Recently, a U.S. based pregnancy center asked me to look over their website and Google AdWords campaigns due to significant traffic fluctuations, and I discovered that they had unknowingly been paying for ads to show up in the Philippines. Google only charges a penny or two per click in the Philippines, so it’s quite possible to inexpensively generate significant traffic for your ministry’s website if your ad campaign includes the Philippines within your targeting. However, is that really an effective ad expense?
A closely related and troubling issue I’ve run into multiple times is seeing Google AdWords show up for pregnancy resource centers located several hundred or even a thousand miles away from me. (I work with a number of pregnancy centers, but this post applies to other Christian ministries.) One center located in Texas was spending its precious advertising dollars marketing its life affirming services to people in my home state of Pennsylvania. It would be difficult to motivate a girl to actually go down by plane to Texas for a free pregnancy test.
This trend toward hastily setting up online advertising accounts is definitely not limited to pregnancy resource centers; businesses do it all the time, and churches are frequent participants, too. The outreach staff at a church says, “Let’s try Google AdWords!” and then they drop a couple thousand dollars into the account and sit back to watch the ad spend drain while website visitors come from all throughout the United States and Canada. But many of those website visitors rarely shake the hands of any of that church’s congregation, because they live hundreds or even thousands of miles away and never place foot once inside that church.
Hastily set up online advertising accounts can drain the lifeblood of your ministry.
As more and more ministries abandon their major Yellow Page ads and turn their advertising budgets toward the web, all too frequently assumptions are made that “if we spend it, they will come.” However, in the world of the web, it’s too easy to spend large amounts of money only to later discover that you merely threw a wad of bills into the wind.
I’m here to waive the caution flag and to, hopefully, help you ensure that your advertising investment becomes more efficiently implemented so that it will be more effective in accomplishing your ministry’s goals.
There are many facets toward operating a well tuned Google AdWords account, but in today’s post, I want to focus on one in particular.
Be sure your AdWords geographic scope accurately reflects the region where your targeted users live or work.
In other words, Google permits geographic targeting for each AdWords campaign that you set up. Always be very careful to make sure that the geographic targeting connected to each of your AdWords campaigns is a perfect match for the geographic region from which your users realistically come.
With the first pregnancy center example I cited above, which was receiving a large volume of visitors from the Philippines to their website, their AdWords campaigns were set to target the entire world. However, they had set their maximum pay per click amount at just a couple cents. This made Google, anxious to still “earn” that ad spend, largely display the center’s ads in the Philippines since few other locations exist where the cost per click for ads is still so low. To address their specific situation, I changed their geographic targeting to be a radius of 20 miles around their center’s physical location and then increased their cost per click bid to reflect the typical rates for their region.
With most pregnancy centers, I try a radius of 15 or 20 miles. With some centers in remote areas, it may be best to increase the radius. Since churches may serve a broader area, they may want to set a radius of 30 or even 40 miles. Whichever geographic scope you select, remember that you can go into the account at any time and expand or contract your ad coverage area. Experimentation in conjunction with regular monitoring is a smart move with any AdWords campaign. Just be sure not to choose a radius less than 10 miles or your ad may be rarely displayed.
With the second pregnancy center example I mentioned, their AdWords campaigns were apparently targeting the US or the US and Canada (which is default). To increase their ad spend efficiency, they should have also narrowed down their geographic targeting to be a reasonable distance from their center’s physical location.
For centers or churches that have multiple locations, my recommendation is to develop separate AdWords campaigns for each, and to define the corresponding geographic radius for each location.
We’ll look at some other ways to fine tune your AdWords campaigns in future posts. Feel free to leave questions, suggestions or other feedback in the comments below. After all, we’re working together in this.