Recently we wrote about why your nonprofit should partner with a Google Certified Professional Agency to manage your Google Ad Grant. This week we want to cover how to choose an agency from this list.
Google’s directory of Certified Professionals is full of agencies that Google recognizes for their experience and specialization in the nonprofit sector. However, while an agency might be listed here, that does not mean that they are the best fit for your needs. Think of the directory as the first step in a funnel leading to high-quality Ad Grant management. While any agency here would be able to manage your Ad Grant competently, each has their own strengths that may fit better than others for your organization.
What do you need?
The first part of finding the best, certified agency for you is to take a step back and conduct a thorough examination of you nonprofit’s situation. Not knowing what goals you want to achieve through Grant management can hinder the overall performance. Do you just want to drive donations or increase brand awareness? Establishing and communicating clear objectives can help the agency you partner with hit the ground running. In case your organization is struggling to figure this out, we have some basic questions you can use to get started.
Ad Grant status
The first question you should ask is whether or not your organization has already been approved for the Ad Grant. While agencies like ours will walk you through the application process, some agencies are Ad Grant management only.
How are we doing?
An important question to ask is what is the overall status of your organization? Taking stock of your situation helps you have a stronger understanding of your current strengths and weaknesses that you can communicate to the agency.
What are we willing to spend?
What is your budget for hiring a Certified Professional Agency? Packages and prices are different from agency to agency. Additionally, some agencies will offer other features and services alongside Ad Grant management that your organization can take advantage of depending on budget.
Narrowing the field
After figuring out what you are looking to get from an agency, it is time to start narrowing the field of potential partners. Visiting each firm’s website can be time-consuming, that is why each agency provides a short description of who they are and what they do. When looking at these descriptions, there are a few important things to look out for.
What is their focus?
A good rule of thumb is to work with agencies that specialize in nonprofit Ad Grant management. Nonprofit digital marketing utilizes different strategies, knowledge, and resources that mainstream agencies might not have.
What services do they offer?
While Ad Grant management should be the primary service they provide, effective agencies utilize various digital marketing strategies to help your nonprofit achieve its goals. The Ad Grant is a powerful tool, but the best firms know that they need the whole toolbox for the best service.
How many nonprofits do they help?
Not all agencies have this listed, but the number of nonprofits they list as clients is a relatively good indicator of how successful they are. This does not indicate subjects such as retention rate or client satisfaction, so do not value this too highly.
Taking a closer look
After browsing the directory and choosing the agencies that look the most appealing, it is time to check out their websites. A good website will tell you everything that you need to know about a firm by providing a feel for how successful an agency is and what their culture is. Here are some elements to look for:
Somewhere, probably on their main page, the agency will list several performance metrics. These can include the amount of money managed through the Ad Grant, how many people they have reached for their clients, and the amount of people engaged through their Ad Grant management.
Who do they work with?
Most nonprofit marketing agencies will have a list of the different nonprofits that they work with. While the more they have listed is not necessarily a point in their favor, it is a good sign. These also provide an opportunity to see the range of nonprofits the agency works with. For example Cause Inspired does not list all of our nonprofit partners, however we try to highlight the range of organization types and sizes.
Client testimonials are a great, quick way to see what the agency’s clients think of them. While they are not quite on the level of reviews, seeing as the agency curates what goes on their website, you can get a glimpse of what the agency views is important in its relationships with nonprofits.
One of the most important website elements you should be looking for is the agency’s blog. This is an indication of what aspects of their work are important to them, whether they are keeping up with industry trends, and how well they understand the concepts they are working with.
Most agencies also publish case studies which display the different situations they have run into while managing the Ad Grant and how they handled them. These will be some of the best indicators of whether or not the firm will be a good fit to work with your organization.
After making an informed decision on which agency you want your nonprofit to work with, it is time to reach out. The agency should make it very easy to contact them for an initial call. The process should be simple and fast, and an agency that does not get back to you within a reasonable amount of time may be signalling the quality of service you will receive. During the initial meeting, you should come prepared with a list of questions to ask. Google has provided an initial guide that your organization should expand on based on the information you have gathered about your organization’s goals and the research you have done. You need to be discerning when it comes to finding an agency to trust with managing a large portion of your digital marketing strategy. Following the guidelines we have laid out here should be a good starting point.