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Top Tips to Enhance an NFP Search Marketing Program

19 June 2014 at 10:59 am
Staff Reporter
Many Not for Profits used paid search marketing to attract more donors. Digital experts Prarthana and James Holburn offer their top tips to optimise those search marketing programs to better attract, ‘catch’ and convert your audience.

Staff Reporter | 19 June 2014 at 10:59 am


Top Tips to Enhance an NFP Search Marketing Program
19 June 2014 at 10:59 am
Prarthana Holburn.
James Holburn.

Many Not for Profits used paid search marketing to attract more donors. Digital experts Prarthana and James Holburn offer their top tips to optimise those search marketing programs to better attract, ‘catch’ and convert your audience.

The saying goes, “fish where the fish are”. As many Not for Profits would know, this adage is especially true to the world of paid search marketing.  Lots of us run ads on search engines such as Google for this very reason. After all, where better to find potential donors than where they are actively searching for you?

Yes, search marketing is seen as one of the most effective means to attract new donors because it is where the potential donors are. However, just because your target audiences are on search engines, does not mean that they are going to jump right into your lap.

With fishing, its useful to fish where the fish are; however you still need to know how to cast the rod to catch the prize. Similarly, with search marketing, you need to know how to use the tools at your disposal, in order to attract and convert potential donors. Otherwise it’s easy to waste a lot of time and money generating no return.

Here are three tips to help you optimise your search marketing program, so that you can attract more donors:

1.      Pick the right match

A strategic approach to keyword ‘matching’ is one of the most overlooked aspects of search marketing.

Everyone who run a search marketing program knows that a mandatory component is to select and bid on keywords, which when searched for, will trigger your ad to display on top of the search engine results. However, what a lot of marketers overlook is the fact that when you choose a keyword that you want your ads to show up on, by default the keyword will be set to ‘broad’ match. This means that your ad could be displayed in search engine results by searches for that particular keyword, or any variations of it.

For example, below is a sample list of search terms that your ad will be displayed on, if the keyword ‘charity’ is set to broad match – you be the judge on how relevant some of these are!

Leaving your keywords on broad match obviously means that your ad is more likely to show up on a wider range of keywords (search terms) but it also increases likelihood of your ad appearing on non-relevant search terms, like most of those in the list above.

Where possible, it’s best to define your keywords as ‘exact’ match; this means your ad will only be triggered by people searching for your specified keyword. Being strategic with keyword match types will allow you granular control over your search marketing ads. Consequently, as your ads will no longer show up for irrelevant search terms, you will see considerable improvement in your engagement rates. Google offers free advice on how to best use match types in your search marketing programs. 

2.      Do not ignore brand-related keywords

Several organisations running search marketing programs object to paying for brand-related keywords, such as their organisation’s name. The rationale is usually that the business already has a strong presence in Google’s organic (non-paid) search results, so why pay for what you can get for free?

The short answer is that paid ads usually drive stronger conversion rates than organic (non-paid) search results. This is because paid ads give you the ability to control the advertising message along with the user experience. This is especially useful if you have a particular campaign to promote and you want to drive a user to a specific landing page. What someone reads, and where the link takes them, are elements that are much tougher to control in organic search results. Moreover, organic search results usually drive the majority of users to your website homepage.

The benefits of having such control over the user experience can justify the relatively low cost of buying brand-related keywords.

Below is an example of this tactic being executed well, by Holden.

As the image shows, Holden’s search marketing ad sits directly above their organic search result but is clearly distinguished by promoting a special offer that drives the user to a unique, targeted landing page. By bidding on their brand-related keyword, ‘Holden’, the car company is able to incentive their audience to click on a special promotion, and oversee their user experience by driving them to a targeted promotional page.

3.      Implement ad extensions

Ad extensions are additional touch points that you can append to your ads to help enrich the user experience. These can take many forms, such as application download buttons, phone call buttons or links to several campaigns/offers on your website. An example of the latter is below:

The obvious benefit in the above example is that instead of having one link in your ad, you have five. This gives the user more opportunities to engage with your brand, and allows you to promote various messages within the single ad unit.

Simply using ad extensions can lift your ads’ engagement rates, if for no other reason than it gives your ad more real-estate in search engine results and helps it stand out against competitors.

Implementation is very straightforward, and most search marketing platforms such as ‘Google Adwords’ provide a clear area within their platform where this can be set up.

These three tips only begin scratch the surface of the kinds of customisation and optimisation that can be undertaken in relation to your search marketing programs. They are provided as a starting point to help you enhance your search marketing so that you can better engage and convert your audience, instead of simply casting your net in the digital sea for no bite.  

About the Authors: Prarthana Holburn is a digital marketing expert who has grown digital capabilities across the Not for Profit sector in Australia and abroad for a number of leading International NGOs. James Holburn has over seven years experience in digital marketing, managing paid search for clients across a broad range of industries including Not For Profit, Finance and Travel.  They can be contacted via email at and


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