Two years ago we launched a daily email newsletter (and built a website) called israelAM in which we summarized the top Israel news stories. We felt an ideological need to help inform and educate people about the country that we admire and support. We also were excited by the challenge of building as large of a subscriber base as possible.
We didn’t really have a marketing plan, other than hoping that people would find the email valuable and share it with their friends. Since it was just a side project – labor of love – we decided not to dedicate any more time to the project above what it would take to actually write the email (about 2-3 hours each morning) and publish it.
So we started getting up early each weekday morning and creating and sending out the email to the couple of hundred of our personal contacts that we added (many of whom we then removed). Building our subscriber base was slow going. Readers did forward the emails to their friends and we managed to get some local press coverage, but after about a year we still hadn’t gone “viral”. We had around 2,000 subscribers, which was far from the 10,000 we were hoping for.
The Google Ad Grants Program
It was around that time that I learned about the Google Ad Grant, in which Google gives non profits $10,000 in free Google Adwords ads. Since IsraelAM was by all measures a non profit, we decided to make it official and get designated by the IRS as a 501C3.
After getting our 501C3 status we applied for the Google Ad Grant and received it. Then we set up our Adwords campaign, and the tide turned for us in a big way. Thanks to Adwords we starting appearing at the top of the Google search results page for keywords related to Israel news.
Since we were competing with major news sites, the best we could do in the organic search results was page 3. But Adwords let us showup at the top of page 1!
Putting the Google Grant to Good Use
The Google grant gives you about $330 to spend each day, which we often were able to do. At at an average Cost Per Click (CPC) of around $1.50, we were driving around 200 new visitors to our website each day or over 6,000 a month. Out of those were able to convert around 400+ to signup for the email.
IsraelAM Adwords Results for May 2017
IsraelAM Adwords Results for Sept. 2017
Keep in mind that, as opposed to a regular Adwords campaign where you want to save money and keep costs down, with a Google Ad Grant your goal is to use up all of your budget, regardless of the cost per conversion.
Thanks to our ad grant, we’ve been able to recently hit the 7,000 subscriber mark at year 2 and are hoping to hit 10,000 in another few months. And the more readers we have the more they share the email, which leads to more organic subscribers.
In addition to the “subscriber count”, some of our new subscribers have become financial supporters of IsraelAM. That’s something that all non profits dream about.
The Google Ad Grant is helping us drive thousands of new visitors to our website each month, of which we convert a few hundred into subscribers and potential (and actual) financial supporters.
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