is a suite of free tools and services that allows organisations to raise money on Facebook. The tools include features such as the ability to create fundraising campaigns, accept donations, and share updates with supporters. The platform is designed to make it easy for charities to raise money and connect with supporters on Facebook.

I probably visit my favourite charity’s website about once a year (if that!) but I know I go on Facebook pretty much everyday. Luckily, my favourite charity is active on Facebook and keeps me engaged with their mission via the content they post. Let’s be clear, a Google Ad Grant is an acquisition tool, it helps you reach more people but that’s all it does, you need to then engage those people over and over until they convert, so Facebook could be an excellent place to do this.

Shhh, don’t tell Google but Microsoft gives a $3K monthly Ad Grant too

Ok, it’s not as generous as Google’s $10k but it shouldn’t be sniffed at. It’s very similar but instead your search ads appear on Microsoft owned search engines such as; Bing, Yahoo, AOL,, MSN, and Microsoft Edge. I’m told you can easily import your campaigns directly from Google Ads.

A simple digital strategy for 2023

A simple but effective digital marketing strategy is to think of a good sales strategy but instead of a sale, it ends with a donation.

Acquire + Engage + Convert (donate)

Acquire is all about the tools that you are going to use to connect with your target audience e.g Google Ads, social media.

Once you have connected with your target audience, you must engage the user so that they will eventually convert. There are an endless number of ways to engage users such as high quality content, fun games, webinars, events etc.

Finally, your conversion, the donation but it might also be something slightly easier to achieve first such as an email sign up, this is a called a micro conversion.

Micro conversions and macro conversions are terms used to describe different types of actions that a user might take.

Micro conversions refer to smaller, more specific actions that a user might take, such as downloading a volunteer job description, signing up for a newsletter, or sharing content on social media. These conversions are typically lower-level actions that are closely tied to the user's overall journey and may be indicators of their level of engagement with the site.

Macro conversions, on the other hand, are larger, more significant actions that a user might take, such as making a donating. These conversions are typically more closely tied to the overall goals of the website and are often used as metrics to measure the success of the site or marketing campaigns.

Both micro and macro conversions are important to consider when analysing user behaviour on a website or other digital platform, as they can provide insight into the effectiveness of the site and help identify areas for improvement.

4 Step Strategy:

  1. Create new content on your website that your target audience will be searching for e.g “cost of living support” - Use Moz to help you plan this.

  2. Acquire new users from your target audience with the Google Ad Grant (or MS Grant) to display Search Ads at the exact moment a person is searching for the information you have already produced in step 1.

  3. High quality content, such as E-A-T, might be enough to engage a user but you might also want to think about how else you can engage users. Try suggesting other related content, webinars, competitions, ask them to follow you over on Facebook or subscribe to your newsletter but remember effective calls to action are crucial to making this happen. I personally would use an automated pop-up.

  4. Have a clear macro conversion e.g a donation but plan out the user journey and all the micro conversions along the way that will help lead to the donation. This might not be a quick journey, it could take 6-12 months to convert a user from having never heard of you, to becoming an active donor and supporter.


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