Digital Marketing Tips for Generating New Fitness Customers & Gym Memberships

In September of 2017, data pulled from a research study on the Health & Fitness category highlighted that usage of health and fitness apps among consumers had increased by 330% over the past three years. These findings indicate that ensuring a high level of physical fitness and overall good health is still a daily goal of millions of people worldwide. As fitness enthusiasts manage their own personal routines, workout schedules and dietary considerations, digital technology continues to be incredibly important in helping people both track their performance and discover new ways to improve their overall health and well-being. For franchise brands in the Health & Fitness category with a brick-and-mortar presence, effectively connecting online consumers with your gym or fitness club locations can have a significant, positive impact on your overall revenue.

Understand How Your Audience Researches Online

Digital marketing and advertising programs offer an incredible amount of data that can be mined for key insights and trends as they relate to your target audience. For example, with more and more consumers increasingly on the go, industry data continues to show that capturing the attention of consumers when they’re active on mobile can provide a lift in awareness for both your brand and fitness club locations. Recent data released by Google indicates an 85% increase in mobile searches that include the term “where to buy” since 2015. The rise of digital assistants is also impacting how users find businesses, services and products online. Per comScore, 50% of all online searches will be voice searches by 2020. Voice searches tend to be more conversational and longer than traditional, typed searches. So how are you planning to connect with a customer that asks their digital assistant “where can I buy a gym membership for spin classes near me”? No matter what your overall marketing strategy looks like, it’s important to ensure that strategy is supported by data from both the Health & Fitness vertical as well as larger data sets from your core digital marketing channels.

Ensure Your Gyms & Fitness Clubs Can Be Found Online

As we’ve covered previously here in Franchising USA Magazine, arguably the most critical element of your digital marketing strategy involves management of your local online footprint for every one of your gyms and fitness clubs. Many single-owner gyms and multi-location fitness clubs suffer from having inaccurate location data published in places like Google, Facebook, Yelp, Bing and other online directories. The ramifications of bad location data can range from a potential customer calling a gym that has an incorrect phone number or even potentially arriving at a center on time for a favorite fitness class only to find that the business has moved, closed or simply had an incorrect address published online. To make sure this doesn’t happen to your business, it’s important to manage your online listings and routinely audit them for data inaccuracies related to things like business name, address, phone number, hours of operation and key contextual information such as varying fitness classes offered at each location. Having a location page for each franchise business location with similar information can also create a better user experience for consumers. Combining both into a cohesive digital strategy only improves your chances of ranking well for those key user searches like “gym near me” and “best yoga class in Charlotte”.

Capitalize on Seasonality

We’ve all done it before – we’ve all made that big resolution to get healthy at the start of the New Year, after the birth of a child or following our most recent visit to the nutritionist. Health & Fitness franchises often see significant, seasonal shifts when it comes to customer acquisition and growth because of these key life decisions. Yet, digital marketing campaigns often remain static throughout the year causing budget to run out during peak times. By aligning budgets to spend more during seasonal peaks when users are most active, and either scaling them back or shifting tactics during lower-volume periods, you can reach more of your target audience and convert more customers for your gym. Channels like Google and Facebook allow you to set specific campaign parameters so that your ads only show during certain days of the week, or during certain time periods each day, to help maximize your budget when users are most likely to engage. From there, you can further optimize campaigns for increased conversions using actual data and insights from your own campaigns.

In Summary

Before you begin marketing your gym or fitness franchise online, it’s important to leverage local online data for your market to better inform your overall strategy. Making sure your franchise is also discoverable by online consumers through accurate, optimized location data will help set the foundation. From there, you can begin developing advertising campaigns that are more highly targeted and less general in nature, and ultimately send more customers through your gym’s front doors every day of the week.

As Director of Marketing, Josh Allen is responsible for planning, developing and managing Location3 and LOCALACT brand strategies, with a focus on establishing new business partnerships among franchise systems and multi-location brands. He also works with Location3 client partners to establish key initiatives for increased franchise engagement and growth. He is an active member of the International Franchise Association and has previously been featured by the American Marketing Association, Franchise Update Media, MediaPost and more discussing franchise digital marketing strategy.

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