Regardless of whether your organization is for-profit or non-profit, because it’s highly likely you want target audiences to learn about your mission, products, services, and solutions, and you want to be able track which marketing and communications activities are creating awareness and sales/engagement, you’ll stand to benefit greatly from setting up and using the following four types of free Google accounts:
Google Search Console – this tool serves a couple of purposes. It allows you to see for which search terms Google is most frequently serving up your website. And, then, for which search terms for which Google serves up a listing (which includes a link to your website) are searchers then clicking on the link to visit your site. This free Google tool also lets you see, on average, where in Google Search results listings, a listing with a link to your site appears, and the % of people who click on a listing link when it is served up to them. You can also use your Google Search Console account to submit revised or new blog posts or website pages for indexing/crawling, so that you don’t have to wait for Google to find this new and revised content, and therefore, wait for Google to start serving it up in search results for relevant searches.
Google Tag Manager – this tool allows you to set up tags that track various actions that a website visitor can take on your website. These tags basically “fire” and provide data to and in Google Analytics when visitors take actions like completing and submitting an inquiry form on your website, clicking on a hyperlinked e-mail address or phone number, scheduling an appointment, or purchasing something. Such desired actions by visitors are known as “conversions.” Without the use of a conversion-tracking tool like Google Tag Manager, you’re never going to know what marketing activities are causing website visitors to “convert,” and as a recent article about analyzing digital advertising results from Search Engine Land explains, that’s so important to understanding the effectiveness of various marketing activities and where to spend your marketing time and dollars.
We’ve already written a number of blog posts about Google Nonprofit Ad Grants, and we invite you to check out this most recent Google Nonprofit Ad Grant post, which contains links to all of them, to learn why your organization might benefit for such a Grant and how they work.
How We Help Arts Nonprofits Optimize Their Google Nonprofit AD Grant
Our Boston SEO Company is currently working with a number of non-profit arts organizations to help them optimize their Google Ad Grant. So, just what does that mean?
We make recommendations on how to structure their account, i.e., how many distinct ad campaigns within an account are needed and how many sub-campaigns (known as Google Ads ad groups) are needed.
We write Google search ad content/copy for client’s review and approval.
We develop and implement search term/keywords lists which will prompt the Google search ads available thru a Grant to be shown to appropriate searchers.
We take a creative approach to this, including identifying and employing terms related to people looking for solutions to problems or ideas for local experiences or experiences at places they plan to visit for fun or for work, i.e., we walk in tourists’ and residents’ shoes.
We work with clients to put appropriate “conversion” tracking in place.
As part of the above, we talk about what activities non-profit organizations want site visitors/ad clickers to take on their site (known as conversions), such as signing up for an e-newsletter, buying tickets, calling, and filling out an inquiry form.
We work collaboratively with an organization’s internal webmaster or external web developer to put appropriate tracking in place.
The above will likely involve using Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.
We keep a really close eye on how an organization’s Google Ads are performing — are they generating impressions (being served up), are they generating clicks, what does the click-thru rate look like, are conversions being generated?
We independently make small tweaks to campaigns to improve performance; we reach out to clients for approval to make larger/sizable/significant revisions.
We provide informal (e-mail) updates on how campaigns are performing, more formal Excel, Powerpoint, and/or Google Sheet reports for sharing with nonprofit Board members, and will meet with clients monthly via video-chat services, like Zoom, to discuss Google search ads results and implications.
As part of the above, our two teams talk about upcoming events or new website pages to which we want to drive traffic (the aforementioned may require us to set up a new campaign or ad group.)
Learn More About Our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Services
You can learn more about our Boston digital marketing agency’s Google Nonprofit Ad Grant services, and client we’ve worked with, on our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Services page. Our team of Boston SEO experts and Google Nonprofit Ad Grant experts is always here to help, so please don’t hesitate to reach out, or to set up a complimentary discussion about your particular nonprofit organization’s marketing challenges and opportunities.
Our Boston Digital Marketing and SEO Services Company’s History
When we hung our shingle for our Boston digital marketing agency 9 years ago, via the launch of this website (April 2014), we had no idea what lay ahead of us. I say “we” because at the time I launched this firm, I knew I’d be able to call on a couple of family members to help me if needed, particularly my wonderful sister-in-law, Sharon, who served as both a cheerleader and a “tasker.” Sadly, our family lost Sharon a number of years ago to cancer, but I strongly believe she continues to cheer me on and has caused many good things to happen on the work front for Results Communications & Research.
I won’t repeat what I’ve shared on other pages or blog posts on our site, but if you want to learn more about my and my digital marketing firm’s journey or the diverse nature of the clients we’ve had the great privilege to serve, check these pages and posts out!
Google Nonprofit Ad Grants
As I call out in this previous blog post about which type of marketing agency or consulting firm to hire, no marketing agency or PR firm can be all things to all people, or be good at all things! So, as our agency has evolved over the years, our team has put many of our energies and learning time into becoming the best possible SEO experts for our clients — helping them be found on Google and in other search engines for high-volume, relevant search terms, via both paid search (Google Ads) tactics and organic search tactics. We’re proud of the very favorable reputation we’ve developed in the Greater Boston area (and beyond) related to the aforementioned, but we’re particularly proud that we have helped numerous nonprofit/cause/charitable organizations apply for and obtain Google Nonprofit Ad Grants and/or optimize such a Grant that they obtained for themselves.
Google Nonprofit Ad Grants are very generous “Google search” online advertising grants that support nonprofits appearing at the top of Google search results for relevant search terms — also known as keywords — used by their target audiences. Ultimately, such advertising creates greater awareness of the organization and their services, and eventually, greater support of and advocacy for the organization’s mission.
As our 9th anniversary approached, I gave great thought to how we could celebrate it in a meaningful way. We’re all about giving back and paying it forward, anyhow, but we wanted to do something to express our gratitude to all who have helped us along the way in our business-building journey!
I really wish we could extend the following opportunity to all nonprofits that inquire about it, but one of our many blessings related to being in business for nine years is that we have an extremely full plate and have for a number of years now. Again, we want to thank all our marketing collaborators and our clients for that — so many of you have been great about making referrals and/or sub-contracting work.
So, here’s the opportunity:
If you are a U.S. nonprofit wanting & needing help applying for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant, e-mail me, by April 30, 2023, to express your need and desire for help with the Google Nonprofit Ad Grant application process at email@example.com and put “May Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Drawing” in the subject line. In May, I’ll randomly select two names from the list of entries we receive and we’ll work with your organization on a pro bono (complimentary/free) basis to help you apply for — and hopefully obtain — a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant. Keep in mind that if your organization is not certified as a 501(c)(3) organization or you are a government agency or health care provider (think hospital, physician, etc.) or an educational organization like a college or university, you will NOT qualify for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant.
We Can’t Wait!
We can’t wait to see what’s down the road for our Boston SEO company! If we continue to be as blessed as we have been, it means we’ll have the great fortune to continue to meet exceptional business owners, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, and marketers and to collaborate with them to make great things happen on many fronts!
Learn More About Our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Services And Nonprofit Clients Whose Google Ad Grants We’ve Managed
A former manager of mine used to say I was a great “bird dogger.” Believe me, it took some painful lessons to realize that just because I assumed co-workers were moving time-sensitive/critical-path work forward, it didn’t mean they were. Sometimes, particularly when you are just starting out in the corporate work world, you need to get “bitten” a few times, to acquire and employ new skills.
Getting back to the bird dogging. At our Boston-area digital marketing agency and SEO company, we believe that any and all marketing agencies and marketing consultants should serve as both strategic partners and accountability partners. Read on to learn why it’s so critical to sales, marketing, and SEO success, and to assess whether or not your marketing agency or consultant serves as both types of partners.
Why Your Marketing Agency Must Be A Strategic Partner
Whether you’re a small business owner with no marketing staff and you’ve outsourced your marketing strategy and/or your hands-on marketing work to a marketing agency or consultant, or you’re a mid-sized business that has a small in-house marketing team, it’s likely you and your team are far too busy to stay on top of cutting-edge marketing tactics and tools. Particularly as pertains to digital marketing, available opportunities/tactics change constantly, and there are such a large number of broad digital marketing categories (as indicated on our digital marketing services website page), that it would be impossible for you and your team to be experts in all available digital marketing topics, like SEO, social media advertising, Google Ads, etc.
I’ve mentioned this numerous times in blog posts and on Results C & R’s website pages, but when I launched my digital marketing agency and SEO company in 2014, I launched it with this tagline and philosophy: “Maximizing Results Through Research-Supported Marketing.” I always say I will never encourage an existing or prospective client to begin or continue with a marketing tactic that doesn’t make sense for them, based on secondary or primary data. That’s why I regularly ask prospective clients to let me look at their Google Analytics data before they engage me for work, and that’s why, for many of my clients, I track their digital marketing KPIs on a monthly basis and review results with them. Then, we talk about implications and what tactics we’ll put in place/what steps we’ll take to try to move the sales, inquiries, engagement, etc. (conversions) needle by the next time we meet. Often, it’s tiny steps, but steps we think make sense even if they only lead to slow progress as far as conversions go. Progress is progress, right?
Ask Yourself The Following To Determine If Your Marketing Agency Is A Strategic Partner:
Does your marketing agency document the above results/analysis and meet with you and your team regularly to review implications?
Does your marketing agency try to learn on your dime — therefore, are they charging you for the time they spend on educating themselves on a new marketing tactic, tool, or opportunity? They shouldn’t.
Does your marketing agency let you know if there is something you aren’t doing right and/or could be handling better on the marketing front, regardless of whether they are doing work for you related to it?
Does your marketing agency let you know when they don’t think a particular marketing tactic/opportunity is the right fit for your organization?
Does your marketing agency only recommend services they themselves offer, or will they recommend services/opportunities from which you’d benefit, even if it means they need to collaborate with/pull in another expert or strategic partner or refer you to somebody else?
Is your marketing agency regularly recommending new possible marketing opportunities to you?
Related to the above bullet, do you get the sense that your marketing agency wants to use you as a “guinea pig” to try out the latest-fad marketing activity or tool, even if it might not be the right fit for your organization? If so, that’s certainly not a win-win situation!
Why Your Marketing Agency Needs To Be Your Accountability Partner
So, here’s the questions you should ask to determine whether or not your marketing agency or consultant is a true accountability partner and the real tie-in to bird dogging reference at the beginning of this post.
If your marketing agency needs you to review something or provide information to move their work for you forward, do they reach out regularly for status updates and to remind you to ensure critical deadlines are met?
Does your marketing agency send you an e-mail after a meeting documenting what work you or your team are responsible for completing before your next meeting?
When your marketing agency senses that you are unable (for a variety of reasons) to review documents, provide information to inform their work for you, or complete hands-on work yourself, do they reach out and offer to help or to talk you thru what’s needed via a phone or Zoom call? Do, they do the aforementioned on a timely basis so that time-sensitive deadlines and deliverables are met?
I was talking with fellow marketing consultants this week and shared this famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire related to effective client-agency relationships, i.e., working collaboratively to move work forward, both successfully and efficiently: “Help Me, Help You.”
Does Your Marketing Agency Act Like Part Of Your Team?
Ultimately to determine if your existing marketing agency or marketing consultant or a prospective one is the right fit, in addition to the strategic-partner and accountability-partner questions above, you should ask yourself, does my agency treat me with respect and like a partner. Do I feel like my agency is as committed or even more committed than I am to my organization’s success? Does may agency feel like part of our team, and in some ways like family? Meaning, they’d do anything for you to help you succeed and only want the best for you?
I hope and believe that clients or prospective clients asking themselves any of the many questions outlined above arrive at answers that make them confident that the Results C & R team is both a strategic and an accountability partner and that we have our clients’ best interests are at the heart of everything we do!
Back in the days when I worked at BMC HealthNetPlan, I got great satisfaction completing the marketing & communications tasks associated with my role pertaining to “wellness.” I’ve always been someone who liked to exercise, particularly, play tennis, swim, go to the gym, and walk. Those who know me well, know that various health circumstances have gotten in the way of my being able to participate in some of the aforementioned athletic activities, but I hopefully I’ll always have my walking! Anyhow, because I was a big believer in the mental and physical health benefits of getting exercise, I felt blessed and happy to be able to share wellness tips, tools, and information with members of BMC HealthNet Plan’s health plan, as well as with prospective members.
I loved creating wellness-related flyers that the health plan’s Community Outreach team could give out at events, and I was particularly passionate about sharing that same information in the form of an advertorial for the now defunct “Boston Metro” newspaper. In addition, I maintained a section on the health plan’s website about “exercising for a cause.” On the website page, I would list various upcoming charity/cause exercise events like walks, hikes, bikes, runs, etc. I’ve always felt that such events are win-wins. The participant gets great exercise and has fun participating in the event with family or friends that they recruit to join them, and the cause/charity gets the much needed research or other funds they need to operate, as well as the benefit of awareness creation.
Mike McKenna’s Walk Across America For NECC
If you follow our Boston Digital Marketing Agency’s blog and read it regularly, you’ll know that I divide my time talking about “walking” topics and “marketing” topics. This particular post is obviously walking-related, and I’m using it to call attention to the extensive, creative, and significant “cause walk” that a friend and former co-worker from BCBSMA days is undertaking. As you’ll see from reading this article, my friend, Mike McKenna, is “walking across America” to create awareness of the challenges faced by individuals living with Autism, as well as their families, but also to fundraise to support the very important work of, and critical services offered by, the New England Center For Children (NECC).
So all those who walk, ride, bike, hike, etc. for a cause, we say “exercise on!” You are doing God’s work!
My Upcoming Cause Walk
I’m continuing to walk the above talk. This month I’ll be walking in Winter Walk Boston, and as I have for the last five or six years, I’ll be captaining my Jimmy Fund Walk team to raise awareness of the challenges of living with cancer and to create cancer research funds. Please consider joining me on one of these walks, and of course, any donations are always welcomed!
Important Update (afternoon of 2/7/23): So, literally within an hour of my publishing this post, I learned Mike had to put his walk on hold because of health concerns, but he assures me, he will still achieve his mission, even if his cross-country journey has to take a new form! Please continue to support NECC in the meantime!
Regardless of the size of your organization, it can be confusing to figure out what type of marketing agency or marketing consultant to hire to help you create awareness, and ultimately cause sales of your products, services, and solutions. The ability to market digitally/electronically — that came with wide-spread adoption of the internet — brought with it the following changes when it came to organizations engaging outside help for their marketing (outsourcing their marketing), whether it be for one-off/one-time work or ongoing work.
How Digital Marketing Leveled The Playing Field For Both Advertisers and Ad Agencies
Organizations who couldn’t afford the high costs associated with producing TV, radio, transit, or outdoors (billboards or other) advertising, found new, more affordable marketing activities were now available to them in the form of social media posting and advertising, tactics that support websites being found on Google and other search engines for desirable search phrases (organic search tactics/SEO tactics), paid search engine ads/marketing (SEM), e-blast and e-mail marketing, and more.
Since many organizations looking for marketing help no longer required the infrastructure and diverse skillsets associated with marketing tactics that involved large production activities and costs, some realized they no longer needed to hire a full-service large advertising agency — think the type of agency featured in the acclaimed TV series, “Mad Men,” or on “BeWitched,” as smaller marketing shops, like ours, could meet their digital marketing needs and/or traditional marketing needs related to activities that don’t require a lot of production, such as Public Relations (PR), or print advertising.
How To Figure Out What Type Of Marketing Firm To Hire And Questions To Ask
Branding and Design Firm. A firm that refers to themselves as a branding/brand and design firm primarily focuses on helping you figure out the look and feel of your brand, including the logo, colors, and graphic elements that will be associated with your brand. They usually offer website design services, but not always. And, some do offer other digital marketing or traditional marketing services thru collaborations or partnerships with digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies, or marketing consultants, or marketing freelancers. So, if you know you will need particular digital and/or traditional marketing services after working with the branding firm to develop or execute a new brand identify for you, ask in advance if they offer those services, so you will know whether you will have the burden of hunting around after for someone to help with traditional and digital marketing services — particularly to drive traffic to any new site you engage them to design for you.
Digital Marketing Agency. Digital marketing agencies tend to offer both higher-level strategic planning services, as well as hands-on/execution services, related to any marketing tactic that is digital or electronic related, including: e-blast/e-mail strategy and execution services, social media strategy and voice (actually writing and scheduling of social media posts), online advertising (social media/display advertising, Google Ads or other search engine advertising), blog strategy and voice work (actually writing and posting of blogs to your website), and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most will offer content marketing services as well to help you figure out what content your target audiences are most interested in, and an editorial calendar for serving up such content on your website. Website content writing services likely will be available as well.
Marketing Consultant. In the almost nine years since we launched Results C & R, we’ve met a large number of marketing consultants. The degree to which they offer hands-on/execution work vs. developing high-level strategic plans tends to really vary. Some offer a number of hands-on services, in addition to helping you develop a strategic marketing plan, while others don’t do the actual marketing tactic execution work. If your organization has a number of internal marketing people who can actually oversee or execute the marketing plan developed by a consultant, a marketing consultant may be just what and all that you need.
Public Relations Firm/PR Firm. The focus of public relations firms is to get your organization unpaid-for-advertising/marketing. By helping your organization develop a strategy for causing various reporters and media to cover your story, they help your organization get mentions and attention without the cost of an expensive advertising campaign. PR firms also tend to offer event planning services since an event may be the perfect way to create awareness of your organization and/or create good will among your target audiences. Keep in mind that if you only need help with putting on an event vs. getting regular/ongoing press coverage, you could consider hiring an event planning firm. Many event planning firms also have experience getting media/reporter coverage for an event as well.
In general, the biggest overlap between a digital marketing agency and a Public Relations firm is that they both tend to offer social media services, since social media posts — particularly organic vs. paid/boosted social media posts — can help to generate good will and create awareness of an organization’s products, services, and solutions.
Advertising Agency. Nowadays, when people think of, or decide to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency, it’s related to the fact that advertising agencies can pull in the right team members or hire the right contractors for a marketing campaign that requires heavy-duty production. As we mentioned above, scripting and executing a radio, TV (network or cable) or streaming advertisement requires the collaboration of a bunch of individuals with diverse skillsets, the renting of studios and/or locations in which to film, the hiring of “talent” for the broadcast spot — whether it be aired on the radio or TV. Activities like the aforementioned are often the reason why, in our current day and age, an organization would look to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency. Although, most advertising agencies offer digital marketing services, in addition to traditional ones.
Web Design/Web Development Firm. Web design and web development firms are exactly what their name indicates — firms who help design and develop websites for clients. Many also offer logo design or other graphic design services because of their web designers’ ability to successfully complete such work. All web design/web development firms DO NOT offer SEO services nor do they always understand SEO, so if you expect or want to receive SEO services as part of your new website launch, be sure to ask any firms you are considering to design and develop your site, what knowledge they have of SEO and/or who they have on their team that has an SEO background. Otherwise, as we explain in this blog post, you’ll end up with a website that is not easily found via search engine searches.
Unfortunately, we regularly interact with prospective clients who had someone develop a beautiful, effective site for them, but the site is not being visited/found by target audiences because SEO tactics weren’t put in place by the web design/web development firm as part of the site development and design engagement.
What Should I Expect To Pay A Marketing Agency Or A Marketing Consultant?
Based, again, on our 9 years of marketing agency and marketing consulting experience at the time of writing this post, we’ve found that, in general, the bigger the agency/marketing shop, the more expensive their hourly rate and marketing project fees are. Why? It mainly comes down to overhead and the costs of maintaining and marketing a larger organization, offering a large number of employees benefits, etc.
We’re A Boston Digital Marketing Agency, Boston SEO Company, Boston Marketing Consultant, and Boston PR Firm All In One!
Due to our Principal’s more than 30 years of corporate marketing and consulting experience, we offer all the services called out in the heading directly above! We regularly meet with both start-ups and long-standing organizations — both for-profit and non-profit — for complimentary discussions about their marketing challenges and opportunities, so feel free to use our calendar app to schedule a FREE initial consultation https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.
Knowing that I and my Boston-area digital marketing agency team help clients obtain, maintain, and optimize Google Nonprofit Ad Grants, a few weeks ago a fellow digital marketing consultant asked me if I ever had a client utilize the entire $120,000 in free Google Ads search advertising available thru the Grant. While I knew generally that a few of our nonprofit (NPO) clients who offered products and services across all of the U.S. (vs. in a smaller city/town or state geography) were able to really capitalize on the free advertising $/media buy available annually via their Grant, it prompted me to both dig deeper on what % of their Grant dollars were being used, and to detail in this blog post, the various ways our marketing agency’s Google Ad Grant clients have used their search-advertising funds.
I hope that, by documenting here the types of nonprofits we’ve worked with who have obtained a Grant and successfully employed Google Nonprofit Grant monies, I might inspire other NPOs to either apply for a Google Grant, or use their Google Ads Grant differently or better to maximize it.
What Types Of Nonprofits Qualify For A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant
Let’s start with the types of nonprofit organizations we’ve helped obtain and/or capitalize on their Google Nonprofit Ad Grant:
organizations that offer training programs/coaching to at-risk women/women in-transition
organizations serving those with special needs and/or disability
organizations that serve financially challenged/at-risk teens in both the U.S. and abroad
Most non-profits who apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant will qualify for one unless they are a government agency/entity, a healthcare provider like a hospital, or an education institution (philanthropic arms of colleges and universities may qualify for a grant). We’d be glad to coach you thru the Google Nonprofit Ad Grant application process. The initial part is pretty simple, and starts with applying for a Google Nonprofit Account and joining Tech Soup if you haven’t done so already. But, you do need to know how to set up a campaign that effectively meets certain Google Nonprofit Ad Grant search advertising requirements, including using certain available advertising features.
Does Anyone Ever Use Their Entire Annual Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Funds?
The answer to the above is likely “yes,” or close to it. As alluded to above, the broader the geographic area in which a nonprofit offers support, services, and products, the more likely they are going to be able to employ much of the available monthly $10,000 in free paid search advertising, particularly if the volume of individuals searching on terms relevant to what the nonprofit offers is significant.
We just conducted an audit of several of our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant clients who are able to offer all or some of their products and services across the whole U.S. All three of them sell products and services that are available for purchase by anyone in the U.S. For example, one sells mass cards to fund the great work they do; another sells curriculum and online training programs; a couple have online gift stores whose sales allow them to provide the services they do to constituents. One client will likely use 70% of their annual Google Ad Grant dollars ($120,000) by year’s end; another about one-third; and another, about one-third. It’s not easy to properly and effectively employ those large search advertising budgets, but it shows it is possible! And, of course, we’d be glad to brainstorm with you to come up with creative ideas for optimizing Grant dollars.
How Can I Use My Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Dollars?
Many of our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant clients are using their Google Grant in a number of simultaneous ways, including the following:
Drive sales of products, therefore, tangible goods, such as those available in an online store/shop that fund their good work in our communities
Cause use of the organization’s on-site services or online/virtual services
Recruit volunteers for their organization
Through general/branding messaging, create awareness of their organization among appropriate audiences in an attempt to secure donations (keep in mind that ads specifically asking for donations aren’t effective; but letting individuals and orgs. that are interested in your cause know about you can be effective with development efforts)
Support attendance at paid or free events, including webinars, seminars, workshops, courses, and classes
Cause target audiences to visit/read/use resources/information on their site, or download information
Cause appropriate individuals to fundraise on the organization’s behalf/participate in the organization’s fundraiser
Cause target audiences to be an advocate for the organization’s cause or the general/broader cause with which the organization is associated
Cause other desired “conversions,” i.e., desired behaviors, such as:
visits to organization’s physical site for a variety of reasons
We think Google Nonprofit Ad Grants are a well-kept secret and are often under-utilized by nonprofits — either because they don’t apply for and employ one to see if it will work for them, or they obtain one and don’t use it for the many purposes they could or should.
A Joint Blog Post by Gail Snow Moraski, Results Communications & Research and Nick Bartos, Social Motion
Where to begin? First of all deep breaths, everyone. We are all in this together and we will get through this period of crisis in our country and in our world if we all continue to remember that it is our purpose in life to look out and be there for others the way we are there for ourselves.
Now, on to the mission at hand. We – Nick and I – have been chatting a lot this week about the nature of content to include in social media posts, currently and in the short-term. It’s a very tricky time for organizations. Many for-profit organizations have already experienced or expect to experience a significant loss of income due to customer work being cancelled or delayed, or an abrupt end to a robust product sales pipeline or stream. And, many nonprofit organizations’ financial and human resources are being stretched to a degree for which they aren’t prepared.
Where we landed is this; these are unprecedented times. Yes, there have been pandemics before, but at least in the U.S., there are likely only a handful of individuals who have lived through something similar. And, there’s never been a time in our country’s or world’s history where we’ve been as digitally and electronically advanced, and therefore, where we’re expected to be continuously communicating and providing updates online. Given all the aforementioned, as we’ve been saying to a number of the people, ”there’s no official guidelines or rule book for this.” The best we can offer, therefore, are the opinions of two digital marketing and PR experts in this blog post that we hope can serve as an “unofficial” rule book for your organization related to your social media voice & presence now and in coming weeks.
Social Media Is Meant to Be Active and Interactive, Not Passive
Social media is, and always has been, a tool to connect with your audience fairly intimately. Social media is not a passive form of interaction, and thrives on conversation, emotion, and the sharing of ideas. Whether for-profit or non-profit, organizations should be utilizing social media — in this situation in which we find ourselves — as an opportunity to demonstrate the values your brand encompasses. While it is important to not profit off of, or appear to profit off of this crisis, it is important to express that your brand empathizes with and is a part of your community. Furthermore, your brand likely has a great sense of what your community’s needs and struggles are, and you may be able to offer valuable insights to your audience during this difficult time.
For example, a construction company may share information relating to grants, or low-interest loans that help contractors, electricians, and plumbers during this crisis. The construction company may also share the precautions they are taking, or share the standards/procedures they have created to protect their employees. Additionally, the company may reach a broader audience by demonstrating their commitment to the cause — like a photo or video of the masks they are donating to a local hospital. Again, social media is a place to build relationships and offer value – if you can do that, respectfully, during this crisis, you are already ahead.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts During a Pandemic
In general, speak from the heart, demonstrate empathy and support; think about how you can truly be, and can be seen as, part of the solution. We saw a fellow communications professional post the phrase “innovate, solve, or stop” when speaking about current social media. We think that the first two in this quoted series sum things up pretty well – if you’re going to post or share others’ posts, then offer creative, meaningful, effective solutions to challenges faced by individuals and organizations right now. We’ll speak to the “stop” piece in our “DON’TS” section.
Post or share, comment on, like, retweet posts that:
Express appreciation to/acknowledge those who are working overtime and/or risking their lives during the pandemic, including police officers, firefighters, EMTs, healthcare providers, pharmacy and grocery store employees, gas station employees, home and office cleaners, and anyone else who has to tirelessly continue to work to keep us all safe and well.
Speak to the good work that various national, state, or local nonprofit organizations and agencies are doing to help vulnerable, at-risk populations, and the general public.
Ask for help. If you do ask for help, make it clear what kind of help would be useful. And, whether you are requesting financial donations, tangible goods or volunteer time, be very specific about where those contributions will go, how they will help, who they will support, etc.
Remind others to check on elderly or health-compromised neighbors, or anyone they know who lives alone and who may feel isolated; plus, creative ways to make these individuals feel connected and supported – glass door and window visits, signs you make and show outside their window, texts, e-mail, phone, and video chats, and anything else creative you can dream up
Announce that you are there/here to help and on what fronts
Describe promotional offers or new products or solutions that will be received as heart-felt and legitimate and reinforce a true desire to help, such as a discount on any kind of services that would help a business keep running or get back up and running again
Provide updates about your hours, reduced staff, open or closed locations, etc. that indicate potential impact on customers, i.e., use your posts to manage client expectations
Share ways for your followers to donate to causes in your local community, or industries that you serve, where people may feel most connected
Create an image such as the one below (created by the Girl Scouts) that contains your brand/logo, or create a short video or video snippet along the same lines that shows heart, desire-to-help, or innovation — We are here and glad to help you with this!
Provide helpful information about the pandemic vs. creating fear (for example, sharing scary statistics related to the virus and its impact or frightening videos showing suffering of victims). Helpful info. may include:
Where/how to get help if you think you or a loved one has COVID-19, where to get food or other assistance, e.g., websites, phone #’s, text lines
Federal, state, or local government mandates or recommendations, such as group size limits and social distancing guidelines
Thoughts on or links to others’ thoughts on how to reduce anxiety level during our pandemic
Ideas for crafts for children to make with supplies that are likely on hand in any home
Family games and other bonding experiences, such as reading a book together, watching a movie, baking, or playing card games
Thoughts on or links to others’ thoughts on how to stay healthy during the pandemic, such as a daily walk or eating as healthy as possible (recognizing somehow that everyone might not have easy access to nutrient-dense food)
Reminders to find gratitude and appreciation somewhere, somehow in every day (aka “silver linings”) – whether it be taking advantage of unexpected free time, or additional time with loved ones
Thoughts on how to work efficiently and effectively from home
In general, don’t post, like, share, retweet, or comment on any content that might be offensive or seen as heartless, un-empathetic, or completely oblivious to or out-of-touch with what is going on in our world presently.
Don’t post about:
A new product or service you are offering that might appear as trying to prey on others’ misfortunes/take advantage of them in their darkest moments
Services and products that would seem like an incredible luxury, or irrelevant to or off-limits to many at this point in time. For example, some investment and insurance company advertisements about helping one prepare for retirement just don’t sit well right now. Audiences may be feeling that they won’t be able to retire, or must work much longer than anticipated before they are able to. Restaurant and vacation ads feel out of place as well when we’ve all been asked to “stay put.”
Services and products that encourage individuals to engage in activities that ignore mandates and guidelines set forth by federal, state, and local officials.
Over the past six years, as a digital marketing agency owner and marketing consultant, I’ve had so many prospective clients approach me with a specific marketing tactic/activity that they’d like me to implement on their behalf. As I’ve repeatedly expressed on social media, in other blog posts, and in my website’s content, I never encourage clients to implement or continue with a marketing activity that doesn’t make sense for them. So, as part of discussing the particular tactic for which they’d like my help, I do a “preliminary check” to see if their website is “optimized for search,” and, therefore, likely to be found by individuals searching on relevant terms for the products, services, and solutions to problems the client in-question provides. Instead of a costly advertising campaign or direct mailer, the client might be better served investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which could have longer-lasting impact.
You would be amazed by the number of organizations — both large and small — who have spent significant $$ and time to launch a comprehensive, user-friendly, informative website, but didn’t realize they needed to implement off-page (behind-the-scenes tags) and on-page (content) SEO tactics in order for their site to be found on Google. Some website developers and designers are well-versed in SEO, others aren’t, and don’t offer the service automatically, or as an add-on when launching a new site.
The above means that a for-profit or non-profit organization may have invested in a beautiful, effective website as far as design, user experience, functionality (interactive tools) and content goes, but they won’t likely benefit from it to the degree to which they could/should. Their site becomes like a pretty little unknown island that no-one knows is there, and therefore, no-one visits. In sum, building their new site, didn’t mean people would come.
Another factor related to lack of visitors may be this. If the products, services, or solutions to problems an organization offers are not ones that individuals are aware of, and therefore, aren’t actively searching on, even the most-optimized-for-search website isn’t going to get a lot of visits that stem from search engine inquiries. If your product or service is a brand new one — think something you’d see on Shark Tank — your target audience may not even realize a product or service like yours exists. Or, particularly, if you’re a B2B (business-to-business) organization, prospective clients may identify an organization like yours by asking one of their contacts or colleagues for a referral.
Both of the scenarios outlined in the paragraph above equate to your organization not being able to rely on “organic search” to drive traffic to your website. But, if you want and need to confirm that individuals aren’t actively searching to find an organization like yours, read our recent post that explains how keyword research can help you figure out whether or not individuals are searching to find an organization with your capabilities.
Key SEO Takeaways From This SEO Blog Post
So, what are the takeaways from everything we’ve shared so far in this post, i.e., how do you ensure “if you build it they will come?“
Don’t assume that searchers are searching to find you and/or what you offer. Take the following steps to determine if they are searching to find you, and how.
use your Google Analytics data to see what percentage of your traffic is organic (comes to your site as the result of a visitor clicking on a search engine results listing)
use your Google Search Console data to see for what search terms, if any, Google is presenting a listing with a link to your website in search engine results, and the # of individuals who are clicking-thru to your site as a result of it being presented
conduct keyword research for the specific geographies you serve to determine whether or not a significant volume of individuals is searching to identify an organization likes yours
If the above exercises reveal that the percentage of organic traffic to your site is low (less than 30%), and your website isn’t being presented in search engine results for relevant search terms (keywords), but keyword research indicates a large number of individuals in your geography are searching for the solutions, products and services you offer, then you should optimize your website for search, i.e., implement organic/technical SEO tactics
If keyword research indicates that only a small number of individuals in your geography are searching for an organization with your capabilities, it’s time to consider “push” vs. “pull” marketing. Push marketing is all about putting the idea of your product/service in individuals’ heads and making them aware that a your solution to their problem exists. Display vs. search advertising is just one form of this and this blog post explains the push vs. pull dynamic, but there are many other forms of push marketing, such as an e-mail campaign, print or broadcast advertising, or a direct mail campaign.
Get Help From Our Team Of SEO Experts
The SEO Experts at Results Communications & Research, a Boston Digital Marketing Agency and Boston SEO Company, is always here to make sure your website isn’t an island onto itself, so reach out to make sure it gets the admiring visitors it deserves.
Since it will be five years next month that Results C & R hung its digital marketing agency shingle, via the launch of this website, I thought it would be a fun and interesting exercise to do a deep dive into the types of clients our organization has served to-date, as well as the nature of the work we’ve done for them. I mean, we’re always slicing ‘n dicing our clients’ data, why not slice our own?
Our Boston SEO Company’s and Boston Digital Marketing Agency’s Clients
The graphics below should readily tell our story of the 42 clients we’ve helped (as of the date of this blog post) over the past five years, and how we’ve helped them (with ongoing or one-off/project marketing strategy development or tactic execution work). But, just to preview and reinforce what you’ll see…we’ve served a very diverse group of clients with a very diverse set of digital marketing — and even some traditional marketing — challenges and objectives.
And, while our specialties since the launch of our digital marketing consultancy have been organic/technical SEO; paid SEO (SEM/pay-per-click ads/Google Ads); website revisions, revamps, and launches; and Google Analytics account set-up and data analysis, we enjoy and can help clients with a variety of marketing and market research needs!