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The Ultimate Guide to Fitness Marketing on Google AdWords

March 1, 2018 at 10:52 AM

When it comes to fitness marketing, it’s hard to find a better channel than search advertising on Google AdWords. It’s the one channel where customers are primed and ready to hear about your offerings. You don’t have to create education around the value of daily exercise or try to win over those who are members at competing fitness centers. Through Google AdWords, you have a front row audience of only those who are actively searching for a new gym to join.

And this, in the hands of the right advertiser, is powerful.

Search advertising can provide a steady stream of new members at a very attractive price—letting you spend less time thinking about marketing and more time running your business.

But how do you run an effective Google AdWords campaign?

By replicating what works.

At Spatially, we’ve helped numerous fitness centers across the country drive more leads for less. Along the way, we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a successful fitness advertising campaign and wanted to share a few of our top tips in our newest guide.

We hope you enjoy! If you'd like to download the guide in pdf form to reference later, just click the banner below:

Download The Guide To Fitness Marketing On Google AdWords


Objectives | Bidding Strategies | Location Targeting | Audience & DemographicsKeyword Strategy & Search Intent | Negative Keywords | Structuring Ad Groups | Ad Design | Landing Page Optimization | Reporting & Metrics | Maintenance | Partnering For Success

1. Set an objective that works toward your goals.

Setting a goal for your fitness marketing campaign

The first step of any advertising campaign is to clearly identify your objectivethat is, why you’re advertising in the first place and what you’re hoping to get out of it.

Having this objective front and center will provide a north star for designing, managing, and optimizing a successful campaign, one that does more than simply deploy spend.

“Determining an objective beforehand will help you get more out of your marketing.”

The two most common objectives for digital advertising are to:

  • Increase brand awareness (by getting in front of as many relevant potential customers as possible)
  • Increase website traffic (by getting as many customers as possible to click your ad and visit your landing page)

While these two objectives are the most common because they can be measured directly from your AdWords platform of choice, you likely have more concrete goals for your campaign, such as driving in-store visits or event attendance, bringing in more members, or growing retention among existing members.

If you’re looking to go with one of these custom objectives, the onus of measurement will shift from AdWords to your own analytic systems. If your website integrates with an analytics platform, such as Google Analytics, you may be able to track these objectives around specific events within your website, such as filling out a form. (For more on event tracking, I recommend this guide by OptimizeSmart.) You can also rely on offline measurements, including asking people how they heard about your gym and keeping a tally of the attribution counts. If advertising through Spatially, our Customer Success team can also brainstorm how to best get started with measuring and optimizing for a custom objective.

Regardless of what objective you choose, determining this beforehand will help you get more out of your marketing.


2. Pick the bidding model and daily budget that’s right for your business.

Bidding strategies in Google AdWords

Next up, it’s time to pick the pricing strategy for your fitness adsand that comes down to selecting the right bidding model.

Advertisers have many options for keyword bidding; although once again, one stands out as the most common and the simplest for beginner advertisers: Maximize clicks. Under this strategy, AdWords will automatically optimize to get your campaign as many clicks (website visits) as possible for your desired daily budget. Behind the scenes, Google will target the right search position and the right cost-per-click to maximize your results.

While we recommend this strategy, and default to it in our self-serve product, it’s worth noting that this strategy inherently views all clicks as equal. If the strategy can bring in ten clicks for a cheaper keyword (say, “fitness”) for the same cost of a single click for a more expensive keyword (say, “crossfit gyms”), it’s going to prioritize the cheaper keyword almost every time.

In reality, not all clicks are created equal. Someone searching for “fitness” may not be your target customer. They may be looking for home workouts and equipment, recipes for a fit lifestyle, or fitness tutorials on YouTube. Someone looking for a “crossfit gym” is much more likely to be a prime prospect as the keyword carries what we call “search intent.” Someone looking for a gym isn’t looking for home exercises; they’re looking for a physical gym near them. And while this keyword may cost more than the broader “fitness,” it’s priced that way for a reason: More advertisers are bidding on it because it converts into revenue in the form of gym memberships. (We’ll cover more on keyword strategy and search intent in section 5.)

“Not all clicks are created equal.”

If you’re looking to assign unique strategic values to different keywords and clicks, consider using one of the following strategies:

  • Maximize conversions: While this option may require a little dev work to track key conversion events on your website, it’ll give you the option to follow visitors after they click an ad to see if they ‘convert’ by completing a certain action, such as filling out a form, calling a phone number, or creating an account. This way, Google will be able to prioritize “crossfit gym” over “fitness,” if those searching for crossfit gyms are more likely to complete that action.
  • Target CPA (Cost Per Action): Taking conversions one step further, this option allows you to specify how much certain actions are worth. If, for example, you feel like someone filling out a contact form is worth $50, you can set this as the “Cost Per Action.” Google will then optimize to get you as many conversions as possible for under $50/conversion.
  • Target ROAS (Return On Ad Spend): For advertisers tracking multiple actions or conversion events, this option allows you to weigh them based on expected or actual returns on your investment. Someone visiting your pricing page may be worth $15, someone filling out a form may be worth $50, and someone who signs up for a membership may be worth $300. However you weigh these actions, Google will optimize to bring in the highest value for your ad spend.

Beyond click and conversion maximization, we’ve also seen success from our fitness clients by optimizing to:

  • Target search page location: In AdWords, ad inventory is given to the publisher willing to pay the highest for that spot. As such, the coveted first position on a search result will cost a lot more than the third spot, as more advertisers are bidding for this inventory. By specifying which position you’d like to target, you can say: “I don’t need the expensive first position as long as I’m somewhere on the first page.” By targeting the third or fourth position, you may be able to get double the clicks you would with a strategy targeting the top spot.
  • Target outranking share: Ideal for gyms looking to outshine a competitor, this option allows you to ensure your ad will always outrank any competitors you identify. A local gym, for example, may use this strategy to outrank the better known Anytime Fitness to make the brand seem bigger and better than its national competitor.
  • Target a Manual CPC (Cost Per Click): This option allows you to set your own bids, on either a campaign, ad group, or keyword level. It’s a good option for agencies and advertisers able to invest the time to regularly monitor an account and allows you to say: “I never want to pay more than $5 for a click” or “I’m willing to pay up to $10 for a click coming from the “crossfit gym” keyword, but only up to $5 for a click coming from the “fitness” keyword.

However you want to set your bidding strategy, make sure it lines up with your original objective for paid advertising so that you’ll be able to assess your results accurately.


3. Think spatially in your location targeting.

Location targeting can make or break a gym advertising campaign

Now that you have your objective and bid strategy, the next step is to think strategically about where you want your ads shown.

For a local campaign, gym advertisers can choose to advertise on a city, zip code, or point-of-interest (POI) level. For the first two options, you can enter the city names and specific zip codes you wish to target. We recommend starting with the city and zip code of your gym and expanding based on how far customers are willing to travel to go to your gym: Will they commute in from a neighboring city or zip code? For the third option, you can get a little more granular and identify specific areas within a city or zip code, targeting only those consumers within a specified number of miles of that area or POI.

Advertisers using the point of interest strategy commonly see success from centering their targeting around their gym’s physical location and establishing a targeting radius of 1-5 miles, depending on how competitive that market is. This strategy is rooted in the idea that consumers are most likely to choose the gym nearest to them, meaning nearby clicks will be the most likely to convert into gym memberships.

However, the more specific your offering, the fewer choices consumers have and the longer they’re willing to commute to go to the right gym. If, for example, you’re the only hot yoga studio in town, a simple 5-mile radius might not be the best option, because it could be worth a 5+ mile drive in the eyes’ of your potential customers.

At the same time, proximity is not the only factor in choosing a gym. Even if most of your current members live within an easy walk of your gym, the majority of those living or working nearby are unlikely to ever become members, either because of incompatible tastes or lifestyles or because they’re members of a competing gym or fitness center. Advertising to these consumers is likely only to bring in wasted impressions and clicks.

To find your most probable new customers, think beyond proximity to unearth the bigger story location tells about your customers. How consumers interact with the physical world (that is, how they behave spatially) says a lot about who they are, what they value, and what they might be looking for in a gym.

“Think beyond proximity to unearth the bigger story location tells about your customers.”

As you look at the map of your business area in AdWords, challenge yourself to think not in terms of coordinates, but in terms of what each location says about the people that live, work, and pass through those areas. A couple of creative use cases we’ve seen a lot of success with include:

  • Gyms looking to appeal to a younger audience using geospatial and location targeting to geofence (Radius Targeting) college campuses in the area.
  • Studios catering to mothers targeting pre-schools and daycares to capture parents as they drop off their children.
  • Higher-end gyms targeting neighborhoods with higher average family incomes.
  • Fitness centers targeting public trails and muscle beaches to get in front of those who care most about fitness.
  • Newly launched gyms targeting other gyms in the area in order to send their competitors’ members hard-to-ignore incentives to win over their business. (See our post on geo-conquesting.)


more than geofence

Layering in mobile and spatial data into your gym advertisng

Today, fitness marketers with a database of current members can even upload customer data to target current and past members with a renewal campaign. This tactic can also be used to target the immediate neighbors of your members, who may be likely to join your gym after hearing a recommendation from their neighbor and future workout buddy (your current member).

Using Spatially, you can even take this one step further and analyze the offline behaviors of those who routinely visit your gym or one of the surrounding businesses. This geospatial data will allow you to trace out their movements to target their home and work locations for a more omnipresent campaign.

As you think about location, think also about device targeting. Limiting your advertisements to only deliver to mobile devices can be a great way to get in front of people on-the-go: On their morning jog, on their way to work, or as they pass by your gym. Likely, limiting your advertisements to desktop devices can be a great way to reach prospects when they’re more likely to be at home, with the free time to look into your gym.

The possibilitiesand powerof location targeting are limitless and horribly underutilized. Fortunately for you, this means you’ll have a huge leg up on any competition still thinking of location targeting as a simple radius.


4. Match what you know about your target customer.

Target the demographics of your key gym member personas in Google

Now that you’ve chosen where you’d like to advertise, it’s time to identify to whom you’d like to advertise.

Google AdWords provides a number of demographic filters you can choose from to further hone in on your perfect audience. Each of these filters acts as a layer on top of your original location-based targeting, such that each additional layer will further filter and refine your end target. Selecting a location to target will set your base or your potential addressable market, adding a gender filter will cut that market in half, adding an age group filter will take another slice out of the pie, and so on until you’re left with the fraction of the starting audience that best fits your ideal target customer.

Without any demographic filters, your ad can potentially show to everyone in your targeted location. This broad targeting approach can be used to quickly get your name out to thousands or even millions of consumers, but will also quickly eat away at a limited ad budget, given the sheer volume of clicks that are bound to pour in.

To make the most of a limited budget, we recommend coming up with an ideal customer persona: The profile of the customer you believe would most likely sign up for your gym. If you’re unsure where to start, look at your existing gym members: What is their average age? Do they tend to be primarily male, female, or mixed? If you had to guess, where do they fall on the income spectrum? Do they have children?

You might end up with a customer persona a little like this after analyzing your current members:

  • Ages: 25-44
  • Gender: Female
  • Income: Upper 25%
  • Parental Status: Parents

Once you’ve identified the demographic characteristics of your ideal customer, you can then match these to filters in AdWords’ Audience Settings menu. Now, your ads will only show to those in your desired locations who also match each of your demographic filters. These filters will dramatically reduce your potential addressable market at the benefit of laser-focusing your ad spend on those most likely to become gym members and most likely to warrant the cost of a click.

For each of these demographic filters, you will also see an “Unknown” option, which covers any consumers Google has insufficient data on which to categorize. We’d generally recommend leaving this box checked as unchecking it will severely limit your potential reach (about half of all searches appear as ‘Unknown’). The one exception to this rule is if you have a gym or fitness center that exclusively serves either men or women. In this case, you’d be better off unchecking Unknown to avoid getting any clicks or interest from the opposite gender, consumers you’d likely have to turn away.

Of course, it’s important to remember that your customer persona represents your average customer. Restricting your ads to target only those between ages 22 and 44 doesn’t mean that you would turn down anyone younger or older. It just means that you aren’t explicitly advertising to them, because the expected conversion and return on ad spend (ROAS) on these age groups is less than that of your ideal persona.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to filter out a demographic altogether, you can set bid adjustments for different demographics. In the example above, you might recognize that you get the best conversion from women, but your gym still brings in male members. Instead of only advertising to women, you can set a bid adjustment to limit how much you’re willing to pay for a click from a male audience. Now you can say: “I’m willing to pay $10 for a click from a woman but only $5 for a click from a man, given that my analytics tell me women are twice as likely to convert.” To optimize for this lower bid, Google will now target a lower (read: cheaper) ad position when serving your ad to male searchers.


5. Identify high-intent fitness marketing keywords.

A good keyword strategy is at the foundation of every successful AdWords campaign. Bidding on the right keywords will gain your brand cost-efficient exposure among your most probable customers. Bidding on the wrong keywords is akin to throwing money out the window.

But before we get into what makes a good keyword, let’s go into the role of keywords in search advertising.

Think of keywords as an opt-in mechanism. When someone searches for a keyword you explicitly identified and bid on, they’re digitally “raising their hand” to identify themselves as potential fits and self-selecting into your ad’s targeting. Before this point, they may have checked every box you set, in terms of being in the right location and meeting the demographic mold of your ideal persona.

It’s up to the advertiser to decide what makes a meaningful “hand raise.” Different search phrases and terms carry different levels of keyword intent. Keyword intent is an approximation for how relevant and primed-to-buy consumers are when searching for a specific keyword.

“Different search phrases and terms carry different levels of keyword intent.”

While your fitness center certainly sees success with health-conscious members, bidding on keywords like “healthy” or “vegetables” are considered low-intent. These searchers may click on your ad, but they could also be looking for a million other thingsincluding healthy recipes and stock photos for a kid’s school project. In contrast, keywords that bring people in searching for “crossfit gyms near me” or “best cycling class” are considered high-intent. Consumers searching for these terms are looking for one thing and one thing only: To find a gym or a class to join.

At the same time, however, high-intent keywords are almost always more expensive than their low-intent counterparts. Using a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner, you can see that the average bid for “best cycling classes” is $4.66, while the average bid for “vegetables” is only $1.53. This spike is because more fitness centers are (rightfully) bidding on the high-intent keyword and expect it to have significant enough conversion to make up for the initial premium.

So how do you find high-intent keywords? By stepping into your customers’ shoes.

Put yourself in the customer’s situation: If you were staring at Google and looking for a gym/class to join, what would you type in? If you’re like most searchers, you will likely go for something short and easy, like: “Gyms near me.” Consider this your parent keyword.

Next, open up Google and type in whatever first came to mind. Click enter, and scroll to the very bottom of the results page. You’ll now see a list of popular related search terms that will give you a better idea of how consumers in your area actually search for gyms:

Search keywords for gyms and fitness centers

You’ll now see the language people use to find their ideal gym. In Seattle, where this search was conducted, people are looking for cheap gyms, the best gyms, and gyms with pools. If any of these keywords fit your offering, add them to your list of targets.

[A note on negative associations: Many gyms proudly boast the best prices in town, while others position themselves as more of a luxury fitness club. This latter category probably wouldn’t want to associate their brand with ‘cheap’ and would likely skip the keyword, even if it has a high search volume. As another precaution, they might even add ‘cheap’ as a negative keyword, which we’ll explore in the next section.]

You’ll also notice that people tend to search for brand names: Anytime Fitness and Seattle Fitness. This is the equivalent of someone asking for a coke at a restaurant. They likely just want a soda but have come to think of coke and soft drinks as synonymous. Someone searching for Anytime Fitness may still be open to joining another gym, but “Anytime Fitness” was the first thing they thought of when trying to find a convenient gym that’s open late. Bidding on these branded keywords can be a great way to raise awareness of your gym as a possible alternative during the searcher’s evaluation processand these branded keywords are often less than a dollar a click.

And finally, think about the specifics of who you are and what you offer. You’re a lot more than a “gym near me.” Perhaps you offer small classes, personal training, hot yoga, or weight loss plans. Incorporating these offers into your keywords will help your brand stand out for those looking for a specific service or class.

Keyword match types

By this point, you should have a list of high-intent keywords that you would like to bid on. All that’s left is to encode how you’d like Google to treat these keywords.

By default, Google broadens your keywords by targeting not only that specific term, but close matches and synonyms as well. A term like “fitness center” may then be broadened to searches for “gyms,” “fitness studios,” and “recreation centers.”

If you’d like more control over the matching, consider specifying a Match Type:

  • Broad Match (no markup): The keyword will match for related searches and synonyms
    • Men’s Fitness may match for “fitness” and “guy’s workouts”
  • Modified Broad Match (adding a “+” in front of required words): The keyword phrase will match for related searches and synonyms, as long as the modified (+) keyword is included.
    • +Men’s Fitness may match for “men’s health” and “men’s workouts”
  • Phrase Match (adding quotations around required words): The keyword phrase will match with searches that contain the words in quotations (with the exact wording and order) but may have additional text before or after the specified keyword(s).
    • “Men’s Fitness” may match for “Men’s Fitness Plans” or “Tips for Men’s Fitness”
  • Exact Match (add hard brackets around the keyword): The keyword will match only for the initial input.
    • [Men’s Fitness] will match for “Men’s Fitness,” and nothing else

Keyword match types in Google AdWords


6. Don’t forget about negative keywords.

Now that you’ve identified what you want to be associated with, now it’s time to identify what you don’t want to be associated with. This is where negative keywords come in to play.

“Negative keywords are a surefire way to see a positive ROI.”

A negative keyword is a term or phrase that you want to exclude from your targeting. It becomes particularly important with broad match keywords that could match with variations and synonyms that don’t represent your brand or lead to a likely conversion.

For gyms and fitness centers, negative keywords can be used to weed out low-intent searches: Searches related to fitness but not indicative of a concrete search for a gym or fitness class. If, for example, you bid on “fitness” and that matches to “fitness equipment” or “fitness workout videos,” you’ve lost your original intent and now risk looking for people that would rather bypass the gym membership.

In this case, adding “equipment” and “videos” as negative keywords will prevent these low-intent matches. If anyone is looking to purchase gym equipment for a home gym or looking for workout videos on YouTube, they’re unlikely to want a gym, and you can filter these searches out to reserve your limited ad spend to those actively in search mode.

Other common negative keywords we’ve seen include: “Diets,” “recipes,” “shop,” “buy,” “used,” “home workout,” and “home gym.”

You may also want to think about adjectives or attributes you don’t want to be associated with. Unless you’re competing on price, anyone looking for “cheap” may not be the leads you’re looking for. Likewise, you may want use negative keywords to filter out people looking for something you don’t have, perhaps “pools” or “kickboxing.”

Whatever these negative associations may be, use them to your advantage. Negative keywords are a surefire way to see a positive ROI.


7. Structure your campaign with relevance in mind.

A well-organized campaign isn’t just for your own sanity. It can also dramatically reduce member acquisition costs and get you more bang for your buck.

Search advertising is not a pay-to-play game. A big budget certainly helps, but it’s not enough to guarantee results. What Google really cares about is relevance. In designing the ultimate search experience for its own users, Google strives to deliver only the most relevant adsthe ads most likely to get a click because they present a solution to a customer with a problem.

To see how this plays out, consider: (1) a fitness marketer shows a gym ad to someone searching for “movie times,” (2) the same marketer shows a fitness center ad to someone searching for “yoga,” (3) the marketer shows an ad promoting yoga classes to someone searching for “yoga.”

In the first example, the ad is seen as irrelevant as it’s targeting an audience faced with a very different problem: Seeing what movies are out there. The second example is more relevant as the problem is somewhat fitness-related, although the solution (the ad) isn’t specifically about yoga. The third is the most relevant, with the ad presenting a clear solution to the search query.

To discourage irrelevant ads, like in the first two examples, Google penalizes these advertises with a higher cost-per-click. This means they’d have to pay more for the same spot than would a more relevant advertiser. Generally speaking, the more relevant you can make your ad and respective targeting, the cheaper and higher quality your results will be.

“The more relevant you can make your ad and respective targeting, the cheaper and higher quality your results will be.”

It’s with this goal of relevancy that we’ll revisit our list of newly identified keywords. At this point, you’re likely looking at a fairly long list of keywords with varying degrees of relation. You likely have your own brand name, the names of a few competitors, a few generic keywords about who you are, and some product-specific keywords on the classes or services you provide. The result might look a little like this:

At first glance, it can be difficult to connect the dots for your gym's search keywords

As you look at this list, ask yourself: Can I draw a line between all of these dots? If I design one ad about our gym memberships, will it appeal to people searching for yoga classes, personal trainers, or weight loss plans? Is it possible to communicate all of these potential services in 35 characters of text?

The answer is likely a resounding no. You have all the right keywords, but it’s next to impossible to create a single ad that speaks to each of them.

Enter ad groups.

Ad groups act like folders within your Google AdWords campaign. They provide a way to cluster keywords into meaningful and more manageable groups, which can then be served a unique ad that is related to that individual group. This removes the onus of having to satisfy the entire list of keywords with a single ad, letting you speak more directly to the unique needs of your ads’ viewers.

Returning to the original list of keywords, we can now break them down into ad groups:

  • The parent group, containing anyone searching broadly for a gym, your brand name, or one of your competitors. These searchers can see an ad that speaks to your gym’s unique value proposition, perhaps enticing their click with a new member discount.
  • Service-related group(s), containing keywords around specific services potential customers may be looking for, such as personal training or weight loss plans. Ideally, each of these services could be its own ad group, with a corresponding ad that speaks directly to the service in question.
  • Class-related group(s), containing keywords around classes and other activities your fitness offers, such as yoga and cycling classes. Again, each of these classes can be separated into its own ad group for the best results.

Fitness keywords clustered into thematic ad groups

Separating keywords across a large number of ad groups does require some work upfront, but they’ll get you better results and clearer tracking going forward. It’ll also put you ahead of the vast majority of fitness advertisers who lump everything into a single groupand reward you with a cheaper cost per click.


8. Research what messages perform best in your region.

We kicked off this guide by stating you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and that’s still the case when it comes to writing your ad copy. With dozens of fitness centers advertising in your immediate area, there’s likely plenty of great inspiration for fitness advertisements that resonate well with your local audience.

To start your search, pick a keyword from each of your ad groups and enter it into Google:

Researching how your competitor is advertising can help you hone in on what works in your market

The first two or three results you see will likely be ads from your competitors. Take a note of the overall structure of these ads: What kind of language do they use? How do they differentiate themselves? Do they highlight their local presence? Do they entice new members with special promos or offers?

While we certainly don’t recommend copying your competitors’ ads, there’s a lot you can learn from them. After all, there is a reason they appear first in the search results: They work. Something about these ads, likely a combination of their high click-through rates and quality/relevance scores) propelled them to the top of the search results. Dissecting these elements can get you similar results, or at least a good starting place for your testing.

Competitor research can also help you identify how your ad can stand out. If the other ads don’t mention price, you can compete on cost. If only nationwide franchises are advertising in your area, you can stand out as the neighborhood gym. If no one else is bidding on yoga, you have an easy opportunity to corner the market on a very cheap keyword.

Last but not least, consider your list of keywords for each ad group. The more relevant keywords you can include in your ad’s copy, the higher its Quality Score and cheaper its clicks will be. Of course, you don’t have to use them all, but we’d recommend prioritizing those keywords with either the most search volume or the most significance to your brand.


ads overwhelming

The importance of A/B testing

Once you have a good idea of how you can best stand out with your ad copy, it’s time to go in and write the ad. As you do so, we highly recommend creating a very slight A/B variation to test some element of the ad’s copy, perhaps its headline or call-to-action. This will tell you, within a couple of weeks, which ad variation performs the bestat which point you can pause the underperforming variant and launch a new A/B test to ensure gradually better results with each test.


9. Build a landing page that reinforces your ad copy.

Just as you designed incorporated your most important keywords in your ad’s copy, now it’s time to incorporate them into your landing page, or the web page to which your ad links.

Having a landing page highly relevant to your keywords can boost your ad's performance and drive down costs

In its mission to serve the most relevant ads, Google also analyzes how relevant your website is to both your keywords and ad copy. If your ad copy is all about yoga classes but goes to a generic homepage with no mention of yoga, Google will view the ad as less relevant and charge you a premium cost-per-click. If, on the other hand, your landing page clearly explains your yoga classes and consumers are engaged with your site, Google will reward you with a more prominent ad position—even if your less relevant competitors are willing to bid more for that same space.

While there’s no magic formula for a good landing page, we recommend a few standard tips straight from the standard search engine optimization (SEO) playbook:

  • Sprinkle your most relevant keywords throughout the page (in a tactful and natural manner), including at least once in the page title and a major headline.
  • Include at least one image, with an alt tag containing your primary keyword.
  • Ensure that your page is quick to load and mobile-friendly, as nearly 60% of searches come from mobile devices.

For more tips on on-page optimization, see our blog post on SEO for Small Business.


10. Track the right metrics.

Referencing your original objective can help you measure the success of your fitness marketing campaign

With your targeting in place, your keywords identified, your campaign structured in ad groups, your ads designed, and your website optimized, you’re all set to launch your AdWords campaign.

While the hard work is out of your way, it’s important to keep a close eye on your campaign, especially over the first few weeks. You’ll see the clicks and impressions come trickling in; but with a small budget, it may be hard to see real-world results in terms of new memberships for your gym or fitness class. To get a better idea of how your campaign is performing, revisit the objective you set in the first section of this guide. This will point you in the right direction when it comes to isolating the right metrics to track.

“Let your objective point you in the right direction when it comes to isolate the right metrics to track.”

If your objective was around brand awareness, search impressions are key. This is how many times your ad was delivered to someone searching for one of your keywords. If you want everyone in town to know about your new gym opening, you’ll likely want to see an impression count in the tens of thousands. Looking at your search impression share will further help you out by showing you how much of the market you’ve captured. This number represents the percentage of times your ad was shown for all keyword searches within your target audience. A low impression share, perhaps below 50%, suggests that you’re losing out because of a limited budget. You’re either getting outbid by a competitor or losing coverage because your daily budget isn’t enough to get you through the entire day.

If your objective was around traffic, clicks are critical. Each click represents a potential customer clicking on your ad in the hopes of getting more information about your business. The click-through rate (CTR) will let you take your analysis one step further, by showing you what percentage of people who saw your ad ended up clicking. A strong CTR, say anything north of 2%, means your ad resonates with your consumers and is performing well. In contrast, anything lower means you still have an opportunity to improve your message or targeting to create a more compelling ad. (In other words, it’s time for some more A/B testing.)

If you have an analytics tool like Google Analytics, you can also analyze the engagement of those prospects clicking on your ad. Looking at your average session duration, pages per session, and bounce rate will give you a good idea of how interested your customers are. If you have fifty clicks, but they leave your site after a handful of seconds, there might be a disconnect between your ad and your website: Your customers are not finding what they’re looking for.

And, if your objective was around sales or conversions, it’s time to open up your marketing dashboard. While the gold standard for sales metrics is revenue, it can be very difficult to properly attribute this number to marketing activities, especially if sales are conducted over the phone or in-person. If you don’t have this information on hand, look at what you do have, perhaps form submissions or new leads.

Whatever your metric, keep a weekly tally along with a log of any changes you’ve made to your AdWords campaign. This will help you trace your performance over time and isolate the effects of your testing. With regular campaign monitoring and management, you can safely expect this trend only to rise over time.


11. Rinse and repeat.

Last but not least, remember that Google AdWords is not a one-and-done marketing channel. If you’re looking for the best possible results, you’ll want to check your campaign at least a couple of times a week, paying special attention to:

  • Underperforming or cost-prohibitive ad groups or keywords, which can be edited or paused.
  • The actual search terms for which your keywords match, which can be added as negative keywords if they lack the search intent you’re targeting.
  • Diminishing results or click-through rates, which could be a sign that a new competitor is outbidding your keywords or challenging your ads with more compelling copy or offers.

All of these weekly optimizations will ensure your ads are outperforming your competitors, performing on budget, and delivering the results you’re looking for.

You can count on us to spot you in your gym marketing efforts

Your partner in advertising

As a gym owner, paid advertising likely isn’t your forte or your passion, but we hope this guide has removed some of the mystery around Google AdWords and helped you create a sustainable source of new leads.

If, however, you ever realize you could use a helping hand, we’re here for you. At Spatially, we’ve worked with gym owners and fitness marketers across the country and would love to work with you as well. With our new managed service offering, we’ll take care of all the campaign strategy and weekly optimizations, so that you can get back to what you loverunning your business.



“Spatially helped us identify and target our very best prospective customers. Their team connected the dots for us by taking what we knew about our customers and overlaying census and geospatial data to show us which neighborhoods best matched our target persona."

Glenn Greer, Co-Owner
RZone Fitness


Thanks for reading, and happy advertising from all of us at Spatially!


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