The closure of gyms and studios around the world during lockdown threw fuel onto the fire of an already growing digital fitness industry. Fitness business owners were forced to connect with members the only way possible – online. And while this digital fitness boom may decline slightly as studios begin to reopen, it’s undoubtedly here to stay long-term.
Online fitness has a huge role in the future of fitness, and you need to be ready to deliver.
Recently we talked with Mike Hansen, Managing Partner of Endorphinz, a full-service fitness streaming agency. Mike has over a decade of experience helping fitness brands make the most of technology. From idea generation to strategy development and right through to content creation, the company helps fitness businesses navigate their way through the complex world of digital fitness streaming successfully.
Check out the full episode above and read on for 5 key takeaways to help make your live streaming strategy a success. Before we dive in, we’ll take a quick look at why digital fitness works. Skip ahead to:
- Why Digital Fitness Works
- 5 Ways to Make Your Digital Offering Successful
- Create a Solid Strategy
- Focus on Value
- Know The Benefits of Different Content
- Grow Your Online Business
- Retain Members Online
Why Digital Fitness Works
According to Mike, four key areas attract people to digital fitness. These include proximity, schedule, pricing, and intimidation. Let’s take a look at each one in more detail.
Traditionally your membership base would be made up of people living in the local area. Rarely would a person travel longer than half an hour for a workout. With a digital offering, there’s the opportunity to cast your net wider. In some cases, your facility is a little further away from a potential members work or home. Access to an online class gives them a chance to try your workout.
The next appeal after proximity is the flexibility that digital fitness offers. It can be difficult for people to find a gym that provides classes to suit their schedules. For example, perhaps someone is interested in a specific class that takes place on weekdays at 6 pm. If they don’t get out of work until 6 pm, it’s a no-go for them.
But if your studio can make this class accessible online, you create a win-win situation for members. For the classes they’re able to attend, they can come to the studio. For the ones they need to work into a busy week – there’s always online.
Deciding on the best pricing options for your studio depends heavily on the type of gym personas that you are trying to attract. Some members might only want to come into the studio, some will want online-only, and some will see value in both. Having both an online and onsite offering opens up a world of pricing options to suit everyone.
Going to a gym for the first time can be scary. Online workouts create a unique opportunity for studios to remove this barrier to entry: working out is much less intimidating when you’re doing it from the comfort of your living room!
5 Ways to Make Your Digital Offering Successful
When people first get into the fitness industry and open up a gym or studio, there’s a lot they have to do when it comes to marketing and promoting their new business, especially in such a saturated market.
In recent months, popularity in digital fitness has soared, and now everything from creating videos to marketing those videos, and applying the right strategy with the right platforms is crucial for success.
1. Create a Solid Strategy
Digital fitness has been an important part of the industry for a long time before COVID-19; Mike points out that there was over a 100% growth rate in digital fitness last year alone. Endorphinz research from 2019 also showed 10billion fitness streams compared to 6.6billion studio check-ins in the U.S: There were more streams that took place for workout videos than actual workouts inside studios.
The pandemic forced many gyms and studios to quickly take their businesses online, meaning that not everyone will have had the time for strategy. But as we return to normal, you must have a clear plan for the online side of your business.
Diving headfirst into making decisions on camera type, location, and live stream vs on-demand may seem like the obvious first move, but according to Mike, this would be a mistake.
What you really need to do before anything else is work out your content strategy. The platforms and tools are just the delivery of whatever your strategy is. The strategy will influence the method of delivery because each way has different benefits for different audience types.
Know what you want to share and who you want to see it before you dive in; otherwise, you may find yourself switching platforms and have to absorb switching costs later on.
2. Focus on Value
There are many questions you’ll need to answer when it comes to pricing for your hybrid business. How will you price your online services? Live or video on demand? Is there a ‘free’ option? Where does the paywall go between your social channels and your video on demand?
Take your traditional studio and break it down – what is the value proposition of your physical studio? When you think of your online offering, you need to find the equivalent.
Mike advises that the social media side of your online offering should be free. The pool of options that social media provides is great – but it comes with an audience. So you need to treat that as part of your acquisition strategy and focus on using social to attract new members. It’s a fantastic tool for highlighting the real value your members get by joining.
At Endoprhinz, a common phrase they’ll use with clients is “don’t price the content, price the connection.” Essentially, the connection you provide comes down to value. Your members aren’t paying for just a workout, they’re paying for your expertise, community, and the relationships they make with other members and your team.
Use the price point for your existing brand as an anchor. Mike sees around a 50% reduction fee in online classes with platforms like Zoom. So, for example, if you’re charging $20-$25 for an in-person class, your online class will sit at around $10-$12.50.
3. Know The Benefits of Different Content
When it comes to on-demand and live streaming content, each has different benefits and can provide members with different types of value. Mike points out that your on-demand content is really a way to create a connection with your brand because you can control the environment and create better production quality. Plus, a benefit for members is that they can access on-demand whenever it suits them.
If you compare this to a live stream, these will generally focus more on the connection between the instructor and the people taking the class. Think about Peloton – their instructors are part of the package that members sign up for and have helped the brand build a cult-like following. Live streaming benefits members who want to feel like they’re at an actual class – they want that extra motivational push and want to feel like they’re “in it together” with everyone else. According to Mike, platforms like Zoom create the best form of digital connections for live streaming because it has more of a two-way feel and a greater sense of community.
In an ideal world, you’ll use a combination of both live and on-demand workouts, as they both have different benefits. But the key takeaway here is to focus on value over price. Mike points out that if you have the right strategy with this, you can implement a funnel that will get online members into your physical studio if they’re in proximity.
4. Grow Your Online Business
Running online classes through COVID-19 was a matter of survival. The next step is to grow this part of your business.
Mike has some excellent advice on this, starting with your existing member base. Right now, this likely includes a mixture of online and in-studio members. Mike recommends segmenting them and marketing to those who aren’t yet using any of your online services. This should give you a good idea around pricing and what non-online members will convert at. You can then move on to target new members once you have tested with your existing ones to more sophisticated marketing tactics, like your paid social ads and the web.
Your channels, content, and segmentation all come right back to why you create your content strategy in the first place. You’ll either be addressing proximity, schedule, pricing, or intimidation. You can organize the entire business around these four areas. Your service speaks to these areas, as will your messaging and sales script.
5. Retain Members Online
According to Mike, traditionally, there is around 5-15% online churn on a monthly basis – a lot of platforms aren’t holding on to their members for more than a month. He also highlights that around 80% of the content you originally put out there will be consumed within the first 2-3 weeks. So you need to keep dripping new content to keep people engaged for a better retention rate.
The other side comes down to the connection you create with people. Mike points out that working out is one thing, but when a member chooses your studio, they want to know your story. They want to see behind the scenes and learn about the people behind the studio; this will help humanize your brand and build relationships with your audience.
You can also use your physical location to compliment your online offering and make members more sticky in the long-run. It’s about how you get your studio and online to work together to keep retention up. This reinforces the idea of not having two businesses (online and offline) but rather a combination of the two to offer customers a service that’s extremely convenient and always there. They can come into the studio if they’re getting tired of working out online, and likewise, when they can’t fit the studio into their schedule, they have the digital option.
A lot has changed in the fitness industry in recent months, and we know that digital fitness will play a key role in the future. To grow and succeed with a hybrid business model, you must focus on coming up with a content strategy that reflects your existing businesses and the brand that made you successful in the first place.