Two Online Conversion Tools That Health Clubs Underutilize

Most health, wellness, and fitness businesses run on membership numbers and client counts. But when you’re planning to advertise, how can you tell which prospects are likely to become paying customers?

You’ve got to track conversions — not just ad exposures and click-through rates. Who visited your thank-you-for-signing-up page? Clicked on Maps and Directions? Downloaded your app, chatted you or called you from a mobile device after visiting your site?

What if it’s…complicated? What if conventional conversion counting methods don’t fit your business model? After all, you’re not selling pizzas or pants.

Two often-underutilized Google Ads and Facebook Ads features — Google Tag Manager and Facebook Events Manager — are absolutely indispensable in answering these questions.

Why Conversions Matter

Digital advertising lets you optimize your search and social advertising and bidding strategies to generate the most exposure, the most clicks, or the most conversions.

Exposure — often measured as impressions or reach — and clicks are great when you’re introducing people to a new brand, expanding into a new geography, or simply trying to stay top of mind until people are interested in moving forward.

But — brand awareness is not enough. Many of those views will be people who aren’t particularly ready to buy and in fact may never buy. If your only goal is brand awareness, you’ll burn through a pile of cash fairly quickly, often without ever winning a single new member or client.

That’s why every business also has to focus on identifying and cultivating the specific prospects who are likeliest to become customers, and that means setting up conversion tracking and conversion-based goals for your ads.

When you define conversions and implement conversion tracking, you make it possible for digital ad platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ad Manager to algorithmically send you the site visitors who are most likely to actually take those conversion actions.

But that only works if you

  • Define conversions
  • That make sense for your wellness businesses

What makes sense for another health club, or wellness center, or medical practice isn’t necessarily the right website conversion for yours.

Simple Conversion Tracking Only Goes So Far

Google and Facebook both offer simple conversion tracking. It’s a good start, but it doesn’t address typical conversion issues for health clubs, fitness businesses, weight loss and wellness centers and other common health and wellness businesses.

Google Ads

Google Ads allows you to set up certain predefined conversion actions, most commonly Website Conversions and Phone Calls. By itself, Google Ads can tell you, for instance, when someone visited your Thank You For Signing Up page or your Maps and Directions page, or made a call by clicking on a telephone number in one of your ads’ Call Extensions (you do have these, right?).

But that’s it.

Google doesn’t know what chat widget your site uses, so it can’t automatically track who tried to chat with a sales rep. It doesn’t know about your custom lead gen form that uses Java and a recaptcha widget to download your latest lead magnet or brochure.

It doesn’t automatically know about the specific YouTube video you posted about end-of-year signup deals that you know is your Secret Sauce for bringing in new members in January. It doesn’t know about your Facebook ads designed to send prospects to your site.

And if you haven’t tied Google Ads to Google Analytics for your business, it knows even less. It doesn’t know where your customers went before or after clicking on your ads, and it has no way of reporting ad-based behavior in Google Analytics.

Facebook Ads

Facebook uses the “Facebook Pixel” to track the behavior of Facebook visitors as they link out to your site or other destinations on the web. This tool lets Facebook track the “trail of breadcrumbs” that leads to conversions.

You know those “Learn More”, “Call Now”, and other buttons on Facebook ads? Facebook uses no fewer than 18 standard built-in “events” to help you target different kinds of conversions.

But as with Google, it doesn’t know about your online interactive self-assessment tools, that custom chat widget, your JavaScript lead magnet plugin, or the third-party product you use for your shopping cart.

In order to tie any of that activity to your Facebook Ad reporting, you have to get your hands dirty.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Not everybody thinks in terms of shopping carts or a buy-on-the-spot sales model. That works fine for running shoes; but for fitness and wellness businesses, the buying process is more complex and drawn-out.

It doesn’t help for your business to simple count built-in conversion types like page visits or shopping cart check-outs.

In order to get a good idea of exactly how and why prospects are converting — and to get the most out of those conversions — you have to define conversions that make sense in the context of your business. That means focusing on very specific actions such as percentage of video views, action on specific devices at specific times of day, a specific sequence of steps taken in different places over a 90-day window, or interaction with custom widgets on your website.

In order to do that, you need something called tag and event tracking.

The Tools

Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager works like this: small bits of JavaScript are placed in the header and body of the web pages you want to track activity on. That code tells Google that when specific behaviors occur on the webpage — such as starting a chat, viewing a video, using an app, or downloading a brochure, your business wants “events” to occur that Google Analytics (if your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts are linked) can report as part of your custom-defined conversion behavior. You don’t have to rely on someone else’s interpretation of what buying behavior looks like — which is especially useful if your “conversions” are membership inquiries, chats, or phone calls, not shopping cart checkouts or thank you page visits.

These “tag events” are reported back from Google Analytics to Google Ads as Conversions.

Now that conversions are defined, Google Ads can allow you to bid on ads based on how well they convert. That means that you no longer have to assume that people who click are always people who will buy (and they often aren’t). Your digital advertising budget goes farther, and your conversion rate improves.

Google Ads watches your conversion rate, and the best-converting ads will get shown more often.

And in the end, you’ll get more real customers from your online advertising.

Facebook Event Manager

In Facebook Event Manager, your “Facebook pixel” does the same thing the little bit of JavaScript does in Google Tag Manager. As with Google Tag Manager, the “pixel” is actually a bit of code that you install on your website’s pages to tell Facebook that something interesting to Facebook may happen when people visit your page, click on your ads, or react to your posts, and then visit your website, call your phone number, use your app, or perform other conversion-related activities (as mentioned above, there are 18 standard activities plus the ability to add your own special types).

As with Google Tag Manager, the “events” in Facebook report conversion data back to Facebook Insights (their reporting engine) and Facebook Ad Manager, so you can tell which ads are creating the most conversions.

When people perform the conversion actions you define in Facebook Event Manager, the events “fire”, are recorded by Facebook, and reported to Facebook Insights, allowing Facebook Ad Manager to use that information to tune your ads to your club’s objectives.

Why CRO Tools Matter in Fitness and Wellness

Not every business wants to optimize conversions around checkouts or app installs. This is especially true in the fitness industry, where buying behavior is closely related to Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change model.

Wellness isn’t a toaster. People take a while to decide to make a healthy life change, and sales cycles can be more lengthy and complex.

With Google Tag Manager and Facebook Event Manager, you can optimize ads — including when and where they’re presented — to types of conversions and conversion behaviors that are specific to our industry and your business.

Now, instead of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars a month hoping that all men and women in Des Plaines, IL between the ages of 40 and 65 with an interest in fitness and bodybuilding will actually sign up to join your club, you can target your audience based on their actual behaviors, and nudge them along with a conversion-optimized campaign!