Digital Marketing for Gyms (Guide)
November 14, 2019
Marketing your gym or training business online is more vital than ever and is also more within your reach. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to make digital marketing work for your fitness business by using the most effective strategies and tools.
Digital marketing is by far the best use of your advertising effort and with so many opportunities to make an impact, many even free, investing time in learning the basics and developing a strategy for marketing your gym is a no-brainer.
Effective marketing starts with having a service that makes an impact and benefits customers. If you’re a gym owner or personal trainer, make sure you’re utilizing the best management software to run your business, create and deliver workouts, and sell your products online. Exercise.com is the all-in-one solution for fitness sales, marketing, and service.
Schedule a demo and learn how our software is helping gym owners grow their businesses and help more clients succeed in fitness.
Universal Strategies of Digital Marketing
– Identify Your Target Market
One of the first steps in starting any business venture is identifying potential customers for your product or service; what common thread connects people that are most likely to be attracted to your offering and have the means to purchase it.
If you got your training business off the ground without this consideration, don’t worry; it’s not too late and you’ll actually already have some valuable information from anyone you already train.
Consider who you want to work with, who your service is most suited to, and whether this segment of people is adequate to support growth in your business.
A great strategy is to lay out the characteristics of your ideal customer based on who you’re already training or envision working with. Identifying your target audience is the first step to making your advertising the most effective; this information will help you determine how to present your business in every form of media.
– Provide Value First, Sell Second
Many trainers and gyms mistakenly push one promotion after another from cutting price to giving extras, but get little or no response. The issue is a failure to tell the audience about you/your business before jumping to the sale.
Thinking specifically about premium, high-value services, and put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Wouldn’t you want to know that the service matches your needs and the provider is credible before committing your time and money?
You must establish a desire to train at your gym before the customer cares what it costs to train at your gym. You do so by providing some information free-of-cost. This can be a video with nutrition tips or a free seminar, anything that presents you and your gym as the solution to what the customer needs.
Once you’ve hooked the customer and got them wanting what you offer, you’re ideally positioned to present the buying proposition and be successful.
As a general rule, the higher the price of your service, the more you need to provide before the sale to convince a prospective customer the investment will be worthwhile.
– Always Have a Call-to-Action (CTA)
Ever have a conversation that ends awkwardly with, “well ok…see you later I guess…”?
When you have no call-to-action, that’s what it’s like with the customer.
A CTA is an instruction to the customer to take a specific step bringing them closer to making a purchase; examples of which can be seen in the video above. The action you want the customer to take is not necessarily closing the sale, sometimes its just moving one step forward in the process which funnels them toward an eventual purpose.
“Sign up now”
“Learn more about ____”
“Contact us to ____”
The CTA should make it clear what the customer should do and how; the easier and more natural you can make it, the more likely they are to take the desired action.
For example, if you have used a call-to-action like, “Contact me now to schedule a consultation,” you shouldn’t make the customer hunt down the method for contacting you or wonder what they should say when they do. Instead, link the CTA directly to what you’ve referenced – a purpose-built form that collects their contact info and allows them to request an appointment time.
– Keep Marketing to Current Clients
Some gyms get an impressive number of new member sign-ups each month but still can’t grow due to too many members leaving. What many would describe as a revolving door phenomenon points to a problem with client retention.
It is not enough to convince someone to pay for your service if soon after they will be gone and you’ll need to replace them. You’re much better off investing more in member retention so that you keep them committed and excited to be part of your gym.
You can utilize digital marketing to keep members engaged and to provide additional value on top of your day-to-day services at the gym. Here are some of the best methods that have proven to be useful in keeping clients interested and excited about being part of your gym:
- Create a members-only Facebook group to encourage interaction and share funny or inspiring fitness content.
- Feature member accomplishments on social media and your website. This also draws prospective clients.
- Send a monthly email newsletter with links to original content and updates on events.
It’s most likely not your facility or equipment that keeps members around, it’s the feeling that they are part of a community and that people care about their goals and want to help. By engaging members continuously, you can build and maintain loyalty that lasts for years.
– Automate as Much as Possible
Many gym owners, especially those operating small facilities with few other staff, have to serve many functions personally in their business. Coaching clients, managing finances, cleaning, and advertising may all fall on your plate. That’s why utilizing automation in your marketing is such a life-saver.
Automation is a broad description of any process you can set up to operate on its own without further input from you. For example, when a client enters their contact information in an interest form on your website, they should be automatically added as a contact in your email marketing platform (such as MailChimp).
Operating your business with Fitness Business Management (FBM) software is the best way to make use of automation in your business. Exercise.com’s software features great automations you can set up to improve your service and ensure retention:
- Automatically send workout reminders and summaries via email, text, and push notifications so clients never miss a workout.
- Ensure your clients are engaged even when they’re not with you and that they never miss a class or appointment with automated email and text reminders.
- Send new workouts, challenges, and fitness assessments without lifting a finger. Even have the client’s program automatically update based on performance!
When you utilize automation to market and operate your business, you’ll save a tremendous amount of time that you can spend instead on growth and business development.
– Always Opt for Video
Year after year, research shows that the use of video in your digital marketing is superior to photos and far surpasses text alone.
Video is so effective online for natural reasons; like the tendency of users to remain on a web page longer to watch a video and by design of major online powers like Google and Facebook which preferentially display video content over anything else. According to the marketing firm Video Explainers, web pages that include video are 53 times more likely to appear as a first-page result on Google.
A crucial element to why video is so effective for gyms and trainers is that it puts the personality and feel of the gym on display in a way prospective clients can much more easily connect with compared to reading written material. Video is the best way to let customers get to know your personality and make a connection before coming into the gym.
Create videos showing members’ progress, demonstrating techniques, or giving motivating advice and use them across all marketing channels.
– More Isn’t Always Better
When marketing your gym, there are myriad ways to spend your advertising dollar and many companies who have a vested interest in getting you to spend it on their particular channel. Offers will roll in incessantly to advertise in various places, to sponsor events, to have your brand featured in one place or another.
Most of the advertising opportunities presented to you will not be right for your business and it’s up to you to discern the duds from the silver bullets.
If you operate a premium service or serve a specific niche, it’s not always volume that counts. Advertising companies that utilize mass media such as TV, radio, and billboards will present statistics of total viewers in order to wow you with the sheer quantity of people who could potentially see your business name but be wary of this sales tactic.
It’s not just how many people you can reach, it’s whether those people are potential customers.
For instance, a billboard on the highway has a huge audience, however, this is a medium with very little targeting. Consider what proportion of people driving that road are your potential customer based on your predetermined target audience? Of the thousands of cars that will drive by the billboard, only 1-5% may fit your ideal customer profile depending on how specific your niche is.
When it comes to digital marketing on social media, for example, it is not necessarily better to have an ad display to every person in your city. Your advertising dollars will go further and get you more quality leads if you spend them on getting your message in front of the particular audience it is most likely to appeal to.
Grow and manage your gym better with Exercise.com
How to Use the Top Marketing Tools
With very valuable free and paid services, the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram are a business owner’s best friends. See the video above for a look at how to engage with your followers on these platforms.
– Free Features
The most obvious use, which most gyms are doing already, is creating and updating a business profile featuring information, pictures, video, and events. With this being completely free, there’s no excuse not to take the opportunity to create content and work on spreading it organically by way of likes and shares.
Content shared on social media builds brand awareness and allows you to express your company’s character and inform consumers of why they should come to you with their fitness goals.
On Facebook in particular, one of the best practices is to create a private members-only group for your gym members or smaller categories like a weightlifting competition club you operate within your program. In this group, you can post extra content with less stringent guidelines than what you might post on the official company page.
The objective is building a sense of community so maybe you’re sharing a motivating quote, maybe you’re keeping people engaged in a running joke about something that happened in a workout; whatever keeps them thinking about your gym community and makes them glad they’re a member.
– Paid Advertising
While on the surface and to the typical consumer these sites are for networking and staying in touch with friends, marketers and business owners know the real genius of social platforms lies in getting people to self-identify their hobbies, interests, demographics, and buying behaviors and providing that information to advertisers at an enormous profit.
Running paid ads on Facebook and Instagram is one of the most accessible forms of advertising available to gym owners because you can do it all yourself, from creating the content, setting the budget, and targetting your audience. That’s not to say that you’ll be as effective as a professional digital media company at running your ads, but it lets you get started even if you have a tight budget.
The biggest strength of advertising on social media is the specificity of information you can use to target specific groups who are your most likely customers. Age, gender, and zip code are enough to beat traditional advertising but it doesn’t stop there. Facebook tracks a ton of data about what people view, buy, and how they respond to advertising.
Learn to use their marketing tools effectively and you can achieve excellent return on investment and utilize your ads’ statistics to improve from one marketing campaign to the next.
An informative and visually appealing website is the centerpiece of your digital presentation. Regardless of how the visitor learned about your brand, your site will likely be the source of their initial feeling about your business’s quality and credibility.
Whether you use a do-it-yourself tool like Wix or Squarespace or have a professional design firm do the work, make sure your site follows these principles:
- The site should be created with your target audience in mind. This plays a role in how you present yourself and the business, what videos and pictures you select.
- Make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for. Don’t lose potential clients over difficulty navigating your website, make it simple with no hoops to jump through. This includes providing price information.
- Control the narrative created by your site content. Clearly describe what you provide, who you’re service is best suited to, and your goals as a company. Don’t leave any blanks for the customer to fill in themselves or they may come away with an inaccurate understanding.
– Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO refers to strategies website owners use to rank higher in search results and therefore generate more traffic to their site.
There are many factors that engines like Google use to determine whether your site will be recommended to users and if so, how high in comparison to competitors. Your chief considerations when designing or maintaining a site should be:
- Information Accuracy – If Google detects discrepancies in information like your address and phone number, your page rank will likely be lowered.
- Content Quality – Search engines try to serve users the best content in their results and use calculations like how long users stay on a page to judge whether the content is worthy of ranking highly.
- Relevant Keywords – Words and phrases you want to appear for in search results must be present in the text on your page and in the alt text for any photos you use.
- References – When other sites which have been indexed by Google refer to your site, this backlink is noted by the search engine as a vote of sorts, adding to the credibility of your page.
- Mobile Compatibility – With greater than 60% of searches originating on mobile devices, Google prioritizes sites that are optimized for mobile rather than displaying a desktop-size webpage on-screen.
Marketing via email can be very effective while costing little or nothing. At a minimum, you should be sending a monthly newsletter about events, promotions, member success stories, etc. This helps keep current clientele engaged and shows non-member subscribers that you run an active community where people are achieving things in fitness.
An additional step beyond newsletters is creating content for multiple audiences broken down by categories like members, prospects, group fitness interest, weight training interest, and so on. This is where a tool like Mailchimp comes in very handy as it lets you easily apply custom tags which classify subscribers so they receive the content most relevant to them.
On top of managing all your contacts, Mailchimp is where you can build each newsletter or sales campaign within a visual editor that helps you add the text and media you want to include in an organized. professional template. Mailchimp is one of several valuable integrations offered with our Exercise.com software to save time for gym owners.
There are two important characteristics of email marketing that distinguish it from other forms:
- You have total control over your message and delivery. Unlike search engines and social media sites that continuously change policies and filter your content through their algorithms, email is a more direct line between you and the recipient and allows you to distribute content in your preferred way.
- Email is the most direct way to communicate with a user; you’re sending information to them individually rather than putting it out there to see who bites. As such, you must have permission to contact them via email. This can be a statement agreed to in a waiver form at the gym or an opt-in form on your website.
If you have a talent for writing and a desire to share your perspective, starting a fitness blog can be enjoyable and beef up your content marketing.
Your blog, ideally hosted on your business website to drive traffic there, is your place to provide deeper content than the short, quick-hit social media post. When you write original, high-quality content, it can show up in search results and bring more users to your site, exposing them to your business.
Consider the following when choosing topics for your blog posts:
- What real-life questions do you encounter with clients?
- What specialty knowledge do you have that is not broadly known across the web?
- What values represent you/your brand the most?
As always, consider the ideal customer you wish to attract with your content. If, for example, you want members who lean toward training for athletics, focus entries on performance as opposed to health and wellness. Conversely, if you specialize in helping clients lose weight and get healthy, stay away from topics like improving the vertical jump test!
Far more people will research your gym online than will walk in your door to ask for information. It is highly likely that they will form an opinion of your business based on what they find when searching the web, particularly reviews left by current and former members.
Your best form of advertising is the success of your current clients. When it comes down to it, the ability to show prospects proof of results is more meaningful than your promises. They are much more likely to trust your clients’ words than your own.
Encourage positive reviews on social media, Yelp, and your Google Business listing so that when searching prospective customers can see the experiences of real people associated with your business and develop trust in your credibility and ethics.
When a great review is added, or a customer gives excellent feedback in person, consider making them the subject of an in-depth testimonial you can feature on your site or post on social media. As mentioned earlier, video is optimal to catch the visitor’s eye and hold their attention.
Learn more about how to get positive reviews and referrals in our other article, Business Tips for Personal Training Success.
– Business Management Software
An all-in-one management software is a key tool you can leverage for further digital marketing exposure. Here are a few features of Exercise.com Fitness Business Management software that will help you step up your marketing game:
- Stand out with a custom-branded app that unifies every aspect of the user’s experience, builds brand credibility, and keeps your brand front-and-center.
- Integrate with some of the best marketing tools on the web like Zapier, MailChimp, ConvertKit, ConstantContact, Refersion, and more.
- Sell digital products like training and nutrition plans online so your business can gain customers anywhere in the world.
Using technology like that provided by Exercise.com is one of the single biggest improvements you can make to grow your business and manage it better in the digital age. Schedule a demo of our software to learn how we can immediately upgrade your marketing, sales, and service.