Digital marketing has disrupted the way businesses and brands market their products and services.
Traditional marketing techniques seem to have taken a back seat as most companies increasingly adopt digital methods and platforms to rope in customers and boost sales.
The health and fitness sector, a $27 billion industry, has not been left behind.
More and more people are now adopting healthier lifestyles and, therefore, are gradually turning to fitness as a way of keeping their bodies fit.
And since convenience is a big factor, most people are now trying out different fitness regimes, including home-based fitness schedules.
We are now living in an era where people are looking for fitness solutions that can be accessed online instead of going to a health and fitness club.
YouTube is also overflowing with hours upon hours of workout videos.
Most of these don’t even require you to have chunky equipment. You just need to have space in your house or office.
This industry is facing competition, not only from brick and mortar businesses, but also from those online and even from wearables such as the popular Fitbit that helps its users to track their activities, exercise, food, weight, and even sleep.
It has since become evident that fitness clubs are now in a race against the ballooning popularity of home workout videos as well as the numerous in-house health and fitness supplies.
There is a home fitness revolution taking place and a worry that soon, people will ditch the gym or fitness clubs and choose to only work out in the comfort of their homes.
People now have easy access to connected home fitness equipment. You can now ride a bike, lift weights, work out on the treadmill, use dumbbells and row, right from your house!
This readily available equipment can be coupled with an online personal trainer who’s always at your disposal and works around your schedule.
These and many other challenges in the health and fitness industry are making it hard for traditional fitness companies to boost product sales and increase membership.
Numerous competitors, articles on health and fitness, and instructional videos have also flooded the market.
It has become an uphill task to rank favorably on search engines, let alone stand out from the crowd.
Industry players, therefore, need to change their marketing ways drastically. This white paper looks at how industry players can effectively use digital marketing to overcome challenges brought on by technology. The answer can be summed up in a single word: technology. Yes, in order to beat tech-enabled challenges, you have to level the playing field and become a techie. But let’s take a more in-depth look at this answer and find out how to make technology work for you, not against you.
This paper describes different ways in which a marketer in the health and fitness industry can use digital marketing to increase revenue, boost membership, and most importantly, retain customers.
Have you ever tried to figure out how your members found out about your fitness company? Such a poll can help you find out what is driving most of your traffic.
But even without conducting a poll, if asked, most members will admit to having found you through an online search.
This could have been either through the obvious and widely used search engine, Google, one of their social media sites, discussions with friends and family via a chat application like WhatsApp, or through recommendations from friends on social media.
Using digital marketing allows you to target your ideal audience and promote your health and fitness company where they spend most of their time. It’s easy to reach your target audience, but you must know what their needs are.
However, you need to have a goal, too.
Are you doing it to promote your brand, increase the number of memberships, or turn members into brand ambassadors? Marketing to current members will be different from targeting potential new members.
You will also need to market to individual members depending on the needs they want to fulfill. You must have an idea of what will work and what won’t work depending on the services you are offering.
A digital marketing strategy will involve a series of actions that help your health and fitness company achieve its (long-term and short-term) goals through select online marketing channels.
These include earned, paid, and owned media — all aimed at achieving that goal.
- Market Research
No campaign or strategy can be successful if you don’t know where you are and where you’re heading. This chapter is dedicated to the first part of this journey.
Start by conducting market research. The data you collect is important because it will help you:
- Create compelling materials for your marketing activities
- Identify your target clients
- Identify new products or services based on your clients’ pain points
- Position your brand to avoid losing leads
- Stay updated on emerging market trends
Market research helps you discover your customer needs, know what the business needs, and what your competitors are doing.
Find out what defines your wellness company. Are you good at kickboxing, fitness workouts, corporate wellness programs, providing health and fitness information, among others? What is the company’s history, values, goals, mission, and vision? How do your clients perceive your company?
Next, come up with a clear definition of your target audience. The one reason most wellness companies fail is that they target different groups of people without clearly speaking to one.
You can have a range of audiences, but there must be a common theme around your service provision. The products and services you offer should center on something (service) you are brilliant at providing.
Your target audience is the specific group of people you want to receive your marketing message. They are the ones likely to come to your gym. They have some common characteristics, including behavior and demographics.
Segmenting, targeting, and positioning your audience will give you a better understanding of their needs.
With the data collected, you can now come up with a marketing strategy. The diagram below, for example, shows six market segments for a fitness center.
These buyer personas can be looking to make friends, lose weight, improve their looks, achieve their best, improve their health, or improve their fitness for sports purposes.
Image Source: Great Ideas for Teaching Marketing
For proper segmentation, find out what your target audience interests, habits, and hobbies are. Their jobs, demographic characteristics, online behavior (do they follow certain brands and through what channels?), and what defines their buying behavior (emotion or reason) are equally important factors.
Once you know who your target audience is, find out from existing customers what they think of your brand and what they think you should improve.
Target potential customers who fall within your target market and question them, too. If you can find customers who have stopped visiting your company, find out why they left.
Researching your competition involves finding out what they are doing better than you. Why are they more profitable than you? How are their commercials, their online presence, where are they concentrating their efforts, what are they neglecting, what tools are they using to generate more traffic, etc?
At the end of your market research, you should have found out what fitness programs you are great at, who your audience is, and what you do better than your competitors. So, if your fitness company is great at fitness workouts for women, for instance, you already have part of your audience defined.
It should shape your website, social media profile, and internal culture. This may not be the only thing you offer, but your expertise at workouts for women will make you stand out from the rest.
- Health and Wellness Website
Consider your website as the foundation of your health and fitness company. It’s your company’s home on the internet. It’s where you can tell potential and existing clients about your unique products and services, publish informative and engaging content, and guide them in overcoming their challenges and achieving their fitness goals.
Building a beautiful website is easy, but have you optimized it for search? Are you getting a constant flow of customers and leads? If not, then it’s time you optimized your company’s website using search engine optimization (SEO).
According to Smart Insights, the four pillars of SEO are:
Technical SEO: Can your content be indexed and crawled?
Content: Do you have engaging and informative content targeting your ideal customer?
On-page SEO: Are your site’s HTML and content optimized?
Off-page SEO: How are you building authority for your site to improve search rankings?
Image Source: NewsCred Insights
On-page SEO will involve having the right page titles, meta descriptions, headers, images, and URL structures. It also involves improving the visibility of your website, improving the site structure, and increasing load speed.
Off-page SEO will involve improving the authority of your site. You can do this by attracting inbound links from authoritative and relevant sites, creating valuable content, and distributing it to other sites. The inbound links you get from the content will improve your visibility online and boost your search rankings.
Image Source: OM Expert
You also must optimize your website for mobile. You should have the same URL on all devices. Responsive design is not only efficient for Google to crawl and index, but your clients will also have a great browsing experience from any device they use.
- Search Engine Optimized Content
A great SEO strategy always involves providing informative and engaging content focused on your target audience’s needs and wants. With the right content, you will attract the right visitors who have a high likelihood of turning into customers.
Start a blog on your website where you provide non-promotional posts with valuable content on your customer’s pain points. Discuss problems your customers go through, provide solutions, and only then tell them how your services help solve these challenges.
Your blog is a great place to generate leads. Provide content that moves your potential buyers through the purchase journey. Find out what they are searching for online and write informatively about these topics.
Showcase your expertise on said topics and provide solutions. Nurture these leads throughout their purchase journey with great content until they are ready to buy. Use call-to-action to direct customers to landing pages to generate leads. (The landing page should have a form that the lead fills in order to get an offer)
Produce whitepapers, e-books, and research reports that your audience can download from your website (this is also an effective way of building a mailing list). Upload how-to videos, hold webinars, offer free products, etc.
The content you provide should be varied to cater for the different needs of your target customers. It should educate, entertain, and intrigue the customer.
Carry out research and find out what content is resonating best with your audience. If diet and exercise how-to videos brought in more traffic than a corporate e-book on wellness, then maybe you should do more videos.
Image Source: HubSpot
Using compelling content provides you with an opportunity to turn your visitors into leads. For example, the forms filled when one is downloading your white paper will allow visitors to leave their information in exchange for the content.
The important thing to remember is that the content you create targets your ideal customer. It makes their life easier. For example, a white paper that provides health and fitness tips or a corporate wellness app to boost employee engagement at work – both are ideal ways to truly connect with your customers.
The research on your ideal audience will give you the ideal buyer.
For example, take John White. He is in his mid-20’s and wants to look good for the ladies (that’s his fitness goal or pain point). He is active on Facebook, sharing images of his workout sessions, and commenting on brands that offer fitness advice. He subscribes to YouTube channels that offer advice on how to build muscles, tone the body, and look great all around.
Now, think about what you can offer John for free to solve his pain point. It should make it easier for him to reach his goal. The offer could be a five-minute workout-from-home or a printable smoothie recipe that’s ideal for breakfast.
You will offer them such goodies in exchange for their email. A relationship starts to blossom, and now you can start delivering great content straight to their inbox. These educational and informative content will then turn John into a buying customer or in this case, entice him to get a membership at your fitness club.
What all this means is that your landing page must be compelling. It’s is the page where you send them after they click on your call-to-action or when they want to download an offer. Remember to thank them for downloading or accessing the offer. Very important!
- Social Media
More than 3 billion people are using social media today with up to 3.26 billion using their mobile devices to access it.
Image Source: Hootsuite
Check out the social media networks that have been available in the past or are currently available and their influence and evolution.
Image Source: Conversation Prism
As you can see, there are many platforms available out there, which makes it hard to choose which ones are best for your company. However, your market research will have shown you where to find your audience and what kind of information they like to consume.
If they are available on Facebook, then you need to make your page discoverable. The name of your business should be the same one you use on your page. Provide detailed information by filling out the company information.
Then reach out to friends, family, and current customers to like the page. Allow people to engage with your page through the Like, Recommend, and Share buttons. Then ultimately, share engaging content that adds value to your customers’ lives.
The market research that you initially conducted will be a good base for this since you know what kind of content they engage with on social media.
Other popular social media sites include Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. The important thing, no matter what social platform you choose, is to know what’s happening online at any one time and to respond appropriately.
Google Alerts can notify you when your business or website gets a mention online. Other social media management tools can help you track your brand, products, services, and what consumers are saying about them.
- Multichannel Advertising
To keep your customers engaged, you must have control over as many touchpoints as you can. Touchpoints are how your customer finds your business on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.
It’s an interaction that could change the way the customer feels about your brand or service. The touchpoint can happen before, during, or after they purchase.
Image Source: QuickSprout
Marketing today requires more touchpoints in order to make a sale. It’s not enough to write a promotional blog post, use online ads, use traditional marketing methods or do a monthly podcast. To catch your customers’ attention and keep them engaged, you need to do much more.
To win at the marketing game, you need to consider:
- Finding out what social media platforms your ideal customer frequents using targeted ads
- Using third-party influencers to drive customers to your site
- Spreading your message through contributed articles with your by-line to third-party publications.
- Using videos and podcasts
- Keeping the customers informed with news releases about the company – achievements, awards, competitions, etc.
- Posting free e-books and white papers that provide additional information to clients. For example, offering free diet advice that complements your paid fitness services
- Using visuals like high-quality images, quote images, memes, and infographics.
- Leveraging in-person events like hiking, competitions, team building events, etc.
Integrated digital marketing strategies that are customer-centered are ideal. Apply them across multiple channels throughout the customer purchase journey.
Image Source: Smart Insights
Remember to direct your paid advertising to a specific landing page with a call-to-action. It could include signing up for the men’s fitness workout, subscribing to the health and fitness magazine, or downloading the corporate wellness app.
Use retargeting to retarget your leads. Retargeting helps you engage existing customers on other platforms they visit without being interruptive.
For example, your website received over 5,000 visitors last month. The visitors either interacted with a video you shared, read an article on your blog, or purchased dumbbells. You didn’t get all their email addresses, but you want them to visit your site again. A tracking pixel is then used to display relevant ads to visitors online. A tracking pixel is an HTML snippet code loaded when a user opens an email or visit your website. It’s used to track behavior and conversions.
Taking advantage of automation will make it easier and more profitable for you to run your fitness business. There are different software available that can help you automate some of your processes. Such software can effectively be used to streamline your operations by integrating them with your customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Image Source: Hidden Profits Marketing
Let’s take a more in-depth look at the benefits of automation for health and fitness companies.
- You can allow your customers to book and pay for their workout sessions online either from their smartphone or desktop. It will not only benefit your clients but also make it easier for you to schedule, free your staff from desk chores, and allow you to serve your customers better. You will also save on the cost required to hire a front desk manager since an iPad at the front desk allows them to check themselves in.
- Automated marketing is a great way to nurture leads. It helps you develop relationships by sending potential customers valuable, relevant, and targeted messages. Automation allows you to keep your potential customer engaged and informed using targeted email messages delivered in a timely way. It helps shorten the sales cycle through effective lead nurturing. You can keep track of their information, set up lead capture forms, carry out automated campaigns, and send targeted messages.
- Automation allows you to keep track of payments without having to chase down your clients. It gives you alerts when a card is about to expire, payments are made, or membership terms are going to end.
- Automation makes it easier to communicate with clients. Using automated SMS messaging and emails, you cut down on time spent interacting with clients weekly or daily. Automation maintains one-on-one communication with the click of a button.
- Make your customers happy with a rewards program. Choose actions that qualify customers for rewards either through sharing reviews, signing up for a class, or buying a product. Your automated program then rewards your customers for their loyalty.
- Easily engage and manage clients with automation. A library of workout videos, nutritional plans, and must do exercises, etc. are made available to clients. They can also print them out while you monitor their progress.
- Measuring Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Measuring allows you to determine what’s working and what’s not. You can then improve, eliminate, or modify for better results.
Image Source: Infographic Now
- Start by figuring out what you would like to improve, then set a metric to measure success. For example, to increase gym memberships by 50 percent over the next three months.
- Check out how the programs you implemented have performed so far and make changes where necessary. Continue with those that help you achieve your goals and modify or improve those that don’t. For example, find out:
- What channel is driving the most traffic?
- Are you able to convert these visits to leads?
- What are the total sales compared to a month ago?
- Are you getting a return on investment from your advertising campaigns?
- How are most people finding your site?
- Do you have repeat customers?
- Finally, determine if you are successfully achieving the metrics you’ve set out. If not, find out what you should do differently and ensure that the improvements you make have long-lasting effects.
The data you collect will help you determine what areas need improvement. Do you need to improve on your SEO efforts, focus on one content form, improve your social media engagements, or do you need to change the timing in your email marketing campaigns?
Use data from platforms like Google Analytics to gain insights into what’s working.
Image Source: Neil Patel
Track organic search, social media reach, engagement, bounce rates, and conversions. Are you getting more sign-ups to the new fitness workouts or is the traffic coming from the articles about health and nutrition?
Whatever is bringing more conversions should be what receives your utmost attention. However, you should work hard to improve on other programs to increase conversion rates.
Conclusion: Digital Marketing Guide for Your Health and Fitness Company
It’s time the health and fitness industry change how they market their products and services to potential consumers. The above information shows how digital marketing is essential for acquiring and retaining customers. Health and fitness companies without a digital marketing plan, who play it by ear, will continue losing out to competitors.
Image Source: Smart Insights
There are many digital marketing techniques you can use, as shown above, but the important thing is knowing how to apply them to your type of business.
Each digital marketing activity needs to be evaluated and carefully implemented. For example, the use of email automation, retargeting, use of Facebook ads, personalizing content, and so much more.
It’s about knowing what you are great at and honing on it to get more memberships. The next thing you can do is to study your competitors thoroughly to find a gap that you can fill. Finally, the essential strategy is finding out what your customers need and fulfilling that need.
It’s about using data and insights from your digital marketing strategy to predict your customer’s needs and fulfilling them satisfactorily and on time. Keeping them engaged with informational content and providing all the help they need so that they choose you over a home workout routine.
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