For a fitness business to succeed and grow, it must be able to attract potential members on a consistent basis, in addition to retaining and engaging current members. For gym owners, the way to achieve this is by developing a comprehensive digital marketing plan.
In fact, a staggering 72% of consumers say they would rather connect with brands and businesses through multichannel marketing.
Consumers prefer multichannel marketing because it meets them where they are, and where they prefer to be met. It also gives them the power and control to decide when and how they will respond to your marketing endeavors.
And although the ideal marketing plan should include differing marketing strategies across all channels (which should still be your end goal)—if you need to pick somewhere to start, building out your gym’s online marketing plan should be at the top of your priority list as the internet offers limitless opportunities to get in front of your target market—many of which are free, or low-cost, and offer a high return.
How to market your gym business online
Consumers are more dependent on digital content than they have ever been in the past, creating the perfect opportunity for fitness brands to get direct and near-immediate access to consumers delivered right into the palm of their hands (quite literally).
If you’ve been wondering how or where to begin your digital marketing efforts, we recommend you start by focusing on the following areas:
1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Handling over 90% of all search queries worldwide, Google is undoubtedly dominating the global search engine market share. Even though Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu, and DuckDuckGo also rank among the world’s top search engines, their market shares total 7.19%, less than one-tenth of Google’s.
Considering the above, you want to make sure your business shows up in relevant searches.
Enter the role of SEO. But to succeed in your SEO efforts, your website’s data must be accurate and filled with keywords your potential members would use to find a business like yours.
Potential members will likely search keywords and phrases like “gyms near me” or “fitness centers in [insert city]”, so you’ll want to develop a list of similar keywords and incorporate those words throughout your site, but only where they’re relevant and make sense. It’s also important to use keyword identifiers in the page titles of your site so Google understands who you are and the nature of your business.
Another way to boost your SEO efforts is to make sure you have a completed business profile on Google My Business (GMB). GMB is a free tool that business owners can use to manage their company listing and online presence across the Google suite of websites.
A completed CMB page is essential for local SEO because it enables your business listing to appear in local searches, allows people to find your contact and location information easily, provides potential visitors with a picture of your facility, and lets users review your business.
2. Fitness website
Never underestimate the power of a website—it’s one of the most powerful marketing tools in your repertoire and, arguably, the most important in establishing and growing your fitness brand.
Your website is the center of your online presence, and the home base that connects everything—it’s where you can display your mission, promote your gym, provide information about your fitness business and services, link your social media accounts, establish authority and credibility, and demonstrate expertise in your industry.
You’ll also want to ensure your website is mobile-friendly as statistics show that can have a huge impact on the customer buying journey, in addition to consumers’ opinions of your fitness business. Consider these statistics:
- 61% of users will have a more positive opinion about a business if it has a mobile-responsive website (Smart Insights)
- 61% of consumers are more likely to make purchases from mobile-friendly websites (Webfx)
- A website with an unsatisfying mobile experience can lose 9 out of 10 users (Quoracreative)
We live in a digital world, and you should assume the vast majority of potential customers will visit your website before they decide whether or not to visit your gym or fitness center.
As you start to build out your fitness website, always keep your target audience in mind. Consider what type of tone and imagery will appeal to them as you configure your site design and create tailored messaging that speaks and resonates uniquely to that market.
3. Email marketing
With the global shift to digitization, the use and effectiveness of email marketing have skyrocketed over the past few years. It’s become a routine part of our daily lives as professionals, individuals, and consumers.
Email marketing is an extremely valuable and widely used marketing method in the fitness industry because it helps businesses and consumers connect, build and manage strong and ongoing communication.
Regardless of the size of your fitness business, email campaigns are still an extremely effective and valuable marketing tool. In fact, research shows that email marketing offers the highest ROI of any marketing channel.
- For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can anticipate an average return of $42.
- Email marketing is 40x more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined
- 50% of people buy from marketing emails at least once per month
- Nearly 22% of all email campaigns are opened within the first hour of sending
- 59% of respondents say that marketing emails have influenced their purchases
So what does this data tell us?
It means there’s a great opportunity for fitness businesses of all sizes to reach their target market, no matter what their audience looks like.
Here are five core elements needed to create captivating fitness email campaigns that will immediately catch readers’ attention:
Snappy, attention-grabbing headlines
The subject line is one of the most important parts of your email. We’re all busy people, and most recipients will make a snap judgment about whether or not to read your email based on the headline alone.
To entice readers to open your email, your headline should be a balance between being informative and intriguing.
High-quality, captivating visuals
Visuals are the first thing we look for, so the reader’s eye will be immediately drawn to whatever visuals you include. Using rich imagery is a great way to highlight an essential point and keep your readers engaged.
But it’s important to find the right balance between text and imagery because using too many images will increase your load times and risk losing the reader’s interest.
Make text scannable
The simplicity of your fitness newsletters is key to their readability.
The majority of your subscribers will open your emails on their mobile devices, and long blocks of text can quickly cause readers to lose interest.
Break up your content into shorter, more digestible chunks.
Include a clear call-to-action
If you want your readers to take specific action after reading your email, tell them.
Guide your readers to a clear call-to-action button so they understand the purpose of your email, and make it easy for them to do what you’d like.
Optimize for mobile use (online and offline)
The vast majority of your subscribers will likely be reading your fitness newsletters on their phones or other mobile devices.
For this reason, you want to make sure your template is optimized for mobile use to provide a seamless user experience.
By adding email marketing to your larger digital marketing strategy, you’ll be able to significantly improve your gym’s reach and visibility, which also increases engagement and lead conversion.
4. Social media marketing
Your social media marketing plan is only one piece of your larger multi-channel plan—but it’s a very important one that should not be overlooked.
A social media marketing strategy is a detailed plan of everything you hope to achieve from your social media efforts, including specific tactics of how you plan to communicate your message across various social media platforms.
Because the social media marketing landscape is always changing, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse and pay attention to emerging trends.
Here are the types of posts that are especially popular right now:
Live video (aka social broadcasting)
Eighty percent of social media users they’d rather watch a video than read a blog, and internet users collectively watched more than 1 billion hours of live video in 2019. It should come as no surprise that with numbers like that, more fitness brands are going live to deliver content to consumers across the most popular social networks.
The demand for social broadcasting is anticipated to continue rising, creating a huge opportunity for fitness brands to look for ways to improve their social media marketing efforts.
Two of the hottest and most rapidly growing social media platforms you should consider using to generate more online registrations are TikTok and Instagram.
Earlier in 2022, TikTok surpassed Google as the world’s most visited online destination and boasts a staggering 105% user growth rate in the US over the past two years. TikTok is a free, short-form video and social media app, and is available for download on both Apple and Android devices.
The major difference between TikTok and other social media platforms like YouTube and Vimeo is that TikTok is based on small, short video clips.
When utilized as a part of your larger social media marketing strategy, TikTok can be a great way to promote your gym by creating fun video content, tapping into a niche community, and engaging with a younger demographic (if applicable to your league).
Instagram now has over 1 billion users worldwide, and the social media giant has been shown to have a strong impact on consumer opinions.
Using the right approach, you can optimize your Instagram page to increase your number of followers, build meaningful connections with your audience, increase your gym membership numbers, and gain unfiltered feedback.
User-generated content (UGC)
Nearly half of marketing professionals (48%) believe that content created by customers helps humanize their marketing. User-generated content is an important part of social media marketing because it helps to establish trust between businesses and consumers by providing a genuine reflection of what other customers can anticipate when engaging with a particular business.
User-generated content also provides fitness brands the ability to showcase success stories, creating an emotional appeal that can have a huge impact on buying decisions.
According to the Social Science Research Network, 65% of people are visual learners. And, considering that fitness is a visual business, it makes sense that videos perform well on social media and get more engagement than other types of content.
Sharing fitness videos is a great way to showcase your gym’s unique offerings by increasing visibility and simultaneously building trust with consumers.
And, since consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a video, posting videos to your social media accounts can provide potential customers with that extra dose of encouragement needed to get them to sign up.
Online reviews and customer testimonials
When it comes to business, nothing speaks louder than results. And in the fitness industry, customer reviews and testimonials are a powerful way to showcase results, build trust, demonstrate your ability to deliver an exceptional member experience, and offer social proof that you’re able to help clients achieve their goals.
Your online presence will affect everything from how many people follow you on social media to your company’s bottom line.
For fitness businesses, a positive reputation can help attract new potential clients, entice a better selection of prospective employees, create more business opportunities, improve your local search engine rankings, and more.
Choosing a digital marketing strategy for your gym
Gyms and fitness businesses that want to stay relevant and competitive need to be willing and able to adapt quickly to changes in online consumer behavior.
The great thing about digital marketing is there are countless options and a number of ways your online marketing strategy can be structured—and you’ll learn as you go and be able to better tailor and refine your strategies after reviewing performance metrics.
Did you know that EZFacility’s gym management software offers an extensive report suite that can help you gauge the success of your marketing efforts?
Try EZFacility for free by scheduling a free, no-commitment demo and product tour.