The coronavirus pandemic has shaken up the fitness industry. With social distancing, hygiene, and digital offerings at the forefront of the consumer’s mind, gyms have had to adapt quickly. Big-box gyms stay competitive in a sea of boutique fitness studios by offering a variety that’s both cutting edge and versatile. With the countless marketing strategies available to you, it can be challenging to determine how to allocate your budget and resources best.
It’s that time of year when businesses start to reflect on their marketing strategy and look forward to the new year. With fitness interest at an all-time high, nurturing your community and highlighting your safety and hygiene measures is more important than ever. Big-box gyms are at a natural advantage as they tend to have larger spaces that can stick to social distancing while serving several members at once. This article looks at the lessons we have learned from fitness marketing during a global pandemic and 13 fitness marketing ideas to attract new customers and boost engagement. Skip ahead to:
- Key Takeaways: Fitness Marketing in a Pandemic
- 13 Marketing Strategies for Gyms to Get New Members and Boost Engagement
Key Takeaways: Fitness Marketing in a Pandemic
The coronavirus crisis has had a gigantic impact on the fitness industry. Many businesses who offer in-person only services are struggling after forced lockdowns and closures. On the other hand, companies that offer digital and virtual fitness training have seen significant growth.
The concept of fitness is always evolving, but 2020 has taken that to the extreme. The brands that evolve with the consumer are the ones who will have a role to play in the next evolution of fitness. Health and fitness go beyond a visit to a gym or one single workout; it’s an experience.
COVID-19 led many businesses to rethink their current marketing budget. But you must continue to invest in digital marketing and communicate with your audience. More people are sitting on their laptops and phones, and they are hungry for content. From content marketing to video and animation, you can leverage your marketing strategy to target people and truly add value.
Keeping gym members engaged, informed, and excited to come back is a key part of your ongoing communication and marketing strategy. Whether it’s email, social media, or newsletters, members are more likely to stay loyal if they are well-informed. Here are three gym marketing takeaways from 2020.
1. Communication is Key
You want to remain relevant and valuable to both your existing members and potential customers. Think about what your members need at this time so that you can stay in contact while adding value. Instead of overwhelming their inbox, think about how your communication strategy supports your members. During a crisis, consumers want to hear from brands. It’s normal for people to feel and anxious and worried about the current situation. Your communication and marketing plan should put worries at ease and offer ways to stay fit and healthy that are entirely relevant.
2. Transparency is Essential
When you are honest and transparent, you are more relatable. If you are honest and transparent, people will trust you. They are more likely to refer you or buy from you if they trust you. Trust is hard to earn and easy to break. Whether you’re posting on social media, sharing your gym membership pricing, or writing a blog on new COVID-19 gym protocols, transparency is essential.
3. Gyms Need to Adapt and Move Quickly
Coronavirus has disrupted fitness; gym owners have had to adapt quickly or risk getting left behind. The consumer’s daily schedule has changed. With more people working from home, consumer behavior and needs are evolving. Technology is the solution for a better connection. Gyms need to think about what their members need to stay fit and healthy. It’s then your job as a gym owner to provide avenues for your members to stay healthy no matter the situation.
The Two-Brain Radio Podcast has a great episode on creating a culture of care at your gym. Owner of Fuelhouse Gym in Seattle, Molly Kieland, talks about how she maintained a strong gym culture throughout the pandemic and increased monthly personal training revenue from $6,000 to $17,000.
13 Marketing Strategies for Gyms to Get New Members and Boost Engagement
Whether you’re a small gym or an international gym chain, marketing your brand and services is an important part of running your business. Fitness is a competitive industry in a crowded market. Let’s take a look at 13 marketing strategies for gyms to drive membership sales and increase engagement.
1. Take Advantage of Targeted Advertising
By 2021, it’s estimated there will be more than three billion users on social media. The average US adult spends almost 40 minutes on Facebook every day. As people are spending a record amount of time online, take advantage of targeted advertising. Consumers are scrolling through social media to find ways to stay healthy. You can use Facebook ads robust targeting solution to get your content in front of the right audience on Instagram and Facebook. Target by location, interests, demographics, engagement, and more.
2. Connect and Inspire on Social Media
Your social media marketing strategy should inform, connect, and inspire your audience. Social media is a fantastic place to motivate members and add value. You can use a variety of different posts and content to inspire others in a way that’s relatable. Share user-generated content, success stories, virtual fitness challenges, and quick home workout tips. Tools like Facebook Live and Instagram Stories allow you to connect with your audience and boost engagement organically.
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3. Create a Seamless User Experience
Today’s consumers are savvy, time-sensitive, and want their demands met instantly. When it comes to delivering a successful digital marketing strategy, your user experience plays a significant role. Think about your online customer journey. Maybe a potential gym member reads your latest post on Instagram then visits your website before signing up for your next live fitness stream or booking a tour at your facility. The online journey should be seamless. Anything that stops the user can negatively impact your marketing strategy. A user-friendly website optimized for mobile and top-quality customer service is just part of the user experience. As fitness brands lean heavily on digital fitness offerings and virtual training, your digital environment should be seamless.
4. Share Reviews and Success Stories
In the fitness world, success stories are powerful. When a potential client sees how you helped someone who looks like them, it makes them feel like they can do it too. For example, WW (formerly Weight Watchers) regularly posts before and after images of customers. They share the customer story in a way that taps into the readers’ emotions. After joining WW, they share how their life has changed. Although the brand is selling a service, they are also selling happiness and self-confidence. Success stories and reviews increase social proof, trust, and authority.
5. Create a Referral Program
A referral program is a great way to encourage referrals that benefits both your members and you. Turn your customers into brand cheerleaders and encourage them to share your brand with friends and family. To create a referral program, you offer the referrer and the referee a treat that is too good to turn down. For example, you could offer members a personal training session or an individual fitness program for every referral. The best offer really depends on your members and their needs.
6. Offer Transparent Pricing
Transparency is key throughout your business. Unclear pricing is frustrating and will deter customers away. If potential members feel deceived about your pricing in any way, this can have a negative and long-lasting effect. Make your pricing clear and easy to find with no hidden costs.
7. Remarket to Encourage a Sign-Up
Retargeting is a great way to keep your gym at the forefront of customers’ minds. These are for the prospects who have visited your website a couple of times but are yet to commit to a purchase or sign up. The idea is that when they see your targeted ad, it gives them the encouragement to make the final step. You can retarget the right ad by looking at the data you have available. If they have spent most of their time on your digital membership page and have interests in-home fitness, then marketing your digital services is relevant and more likely to convert.
8. Make Data-Driven Decisions
You have access to more data than ever before. When you make decisions using data, you can increase your marketing ROI, find new opportunities, and make better marketing decisions. By understanding exactly who your members are, you can find out who is likely to stick around and who is the most likely to leave your gym or fitness club. From this information, you can determine who your best members are and target these types of people going forward.
9. Highlight Your Digital Services
Digital fitness is huge right now. Cities all around the world are experiencing another lockdown. During this time, some gyms and fitness centers have to close their doors. Members still need to access your fitness services, and you need to continue to generate revenue despite closing your gym. Your marketing strategy should highlight your digital services and encompass this part of your business. Re-evaluate your current marketing strategy to make sure that it’s still relevant, especially if you have expanded into digital fitness. The Fitness Business Podcast has an interesting episode on the value proposition for going digital. The episode discusses the need to go hybrid to compete in the ever-changing landscape of fitness.
10. Invest in Digital Content Creation
Digital content creation is essential in your marketing strategy. Content marketing can create up to three times more leads than paid advertising and costs less. Content marketing is still hugely relevant and a great way to increase brand reputation and authority. From blogs to videos and podcasts, content marketing helps you stand out from the competition while sticking to your marketing budget.
11. Use an Omnichannel Approach
When it comes to marketing, you need to play it smart to maximize your budget and efforts. You interact with your potential customer across multiple devices and mediums. An omnichannel approach takes this into account so that you can create a seamless experience across all marketing channels. From local search to YouTube ads and Instagram posts, you need to be where your customers interact with you, both online and offline.
12. Personalization is Key to Marketing Success
Personalization in marketing has been around for a while now, but it’s not going anywhere. It’s critical to your marketing success and communication strategy. Personalization is part of the brand experience. Ideally, you want to personalize each marketing campaign in a way that segments your target audience. Different people have different needs. A gym has multiple member personas. The person looking to bulk up and get stronger may have different needs than the new mother looking to get back to fitness after having a baby. More brands are moving away from generic marketing and making the most out of their marketing investment with personalization.
13. Leverage User-Generated Content
User-generated content is a fantastic tool. This includes reviews, social media photo uploads that use your brand or hashtag, testimonials, and videos of members using your facilities. User-generated content has several benefits. Firstly, it allows you to expand your reach and engagement. Secondly, you don’t have to create the content yourself. Finally, the content adds value and can be very influential in the customer buying journey.
In the current times of uncertainty, more gyms are reassessing their marketing strategies to make sure their gym is still engaging and attracting potential members. When it comes to fitness marketing, it can be difficult for your gym to stand out in such a crowded marketplace. By understanding exactly what the consumer needs and adapting quickly to provide the right services with a seamless user experience, you can implement an effective marketing strategy for 2021.