The finish line of this calendar year is in sight, which means nonprofits are frantically working to secure those year-end gifts. Most are going heavy into direct mail and many are integrating email campaigns with direct mail. There’s also been a pretty big increase the past few years of nonprofits getting into the Facebook Ads game, which is great; however, more competition equals lower ROI for campaigns in many cases. All of these channels are great, but I believe one of the most overlooked channels for year-end fundraising is search engine marketing.
I was digging around in Google’s Keyword Planner in the Google Ads platform to pull some data. I looked at the following keywords for December 2018:
· Donate to charity online
· Donation tax benefit
· Tax deductible donation
· Nonprofit donations
· Charitable donations
· End of year donation
Let’s talk a moment about keyword pricing. The price of a keyword is determined by competition, how many accounts are bidding on specific keywords, and how much users are willing to bid per keyword. The ranges of price can vary by time of day and day of week, but you can bet that you’ll be paying a premium for donation-related keywords the closer you get to December 31. For the entire month of December 2018, the low range bid amount for the set of keywords above was $2.99, while the high range was $13.07. Of course, these are averages made up of the price of the individual keywords. The highest cost keyword topped out at $24.99, which was “donate to charity online.” Yep, that means every time that word was clicked, it may have charged the nonprofit $24.99. Your branded keywords, or keywords that contain your brand name, should be relatively inexpensive though.
With potentially such high costs, why do search marketing? Wouldn’t the cost to acquire be astronomical? It doesn’t have to be. You certainly want to look at how much it costs to acquire a donor, which would be how much you spend in total on search marketing ads divided by how many gifts you acquired.
SEM Average Gift
Based on a sample size of 24 nonprofit clients that I’ve personally worked with, I’ve seen an average SEM gift range on the low end of $46 and high end of $1,412, with the overall average gift coming of $242. All of these clients were either local or regional. So, the question is not should your organization execute SEM ads for year-end campaigns, but how can you do them more effectively. Here are 5 tips to help you improve your SEM campaigns:
5 SEM Tips
1. Capitalize All Words: Yes, it’s true….and your English teachers would have a fit if they knew this was a recommendation. But this isn’t about English, it’s about marketing. There have been multiple studies that writing in this manner will increase click through rates on SEM ads.
2. Use Display Paths: In Google Ads, you can add a display path underneath the headlines. Similar to how a pre-header functions with email, this display path provides more context as to what is contained on the landing page that the user will click. For example, instead of having a url in your add that says www.nonprofit.org, it can say www.nonprofit.org/Donate/Homelessness. This signals to your donor that this is where you can go to donate to help this particular cause. Also, this display path is for display purposes only within the SEM ad, so there is nothing you have to do on your end to create a page with the same url on your website.
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