Did you know that over 500 gyms have shut down across India in the year 2018 alone?
No, we aren’t just talking about those blink-and-you-miss one-room-two-treadmills affairs that barely even qualify as fitness centres. The 500+ gyms which have shut down include some pretty big names endorsed by A-lister celebrities as well as franchises of some of the most successful global fitness brands. So why do gyms fail to run the game?
The three main challenges any fitness centre faces are brand building, centre economics and member retention & engagement. So how can fitness centres overcome these challenges? The Answer is effective marketing. Today, let’s have a look at why your fitness club needs marketing and 6 Awesome Strategies that will help you up your Marketing Game.
Why Does Your Fitness Club Need A Marketing Strategy?
Let’s face the truth! Fitness maybe your passion but running a fitness club is first and foremost a business and a damn competitive one at that. To be successful, not only do you have to stay constantly updated about the latest trends in the global market but also compete at a hyperlocal level with over 100+ competitors offering a near identical service! In such a congested scenario, marketing is the only way you can communicate your fitness club’s value proposition, engage your customer, sell your service and grow your business. Marketing helps your brand retain visibility and build a relationship with your customers, both of which are absolutely vital for long-term sustenance.
6 Effective Marketing Strategies Used By Successful Fitness Clubs
Now that we have firmly established the value of marketing for your brand, let’s talk about marketing strategies. At the outset, there’s no right or wrong in marketing. For example, the most ancient of strategies, word-of-mouth marketing may still get you the business. However, in a super-competitive market like fitness, relying only on word-of-mouth is akin to committing suicide! Instead, let’s have a look at how some of the most successful fitness clubs have built an empire using the below super effective marketing strategies:
1. You Need A Professional Looking Website
Did you know that over 2.4 billion people surf the internet every day? India alone has more than 500 million active internet users in the world and this user base is growing constantly. Statistics show that over 90% of active internet users search for information online. If your fitness brand doesn’t have a functioning website, you are missing out on a huge chunk of customer base. Besides providing your brand visibility in the digital space, a website acts like your brand’s online brochure that is readily available to thousands of internet users 24×7, many of whom include your potential customers.
Your brand’s website is also the platform where you display your fitness club’s unique offerings and services. But more importantly, the website provides your brand with a much-needed voice through which you communicate with your customers, both present and future.
The website is where you will create your brand’s personality, share your mission and vision with the public and as we will see later share social proofs which can impact not just your sales but also your brand value dramatically. In short, a well-managed website can act as a very powerful marketing tool for your fitness club.
Few tools that you can use to create your website are –
Once the process of setting up a website is complete, you can also integrate your club management software’s API with it so that new members can buy memberships, book classes, schedule sessions and more. As we will see later in the article, this club management software – website integration will play a key role in your online marketing campaigns.
2. Customize Local SEO For Your Fitness Club
If you have been paying attention, you would have noticed that a vast majority of your members reside with 3 to 4 km radius from your fitness club. This isn’t a coincidence. Statistics indicate that distance plays a key role when someone is choosing a gym.
Now the question is how do you turn this customer behaviour to your advantage? The answer is by optimising your website in such a way that next time someone searches for a phrase like “gyms near me” or “gyms in [locality/city name]”, your fitness club appears at the top of the search results like the example below:
To achieve the above objective, you will have to do some search engine optimization or SEO. How do you do that? This is how!
How to Get Your Gym or Studio on Google Maps
One of the early steps towards optimizing your website for local search is to create a Google My Business profile. After setting up Google My Business you can:
- People can easily search your name, address, phone number and working hours.
- Showcase the images of your fitness club.
- People can review your business.
When you have completed setting up a Google My Business page, this is how Google will show your fitness club when someone searches for your brand name:
As you can see, people can now see your details on Google. Should anyone wish to check out your cool website or get directions to your location, all they need to do is just click the right buttons and bingo!
Once you have set up the Google My Business (GMB) profile, It is super important that all your information is updated all the time. This is why you need to review and update your GMB profile frequently.
Keywords are the terms people are going to type to search for your ‘fitness centre’ on Google. If they know your brand, they will use your brand name else they will use local keywords to find information about the best fitness centres near them. This includes phrases like “gyms near me” “gym in my <locality>” etc. One of the ways you can dominate the keyword game is by –
- Including the city, or locality’s name in your fitness club’s home page and meta description.
- You can include these details in the URL as well.
- You can also try including the name of your locality and other such keywords in your website’s content as well.
3. Fitness Content Marketing
Content marketing is all about creating, publishing and distributing quality content to your specific target audience. In the last few years, content marketing has really carved a niche in the marketing strategy. The biggest tactical aim of content marketing is straight up boosting your online presence and website traffic.
When you are creating your content strategy, you have to keep in mind the fact that the keywords related to fitness are extremely competitive. Therefore it is always suggested that your content is oriented for your locality.
However, content marketing can also be used as a long-term strategic tool that can help you achieve a lot more than just local search engine ranking. A well-researched and well-executed content marketing can establish your brand as a thought leader in your space. When people start finding value in your content, they start putting a certain element of trust in your brand. The more you build this trust, the likelier are people to buy your membership.
You must keep in mind the fact that content marketing doesn’t provide immediate returns like traditional marketing methods. Also, it requires a lot more skill and energy than regular advertising. But the returns which you reap in the long run are both rich and strategic, this is why content marketing should definitely be on your mind when devising a marketing strategy for your fitness club.
4. Video Content Marketing
In the above point, we have discussed at length about the benefits of content marketing. However, content marketing isn’t only about written content – according to a report published by Forbes, “65% of people are visual learners” In fact, a recent report by HubSpot has revealed that 54% of the social media audience prefer watching videos and so emerged a need for video content marketing. Here are a few more benefits of video content marketing:
Boosts Your Engagement: In today’s world dominated by content, videos serve as clutter breakers. They are both visually rich and way easier for the audience to consume. This is why the audience engages a lot more with videos than written content.
Extremely Versatile: From demos to announcing new offers to showcasing your fitness club to building social proof with testimonials from existing members, you can create n-number of video formats and adapt it to tell your fitness club’s story.
Better Search Engine Rankings: Did you know that embedding a YouTube video on your website makes your chances of ranking first 53 times likelier? Just make sure your YouTube video has accurate titles and descriptions and has link backs to your website.
Build An Emotional Connect: Videos can evoke emotions amongst your audience in a way that few other channels can. Things like the tone of voice, facial expressions, and even the music in the background go a long way in drawing in your audience to the story. This allows the content to embed itself in their subconscious mind and build an emotional connect.
Get More Conversions: Recent researches indicate that conversion rates for video content are significantly higher than any other forms. In fact, 81% business owners saw an increase in sales after switching to video content marketing and 84% consumers admit to having made a purchase after watching a video.
Being in the fitness industry, you are sitting on a treasure trove of video content. Engage your audience by offering visually striking content, lifestyle goals and various tips and tricks to stay fit. Some of the content ideas you should definitely explore are:
- Do-It-Yourself workout videos featuring your trainers.
- Boost your social credibility by creating client testimonials.
- Showcase your fitness center and equipments.
- Feature an interview with an expert in the industry.
- Welcome videos for new members.
- Go live on Facebook and Instagram to show daily activities in real time.
Video content marketing is a great way to engage both your existing as well as potential future members.
5. Social Media Strategy
Did you know that India currently has over 226 million active social media users? This number is projected to grow to 370 million+ over the next two years. Most successful fitness club owners are familiar with these figures and this is why almost every major gym and fitness club has a strong social media strategy.
Not only does social media offer you the perfect platform to engage with your audience, smart fitness club owners know how to leverage the power of social media to build their brand, expand their audience and most importantly build a community for their members which in turn helps boost member retention. In fact, social media offers potential customers a portal to discover life at your fitness club. The first step to creating a social media strategy is to get yourself a business profile with each of the social media platforms you want to use. A business profile offers you the chance to access insights, create ads, and use various other features which are often available exclusively for business profiles.
Here’s what you need to create a winning social media strategy:
- Understand Your Audience: Do you want to reach out to the whole city or to immediate locality? Once you have a business profile, this becomes a lot easier as most social media platform tells you the age, gender and even the cities of your audience. Tailor your content accordingly and you will see your engagement soar.
- Provide Valuable and Trending Content: People are constantly searching for tips, tricks and ideas to up their fitness game. Make full use of this fact and provide your audience with content that they will find useful in their fitness journey. For example, you bust popular myths or tell them about the right postures etc. Trending topics, when combined with the right hashtags can go a long way in boosting your brand’s visibility online.
- Understand The Platform: We may use the word social media as an umbrella term but the fact is that social media platforms are different from one another with its own quirks, tricks, dos and don’ts. It is important to understand the strengths and limitations of each social platforms and use them to your benefit.
- Post Consistently: The key to building a strong social media presence is posting content regularly. If you want your posts to reach a maximum number of people, it is advisable that you schedule the post at that time of the day when the majority of your audience is active. You can always refer to the insights for this data. To streamline the process of scheduling posts, you can take the help of like Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule and manage your content.
- Interact With Your Followers: Social media isn’t just about posting content and counting the number of likes. It’s about building and nurturing a community. The most successful fitness brands regularly respond to comments, reshare their success stories and make the audience feel like a part of a very large family. This is also a great platform to showcase true before and after stories. Not only does this boost the prestige and confidence of the member in question, but a before and after transformation story also acts as a social proof for your fitness club which in turn affects the sales positively.
- Understand The Hashtag Game: Hashtags are one the best ways of growing your reach and engage with the audience. A hashtag is basically a popular word or phrase preceded by the hash sign (#), for example #mondaymotivation. Adding hashtag allows you to reach out to a whole lot of people with relevant interest. Adding trending hashtags or currently popular hashtags, when used wisely, is one of the most cost-effective ways to boosting your reach.
- Start Member Referral Programs: The most credible source of advertisement for your fitness club is your own members. That’s right! Studies have found that 92% customers trust referrals from their friends. In fact, referral leads are 4 times more likely to convert into sales as compared to regular leads. This is why referral programs are considered one of the most cost-effective customer acquisition strategy.
However, before creating an effective referral program, you should be clear about the goal. How many referrals are you looking at? Do you want to accomplish any other objective apart from growing the number of members like build brand loyalty? How long do you want to run the program? These are just a few questions you ought to ask yourself at the very beginning.
Next, you must choose the right incentive. This step is important because if your incentive is not strong enough, the referral scheme will not work. Most fitness clubs choose to create a win-win situation for both the referring member as well as the referred member which makes the program enticing not only for the referring member but also the referred member and increases the chances of conversion. Here are a few ideas you could use while choosing your incentive:
- Discounts to both the referring member as well as the new member.
- Complimentary personal training for a limited period of time.
- Branded goodies like branded gym bags, shakers, gym kit etc.
- Extension to membership periods.
The above are just a few ideas and you can come up with a lot more with research. However, when you are selecting the merchandise, it is very important to take into account the associated cost and make sure that it is justifiable. For example, offering membership extensions to customers is considerably less expensive than providing them with branded merchandise, since the latter will involve a considerable cost in printing, shipping, and stocking. The trick is to find the right balance where the incentive is both enticing but isn’t overly expensive so as to undermine the purpose of the program.
Once you have decided the purpose, duration and incentive for the program, the next step is communication. There are various channels through which you can announce the referral program. For example, you can have posters, send out emails, SMSes or create social media posts to announce the details of your program. If you have a club management software like Traqade, you can even push the notifications through a dedicated member app.
Fitness industry in India is booming and is slated to see significant growth in the future. As the industry grows, so will the competition. In this scenario, the only differentiator will be how you position and market your fitness club. However, sound marketing strategies are less about intuition and more about solid data. This is where club management software like Traqade come into the picture. Equipped with all the necessary tools to not just analyze the current situation but also predict the future, club management software like Traqade take the element of surprise out of the equation and substitutes it with real-time data which form the bedrock of solid marketing strategies. Want to know more about Traqade? Signup for a Free Demo now.
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