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Canadian FundRaiserWinning Googlers’ top of mind pays off at low cost

What every nonprofit that has stepped its toes into the murky waters of online marketing/online fundraising wants is to be the top of mind response to every query input to Google (or Yahoo, MSN, or whatever).
Life lesson – you get what you pay for. Not only is it important to design your web site so you include all the right keywords, meta tags, etc., to ensure the search engine finds you and finds you fast and early. It also pays off to pony up for search engine marketing, ie advertisements.
Advertisers list the keywords they hope visitors will use in their search, which then put their ads above the “organic” list of web sites generated by the general search of the entire web, identifying them as “sponsored links” and providing a description (limited to 90 words in Google).
Cornerstone Group of Companies recently introduced Cornerstone Search to help companies and nonprofits take advantage of this marketing opportunity.
Full suite of offerings

The announcement of the introduction claims that “Cornerstone’s expertise in direct response marketing provides organizations with a full suite of service offerings including key word development, bid management, ad preparation, campaign landing page development and, more importantly, form and database development that will enable organizations to complete the full loop of a search campaign.”
The company also waves the flag in promoting its services. “For most companies in the online space, Canada is more of a rounding error than a business building opportunity,” says Senior Vice-President Don Lange. “However, Cornerstone has been built on serving Canadian marketers and US-based marketers who do business in Canada.”
One convinced client is the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, whose Vice-President Direct Marketing Deanna Kennedy tried the program as a test between October 11 and November 14.
In that time period, she says, “we found there was an 18% lift in response, revenue per day, and a 19% lift in donations per day.” These results were recorded although the society wasn’t undertaking any kind of a specific campaign or backing up the online efforts with any extraneous promotion.
Ads move to the top

When people input, eg, “multiple sclerosis” into a search engine, the Canadian society might be ninth or 10th on the “organic” list, says Kennedy, but using the sponsored links system moves it right to the top.
Kennedy also likes the flexibility of the system, where she says she pays a daily charge which she considers very low compared to costs of other fundraising vehicles, and this can vary by her choice of how much to spend. She raised the spend in December, then plans to slacken off somewhat through the late winter/early spring and increase it again in May, which is awareness month for this health charity.
The fundraiser, a self-confessed technophobe, also lauds the personal service and technical support she and the organization have received from Cornerstone personnel.
Bid per word

An overview document produced by Cornerstone to explain the system says that it starts with the advertiser actually bidding on certain keywords. Highest bidder gets highest mention. For certain common words, that could get pretty expensive. So finding the right keywords – relevant but not too common – is a challenge.
Because the ads are so small, they must be carefully crafted to target the message precisely to the keyword the searcher has input. In fact, if they are not effective – do not generate what Google considers to be an adequate number of clicks – the search engine will drop them.
Cornerstone recommends the advertiser direct the responder to the ad to a landing page which might not be the organization’s home page, but would be the page within the site which, again, is most relevant to the searcher’s perceived interest. It might even be necessary or advisable to create a special landing page for the purpose.
Can measure quickly

Because it is possible to track all responses to the ads, advertisers can measure campaigns very quickly and precisely.
In budgeting for a search engine marketing campaign, an organization must bear in mind the actual rate paid to the search engine, which will vary by the number of keywords and the amount bid on them; the cost of any web development for landing pages; the cost to monitor visitors when they reach the landing pages; and Cornerstone’s own fee, which comprises a setup fee and a percentage of the total spend.
The company says its services include: the development of key words and phrases; generation of negative key words to weed out irrelevant searches; creation of the ads; placement of the words and ads with the search engine(s); monitoring the campaign, keywords, cost and conversion rate; and optimization of campaign elements (keywords, bids, ad copy, etc.).  
For further information: Don Lange, Senior Vice-President, Cornerstone Group of Companies, 2200 Yonge St., 8th flr., Toronto ON M4S 3G3, 416/932-9555, ext 141, [email protected], www.cstonecanada.com; Deanna Kennedy, Vice-President, Direct Marketing, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, 416/967-3016, [email protected].

Canadian FundRaiser
Canadian FundRaiserSince 1991, the Canadian FundRaiser™ newsletter has been updating nonprofit managers twice-monthly on news, trends, tips and analysis of developments in the fields of fundraising and nonprofit management.

Our service, originally simply a twice-monthly newsletter, has expanded over the years to include workshops, books, back-issue search and Special Advisories for our member/subscribers. And the complete package is now the Canadian FundRaiser™ Nonprofit Sector Management Information Service.

Current Members can search back issues here, renew their Membership, or correct their address information in our secure files.

Through the generous support of a number of Supporting Sponsors, at the head of them our Lead Sponsor, UNxVision Internet Fundraising Solutions, we have avoided price increases for many years, and been able to provide some services at no cost.

Please take a look at the current issue of Canadian FundRaiser™ eNews, and if you haven’t done so already, sign up ­ at no cost ­ to receive future issues. Visit our Key-To-The-Sector Workshop Centre. Ask about Advertising & Sponsorship opportunities. Or send us an article suggestion. We’re waiting to hear from you.

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