By Grant Hensel, CEO of Nonprofit Megaphone – an agency that specializes in Google Grant management for nonprofits. Nonprofit Megaphone is Google Certified and supports over 300 nonprofit clients.

The Google Grant gives nonprofits $10,000/month to spend on ads in Google Search. But as part of this award, nonprofits are required to set up and maintain conversion tracking on their website. Any time you see an impressive Google Grant case study, the metrics are always made possible through conversion tracking. 

What is Conversion Tracking?

Conversion Tracking for the Google Grant is made possible by two free tools for nonprofits: Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. These programs are designed to help you better understand your website traffic

These tools allow you to record who is coming to your website, how long they are staying, what pages they are visiting, and more. But more importantly, they also allow you to designate certain actions visitors can take as “conversions.” This allows you to separate the visitors who are “just browsing” from the “converters” who have actually begun to take action. 

Example Conversions

The below is a list of conversions that are common for nonprofits to track when they are using the Google Ad Grant: 

  • Submitting a contact form 
  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Registering for an event
  • Watching an important video on the site
  • Starting and completing a donation
  • Downloading an important PDF
  • Requesting information 
  • And many more

How Conversion Tracking gives Google Grantees an Edge

The Google Grant is designed to be as impactful for nonprofits as possible, which is why Google has required that each organization set up conversion tracking. 

Let’s imagine two nonprofits with identical websites that are the same in every way, except one has conversion tracking in place and the other does not. Both organizations are using the Maximize Conversions bid strategy, which Google requires. This is one of the Google Grant compliance rules.  

If each organization tries to run an ad on the same keyword, the ad for the nonprofit with conversion tracking setup will likely appear higher on the Google search results page. 

Why? Because Google’s algorithm in the Maximize Conversions bid strategy will be more aggressive if it thinks a given searcher is more likely to convert. The nonprofit with conversion tracking setup therefore has data for this algorithm to use, and it can bid higher with a greater degree of confidence. 

In contrast, the other organization doesn’t have any past conversion data, as tracking has not been implemented. As a result, it looks to Google as if there are no conversions happening, and bids will be lower, on average, as a result. 

Setting Up Conversion Tracking for the Google Grant

The first step in the process is to make sure that you have Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager installed on your website. 

Once this is in place, you can set up different types of goals in Google Analytics: 

  • Destination goals are triggered when someone reaches a specific page on your website. This works best if you have a “thank you” page after someone completes an action. For example, if someone lands on after they finish signing up for your newsletter, you can have visits to that page count as a conversion. 
  • Event goals are triggered by Google Tag Manager. A guide to setting up event tracking with Google Tag Manager is here. Event tracking can be used to record actions that don’t involve viewing a new page such as: submitting a form, clicking a button, clicking a link that takes you off-site, watching a video etc. 
  • Duration goals are triggered when a visitor spends a certain amount of time on your site or views a certain number of pages. These goals are interesting, but they are not representative of a concrete action on the part of a visitor, so they are not intended to be used as conversions for the Google Grant in particular.
  • Ecommerce goals can be configured to record the amount and frequency of donations or other financial transactions. These goals can be more complex to set up, and require integration with your checkout or payment processing system. 

Importing Goals into your Google Grant Ads Account

Once goals have been created in Google Analytics, they need to be imported into Google Ads. 

The process is: 

  • Log into your Google Ads account.
  • Click the “Wrench” icon in the top right corner of the page. It will likely be labeled “Tools and Settings.” 
  • First, under “Setup,” choose “Linked Accounts” and then “Details” under Google Analytics. We want to make sure that Google Analytics is linked to Google Ads. Instructions are here
  • Once Google Analytics has been linked and Auto Tagging has been enabled on the Linked Accounts -> Google Analytics page, we are ready to import the conversions. 
  • Go back to “Tools & Settings” and then navigate to “Conversions.” 
  • There will be a blue “+” button to add more conversions. Click that, and then choose “Import” and from “Google Analytics.” This will give you a list of conversions to import. 
  • Once conversions are imported, you can edit each of them individually to add relevant metadata. For example, each conversion can be categorized, and the attribution window can be adjusted. We recommend using 90 days for most conversions, as it can sometimes take time for someone to click an ad and then ultimately convert. Additionally, we recommend updating the Attribution Model to “Time Decay” instead of “Last Click.” 

Once conversions have been imported, you can now use the “Maximize Conversions” bid strategy that Google recommends (and often requires) for your Google Grant campaigns and be confident that they will have the raw data they need to make their optimization decisions. 

Need Help?

If you are struggling with managing the Google Grant in the area of conversion tracking (or anything else), we are happy to chat with you. Feel free to reach out!