Nuts & Bolts - Case Study: Boosting Search to Get Missing Kids Found
Barely more than a child herself, the teenage Old Navy employee excitedly taught kids about safety and their parents about how to prevent worst-case scenarios—missing kids.
Seeing the teenager's joy told Marita Rodriguez, director of strategic partnerships at Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, that the September 2012 "Kids Safety Events" NCMEC and Old Navy partnered to produce were a success on many levels.
One of those levels was the search engine marketing effort for the Safety Events. In order for families to attend the events, they had to be able to find them, for which Rodriguez largely credits San Diego-based search marketing agency Covario and the agency's use of Google Grants, the nonprofit edition of AdWords.
Covario's been providing NCMEC with paid and organic software and services pro bono since 2009. The agency used a portion of the $10,000 in paid search Google Grants gives the organization each month to work on the Safety Events campaign, because Rodriguez says her nonprofit needs to use the rest of that grant for the remainder of NCMEC's SEM program.
To get families to come to Old Navy stores from Sept. 13 to 16, 2012, the nonprofit had to get moving. With a maximum keyword bid set by Google at $1, the organization chose terms such as: AMBER Alert, child ID event, Internet safety, Missing Child, Old Navy safety events, NCMEC, etc. (Some of those keywords are also part of the regular SEM program.)
Rodriguez says marketing started in August 2012, six weeks prior to the events, including landing page design, copywriting for paid search ads, paid and organic search optimization efforts, and public relations work.
The Safety Events campaign saw an average search engine results page (SERP) ranking of 1.8. But the campaign slightly dragged down NCMEC's overall SERP placement of 2.9, bringing it to rest at 3.1, Rodriguez says, "because we were bidding on Old Navy terms … that were extremely competitive."
After the campaign finished, its effects on NCMEC's placements were more apparent. Rodriguez says, "overall SERP position remained improved by approximately 0.5."
At 2.4 in September 2012, she says the organization's average SERP ranking improved yet again a few weeks later and, as of presstime, remained high.
"If you type in 'Missing Child,'" she says, "we not only come up on the right … but then you will see … above the fold, they're almost all for us."
Rodriguez says the September events at Old Navy stores are NCMEC's "largest safety awareness fundraiser[s] using SEM." As for the funds raised, the 2012 events brought in more than $344,000 due to Old Navy's offer to customers to "make a small donation to help missing kids and you receive 10 percent off your total purchase."
Rodriguez plans to build on the 2012 success during the "2013 Old Navy Safety Squad" event. One of her goals was to gather more data about the participating families.
She says: "We have built out a new digital media team that is excited to get followers, strengthen our base, use social media and SEM to broaden our reach, and hopefully get more strategic in how we optimize our SEM potential."
Rodriguez says this year's aim, as always, is to protect as many children and inform as many families as possible about keeping kids safe.