This week we continue our Business Plan blog series by taking a look at operational strategies surrounding online advertising – namely Google Adwords and Yelp! As key components of your marketing plan, you want to have a strategy around online advertising, and make sure your dollars spent are getting you a strong return.
As the 300 pound gorilla of online advertising, Google Adwords is by far the most well-known and utilized resource for search advertising. Adwords provides you with the ability to target your advertising to a target market that is actually searching for what it is you have to offer. It can be an incredible tool to drive business to your door, or it can be a complete waste of money and effort. It all comes down to strategy and execution.
We have enjoyed great results from our use of Google Adwords in advertising our gyms. This has not been easy, nor did it come immediately or cheaply. Just as having excellent coaching makes the difference between success and self injury, having the right coach for Adwords made the difference for us.
We initially tried to undertake Adwords ourselves. It was a disaster. I see other affiliates making repeating the same disaster every day when I search on Google. Here’s problem – Adwords is all about keywords and context. It’s easy to come up with the keywords, but it takes a pro to come up with how to limit the context.
We obviously went after the standard keywords we all think of, but saw poor results. Our ads were showing up, but traffic wasn’t coming and the budget was getting drained.
This all changed when we went out and found an agency specializing in Adwords, and let them take over the account. Within a couple weeks, we saw real change in traffic. Within a month we saw real increases in sales. It took the agency about 60-75 days to really start to dial in our advertising. Once that happened, we noticed that we could consistently count on a solid number of leads and conversions from our efforts.
When we were doing things ourselves, we had set our budget at $1,500 per month, and were blasting through it with almost no results. When we switched over to the agency, they suggested we drop the budget to $1,000 per month while they set up the account and ads.
After the initial setup period, we were getting anywhere between 70 to 90 qualified leads per month – and thanks to our solid in-house sales process, were converting at least half of those to memberships. It is clear that the agency did their job and made our advertising effective, while actually reducing our advertising spend – for a monthly charge of $300.
Yelp! is one of the best tools you can use to get the word out about your business. The word-of-mouth nature of Yelp! empowers people to go express their opinions on a business, and provides great businesses the opportunity to shine. We strongly encourage you to promote your Yelp! page and get as many reviews as possible.
In terms of advertising, though, it has been our experience that Yelp! is a complete waste of money with no appreciable results or return on investment.
We first used Yelp! advertising when we opened our West Hollywood location in 2010. Yelp! approached us with the opportunity to advertise, sharing great numbers and stats, and offering a “deal” to promote our page on competitors’ pages. They threw in a custom video, and boosted ads. We were skeptical, but decided to advertise with a six month term at $750 per month.
Yelp! approached us again in 2013 to advertise. Their sales staff was relentless. I expressed our lack of confidence in their system, discussed our previous lack of results, and even shared copies of newspaper articles discussing the poor results Yelp! advertising provided businesses. Long story short, we again decided to advertise.
The results – during the months of our advertising, we experienced ZERO growth in traffic or results as a result of paid advertising. Our advertising plan provided for 2,500 boosted ads per month, the ability to deliver calls to action, expanded business information, and an enhanced business page. In all, we didn’t see any difference in traffic going to our page, and no difference in the number of leads from Yelp! Return on Investment = ZERO
Your results with Yelp! may vary, but I doubt it.
Marketing and advertising are increasingly becoming key components of operations. Making the most of your budget is key to success, so spend wisely.