When constructing an online advertising program there are many factors to consider.

Two of the most common questions we field from businesses that want to build new programs are:

  • Which advertising platforms should we use?
  • How much of our budget should we allocate to each?

Before we’re able to provide sound answers to those questions, there a number of others that must be considered first.

To bring clarity to this idea, let’s consider a hypothetical fitness gym. We’ll call it FitCore.

As we’ve stated before, it is important to begin with the end in mind. Especially in the fast-paced, ever-changing world of online advertising, sometimes it is easy to get distracted by the latest bells & whistles. FitCore must first get clear on its goals, its audience, and its message to answer the important questions posed above.

Assigning Advertising Platforms & Budget Allocation Step By Step:

Step 1: What are FitCore’s advertising goals–what is being promoted?

FitCore has multifaceted goals. They want to increase overall sales. In order to do that, they need to increase membership. They also need to increase participation among their current members. They know that when members attend the gym, they get positive results. When they get positive results, they also renew their memberships.

FitCore has a wide range of services available for sale:

  • Advanced Fitness Classes
  • Beginner Fitness Classes
  • Children’s Fitness Classes
  • Personal Training
  • Weightlifting
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Cycling
  • Nutritional Supplements
  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Fitness Apparel

While some services and products have greater profit margins than others, FitCore wants to promote all of these with its online advertising program.

Step 2: What are FitCore’s target audiences-Who is being promoted to?

With a wide range of services and products for sale, it is not unusual to have a diverse target audience. This is certainly true for FitCore. They have learned through years of successful experience that their ideal target audience is equal parts male and female. Their audience is generally between 25-45 years old, and FitCore has also learned that their target audience generally resides within 15 minutes of their location.

Step 3: What advertising messages will most effectively deliver FitCore’s desired outcomes?

Remember that Fitcore wants to increase sales by boosting membership and increasing current member participation. Their ideal audience is 25-45 yrs old, interested in a healthy lifestyle, and lives within 15 minutes of the gym. In order to reach their goals, FitCore will need to develop compelling graphics and text ads that resonate with that audience, and are congruent with FitCore’s brand and goals. Strong ads that FitCore’s audience can relate to will generate the greatest results.

Step 4: What advertising platforms can deliver effective messages to FitCore’s ideal audiences?

There are numerous platforms that will enable FitCore to convey an appealing message to the right people:

  • Driving new traffic with the Google AdWords Search Network:
    FitCore can target Google users searching for the specific products and services they offer within the specific area that is most important to their goals. This is called keyword targeting.
    For example, someone searching for fitness classes on Google living within FitCore’s area, would see the text ads FitCore has developed to promote that service. Someone searching for the same thing outside FitCore’s area would not.
  • Driving new traffic with the Google AdWords Display Network:
    Just as described above with Search Network ads, FitCore is also able to show their ads to those most likely to find them relevant, but it happens differently. Rather than targeting users on the basis of keywords, the Display Network will display graphic ads on thousands of websites that have content closely related to what FitCore provides. With the Display Network, FitCore can still target users within 15 minutes of their location. They can also target on the basis of age and other demographic features. Demographic targeting is unavailable with Search Network text ads.
    For example, if someone living in FitCore’s area was purchasing a book on Amazon.com about nutrition, that is the type of situation where FitCore’s ads would be displayed. This is called contextual targeting.
  • Build the following with Facebook Ads:
    With Facebook Ads, there are numerous objectives. One that is very popular is called “Page Likes.” This is simply used to increase the number of Likes to FitCore’s Facebook Page.
    In order to build an audience that will be the most effective, FitCore will show its ads to the right Facebook users. FitCore will be able to focus specifically within their area, on users that fit the correct demographic profile and have interests associated to FitCore’s brand. All types of Facebook Ads allow for targeting this way.
  • Drive new traffic with Facebook Ads:
    Another popular Facebook Ads objective is “Clicks to Website.” With this objective, FitCore will target users in the same way, but ads will drive more website traffic rather than encourage new page likes.
  • Drive more engagement with Facebook Ads:
    With this objective, FitCore will increase the number of people that see of all of its page posts. Not only will FitCore be able to show its great content to an audience that does not yet follow its page, but FitCore will also ensure that more of its current followers will see it too. Currently, only 3-12% of Facebook business page followers regularly see page posts.
    This Facebook Ads objective will be a great tool for FitCore to increase participation among current members, while also educating potential members at the same time. You’ll remember that achieving both were important goals outlined at the onset.
  • Drive new traffic with Yelp Ads:
    FitCore has been great at what they do for years. They have positively impacted large numbers of people, and many have left positive reviews for them on Yelp. Many consumers considering a new gym membership also want to read reviews from others that have already attended before making a final purchase decision. Both of these factors make this an attractive place for FitCore to make a great impression on the many people searching for things like yoga, pilates, or cycling on Yelp.
  • Remarketing to those that have shown interest in the past with the Google AdWords Display Network and Facebook:
    This powerful feature available on both Google and Facebook, will allow FitCore to show its ads to people that have already visited their website and expressed some element of interest. Remarketing will also allow FitCore to display specific ads based on what pages were viewed.
    For example, FitCore can display a personal training ad to someone that visited the personal training section of their website. FitCore can display yoga ads to those that visited the yoga section of their website.

    With remarketing, FitCore will remain relevant to people that have shown interest, but weren’t yet ready to act. This tool will help FitCore create stronger desire and ultimately more action among interested consumers when the timing becomes right.

  • Conversion Tracking On Google AdWords and Facebook:
    Both Facebook and Google AdWords provide what is called conversion tracking. This is a tool that will allow FitCore to track the success of its advertising program all the way through the sales funnel–from the point an ad is seen to the point customer contact is made.
    FitCore will be able to see how each advertising platform contributes to the bottom line. Within each platform, FitCore will also see which specific ads ultimately drove the most profits, and will be able to model future ads in a similar mold.

Step 5: What will the cost be for FitCore to deliver these messages?

There are number of factors that will influence FitCore’s advertising budget. While each platform defines costs in a slightly different way, competition is relevant to pricing across the board.

For example, ad costs on the Google AdWords Search Network are defined by advertisers competing over specific keywords. In contrast, ad costs on Facebook are defined by advertisers competing over a certain user demographic.

An analysis of each platform has shown that an entry level budget for FitCore would be $2000 per month, and a highly aggressive budget would be $18,000 per month. Leaders at FitCore have decided on an initial budget of $4500 per month with plans to reassess and potentially increase that budget based on performance in the near future.

Step 6: How should FitCore’s advertising budget be allocated to maximize returns?

In order to achieve all of its goals, FitCore will need to engage in some element of advertising on each of the platforms mentioned above. Based on the analysis, FitCore’s leaders have chosen to initially allocate 45% ($2025) to advertising on Google, 40% ($1800) to advertising on Facebook, and 15% ($675) to advertising on Yelp.

As the program progresses, FitCore will continue to reassess its overall budget, and the way that it is allocated based upon performance. FitCore will also continue to assess its initial targeting assumptions based on the data it collects across all platforms as well.

FitCore has developed a strategy to speak directly to its ideal new members, while also engaging its current members in many places online. The Google Search and Display Networks reach 90% of internet users worldwide. A very high percentage of FitCore’s target audience will also be frequent Facebook users. Many more within FitCore’s target audience will regularly use Yelp while making purchase decisions.

By building a program that uses several advertising platforms, Fitcore has put itself in a strong, diversified position to achieve its goals. Undoubtedly, its online advertising program will help FitCore increase new membership as well as current member participation and ultimately its profits.

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