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  • Writer's pictureNick Lees

Summer Camp Marketing: Advanced Strategies for Facebook Advertising & Google Adwords

It’s 2017, and most summer camps understand the basics of online marketing. You need to have active social properties, and you need a decent, user-friendly website with content that highlights what makes your camp unique.

But in the buzzword-esque, fake news environment that is the Internet today, is that enough to recruit new campers? Check your stats. If your camp isn’t doing as well as you think you should, the answer is likely no. And there’s a lot more that you could be doing online to grow your camp.

Advertising on Facebook

To recruit campers with Facebook, posting on your camp’s page isn’t enough. You must use the paid Facebook ads. Without the paid ads, your posts will only reach a tiny percentage of potential parents and campers.

In order to increase advertising revenue, over the past couple of years Facebook has drastically reduced the reach of non-paid posts to just 2-7% of your page’s fans. In other words: to reach a wider audience, you have to pay to play.

Luckily, Facebook’s advertising costs are reasonable. You can achieve a very high return on your Facebook advertising budget in terms of new camper registrations.

Big Picture Facebook Strategy

Both parents and campers on Facebook are socializing on the network. They’re liking memes, watching clips of cats and puppies, and catching up with friends. Unlike Amazon or Google, they’re not actively shopping on Facebook.

This is a crucial distinction.

One mistake I see many camps make is to go straight for the sale. Their ads scream at people to “Pay just $(amount) and register today!”

Facebook’s not the right channel for that. It turns people off.

On Facebook, potential campers and parents need to be nurtured and warmed up over time.

One strategy I use on Facebook consists of two phases:

  1. Subtly attract the attention of your target campers and parents, and get them to engage initially on a basic level. Engagement can refer to liking/sharing/commenting on a post, visiting your website, watching a video or some other form of interaction with an ad.

  2. Once they’ve engaged, put them through a re-targeting funnel, exposing them to a carefully strategized series of ads that that warms them up as leads. With time, ad copy can become a little more ‘aggressive’ in directly promoting the camp to this audience.

I’ve used this strategy many times and I consistently see significantly better results than just aiming straight for the registration. I’ll elaborate on this strategy below in the Advanced Remarketing and Evergreen Funnel Strategy sections, but for now it’s enough that you have a basic overview of the plan for Facebook.

Initial Post To Get Campers into Funnel

What sort of posts can you use to drive the initial engagement and get them into the funnel?

Since we’re competing to grab attention amidst a slew of pet memes and baby pictures, a good place to start is with high quality videos and pictures of your camp.

Show high-resolution, breathtaking clips of your campers in nature, of the lake at sunrise, and of counselors and campers being goofy in their cabins..

These pattern-breaking type of pictures are what’s needed to capture your camper’s attention.

Another way to get noticed is to promote a Camper of The Week post, where you highlight an outstanding camper. Parents and friends will share and comment on these posts, which can increase awareness organically.

Facebook Targeting Options

Facebook’s not-so-secret weapon is its tremendously powerful targeting options. This is specifically relevant for promoting summer camps.

Core Audience Targeting Ideas One way to target potential campers and their parents is by creating a core audience. Core audience targeting allows you to reach people based on demographics, location, interests and behaviors.Below are some helpful parameters to give you ideas how you can target for your camp.


A day camp, or a camp that serves mostly local families, should only pay for ads to show within their particular geographic area. You can select certain zip codes or radii around your camp's address. In the example below, I’ve set the camp’s ads to only show to people within 25 miles of Chicago, as that’s where the vast majority of campers come from.


With interest targeting, you can place ads in front of campers who are interested in your camp’s activities. Examples:

  • Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center camp could target young teens who are interested in improv, acting and theater.

  • Sail Caribbean water sports camp could target teens interested in sailing and scuba diving.

  • A sports camp like Brant Lake Camp could target interests like tennis, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, etc.

A more general, non-specialty camp could target teens with interests in backpacking, hiking, camping, archery, horseback riding, sports and other outdoor activities.

Pro tip: Place your competitors as interests. If you target people who have liked camps that are similar to yours, you’re reaching your ideal audience.


You can target parents and campers based on the school they go to.

An Orthodox Jewish summer camp like Camp Stone could build a long list of all the Orthodox Jewish day schools in the US and Canada and target them.

A local camp like Camp Y-Noah could pull a list of all the elementary and middle schools within 30 miles of the camp and place ads in front of those parents and students affiliated with them.


You can reach parents of children within a certain age group as below. Depending on the camp’s demographic, you may want to target parents of teenagers or of young kids.


Camps in the US can target based on income and net worth. Note that these targeting functions are not currently available in other countries.

For example, a more expensive camp might choose to target parents who earn over $250,000/year, or who have a net worth of at least $1,000,000.

Another way to expand this audience is by targeting people who live in homes above a certain value (say, above $1,000,000).

Agency camps, like JCC, YMCA and 4-H may take the opposite approach. They could target parents in lower income brackets and use messaging about scholarship opportunities.


A camp affiliated with a certain religion should use that for targeting.

A Reform Jewish summer camp, like URJ Camp Coleman, could target people connected with Union for Reform Judaism, BBYO and other related organizations.

A Mormon summer camp, like Camp Atoka could target parents whose interests include Book of Mormon, Brigham Young, Joseph Smith and more.

Recently moved

Day camps and camps that draw locally could run campaigns to families new to the area.

Since they’ve recently moved, they’re likely unfamiliar with your camp. Therefore, the initial ads should be introductory and give an overview of the camp. The follow-up funnel for these families should invite them to visit:

“Come by to check out our facilities and get a free horse-riding session by the lake!”

Life Events

You can create ad sets around certain life events to elicit interest and registrations.

For example, you could run a special campaign for people with an upcoming birthday by offering them a discount or a bonus.

“For your birthday, we’re offering you the water sports ad-on for FREE if you register this week!”

Behaviors: Charitable Donations

Many camps have scholarship funds and run annual fundraising drives. These additional funds help keep many camps running and allow them to bring in more campers.

You can use Facebook ads to assist in your fundraising efforts by targeting people who have donated to related charities in the past.

For example,

  • Long Lake Camp for the Arts Dance Camp could target people who have donated to Arts and Culture.

  • Hidden Villa Summer camp, with its emphasis on environmental justice, could fundraise to donors of environmental and wildlife culture.

  • Sunrise Day Camp, which provides free camp to children with cancer and their siblings, could promote fundraising to donors of cancer causes.

Most other camps with scholarships could target donors of “children’s interests” as well.

Friends of people who like your page.

You can target people who are friends with people who have liked your camp’s Facebook page. This gives social proof to your ads, because prospective campers and parents will see that their other friends have liked the camp as well.

To maximize the effectiveness of your ad spend, you can also exclude people who have already liked your page from seeing certain ads. For instance, if you’re running a special introductory offer for first-time campers, you could prevent people who have already liked your page from seeing that offer.

Facebook Custom Audiences

Demographic and behavioral targeting options are just the basics. Facebook offers additional options that can be very effective for summer camps trying to increase their Facebook leads.

Custom audiences allow you to build your own audience list based off emails, phone numbers, website visitors, people who have engaged with your posts and more.

For example, you could create an audience of anyone who has visited your camp’s website in the past 180 days. Since these are people who are familiar with your program, you can create a campaign to follow up with those leads focusing on the benefits and features of your program (i.e. retargeting).

Detailed and Strategic Customization

You can get very granular and strategic with website custom audiences, like targeting people who have visited certain pages of your site but not others. Think about that…

Pro Tip: You could create reminder ads to people who have visited your registration page, but didn’t complete their registration. There you could nudge them along with friendly reminders, early bird coupons, etc, to keep them going.

You can create ads to show to certain email lists. Or to people who have watched a certain video, or interacted on a certain post.

More on these ideas below in the evergreen funnel section...

How To Create A Custom Audience

To create a custom audience, navigate to Audiences -> Audience -> Custom Audience under Facebook Ad Manager.

Then choose which source you’d like to use to build your custom audience. As of March 2017, you can build a custom audience based on how people have engaged with your site (people who have visited certain pages of your site, or combinations like people who have visited one page but not another).

Other options for creating custom audience include:

  • Emails, phone numbers and other data of campers and parents (past and present), and other leads. Facebook will try to match those with users in their system.

  • Facebook Engagement: People who have engaged with your page on Facebook by commenting, watching a video, opening a canvas or opening a lead ad form.

If you choose website traffic, for example, you could create a custom website audience for people who began registration on your site, but didn’t complete. You could create a separate campaign to follow up with these campers and get them to finish their registration.

Here’s what that set-up would look like:

Advanced Facebook Ad Tactic: Lookalike Audiences

Once your custom audiences are achieving results, lookalike audiences are the next step to growing your camper recruitment list. This is a tactic that most summer camps are not yet utilizing.

How It Works

With lookalike audiences, Facebook analyzes people who make up a certain group to identify common characteristics and patterns between those people. Then it extrapolates that data onto other Facebook users who match those same data points.

For example, you could take the email addresses of all past campers to create a custom audience called “Past Campers.” Let’s say it’s a list of 1500 campers. You could then create a lookalike audience of your past campers.

Facebook would find patterns in your past campers’ demographics, behavior, location, ages, income and more. It would use those patterns to identify similar Facebook users. Since they share similar characteristics to your past campers, there’s a good chance they’ll also become campers and would be a good group to market to!

You could also leverage lookalike audiences by creating a custom audience comprised of parents' email addresses.

Additional tactics for lookalike audiences include creating them from:

  • Users who like your Facebook Page.

  • Website visitors who have reached the registration section of your website, but not necessarily those who have completed registration. They're all fairly warm leads and relevant.

  • People who have watched more than 50% of your promo video (if you have one)

  • People who have interacted with an especially popular Facebook post

To create a Lookalike Audience within Facebook Ads platform, go to Audiences -> Create Audience -> Lookalike Audience.

Then select the source of the audience you’d like to replicate. It can be based off a custom audience or off people who have liked your page.

Pro Tip: The larger the audience, the more successful your lookalike audience marketing will be. The reason is that with more people to analyze, Facebook has more data that it can use to find accurate patterns. A lookalike audience built off a custom audience of 10,000 people will yield much better results than one built off 100 people.

Now that you have a basic understanding of Facebook’s targeting options, we’ll examine ways to run successful campaigns.

Retargeting & Advanced Strategies

Retargeting is follow-up marketing. It's an extremely valuable (and underutilized) strategy for summer camps because it can drastically increase the number of camper registrations.

Why Retargeting Works So Well

The vast majority of people who come to your website do not register. I usually see registration conversion rates under 2% of site visitors.

Retargeting is powerful because it allows you to show follow-up ads the other 98% of people who have come to your site (warm leads), which drastically increases the chances of them coming back and converting.

The Mechanics of Retargeting

Here’s how it works. Facebook uses a pixel to track users who come to your site and then retargets those same people with specific ads. The idea is that if a camper or their parents didn't register the first time they were on your site, then additional exposure to your ads can improve the chance they’ll come back to your site and register.


For example, you could retarget to people who visited your camp’s pricing page but NOT the registration page. You might create a retargeting campaign to that group clarifying scholarships, payment options, early bird savings programs, etc.

You could target people who visited specific program pages and not others.

For instance, Camp Kimama may create a campaign for website visitors who looked at programs for Ski Camps, but did NOT visit the pages about programs for water sports. Camp Kimama could create a whole campaign that follows up about their ski programs and speaks specifically to parents and campers who might be interested in it.

A major benefit of Facebook retargeting is that it reaches ALL site visitors whom the pixel is able to match up to a Facebook account.

So you may have people coming from different sources (Google, camp directories, email, etc) and you'll still be able to follow up with them with retargeting.

Finally, keep in mind that retargeting isn't only for website visits. It's also for videos and post engagements. You can target people who watched a certain percentage of a particular video, and create retargeting campaigns to that audience. Or people who liked, shared, or commented on a particular post.

Evergreen funnel strategy

The evergreen Facebook ad campaign is a term coined by Facebook marketer Jon Loomer. It's an advanced retargeting method that I've adopted many times for my clients with great success.

The idea is to nurture your leads through a series of follow-up ads so they'll sign up for your programs. It's a funnel that subtly moves them through the Sales process of Awareness -> Interest -> Desire -> Action (registration).

Here's an example of how this would work for a summer camp.

  1. A parent clicks on the initial post ad and comes to your website.

  2. They look at programs for their 13 year old son, but do not register or leave their contact information.

  3. They were tracked by Facebook's pixel and are able to be retargeted.

They're now automatically placed into a specially-built Facebook ads funnel for people who looked at that particular program but didn't register.

The first part of the funnel seeks to increase their interest in the program, but does NOT sell directly. They're not ready to be sold to, and doing so could actually turn them off.

The funnel, or series of ads they’re exposed to, might look something like this:

  • Days 1-4 from when they were on your site, they see ad content related to the particular track for their 13 year old son.

  • Days 4-8 they see informational ad content, this time related to the benefits of doing the program (build independence skills, make new friends, etc).

  • Days 9-12 they see a series of pictures showing boys the same age as their son having fun at the camp.

  • Days 13-16 they see several video ads similar in content to the photos from the previous 3 days.

  • Days 17-20 they see testimonials of other campers, same age as their son, talking about how positively transformative their experience was at camp.

  • Days 21-24 they’re encouraged to reach out and send a message for questions, and to register for the program.

  • Days 25-28 - If they haven’t reached out or registered, they’re offered a discount or bonus for signing up by a certain date.

The above process gradually warms up a lead and drastically increases the chances of them signing up.

By being exposed to the messaging over the course of 4 weeks, a camp can expect much higher conversion rates into campers from people who visit their site.

For maximum success and profitability a camp should create many separate funnels based on the behaviors of their potential campers and parents.

Yes, it is a lot of work. BUT it will pay off with massive dividends.

It's 5x the work compared to ‘normal’ Facebook ads that every other camp is doing, but it delivers 15x the results.

When creating funnels, be sure to stay on top of audience exclusions so your audiences aren't overlapping, otherwise your costs will go up. Running many simultaneous funnels can get complex, but it is still worth the effort.

Website Conversion Campaigns

Another Facebook strategy to leverage involves using website conversion campaigns.

With these campaigns, Facebook finds people who are most likely to complete a certain goal and shows your ads to them. The relevant goal for our summer camp purposes would be registration completion.

In a way this is similar to lookalike audiences, but Facebook would focus on characteristics related to the registration.

Technical tip: When you first start running Facebook ads, it's crucial to implement a Facebook pixel and set up conversions to trigger when campers have completed their registration. This gives Facebook data to work with.

How It Works

Their algorithm finds patterns in behavior and characteristics of Facebook users who've completed the registration. Facebook then extrapolates that data and puts your ad in front of other users who share the same characteristics of those who have registered.

This works well if you have a high volume of registrations. If you don't, my experience has shown that their algorithm isn't so accurate.

Pro hack if you don’t have a high volume of registration:

One way to boost your conversion numbers so that you can use this tactic is to change your conversion goal from people who have completed registrations to people who have begun registrations. This will invariably result in a larger group of people and will help Facebook's algorithm promote better results.

Instead of having data only from people it's tracked that have registered, it now has data from all the people who have begun registrations, and the more data they have the more accurate their algorithm. It'll now push for people to begin registrations.


The targeting options above can be layered so you can pinpoint your ads to for maximum profit.

Here’s how a layered targeting might look for a program with higher-than-average pricing:

  • Parents of children aged 8-12 years

  • Who ALSO earn at least $100,000/year

  • Who ALSO live within 100 miles of your camp

  • Who ALSO are friends of people who liked your camp’s Facebook page

Each bullet point further narrows your audience. As it becomes more targeted, your audience size also decreases.

To target a camper, you might use the following layering:

  • Age 13-15

  • Who ALSO goes to one of the selected schools on your list

  • Who ALSO has interests that include ultimate frisbee, canoeing, archery and other outdoor activities

  • Who ALSO follows other camps similar to yours (your competition)

Plus, two more out-of-the-box layering examples:

Let’s say you have a camp gift store that you’d like to use to drive more sales. Here’s one way to start:

  • Target all past campers using a custom email audience

  • Who ALSO have an upcoming birthday.

Your ad could congratulate them on their birthday and offer a 50% coupon code for purchasing a hoodie or other memorabilia from their favorite camp by the end of the week.

Some camps, like Camp Pinnacle, earn additional revenue by using their scenic grounds to host memorable, rustic wedding weekends.

They could leverage Facebook ads by targeting:

  • People who are recently engaged (and likely looking for wedding venues)

  • Who ALSO live within a 50 mile radius of the camp

  • Who are interested in the great outdoors, rugged experiences and camping.

A separate, ongoing campaign promoting their wedding packages to this audience would drive more revenue.


To get the most out of your camp’s Facebook Ads and ensure a profitable ROI, you must split-test everything. Test different ad copy, imagery, videos, campaign objectives, audiences, landing pages and more to find what works. And then split-test some more.

I’m constantly split-testing; my clients have dozens of ads running in each funnel for testing.

You don’t need a large budget to split-test; in fact $5/day is enough to run many ads in one ad set. The idea is to analyze your ads to see what messages, images, targeting, campaign objectives and ad types work. Turn off what doesn’t work and further split-test what is working to continually improve results.

It does require time. You need someone to be on top of this in order for it to work, but the effort will pay off many times over.

Ad Fatigue

Another factor to be aware of is ad fatigue, particularly during the first stage, when you’re trying to drive awareness and bring people into your funnel.

Once people have seen the same ad multiple times, they become numb to it and sort of block it out of their consciousness. That means you need to keep an eye on how frequently your ads are being viewed, mix things up and keep your content fresh. This will improve your campaign’s effectiveness over the long term.

There’s no auto-pilot when it comes to advertising, and if you don’t pay attention to ad fatigue, your campaign will become less effective with time.

Marketing to Campers With Instagram

When it comes to campers, other platforms to reach them include Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. I’ve personally seen the best results using Instagram ads, and that’s the channel I’ll focus on in this piece.

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Instagram Ads are created and managed through Facebook’s Ad platforms. That’s good news because once you’ve become familiar with Facebook Advertising, you don’t have to learn a whole new platform.

To create ads exclusively for Instagram, create a new campaign or ad set, and under ad sets, scroll down to placements -> Edit Placements -> Platforms. Then deselect Facebook and Audience Network and select Instagram.

Instagram allows you to use most of the targeting capabilities discussed above. You can retarget, create lookalike audiences, and test different campaign objectives. You can target your ads based on income, camper interests and everything mentioned previously.

But to get the most of out of Instagram and to effectively market to your campers directly, you don’t want to just copy and paste from Facebook Ads.

Instagram is not Facebook, and understanding some subtle difference will help you drive more camper registrations.

Differences Between Facebook vs Instagram Marketing

There are 3 main differences between Facebook and Instagram.

1) Mobile: Instagram is a mobile app, and therefore everything about the experience has to optimized for mobile devices.

If you’re sending campers to a page on your website, be extra sure that the experience is optimized for mobile phones as follows:

  • The page should load fast.

  • The page should be easily read on a small screen.

  • Don’t send people straight to the registration page, because people on their phones will find it tedious to type in all their information.

  • Since images are seen on a smaller screen than desktop, they should be clear and uncluttered.

  • Don’t use lengthy memes or wording on top of the photos because they’re hard to read.

2) Photos. Instagram’s all about images. Unlike Facebook, where lengthy ad copy can attract and connect with potential campers, on Instagram shorter written ads tend to perform better.

Follow these tips for optimizing your photo ads on Instagram:

  • Keep your messaging concise and let the image do the story-telling.

    • Luckily, as a camp likely in a nature setting, our niche is more suited than others for appealing images.

  • Show simple, but appealing, images of campers and the camp.

  • Show images of sunrises and sunsets, and campers engaged in activities (as opposed to just posing and smiling).

3) Videos: Videos on Instagram must be between 3 to 60 seconds long. Facebook allows videos up to 2 hours.

Benefits of Instagram

Get Campers To Learn About Your Programs

Instagram is one of the best ways to spread awareness about your camp to teenage campers. With creativity and consistent posting, you can tap directly into this age group.

Beat Your Competition

Another benefit of Instagram ads is that they’re still relatively new. The platform is not saturated, advertising costs are lower than on Facebook, and there’s a good chance your competitors aren’t taking advantage of the advertising platform, yet!

Because they’re so new, Instagram ads present a huge opportunity for your camp over your competitors.

Now that we’ve covered Facebook and Instagram advertising, we’re going to shift gears from social media and look at another powerful channel for acquiring new camps: the search engines.

Google Adwords and Search Engine Marketing

Running PayPerClick (PPC) campaigns on Google and Bing is another powerful tactic for bringing in new campers.

Unlike the social media channels discussed above, parents and campers using search engines are actively looking for a summer camp program. They’re at a later stage in the Sales / recruitment process and are warmer leads.

Throughout the year millions of people search for summer camp programs on Google.

The chart below from Google Adwords Keyword Planner shows the number of searches on Google in the US and Canada for summer camp terms each month.

Notice that volume picks up in January (about 476,000 searches), and peaks in May and June with about 1.2 million searches.

Even though searches taper off after August, there’s still about 300,000 monthly searches for summer camp programs from September through December.

What’s important is to be visible when someone’s looking for a summer camp, and Google Adwords is the most effective way to do that.

Tips For Running Adwords for Summer Camp Programs

Below are advanced Google Adwords marketing tips for summer camps. Some of them may seem a bit technical, but your camp’s marketing coordinator will understand and be able to implement them.

Tip: Non-profit Grant

If your camp has non-profit status, you can apply for a Google grant of up to $10,000 of monthly Google Ads credits for free. I have worked with non-profit clients in the teen adventure niche who are absolutely killing it with their free $10,000/month ad spend. This is relevant for camps affiliated with the YMCA, JCC, 4-H and others.

Tip: Geographic Targeting

If you draw mainly from certain geographic areas, make sure you’re only targeting in those areas so you’re not wasting your ad spend. Use exclusions, too, to exclude areas that are irrelevant for you.

Tip: Keyword Research

It’s important to perform proper keyword research to determine which keywords your ideal campers and parents are searching for on Google.

For example, Camp Cedar, a boys sports camp, wouldn’t want to waste ad spend on showing ads to people searching for generic summer camp terms.

Instead, they would start by researching search volume for terms like:

  • Sports camp

  • Water sports summer camp

  • Basketball summer camp

And so on. Since they’re a higher-end camp, they may choose to refine their ad settings to only show to searchers in wealthy zip codes.

You can start your keyword research with Google’s free Keyword Planner tool. This will give you data about how many people in a certain area are searching for particular terms, and what the estimated cost-per-click is for those terms.

Tip: Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are a way to filter out terms that are irrelevant for your camp. It’s crucial to use negative keywords and monitor your search terms report at all times, otherwise you’re likely wasting ad spend on irrelevant phrases.

For example, if you’re a sleepaway camp, you want to exclude terms like “day camp.” If you’re a Christian summer camp, you want to exclude terms like “Orthodox Jewish camp,” and a camp for teens would exclude terms like “summer camp for 8 year olds.” A girls summer camp would exclude terms like “boys summer camps.”

Other negative keywords that apply for most camps:

People looking for jobs and career information

  • Summer camp counselor jobs / internship

  • Summer camp career / business plan

Searches that indicate they aren’t interested in paying

  • Free

  • Subsidized

  • Cheapest

Searches that indicate they’re not parents or potential campers

  • Summer camp regulations

Searches for campgrounds

  • Family campground

Monitor which search terms are causing your ads to display. Depending on your monthly ad budget, this should be done on a daily or weekly basis. Add irrelevant terms to your negative keywords list as necessary. To see what terms people are searching for when your ads appear, go to keywords -> Search terms.

Tip: Campaign Structure

Having a well-structured Adwords account improves your Quality Score, which in turn can decrease costs-per-click and improve your account’s profitability.

The best practice for a summer camp would be creating ad groups for each program offered and targeting 5 - 10 keywords in each ad group.

Each ad group should contain at least 6 ads for testing purposes.

Best Practices for Setting up Summer Camp Ads

Use extended ads and take advantage of the extra space Google allows. If you have old ads running, make sure to update them to extended ads and use up all

the real estate Google allows.

Take advantage of extensions.An ad extension is an extra bit of information about

your camp that you can use for your ads. In addition to giving searchers more

opportunities to click on the ad, ad extensions take up more precious real estate on

the first page, which makes your camp more visible and drives more website visitors.

Callout extensions are additional text that provide detailed information about your

camp, like program options and other features.

Price extensions show prices for your various sessions.

Review extensions show positive reviews from previous campers and parents. Not

many camps are taking advantage of this, and it’s an opportunity to use social proof to

stand out from your competitors.

Sitelink extensions provide direct links to the most popular pages of your website like

costs, about us and programs.

Call Extensions allow people to call your inquiry line directly from the ad, bypassing

your website. This is a great option to test for interested parents who are browsing on

mobile phones.

Message Extensions, similar to call extensions, allow people to send a text message

directly from the ad. This option can work well with potential campers. Many of them

tend to be more comfortable texting, and you can engage interested campers by

offering this option directly in your ad.

Take your time to write original, compelling content. You need to be concise and

engaging. A user will be exposed to many other ads, and your copy needs to draw

them in. And always proofread!

Put your main message in the headline. The headline is the most important part of

your ad, it stands out due to its larger font and blue color.

Test multiple versions of your ad copy. As mentioned previously, each ad group

should contain at least 6 ads for testing. In your tests, highlight different features of

your camp and try various calls to action to find what really clicks with parents and

campers who are searching.

Create a sense of scarcity or urgency to push for registrations. Find deadlines and

quotas to emphasize points like “Only 5 spots left!” or “Early bird special ends next


Qualify your traffic. If you only serve campers ages 8-16, be sure to highlight that in

your ad. You don’t want to waste money on people clicking who aren’t relevant.

Test highlighting features vs benefits. For example, test ads that focus on features

like high counselor: camper ratio, multifaceted activities, vs benefits like make new

friends, gain confidence...

Use a call to action like “Sign For Camp Today” or “Request information Here.”

Monitor and take steps to improve your Quality Score. Quality Score is how Google

rates the relevance and quality of your ads and keywords. It significantly influences the

costs of your clicks and the profitability of your campaign. You can increase your

quality score by refining your ad text, improving your site's landing page experience,

adding more negative keywords, and improved account organization into tighter ad


Don’t neglect your landing page. The quality of your landing page actually

influences the costs you’ll pay per click. Make sure it’s well-optimized and mobile


Campaign Monitoring and Management

Once your Adwords campaigns are up and running, do not neglect them. Again, there’s no such thing as auto-pilot. They need monitored on a regular basis.


Every day, check your search terms report to ensure you’re not wasting ad spend on irrelevant searches. Add irrelevant searches to your negative keyword list.


Once per week, check your costs per registration to make sure your campaigns are profitable.

Twice a month - In Depth Analysis

Run reports in Google Adwords Dimensions Tab and Google Analytics to analyze your data. Segment your clicks and traffic based on:

  • Keyword

  • Device type

  • Geographic location

  • Time of day/day of week

  • Landing page

  • Bounce rates

  • Ad copy

What To Look For In Your Monthly Adwords Analysis

Locate segments that are under-performing and turn those off, this will free up more of your ad spend to go toward segments that are more likely to drive profit. Increase bids for keywords and dimensions that are driving the most registrations.

3 Examples of Analysis Findings

  1. Your analysis might find that people on tablets are more likely to register than those on mobile phones and desktops. In that case, you could increase bids for campers and parents on tablets so the ads will show more frequently and prominently to those people.

  2. You could find that parents who come to your site on a mobile phone are more likely to leave, in which case you should consider optimizing your landing page for a better mobile experience. You would make sure the site loads quickly on mobile devices and that the mobile version is easy to read and navigate, among other factors.

  3. You might discover that a higher percentage of people register at certain hours or on certain days of the week. You can take advantage of that information by increasing your bids during those times and days to increase your registrations.

The overarching idea is to identify deviations from the norm and optimize your account accordingly.

Bing / Yahoo Ads

Finally, don’t forget about Bing Ads. Bing’s advertising platform includes Yahoo and together they make up around 25% of search traffic in the US. Their advertising platform is similar to Google’s and is worth using.

In conclusion, there are a lot of opportunities to grow your summer camp with online advertising. If you need an extra hand or would like a consultation about marketing your camp online, feel free to reach out!


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