Health & Fitness E-Commerce Advertising Guide

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E-commerce Facebook Ad For Health & Fitness

Are you selling health & fitness products online?

Maybe you’re launching a new vegan superfood or adding online fitness coaching. Maybe your store is ready to scale a weight loss product or you’d like to increase gym memberships.

In all cases, you need to get in front of health-conscious people, get them excited, and help them take action.

What’s the best way to do that?

Read on as we break down the process of identifying and speaking to a health-conscious market. 🏋️‍♂️

The Basics of Health Advertising

The world of e-commerce is noisy right now. Retailers are pushing magic pills, get fit quick schemes, and yet another “5 Secrets They Don’t Want You To Know”… but don’t worry: our first tip is don’t try to do what everyone else is doing.

I have some good news and some bad news… most of the outrageous facebook ads you see online are not working. We’ve taken over enough failing ad accounts and seen plenty of campaigns with ads that fell flat… because they didn’t genuinely speak to their audience.

And believe me, all of those people know those magic pills and get fit quick schemes don’t work either…

The good news: your qualified customers are smart people who will take action in their best interest. Your job is to understand their wants, their needs, the specific words they use when they talk to themselves, and the images that are already in their mind.

To do that is an exercise in marketing research, and putting the right message in front of the right people at the right time… plus understanding the industry trends and the nuances of digital marketing technology.

Basic Customer Acquisition Process

The right message in front of the right person at the right time encourages action.

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Target Market

Let’s start with asking who is your store’s ideal customer? Do not try to list every possible customer. It’s easy to add new segments to a campaign that’s working, but it’s much more difficult to know which segments to remove from a large campaign that’s not working.

Here’s what you need to define:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language

E-Commerce stores can target the locations to which they ship. If your product is in brick and mortar stores, such as grocery chains, we recommend starting your campaign in those locations.

Gyms and fitness studios are best to target at most a 7-mile radius. Doctor’s offices may target the current city.

Another way to think about age is what stage of life is your target customer in. Are they college students, young professionals, middle-aged parents, or older?

Location targeting 5 miles around Austin, Texas

Facebook Location Targeting

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The most important part of audience targeting is Interests. Demographics are fine to leave more open when you’re unsure, letting the algorithms find and optimize towards the people who respond, but interest targeting is the key to identifying what is unique about these people. Facebook and Instagram know what people Like, Share, and Comment about. Facebook, of course, knows what Groups these people belong to, Events they attend, Pages and Profiles they visit… and what they chat about in messages.

Facebook's Health Food Targeting Options

Facebook’s Health Food Targeting Options

When selecting interests, it’s also best to choose a single interest to target. Audiences sizes are most optimal over 100,000 people per $10 in ad spend per day, so if your resulting segment is less than that, it is recommended to add a second or third interest.

For example, if your ad budget is $100/day, you should have an audience of at least 1,000,000. And if you’re spending $25/day you should have at least 250,000 people. Smaller audiences will see their creative “exhaust” (when the majority of your audience have already seen your ad and performance typically starts to drop) and will need to refresh your Facebook ads more often.

If you’re a local retailer, you’ll probably have a smaller audience size because of the physical limits of your business.

Health food products can target food categories such as Organic food, Veganism, or Vegetarianism.

Fitness products can target their sport, such as CrossFit, Triathlons, and Marathons.

Facebook Fitness Interest Targeting

Facebook Fitness Interest Targeting

Pro tip: Put just one interest in each ad set audience (if they’re large enough) so it will be clear which are the best performing.

Not sure what interests to target?

Facebook’s Audience Insights tool is a great way to uncover and hone in on the highest affinity audiences. Start by entering your most relevant audience and then clicking over to the Page Likes tab. The highest affinity and relevance audiences are the ones with the most overlap to your original interest. This is a great way to find new, similar interests to target, and other related offerings in the marketplace. It’s also a great way to do competitor research.

For example, if you’re targeting the CrossFit community, we see the following related audiences. Diet & nutrition products may want to target Eat to Perform. Exercise devices probably want to target people interested in Rogue Fitness, and events/competitions can target Warrior Dash.

Facebook Audiences by Relevance

Find the most relevant audiences using Facebook’s Audience Insights tool

Search Ads

If your product or service is in a well-established industry that people know and are actively searching for, then you want to make sure your business can be found when people are looking for you.

The best way to do that is Google Search.

Google Search for Physical Therapists

Research current search results and suggestions for your product or service

Start by doing some Google searches of your own to see what keywords are being bid on (which display ads when you search), and what those ads say.

Pro tip: Also, scope out the bottom of the search results page (SERP) for the “Searches related to” section. Based on all of the queries that Google sees these are the closest related searches people also search for, and is a great place to find additional keywords.

Google Search Result Page for Physical Therapists Near Me

Searches Related to Physical Therapists

A tool like SpyFu will also give you a history of Google ads. You’ll see trends in the ad copy and headlines, and typically the longest-running are the best ads.

Use the Google Keyword Planner to research search volume and competition levels so you know which are the most active keywords and where are the opportunities.

When choosing keywords, start off more specific, longer search strings and using exact match, phrase match, and modified broad match, so that you do not bid against more general, and more expensive, keywords. Avoid broad match and 1-word strings.

Spyfu Top Competitor Ads

See Your Competitor’s Google Ads with Spyfu

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Pro Tip: Health & Fitness Groups

Social media helps people organize around their interests and passions, and people interested in health & fitness are often highly engaged. It’s likely that your target market has a Facebook Group, such as Marathon Runners or Low Carb Done Right.

Groups are an awesome way to directly connect with your target market. Find these groups and participate in the discussions. Help answer questions and share tips, with the occasional link or mention back to your page or products/services when appropriate. Don’t join and immediately spam an “ad”. Before you promote, it’s best to ask the admin and read the group rules.

And if there are not many groups, or none at all, for your niche… create one!

Meetups are another great source of local groups.

Marathon Runners Facebook Group

Facebook Groups are full of highly engaged people

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Speaking To Your Audience

Health is important to people. Fitness goals can be a very personal conversation. And if they have a health condition they need help with, that’s a serious topic.

Your message should talk to people in the same manner. The best content is direct, clear, and realistic. Use specific numbers and examples when you can. Avoid overusing exclamation points and use a down-to-earth tone. The Facebook and Google algorithms both automatically detect and flag misleading ad copy. Don’t get flagged!

Ads that over-promise or make claims too good to be true don’t resonate with people. Just like silly billboards, people will fly on by.

If you really do have a world-changing product – awesome, use video testimonials and share case studies to build trust.

Even Tony Robbins, who has his attendees yelling and jumping at his live events, uses ad language which simply states what you’ll get from this offer.

Tony Robbins Facebook Ad

Use direct and clear ads to get your message across

Choosing Visuals & Creative

Your prospect either has an active need (help with a health condition) or a latent want in the back of their mind (would like to lose 10 lbs).

Associated with this they also have a series of images in their head of what this looks like to them. When they’re driving in their car and their mind is wandering… there’s a mental picture there, whether they consciously visualize it or if it’s subconscious.

As people scroll through their Instagram feeds, reflecting this image back to them is the most effective way to catch their attention. People process visuals first, the headline second, and then post text third. An image of something they’ve already been thinking about is the most likely to stop them in their tracks, and then gives you an opportunity to speak to them in the rest of your post.

Green Chef Facebook Ad

What images are already in your prospect’s head? Probably their dinner plate!

Hoka One One Facebook Ad

What does your prospect want to look like when they workout? Show them!

For food items, focus on pictures of the food itself. For sports gear, center on someone wearing it and playing the sport.

Also, if you have the ability to get specific in your product photography, show images of guys to male audiences, and for female audiences feature a woman using a product. Sex sells… sometimes, but people are most interested in themselves.

Pro tip: Facebook now allows you to see the ads that every Page is running, in an Info and Ads tab. Take those related interests and audiences from the Facebook Audience Insights tool and then scope out their Facebook ads – look for trends to identify their best ads.

Rogue Fitness Facebook Page

Scope out your competition’s ads by checking their Facebook Page

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Convert & Sell

You’ve identified your audience and have started designing your ads and your message.

Next, what is the action you want your prospect to take?

If you’re selling a low-to-midrange price point product, you probably want them to buy online. If you’re a doctor’s office, you likely want them to schedule an appointment. High price points and high-touch sales processes may require a conversation, and your goal may be lead generation.

Facebook’s Conversions objective is the most common choice for e-commerce businesses. These ads will direct the user to your website to purchase.

Typically you’ll see the best conversion rates by sending people right to the Product Detail Page, which is a page specific to that one product and has an Add to Cart button. This page should also have all of the information that a consumer needs to make a decision. It should contain all of the product specs, images, videos, pricing options, FAQs, and testimonials. Amazon’s product pages are good examples.

Amazon Product Page for Under Armour Shirt

Checkout Amazon’s product pages for some inspiration

Conversion rates drop if users have to navigate to other pages and parts of the website for more information, or if they’re distracted away from that page via pop-up promotions or other widgets.

But, how many times have you clicked over to a site and purchased right away? Probably not that often…

Display advertising, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, is interrupt-driven. You’re injecting your ad into someone’s day that may have a million things going on. They might be opening Facebook just to send a message or get the address of an event. Or the viewer may only have 5 minutes in line at the grocery store, where they see your ad.

These people are also likely on their mobile phones. The majority of web traffic is mobile AND the majority of e-commerce sales are also mobile, at 63.5%!

The most common scenario is that visitors hit your website and check out your product. They were interested enough to click through, but they’re on the go and suddenly their busy day calls them away from their phone.

The average e-commerce transaction requires more than 5 interactions with the prospect!

As an online retailer, you must deal with this reality and depending on which step in the funnel you’re seeing that drop-off, that’s the point at which you must capture your prospects so that you can help them through the rest of the checkout process.

Retargeting and Lead Magnets are great tools for doing so. Email marketing and automation are also key.

Lead Magnets

There are many times that I’m on the go and I see an interesting post in my news feed. But I’m walking through my office on an average busy-enough day, and I’m not about to sit down and buy those cool workout shorts right now… so I don’t even bother clicking on the post.

Other times I see posts which say “Sign-up Now For Free Shipping” or “Get The Runner’s World Guide to   (fill in the blank)  ”. I know I’m not going to use it or read it right now, but it’s something I’m curious to look at later… so, sure, I’ll spend two clicks and sign-up.

That’s a lead magnet – a small piece of value that you can offer your audience in exchange for their email address, contact information, or a quick visit to your site (so that your Pixel can track them).

This is key for both you and them to be able to follow-up at a more convenient time. Plus, once you have their email address or phone number, sending a message is direct and free. Your email list is an asset.

Some common lead magnets are:

  • Guides, PDFs (cookbooks, exercise guides, blogs)
  • Image Galleries
  • Case Studies & Interviews
  • Request More Info
  • Add to Wish List
  • Save For Later
  • Call Now

Pro tip: with contact information, automate follow-ups via email or text message using marketing automation tools such as Zapier or Infusionsoft. It’s best to send the first message immediately, to make the connection while they’re sure to remember you, and then you can initiate an email marketing drip sequence that reminds them where they left off.


If you already have followers, store visitors, and past customers, then retargeting will likely be the most profitable piece of your digital marketing machine.

It’s typically much cheaper to sell again to someone who has already purchased from you than it is to acquire a brand new customer. Also, people who get to the cart or checkout page and just aren’t ready to buy at that time are your warmest prospects. Help remind them to take the next step.

  • Do you have a customer list? Upload it to Facebook to match for retargeting.
  • Have the Pixel on your site? Create a custom audience for on pages visited, such as Cart and Checkout.
Facebook Checkout Page Retargeting

Retarget customers who add to cart but don’t checkout

Dynamic Product Ads

Dynamic product ads (DPAs) are where most campaigns see the highest ROI. As we mentioned above, showing someone THE image they’ve got in their mind (or have seen recently) is the most effective way to capture their attention.

DPAs do just that. Sync up your product catalog, Facebook Pixel, and Ad Set, and Facebook will automatically advertise the same products to someone has expressed interest in the past. Shopify and BigCommerce are very easy to setup.

So, if the prospect was looking through your fitness trackers last time, they’ll see those same devices in the ads. 👌🏻

Facebook Dynamic Product Ad Template

Use dynamic product ads to automatically retarget using products the prospect viewed

Next Steps

Once your campaigns are launched and attracting people to your store, you’ll begin to see the performance data of different audiences, ads, and landing pages.

Be sure to look at both the big picture of the full customer journey and real purchase performance, as well as the granular view of individual ads.

As you collect performance data, you can turn off the low performers, and spend more on the high performers.

Let this performance data guide future campaign direction, and you’ll see conversion rates and ROI climb! 📈

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