Online fitness is an interesting concept for a gym. It takes a locally utilized product and turns it into a nationwide or, possibly, a worldwide consumable. It can, ideally, expand your audience well beyond a single zip code. In a sense, it’s as if you’re franchising your own brand. A daunting idea, no doubt.
If you’ve risen to the challenge and now offer live streaming, or on-demand through your health club, what steps are needed to grow this business investment?
Figure out how customers find you.
Intelivideo, a technology company specializing in enabling subscription video businesses, collected data in the spring of 2020 on how consumers find streaming subscriptions for purchase. During that period, most individuals first searched a gym’s website directly. From there, they looked at social media and then conducted organic research. This final method, just searching the Internet, equaled response to paid searches and inbound email marketing efforts.
Direct searches, by far, also enjoyed the highest conversion rate. This mini survey suggests clients prefer to buy subscriptions from their own gyms, at least, if they are able.
To keep them at home plate, maximize what makes you unique.
Fitness studios compete with every kind of content producer from Peloton to free YouTube videos. This is where customer relationships are invaluable. Your unique style and energy combined with an established connection with existing clients gives you an edge that can be nurtured through interactive communication.
According to Jack Thomas, CEO of BASE and contributor to FIT Summit, once a gym has the basics under control – good lighting, steady camera, practiced presentation — the differentiation is all in the soul – how much personality and individuality can you provide your current customers? Can you strengthen this relationship so that these customers go on to refer friends and family to your subscription service?
What is your website telling you?
Review the qualitative data collected by your website’s analytic tools to drill further into your clients’ motives and interests. This, along with constructive feedback through surveys and class/instructor reviews, offers a granular look at your customer base and what they want from your gym.
Taking advantage of good analysis provides better tools for stronger pricing strategies, as well as the data needed to invest in additional digital offerings.
One of the interesting outcomes of the rush to online fitness is an openness by subscribers to try new classes or exercise styles. Perhaps it’s the autonomy of stretching in their own living rooms, or the sheer breadth of class choices, but now is the time to expand your selection – while clients are eager and feel safe in their own homes.
Who’s your target audience?
Digital products are all about market segmentation. Once you’ve identified whom to attract, their demographics and characteristics, you can create a highly targeted marketing campaign appealing to the specific people most likely to use your gym.
How do you reach your customers?
Chrystal Washington, a technology strategist, stated in an IHRSA article: “There’s no such thing as an app strategy, or web strategy, or social media strategy — it’s all part of your marketing strategy… These are just methods you utilize to communicate elements of your marketing plan — in the same sense that cold calling, for instance, might be a part of a club’s marketing strategy.”
With this in mind, it’s time to go back to Marketing 101: Advertise.
Internally, this looks like outbound emails, phone calls, branded apps, direct mail, text messaging, and other forms of outreach to an established customer base.
Externally, paid advertising through online marketing channels such as Google Ads or Facebook is another natural step.
Yet here, I suggest two caveats. First, lead generation through Facebook can be significantly cheaper than Google because of the vast number of ad types. Within Facebook, the fitness category enjoys one of the highest average click through rates (CTR) of any industry category and an average cost per-click of $1.90. Along with that reasonable cost per-click comes one of the highest conversion rates, averaging 14.29%.
The second caveat is a personal recommendation. I suggest outsourcing online ad buys, if possible. There are many fine digital marketing agencies specializing in online lead generation. These firms design ads, hunt down target markets, refine campaigns, and provide regular feedback on its success.
They can hyper-focus lead generation to specific geographic areas and recommend the correct online marketing channel for your goals. Most importantly — just like you’ve mastered the goblet squat because all you do is fitness — they are experts on the ins and outs of digital advertising and its near constant re-invention.
By outsourcing, you leave a critical component of your success to experts, who for a minimal additional fee, will ensure your company’s brand flashes before the right client at the right time, giving you one way to expand your online business model without having to learn yet another industry skill.