How Health Clubs Can Optimize a Small AdWords Budget


If your health club, gym or yoga studio’s AdWords budget is less than $75/day, these guidelines will help you maximize impressions, click-through and conversion rate, and cost per click and conversion.


These principles optimize low-budget AdWords accounts that spend anywhere from $5/day to $75/day:

1. Promote only your strongest program, service or membership offer

Your strongest offering is the program, service or membership that has the highest uptake rate and the highest profit margin, OR is most effective at bringing new members in and leading to subsequent upsells or cross-sells.

Don’t split your tiny budget across multiple programs or market segments. A tiny budget cannot simultaneously and successfully promote everything from family memberships to sports conditioning to personal training to Silver Sneakers.

2. Identify a relevant conversion proxy

Traditionally, an Adwords “conversion” is a purchase of something like a shirt or toaster. That makes sense for e-commerce retailers, but not for most wellness businesses.

For most, a conversion proxy makes more sense. For example, establish a conversion goal that tracks how many people who click on your ad visit a different page on your site closely tied to an eventual purchase decision – say, a Maps or Location page.

This step is critically important, because it lets you distinguish clicks from real people genuinely interested in your business from clickbots and webcrawlers that artificially boost your site traffic.

Pro tip: do you sell spin class, yoga class or group fitness class cards online? Those are probably purchased primarily by existing customers — so even though it’s an online purchase, it’s still not a good conversion action for measuring new customer traffic.

3. Segment your campaign

The goal is to show your ads only to people who are the likeliest clients. Say you’re offering a 6-month weight-loss program in the Germantown suburb of Memphis, TN that uses social media and streaming video to reach women with non-traditional work schedules, like nurses who work overnight shifts or women who travel frequently for work.

Narrow your campaign’s demographics so that it’s only shown to 1) women who are 2) in the right age group. For video campaigns, add “household income” to the list.

Pro tip: Display ads can be effective for health and wellness businesses, particularly on mobile. However, running a strong display ad campaign requires technical, design and content knowhow that costs more than a skinny Adwords budget can afford.

4. Park your ego and limit your keyword list

Even if you feel your club or gym “does it all,” keep your keyword list short and sweet, usually no more than 25 – 30 words or phrases.

Google makes it easy — too easy — to quickly add dozens of keywords, but if you’ve got a small budget, keep it simple. Extensive lists of long-tail search terms are not for businesses with small budgets.

Be aware that the most obvious search terms are often the most expensive, because competitors with bigger budgets are bidding on them.

However, if you make full use of Adwords features (Principle #7) and maximize your Quality Score (Principle #9), you can actually reduce your cost and improve your impression share. Win!

Avoid broad matches, because those can burn through a small budget very quickly with little to show for it.

And the “maximize clicks” bid strategy is often your best bet, rather than specifying the maximum cost-per-click you’re willing to pay.

5. Create 3 – 5 ads

This is important for two reasons. First, it makes it possible for Google to figure out algorithmically which ads generate the best results in response to specific search profiles. Second, it allows you to attract different potential customers based on different aspects of your marketing message.

For example, a yoga studio might run:

  • one ad that talks about the type of yoga offered, the instructor’s experience, and the environment
  • one ad focused on location (“Far North Dallas”) and convenience (“near XYZ Shopping Center”)
  • one ad focused on the number and variety of classes offered weekly

A health club might run:

  • one ad that talks about family programs, summer camps and daycare hours
  • one ad focused on location and convenience
  • one ad focused on the variety of classes, gym equipment and personal services

6. Dramatically narrow your geographical target

Most businesses cast too wide a net. The trade area for most health clubs, fitness businesses and wellness centers is around 5-10 miles or 10-15 minutes. If you’re doing something highly specialized or hard to find – like yoga teacher training or a direct-pay medical practice – you can extend that range.

On the other hand, if you’re in a smaller community or a rural area, fewer choices may mean that people are willing to drive a bit farther.

7. Use every available AdWord feature

Call extensions. Sitelinks. Review extensions. Location extensions. Expanded text ads. These days, this is what separates the big guys from the little guys.

AdWords has lots of features, and actively using those features often separates successful campaigns from duds.

They don’t cost extra, and they make a huge and measurable difference in nearly every campaign we work on.

8. Analyze your campaign — but don’t overdo it

Go ahead and link your Google analytics account and your Adwords account. Right now, you may not have the internal knowhow to do much with the data — but it will be invaluable when you’re ready to get outside expertise.

For now, tailor your Adwords review and analysis to your traffic level and results trends. For example, we manage ad budgets that range from $5-$10/day to $5000/month. Some accounts we touch daily, and others we review weekly, twice/month or even quarterly. It’s a function of the number of campaigns, the campaign complexity and the amount of competition.

If you’re a very small business, or you’re in a very small town, or you have a very small budget — you probably won’t see a ton of activity on your ad on any given day.

You don’t need to monitor your campaign daily or even weekly. It needs time to accumulate enough data and traffic to be meaningful. This applies any time you make a campaign change, too. Never make decisions based on just a handful of clicks. That’s not statistically significant, and another week or two of data often completely changes your conclusions.

We therefore suggest checking on your campaign results every other week or once/month — no more often. If you see a sudden change, drill into it. Otherwise, stay the course.

9. Triage your troubleshooting

In simple terms, make sure that the keywords, ads, and landing page for each campaign are aligned. If your ad uses the term “HIIT,” that term needs to show up on the keyword list in Adwords and on your website landing page, too.

Maximize your keyword Quality Scores by revising ads and landing pages. Identify and address expensive cost-per-click keywords. Pause low click-through ads and keywords, even if they’re cheap.

Finally, it’s usually a good idea to implement the free Google-generated AdWords suggestions that will occasionally appear in your account. However, they aren’t always appropriate, so review them first.

10. Claim your Google Business Account

Once you claim it, update every single field with your health club or wellness center details and link it to your AdWords account.

We talk to businesses every week who still haven’t claimed and populated their Google Business account. Every health and wellness business should do this, whether they use AdWords or not.

But it’s even more important when you use AdWords, because it means that your map location and Google reviews will be right there on the same page with your ad.

You can’t beat that — and it’s free!