Fitness Marketing: 21 Proven Strategies to Market Your Fitness Business
This post gives you the lowdown on 21 fitness marketing strategies you need to have in place to leave your competitors behind in 2019.
So if you’re looking to implement sound and powerful gym or fitness business marketing campaigns, you’ll really enjoy this list.
1. Create a Unique Fitness Brand
Your fitness brand is not just your company name and logo, it goes much deeper than that. Yes a big part of your brand is defined by brand design, such as your logo, your colours and your style guide, but it also includes your company values, what you stand for, how you differentiate your fitness business and how you communicate to gym members and the world.
Put simply, your brand is how the public perceives you as a whole. A brand is intangible because it lives in people’s mind. Essentially a brand is what people think of when they hear your business name.
Successful fitness businesses have a unique brand and don’t blend in with competitors. But how can you define your brand?
A good start is to ask yourself why your fitness business exists and what purpose it serves. Look at what everyone else is doing and try to differentiate yourself by offering something unique. There are many ways to make your fitness business unique and different.
Here a few examples:
- Women only gym
- Gym for body builders
- Combine your gym with a martial arts centre
- Create gym classes no-one else has on offer
- Develop a unique fitness program or group fitness classes
- 24/7 opening hours
- Gym for the LGBTQ community
2. Use Signage to Stand Out Like a Beacon
Signage on your fitness club can be very powerful. After all, people like to work out locally and therefore you have to make it known that your location is a fitness club.
Recently a giant indoor aerial super park or for a lack of a better term, a giant indoor playground centre opened up near the place where I live. I always wondered what it was when I drove past and only upon closer inspection I knew this was a cool place to go with my son.
Especially if your gym is located on a busy street, good signage is a great low cost fitness advertising strategy for the long-run. If you have an unbeatable special going, why not set up a giant sign outside your gym for everybody to see?
To attract eyeballs, you want your signage to be a little out of the box. For example you could get a giant balloon on the roof of your fitness club, showcasing your three months special deal.
3. Modernise Your Gym
Gym equipment keeps evolving at a rapid rate and more technology is built into exercising machines to provide a smooth and optimised work-out experience. Some of the latest fitness equipment can now even be hooked-up to Spotify and other mobile apps.
Replacing old and worn gym equipment is a huge financial investment, but it can make a big difference with your club members who are also potential promoters of your gym. Especially younger generations tend to care a lot about working out in modern, trendy and polished fitness clubs.
There are many gyms around and a lot of new gyms open up in all sorts of areas, so having the latest gym equipment and a modern feel to your gym might be what’s needed to stay ahead of your competitors.
While it’s all relative to your target audience, creating a feel good environment for your members is essential for success in the long-run.
4. Have a Purpose Built Fitness Website
Not only fitness businesses, but SMEs in general don’t put enough thought into building their website. More often than not, fitness business owners are time poor and they prefer to just sign off on a website build and leave it all to the website design agency to come up with something useful.
Firstly, you need to keep in mind the saying “You get what you pay for”. If you are after a bargain website in the range of $500-$2,000, all you will get is a brochure-like website displaying information on 5-10 pages with little to no thought given to user experience and conversion rate optimisation.
Thoroughly planning your fitness business website before engaging a website agency makes a huge difference.
Here are the suggested planning stages:
- 1. Determine user personas
Profile your desired gym members and determine who the most important user personas are. Research each user persona group’s demographics, their interests, where they work and other attributes you can think of.
- 2. Keyword Research & Competitor Analysis
Google is your best friend when it comes to generating free website traffic, so you need to think about search engine optimisation (SEO) early on. Essentially for this step you need to find out what your most important keywords are, i.e think about what your user persona groups would type into Google to find a business such as yours. Then use Google’s keyword research tool which is built into your Google Advertising account. Setting up an advertising account is free and you don’t need to have any campaigns running in order to use the keyword research tool.Look at your competitors website and find out what keywords they are trying to rank for.
- 3. Lead Generation
Think about how your website is going to generate enquiries, signups and business in general. What offers are you going to have on your website which are enticing enough for a visitor to sign up or register their interest?
- 4. Required Integrations
Are you going to integrate your website with a CRM/marketing automation platform, such as Infusionsoft? Is it possible to integrate your gym membership administration system? Will you need a third-party application to allow your members to register for specific gym classes online?
- 5. Plan your web pages
Taking into account SEO, user experience, conversion rate optimisation and third-party integrations, your now in a position to plan out what web pages will be required besides the standard pages every website has, such as a contact page, an about page, etc..
- 6. Draw a Sitemap
Once you know what pages are required, you can move on to drawing a sitemap. A sitemap basically lays the foundation of your website structure and how your pages are organised in a user friendly way.
- 7. Get Quotes from Web Designers
At this point things don’t need to be set in stone yet, but with your initial planning you now have a much better idea of what needs to be considered and what is required. At this stage you can start discussing your project with a web design agency to make final changes to the project plan.
While a website agency can do all the planning with or for you, their interest is to minimise costs and maximise the profit from your project. If you don’t know how to go about planning your website or if you don’t have the time, I strongly recommend engaging an independent digital strategy consultant for your project.
5. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
First and foremost, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the Google Search Results Page (SERP). If there are advertisers bidding on specific keyword searches, you will find those ads right at the top. While ads don’t look that different from organic listings, they have a small green box next to the URL stating “Ad”.
Then you have the map and the listings underneath. Again, if there are advertisers utilising Google’s local ads, then the top spot(s) on the map listings are taken up businesses who pay to be there.
In addition to paid map listings you will usually also see around three organic map listings. Your organic listing position comes down to optimising your website and Google My Business profile with Local SEO (covered in the next section).
Last you will see the normal organic listings either before the map or after the map, depending on the keyword search you’re performing.
Depending on the competition for your chosen focus keywords, it can take a lot of hard work or search engine optimisation in order to appear on the first page organically.
Some of the most important factors in Search Engine Optimisation:
1. Your website content – Google is all about relevance and as their goal is to display the most relevant search results for a given keyword search you need to optimise your website content for the keywords you want to rank for.
2. Back links – A back link is kind of like a vote from one website to another. Assuming that websites only link to other websites if the content is of quality, it’s a sign for Google that your website is relevant and of decent quality. What’s important is that you get back links from high quality websites with good Google rankings for their own keywords. Another factor is whether the site linking to yours is relevant. A link from a website that is writing about fitness, working out, gyms, etc.. is much more valuable than a link from a website with unrelated content.
3. Click-Through-Rate (CTR) and dwell time – Google looks at the percentage of people who click on your search listing relative to the number of people who see your listing. A high click-through-rate indicates to Google that your content is highly relevant to the search. Improving your CTR can therefore have a huge impact on your Google rankings. Google also looks at dwell time or time on site. If someone clicks on a search listing and stays on that website for a while, it indicates to Google that your content is relevant. Should they hit the back button immediately after landing on your website, Google knows your content doesn’t align with the search listing and therefore they might give you a lower ranking.
There are many other SEO factors, such as website code structure, page speed, best practice on keyword placement and the list goes on..
6. Boost Your Local SEO on Google
In the previous section you’ve learnt about general SEO practices and in this section we’re going to specifically talk about local SEO for gyms and fitness businesses.
Whether people look for a gym, a crossfit club, a personal trainer or a yoga business, one of the decisive factors is proximity. People either want to work out near their home or close to work. For this reason, some of the most popular Google searches are always local searches, such as “gym near me” “fitness club + city” “yoga + suburb”, etc… For local searches, Google always displays the map and 3-4 featured listings underneath on the search results page (SERP).
Firstly, in order to be considered for a listing on the map you need a Google My Business account. Once you have your business listing, you need to think about how to get local rankings or in other words, how you can get a top listing spot right underneath the map on the search results page as well as on the map itself when people click into the map.
What are the main factors to rank high for local searches?
1. Maintain Your Google My Business Profile
Make sure to add images, website url, contact details, business description, opening-hours and define your business category in your Google My Business account.
2. Local Directory Listings
List your business on local business directories and make sure the contact and address details are consistent with your Google My Business listing.
Australia Online Advertising
Check out this blog with the top 36 business directories.
3. Google Reviews & Ratings
You’ve got two options, here. You can do nothing and just wait for reviews to build up over time which is a bad idea because you could be waiting for a very long time. Or you can be proactive and reach out to happy clients asking them for a Google review.
7. Use Google Local Ads
Google local ads are a very powerful and cost effective way for fitness marketing. If you don’t have good local map rankings yet but would like to appear on top for local searches, you need to launch Google Local Search Ads. This ad type allows you to have a featured listing on the map.
As with the normal Google search advertising, you will pay a cost per click. The cost per click depends on a few factors, but mainly on how many competitors are bidding on the same search term.
8. Get a Fitness Business Management Software
There are many Fitness Business Software providers that help you keeping your gym or fitness business more organised. Some of the main benefits that come with a fitness business management software are:
- Fitness class management & online class registration for members
- Sell memberships, products and services offline and online and administrate it all from one place
- Administrate member payments
- Setup automated tasks, such as reminders sent to members via email or SMS
Most fitness business management software focuses on member administration and engagement. While these systems do offer certain marketing features to attract and nurture leads, it’s best to find a fitness business application that integrates with a marketing automation platform, such as Infusionsoft. Contact the software provider to enquire whether their system integrates with any marketing automation platform. Or otherwise, get a developer to help you integrate the two platforms via API.
Here are some of the best fitness business administration software on the market:
- Motionsoft Gym Software
9. Fitness Content Marketing
Content marketing can be as simple as publishing blog posts on your website and sending a monthly newsletter to your members and subscribers. Or you can make it more advanced with nurture campaigns targeting specific member and prospect segments with unique and tailored content. For simplicity this section focuses on blogging.
Benefits of having a website blog:
- Exhibit thought leadership
- Regular blogs are good for SEO and if you go about it strategically, you can attract many website visitors
- Engage existing members and create a community feeling
- Connect people to your brand
- Update your audience on news and what’s happening
- Promote special offers, products and services
- A blog is your content hub from where articles can be sent to subscribers via an eNewsletter or shared on social media
10. Fitness Video Marketing
Video marketing is on the rise and businesses have long realised that they need to produce creative and engaging video content to stay ahead of their competitors. While producing great videos can be quite tricky, time consuming and expensive, the benefits of including video marketing into your fitness marketing mix can work wonders for your business if done right.
Video content is far more engaging than written content and people are much more likely to share a good video compared to written content. A video is the perfect format to showcase and market your fitness business. Videos create trust as the viewer gets a chance to learn about your business in an interactive way. Video content is also favoured by search engines and you have a better chance at ranking for your keywords if you include video on your web pages which in turn leads to more website visitors.
To get as many eyeballs on your video content as possible you need to think about where the video will be displayed. Below are some great options:
- Upload video to YouTube (second largest search engine in the world)
- Use YouTube’s pre-roll video advertising format
- Embed your video on select web pages or blog posts
- Share your videos on your fitness company social media pages
- Launch a Facebook video ad campaign
- Promote special offers, products and services
- Include video on a campaign landing page to support your campaign objective
11. Start a Regular Fitness Newsletter
Everyone loves tips on how to be healthy, how to lose weight, exercising and all the rest of it. Having a regular newsletter with great quality content on these topics helps you to establish your business as industry leader in your field. An electronic newsletter is great to keep your existing members engaged, but it also helps to stay front of mind with prospects.
Not everyone is ready to commit to a gym membership, a Yoga class or personal training right away, but sending great content along the way of the buyer journey helps in getting your prospect over the line when they’re ready to commit.
To grow your subscriber list there are many different strategies.
Some of the most effective ways are:
- Include newsletter sign up calls-to-action on your website.
- Offer valuable gated content on your website or dedicated landing pages, such as free PDF guide on whatever topic you can think off. Gated content means, the user has to provide their name and email address in return for accessing your content.
- Provide free trial sessions – Depending on what stage of the buyer journey your prospect is in, you might be able to turn your free trial into a paying customer and if they’re not ready to commit you at least get the chance to add your contact to the newsletter subscriber list.
12. Launch Online Work Out Classes
Online work out classes might just be that added value needed stand apart from your competitors. It is a fact that many gym members regularly visit the gym in the very beginning but as time goes by many of them only visit the gym occasionally due to many different reasons.
An online work out class can not only help your members stay motivated but it’s a chance to offer at-home training for time-poor individuals.
You can also offer your online work out classes for free and use it in your fitness marketing to generate leads. It will give prospects a taste of your expertise and allows them to get a feel for what they can expect with your main fitness offer.
13. Grow Your Social Media Presence
Australian’s are avid social media users and spend a lot of time on these platforms. There are around 15 million active monthly Facebook users, 15 million monthly YouTube viewers and 9 million active monthly Instagram users in Australia.
Firstly you need to setup you’re your business account on those platforms which is very easy to do. Next, we recommend thinking about a social media strategy and planning out the content you want to share with your audience. To make a mark and grow your social followers, your content needs to be unique, creative and of high quality.
Getting started with no followers at all is always the most difficult part. It’s best to invite your friends, family and your existing network to like or follow your page. As you release your organic content and your existing followers share it, your reach increases over time. But you might also want to consider the help of paid social advertising in order to target your specific user personas and to increase the reach of your content. Once you have a decent size of followers, you can apply this very simply strategy on how to get more likes on your Facebook page.
14. Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing refers to paid or sponsored campaigns. One of the biggest mistakes inexperienced fitness business advertisers make on social media is to boost a post that leads to a standard web page on their website.
Get better social media marketing results by following these steps:
1. Create an irresistible offer. Your fitness offer needs to be great in order to attract social media users’ attention. What’s important here is that you should not only consider your immediate profit from this offer, but to think about the life-time-value of a new client. Keeping this in mind, you can create a much more compelling deal.
2. Have a purpose built campaign landing page to promote your offer and the associated benefits. Don’t have any other distractions on your landing page and make sure that the creative and copy guides the user to sign up for your offer. You don’t need to be a web developer, there are many landing page builder tools on the market.
3. Be creative with your social ad and think out of the box of what could attract attention. Make sure that what you state in your ad aligns with your landing page content.
4. Don’t target everyone, but go niche and target a specific segment or group of people, such as stay at home mums, seniors or teenagers. It will allow you to convey a much more tailored message and offer that actually appeals to your audience.
15. Use Marketing Automation for your Fitness Business
Marketing automation as the name suggests, allows you to automate marketing campaigns. To implement marketing automation campaigns you first need a marketing automation platform, such as HubSpot, Infusionsoft, Active Campaign or Ontraport.
A marketing automation campaign can be as simple as sending a couple of drip emails to people who submit a web form on a specific web page or landing page, but it can also be much more advanced with sophisticated workflows that trigger based on actions taken by the user. For instance you can trigger a campaign if a registered contact record visits a specified web page on your website or if they click on a specific link in an email. The possibilities are endless and marketing automation definitely forms part of modern fitness marketing.
The ultimate goal of marketing automation is to automate the process of delivering a variety of targeted content to your marketing leads through a variety of channels at the right time in order to progress them to become customers.
Here is an example of a workflow that automates tasks and actions within a lead generation campaign:
16. Reactivate Former Gym Members
Former clients are always a good source of business, but most businesses don’t make any efforts to gain them back. In many cases, clients disengage with your business if they’re unhappy; however there are many other reasons why a customer leaves, such as personal circumstances, timing or life events.
To gain back old clients you need to have a solid offer. How about a 30% discount on monthly fees for the first three months? Whatever offer you come up with, it needs to be compelling enough to bring these formers clients back on board.
Rather than doing a one-off email blast to past clients, I recommend you set up an automated email campaign. To facilitate an automated campaign you need a CRM with marketing automation capabilities, such as Infusionsoft, Active Campaign or Ontraport. The great thing about it is that you set the campaign up once and it just keeps on running for as long as you want. As an example, your email campaign with the special offer can be automatically triggered 3 months after a client has left. Essentially you would add a tag to a contact record in your CRM as soon as they leave your business and three months later this contact automatically receives the offer via email.
17. Encourage Referral Business
Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways how you can grow your fitness business.
Encouraging referrals with financial rewards is certainly not a bad idea but asking someone to refer your business is a very big ask and it can leave a bad aftertaste with some people.
To be sure you are asking the right people, you first have to find out who the potential promoters are. This can be done with a simple customer survey. In fact the only question you have to ask in your survey is “From a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend our services to friends and colleagues?” While people who give you a score of 7-10 might already refer your business naturally, these are the ones you want to actively reach out to encourage more referrals. By the way this question is referred to what’s called the Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. Many large corporation use the NPS to improve their services, but also to encourage referrals.
Similar to the reactivation campaign, this type of campaign can be automated with your CRM as well. So you would set up a campaign that triggers the survey email after a specified amount of time when a new client comes on board. Upon receiving the survey results a new campaign can be triggered based on the score you receive.
18. Launch Lead Generation Campaign
To generate new leads for your fitness business, Facebook advertising is your best option. While it works wonders for some businesses, it is a giant waste of money if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The biggest mistake you can make with Facebook ads is to launch a traffic ad that sends Facebook users over to your plain old website. In most cases it simply doesn’t work!
Instead what you should be focussing on are these four things:
- Your Offer
Remember, Facebook ads are a distraction from the real purpose of why people spend time on the platform. To get Facebook users’ attention, you need to have an irresistible offer. What works best is something for FREE or a heavy-weight discount of minimum 30%. Don’t be stingy with your offer, because remember, your goal is to get your deal noticed. Instead, think about the potential life-time value of a new client and how you can up sell them once you have them on board.
- 2. Landing Page
Your normal website is packed with information and links. Users easily get distracted and often they hit the back button if the messaging doesn’t line up with the Facebook ad they clicked on. So what you need is a standalone landing page specifically designed around your special offer. The content on the landing page needs to guide the user to take a specific action, such as calling your business, downloading a voucher or submitting a form to gain access to the special offer.
- 3. Your Sales Process
The golden rule is that you contact new leads immediately. While it’s hard to imagine, leads go cold much faster than you think. In fact it is proven that contacting leads in the first 5 minutes leads to an average of 26 times better conversion rates.
- 4. Your Facebook Targeting
Don’t target everyone and anyone with your special offer. Your Facebook ads work a whole lot better if you target a specific group of people. Facebook users need to be able to relate and identify with your special offer and your unique selling proposition. For example if you target stay-at-home-mums, you may want to point out that you have a crèche in your gym or you could promote a special work out class that runs during school hours. It always helps to offer a solution to specific pain points your target audience has and therefore if you go niche, it works much better.
19. Engage Local Fitness Influencers
Influencer marketing is on the rise and one might think it’s only available to giant corporations. If we are talking about influencers with millions of followers, such campaigns can get very expensive, however, there are many local niche market influencers with followers of between 5,000 – 100,000 who are willing to promote your business for a reasonable price.
How to go about engaging local influencers?
1. Research local influencers that would be a good fit with your brand and your offering.
2. Contact them and ask if they’re interested in launching some collaborative campaigns.
3. Create an offer or campaign strategy that aligns with your influencer’s audience.
4. Negotiate on price for engagement and agree on finer details
5. Launch campaign and measure the impact
Online marketing success comes down to testing what works best and what doesn’t. You should at least give influencer fitness marketing a shot and if it works well for your brand, you might want to invest more money into this channel and allocate less budget to other channels that don’t offer the same returns.
20. Build Local Partnerships
Local partnerships are great for growing your fitness business. The health industry is huge and there are so many potential business partners out there, but you have to suss out what local businesses could benefit from a mutual referral partnership.
Some examples of potential local partners:
- Physical therapists
- Supplement providers
- Fitness apparel stores
- Personal Trainers
- Nutrition shops
- Health stores
- Sports shops
Before approaching potential local partners, think about how both parties can benefit equally. If your proposition is one sided and only benefits yourself, it’s definitely not going to work. But if you can agree on terms that create a win-win situation, your on the right path.
21. Event Marketing
Events don’t need to be giant to make an impact. You can easily start small and scale up as you go. Events come in many shapes and forms, but they have one thing in common, they bring like minded people together. For a fitness business an effective event could be a special one off training session at your gym or outdoors. Use this event to attract new leads who could potentially be interested in your main fitness offering.
Marketing your event after it took place can be just as important as promoting the event before it happens.
Here some great universal tips for your event:
- Make sure to collect contact information in your event signup process or during the event
- Take video footage of your event which can be used to promote your gym in many ways
- Get video testimonials
- Promote an offer at your event and engage with the attendees to create trust
We hope that our list of possible fitness marketing tactics has given you some inspiration to pursue a few or all of those strategies. Following through with such strategies can be tough if you are a time-poor business owner, so if you need help with your fitness marketing strategy and campaigns, feel free to drop us a line. Our goal is to help fitness businesses grow and because we are experienced and know what works in your industry, we’re confident to achieve great results for you.
Founder & Digital Strategist @ Museproject
Marc is an experienced and qualified digital marketing professional with a passion for Digital Strategy, SEO, SEM, Social Media Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Marketing Automation.