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Part 2: Creating a Google AdWords Gym Marketing Campaign

Last Updated on Mar 15, 2018


Welcome back for part 2 in the many-part series about how to create a Google AdWords campaign for a fitness business; be it a gym, yoga studio, CrossFit box, whatever. If you’re the owner or marketing person for a fitness business, this the guide you need to follow. Part 1 was a good introduction to PPC for fitness businesses. If you’re unfamiliar with PPC, check out part 1 of this series. Part 3 of the series talks more about the process of picking your fitness marketing keywords.

Just to give you the background, I’m Patrick Jones, the owner of FitnessTexter. Before starting FitnessTexter (the membership-boosting service for gyms), I worked for a Denver payments startup and co-managed over $100,000 per month in Google AdWords spending. That means I was spending over $3000/day on advertising. During this time period, I got to know the ins-and-outs of online advertising, as well as experiment with unique keyword buying strategies. When you’ve got $3000 a day to use, you can see results VERY quickly and learn what works and what doesn’t work. For small business owners, you don’t get to use play money like I did. You’re using your own hard-earned dollars for marketing campaigns. You’re going to want to start slower and do lots of testing so you can see what is working and what isn’t working. Getting clicks doesn’t always mean getting new members.

That said, this is going to be a basic breakdown for any fitness business that is looking to start using Google AdWords. As I said in Part 1 of this series, it’s important to remember that PPC can get very expensive, fast! $1000/month is a good budget for smaller businesses. If you can’t spend $1000/month on advertising, you might not want to be in the fitness business. As they say, it takes money to make money.

Create a New Google Adwords Campaign

creating a fitness adwords campaignLet’s get down to business.

First and foremost, you need to create a Google AdWords account. The good thing about creating an account is that you’ll usually get between $100 and $200 in free advertising credit. You can use this credit to start your first campaign and get a feel for how Google Adwords works. $100 will last about a week, maybe less, but you’ll at least get to use Google’s money before you use your own.

Google offers pretty great support for small business owners as well. If you’re spending at least $10/day on your advertising campaign, you get unlimited support from Google. Sure, they won’t be flying representatives to your city for in-depth conversations and taking you out for expensive dinners like I got to attend back at PaySimple, but you’ll be able to learn from people who know the ins and outs of the AdWords industry. Your representative can help you figure out good keywords to start bidding on in order to get your account up and running.

Once you’re up and running on AdWords, hover over the big red campaign button and then click the “Search Network Only” tab underneath it.

Select the Proper Google Advertising Network

select network typeThe Search and Display networks are VERY different. Below is a brief overview. Here’s a more in-depth explanation from the pros at WordStream. The Google Search network consists of those advertisements that you see in the side columns of a Google search. If you search “new tires”, you’ll see ads for Goodyear, Firestone, etc. Those are search ads. Display ads are the banner advertisements that you see on blogs, news websites, etc. These are usually somewhat related to the website content, but sometimes now. Beware, because there are millions of websites on the display network(that’s why Google buys blogging platforms; to get more ‘online property’), some of your ads will show on landing page websites and other unworthy sites.

Since we’re talking about fitness businesses using Google AdWords, we’re going to stick with just the search network. We want your business to show up when someone types “gym in my city” or something similar. You don’t need your ads shows up on every website under the sun.



Choose ‘All Advertising Features’ (More Control)

all features google adwordsThis is an important step if you want more control over your online fitness advertising. If might take a tiny bit more work, but you’re going to have more control over how you spend your money. In case you’re not aware, the Google Monster owns the online advertising world(earnings of $17,000,000,000 in 3 months time) and will devour any money that you give it. By selecting “All Features” when setting up your campaign, you have better control of how much you feed the beast. There are numerous horror stories about campaigns that go out of control when someone makes a mistakenly high bid and it spends the entire budget in the course of the night. If you’re going to use the “All Features” area, just make sure you’re away of the firepower that you’ll be wielding.

Select Geographic Area to Show Your Gym Ads

choose location to show adChoosing a location to display your ads is one of the coolest features about AdWords. Google gives you the ability to select very precise geographic locations so that your advertising dollars are spent in the best possible way. In the picture to the left, you can see that I selected “Denver” because that’s where our hypothetical gym is located. Choosing the entire state of Colorado would be a waste of money, because people in Colorado Springs will be my ads, costing me money, when the chances of them driving 2 hours to go to the gym are absolutely nil. You can even choose multiple locations if you have gyms in various cities. You’ll still get some clicks from people outside your geographic area (because they don’t have cookies allowed or are searching incognito), but Google is pretty good about refunding “fraudulent and invalid” clicks.

Decide on a Proper Pay-Per-Click Bidding Price

selecting bidTime to open your wallet my friends; it’s game time. It’s time to decide just how much money you’ll be spending every day on your Google Adwords account. I’ve worked with gyms that were spending $100/day on fitness advertising and I’ve worked with clients that had a $10/day budget. I’ll be honest, if you’re only spending $10/month on advertising, you’re probably wasting your time. As I’ve said numerous times, it takes money to make money. If you’re not willing to invest in the success of your business, why be in business at all?

Since you guys are all new to pay-per-click advertising, I personally believe that allowing Google to set your PPC price is the best strategy. Don’t worry, they’re not going to price gouge you (some disagree). They actually might find you better prices than you were expecting. Once you get a feel for how PPC bidding works, you might want to take back control of your PPC bid; until then, use Google’s suggested amount.

Add Google Advertising Extensions if Interested

adwords extensionsI’m not going to go into details about Google advertising extensions. They’re pretty self-explanatory. You can play with these if you’d like; but beware, you’ll most likely pay more money if you include some of these extensions. Until you’re well-educated in PPC advertising for your gym, it might be a better idea to leave the advertising extensions excluded for now.

Choose When to Show Ads & Frequency of Ads

ad scheduling and other optionsJust like choosing a geographic area, you can also select the times of day when you want your fitness advertisements to show. For FitnessTexter, I only show our ads between 6AM and 11PM central time since I figure that these are the times when our target clients(gym owners) are most likely to be active online. There’s no purpose of showing advertisements when your target demographic isn’t on their computer. If you’re a gym owner looking for new clients, there’s a good chance that they’ll probably be on their work computer from 8am until 6pm; so why not try those hours and see how it works.

As for ad rotation; it’s something to look into. I usually let Google take care of figuring out which ads get the most clicks and then letting them optimize the ads for me. If you’re running 15 days, after 90 days, Google is going to start showing just the ads that get the best response rate. It makes your life easier and if you’re not interested in A/B testing all your ads, it’ll work great for you.

Create Google Advertising for Your Gym

creating ad copyNow you get to feed your creative side. Creating ad copy is one of the most fun, but also most stressful, parts of creating your AdWords gym advertisements. Google only gives you so much space, so you need to pack the most punch with the fewest words. Also, there are a lot of words you cannot use in an advertisement. If you try to use one of these words, Google will flag your ad and disallow it until you make the appropriate change. It’s good practice to make a LOT of different ad variations, trying different phrases and word combinations to see which ones get the best results. Test to see what works best!

Verify that Ad Copy is Appropriate for Business

close-up of adsLast but not least, make sure that you ads look appropriate. Do they look nice to the eye? Is there too much white space because you didn’t use all available space? Give them a good once over before you hit publish. I always like to make sure that my ads look good in the horizontal form. That’s the way that they’ll show when they’re at the top of the Google search and if they look good that way, you’re going to encourage more clicks. The short stocky ad is a side column ad that shows up when your ads isn’t in one of the top 3 spots in the Google search result page.

And there you have it. Check out Part 3 of this series about how to choose the best keywords for your advertisements.