Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: Essentials for Wellness Businesses

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Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a great way to get attention online. But it’s also a great way to spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars with no new customers to show for it.

This month’s article gives you an overview of this technique and offers tips on getting the most from your PPC investment.

1. What is pay-per-click advertising?

The image on the left shows an example of PPC advertising. When you search for a phrase in a search engine like Google, your search results often include paid advertisements. Advertisers pay a predetermined fee every time you click on one of their ads.

For example, every time someone clicks on Life Time’s ad below, Life Time pays a fee. Every time someone clicks on the ad on the right titled “Omaha Health Club” for Pinnacle Club, Pinnacle pays a fee.

The appeal of PPC advertising is that you only pay if someone takes action – if they “click through” on the link in your ad that takes them to your site. Compare that to traditional advertising, where you can never be sure how many people really came to your business as a result of your newspaper ad, for example.

2. How does PPC advertising work?

First, select a PPC search engine. Google Ads and Yahoo Search Marketing are usually the most appropriate for health and wellness businesses that target consumers because they’re so widely used.

You create a simple ad like the ones shown above. Your ad includes a link to your site, so that anyone who clicks on your ad will be taken immediately to your website.

Then you select certain words – “search terms” – that you think your potential customers are likely to use. We used “omaha ne health club” in the example above (“ne” for Nebraska).

You decide how much you’re willing to pay for your ad to appear anytime someone enters those search terms into a search engine like Google.

You can avoid unpleasant surprises by setting a maximum budget when you create your PPC campaign. If you hit that ceiling on the 20th of the month, for example, your PPC campaign will automatically stop running until the following month.

3. Is PPC advertising right for our wellness business?

It’s easy for health and wellness businesses to experiment with PPC advertising on a small scale. It doesn’t require technical skill and you can start with a monthly budget of around $100.

Smaller single-location health clubs and fitness centers will probably find that it’s tough to justify the cost of PPC campaigns. You’re probably better off with tools like postcard marketing, public seminars, and referral programs.

However, larger and/or multi-location health clubs, fitness centers and wellness centers may find that their PPC investment pays off. The key is to carefully choose the search terms you use in your campaign so that you only get click-throughs that are relevant to your business.

And exclusively online businesses – for example, virtual personal training or online nutritional coaching – should seriously consider PPC advertising in addition to organic search engine optimization techniques.

4. What mistakes should I avoid?

Don’t send click-throughs to your main home page. Create a special landing page that repeats and expands on the text in your original PPC ad. If you were to click on the Life Time ad in the example above, you’d go straight to a special page where you can immediately find the nearest location and print a trial pass.

Monitor conversions, not just click-throughs. A conversion occurs when the person who clicks through takes the next step – for example, printing out a free pass or emailing you to schedule a tour.

Limit your ad display to search results. When you set up your campaign, exclude content networks. Ads displayed on these networks will generally result in lots of clicks which consume your budget, but no conversions.

5. What are key success factors?

Choose highly targeted search terms. For example, “health club dallas” is too broad. Choose narrower terms like “health club north dallas” or “health club university park tx”, for example.

Refresh your ad copy frequently. For example, use seasonal ad copy to promote summer specials.

Test, test, test. Experiment with different search terms. Then do before-and-after comparisons to see which phrases and budgets produced the most click-throughs and conversions.