Gym Marketing Guide: 10 tips to market your fitness business

Take your business to the next level with this gym marketing guide. Discover the top 10 tips to market your fitness business and get results, today.
Gym Marketing Guide - Top 10 Tips

Here are the top 10 tips for marketing your fitness business

  1. Set specific, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives to best inform all future marketing campaigns.
  2. Develop an in-depth target demographic to best optimise the ‘Buyer’s Journey’ and drive conversions.
  3. Create and optimise a user-friendly website to provide gym members with a direct source of information, contact, and action.
  4. Build a strong social media strategy that focuses on engaging members and building an inclusive fitness community
  5. Revise member referral strategies and provide incentives for current gym-goers who generate new leads.
  6. Implement a retention strategy that can generate more cash flow by keeping members for longer.
  7. Research relevant industry keywords that allow your fitness business to be found online through relevant search queries.
  8. Invest in search engine optimisation (SEO) to drive traffic to your fitness business and acquire new leads.
  9. Start a content marketing strategy to deliver value to current members and entice those looking into joining
  10. Compile all marketing costs into a detailed budget to best optimise future campaigns and uncover what activities generate the best return-on-investment for your gym.

The only gym marketing tips you will ever need

Though the world of marketing can seem quite daunting when first starting out, it is an essential part of any fitness business that is looking to drive more revenue and build a fitter business. So, whether you run a small niche gym, a growing club franchise, or a large fitness empire – marketing can help take your business to the next level.

One of the hardest parts of starting this marketing journey, however, is knowing where to start or how to best invest your resources. There is an extensive range of different platforms and channels that can all be uniquely leveraged to gain a return-on-investment in different ways. So, how do you know what is right for you?

This article looks to break-down ten essential marketing activities, delivering information on how each tactic can help your club grow. Then, depending on your time, resources, and budget restrictions; your ideal strategy can be formed.

Don’t have time to read this article? Skip to the bottom to access our free marketing plan template! Get everything you need to start building a fitter business, today!

Set ‘SMART’ Goals

Though there is no doubt in our mind that you know all about goal setting, it remains as one of the most underrated tactics needed to build a successful marketing campaign. Why? Setting objectives can create a clear road map for you to reach your targets. More importantly, setting objectives also provides a way to measure your performance which is vital when optimising marketing activities and evaluating overall campaign success.

So, how do you set good quality goals? Objectives that are proven to help you achieve up to 900% more than those without them. Well, it’s easy! You make them in reference to the ‘SMART’ framework.

Specific: What is it that you exactly want to achieve?
Measurable: How will you know how this goal will be achieved?
Achievable: Can this goal actually be achieved within a reasonable timeframe?
Relevant: Does this goal relate directly to your future plans or business ambitions?
Time-Based: When do you want to have this goal achieved by?

Here’s a few examples of a ‘SMART’ Goals within the fitness industry:

  1. Increase member retention rates by 00% within the next 6 months.
  2. Lift total fitness club revenue to $00 within the next 12 months
  3. Increase gym membership registrations by 00% per month.

You can read more about ‘Setting SMART Goals’ here.

Develop a Target Demographic

Developing a target demographic is an essential process across all marketing activities, informing how to best interact with, and deliver information to, potential audiences. Understanding which specific group of people, you are wanting to target allows you to better understand what efforts are going to resonate best with them.

When it comes to the creation of your target demographic, don’t be shy. Make it as specific as you would like and be sure to focus on people who want to buy from you. A great testament to this is Curves Fitness – a multi-million dollar business that was born of the idea to revolutionise women’s fitness. Curves focused purely on a niche, looking to target one core customer, the 50+-year-old woman.

The good news here is that it’s possible to target multiple demographics, you just need to tailor your tactics, and that way you communicate to each one. So, whether you’re a local gym looking to attract a diverse range of members or a niche power-lifting gym targeting performance-focused athletes, creating a buyer’s persona is critical. Your consumer profile might include information such as:

Geographic: Country, City, Suburb
Psychographic: Lifestyle, Social Class, Personal Values, Attitudes
Behavioural: Benefits sought, Usage Likelihood, Degree of loyalty, Daily Habits
Demographic: Age, Gender, Family size, Education, Income, Occupation

Here’s an example of a well thought out consumer profile:

fitness business target demographic

You can read more about ‘Creating a Target Demographic’ here.

Create a User-Friendly Website

A well-built website is an extremely valuable asset that is often extremely underrated. Websites are often the customer’s first impression of your fitness business. In fact, 94% of first impressions relate directly to website design and structure. As such, creating a website is a pivotal step when looking to stand out in such a competitive industry.

So how do you create a user-friendly website that is sure to deliver important information to users and help drive new membership registrations? Here’s a small list of important elements to consider in the marketing world:

Simple Navigation and Design: Integrating a simple way to navigate your website is essential when looking to improve the customer experience. Simply put, you need to tell people what to do and where to go. From a marketing perspective, this is critical when looking to improve conversions and lower bounce rates. How do you test this?

  1. Get someone to visit your website
  2. Let them view your homepage for 10 seconds.
  3. Exit the page and ask them what your website wanted them to do.

High converting websites will often feature a call-to-action at the top of the page as it gives users a purpose. This may be “Sign up Now”, “Get a Free Trial” or anything else that tells a potential member how to act.

Here’s a great example:

Gym Website Marketing CTA

Helpful Content: Uploading useful content on your website is perhaps the best method of getting found organically from search results. As such, you should provide as much valuable content to potential members as possible. When looking into content strategies, there are two main areas to cover:

  • Internal-Facing Content: Internal content is critical when trying to start marketing activity at your gym, as it provides core company details. Making sure contact numbers, street addresses, membership prices, service offerings, and other core business aspects are easily accessible is essential. Including an ‘About Us’ or ‘Meet the Team’ page can also be a strategic way to create a competitive advantage as it allows potential gym members to create emotional connections before even entering the club.
  • External-Facing Content: External content is not as vital as your business information but is responsible for most organic traffic driven to your website. This form of content covers industry research, free resources such as workout plans, informational blogs, and more. The best way to start creating meaningful external content is through the creation of ‘Topic Clusters’.

While creating your own website can seem both daunting and expensive, there is a range of tools out there that can help. Drag and Drop website builders are becoming increasingly popular alongside more traditional website development methods. As such, creating a personalised site has never been easier. The most popular building tools include:

Build a Social Media Strategy

Creating a two-way social media strategy is crucial for any fitness business with the ability to boost brand awareness, consumer interaction, and overall business engagement. As such, posting the right content at the right time can be an essential aspect of any gym marketing strategy.

After analysing hundreds of businesses, ranging from small independent gyms to large fitness franchises – we discovered a few key points that can help take your future social marketing campaigns to a whole new level. Here’s how you can level up social media for your gym.

Create Content Pillars: Organic social strategies within the fitness industry should typically rely on three core content pillars that dictate what will be posted on a consistent basis. The most effective pillars we have seen are:

  1. Content Curation – Sharing facts, quotes, infographics, and user-generated content.
  2. Content Creation – Producing new content including stories, behind the scenes, and industry blogs.
  3. Content Interaction – Developing in-depth resources, eBooks, Guides, or advice pieces.

Build Local Community Groups: Social media communities can be an extremely powerful tool when trying to boost member retention rates and facilitate an immersive gym experience. Creating a private group for members not only creates a sense of inclusivity, but also allows important information, feedback, and advice to be shared freely. So, create a group, invite your members along and reap the benefits.

Automate Your Posts: Operating a fitness business can get extremely busy, so posting consistently across different platforms can get quite challenging. So, if this is something you struggle with, try setting out a few hours each week to schedule posts. When trying to automate social media posts, tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer can be incredibly valuable. The important part here is to remain consistent. Across the businesses we analysed, those who were most successful posted much more frequently and consistently.

Optimise Content For Each Platform: When choosing to engage an audience across different platforms, it’s important to remember that each social media website can change how members choose to interact. While Instagram is highly visual, fun, and used heavily across a broad demographic – LinkedIn targets business professionals who prefer valuable insights. As such, content copy and messaging strategies must be optimised for each platform.

Encourage Social Sharing: User-generated content is often both underrated and undervalued. For the same reason, reviews or word-of-mouth are the most trusted sources of information – pictures of members in the gym can be one of the most powerful tools for driving new membership registrations. Creating branded hashtags or challenges that encourage people to share their experience at your gym is a core part of gym marketing that should not be overlooked.

Revise Club Member Referral Strategies

Sometimes when it comes to gym marketing strategies, the best things come free. In fact, there is a reason that member referrals have made nearly every list we have written relating to business growth or membership sales. As such, revising your current member referral strategy could prove to be one of the best things you do. Why? Nobody trusts a recommendation more than when it comes from someone they know. It’s a surefire way to instantly build rapport and trust with potential members.

So, how do you ask for referrals? Well, there are some incentives you can offer that make bringing a friend or family member to the gym, rewarding. Some ideas include:

  • Mates Rates: Cheaper membership when you join with one or more people.
  • Free Membership: Offering a free period of membership for each new person a current member signs up.
  • Gym Pack: Giving out free merchandise or supplement packs for whoever signs the most people up.

Whatever your incentives look like, the important part is that your members know about it. Referral strategies work extremely well when linked with social media marketing so be sure to take advantage of all gym marketing avenues available.

If you’re not sure how to go about creating branded promotions or other marketing materials, Canva is a great free design tool. Here’s a mock ‘Mates Rate’ promotion we designed in just a few minutes.

Gym mates rates marketing promotion

Implement Gym Member Retention Campaigns

While the common theme for marketing seems to be member acquisition, using tools to retain members is extremely important. Why? Well, it typically costs approximately 5-25 times more to acquire a new member than it does to keep one. Also, boosting retention rates by as little as 5% can reflect a net profit increase upwards of 25%.

So, how do you use marketing tools to create an integrated retention campaign? Well, here are some tips:

  • Email Marketing: Developing an email marketing campaign is a great way to send personalised communications that make members feel valued or included in important decisions. Sending out feedback surveys or follow up emails can engage people on a deeper level – significantly boosting retention rates.
  • Automated SMS: Similar to email marketing, automated SMS is an incredibly powerful tool for your gym with the ability to reach members on a more personal level than email. Simply messaging after a workout has been missed or when a lack of attendance has been noticed can provide a fully immersive gym experience that keeps members coming back for years to come.
  • Social Media: As outlined above, social media is an invaluable gym marketing tool. Not only for acquiring members but for retaining them too! Creating a tight-knit community through social media groups can promote more positive member mindsets and motivate them to achieve their goals.

When looking to run email marketing campaigns, there is a range of tools that can be used such as Hubspot and Mailchimp. Alternatively, the VIGYR software comes equipped with powerful gym marketing and member retention tools, having integrated email and SMS facilities.

Gym email marketing VIGYR

Start Your Keyword Research

Whether building a website, crafting a content strategy, developing an AdWords campaign, or investing in search engine optimisation (SEO) – one thing remains consistent. The need for keyword research. This process is native to digital marketing and involves finding and analysing search terms that people enter into search engines such as Google or Bing. But why is keyword research important? Well, as mentioned before, it targets key terms that potential members are searching for. This means that when the right keywords are used your content will be served on search engine results pages for the world to see.

Keyword Research Tools: While we can stress the importance of conducting keyword research to best optimise your gym marketing activities, finding the right tools to do so is essential. One of the best free tools for keyword research we have found is Google Keyword Planner. The data on search volumes and competition comes straight from google so you know it’s reliable and you can also use this resource to save keywords to a search engine marketing (AdWords) campaign. To get to the keyword planner from a Google Ads Account, go to:

Tools & Settings -> Keyword Planner -> Discover New Keywords

To best show what these tools are capable of, here’s an example of the “Discover New Keywords” interface tailored specifically for the gym industry.

gym keyword planner

As you can see, multiple keyword ideas were generated by simply imputing a few relevant search terms such as “Gym” and “Fitness Business”. To help you better understand which keywords may be best to choose, here is a breakdown of a few recommended ideas.

  • Gym Near Me (100k – 1M Search Volume; Low Competition).
    • Search term has a high volume with low competition making it a great keyword to target, however, it’s also slightly unrealistic to implement into the copy. While this keyword is highly searched by potential members, writing ‘gym near me’ on a page can harm the user experience. So, what does this mean? Well, google algorithms have grown to be incredibly smart in terms of how they find and serve content. So, using local keywords that are location-based can help you rank for this keyword. Instead of ‘Gym Near Me’, take advantage of local SEO and write ‘Gym (Suburb/Location’.
  • Gym Membership (1k – 10k Search Volume; Low Competition).
    • Search term has a high volume with low competition making it a great keyword to target. As this keyword is also natural, it can be implemented into a page quite easily. Due to the large search volume, you may attract people who are outside of your area of operation. As such, adding a location to the end may lower search volume but significantly increase relevance that will result in more member conversions and website clicks.

Categorising Keywords: Though the world of keyword research can become quite complex when trying to categorise search terms, there are a few simple tips that fitness businesses can use to increase the likelihood of being found by potential members. As such, we have broken down keyword areas into three basic buckets; brand, service, and search.

Brand Keywords: Search terms that relate to your brand are incredibly valuable when trying to maximise the customer experience through the delivery of highly relevant content. While important for SEO, using such terms across SEM or AdWords is essential when preventing other competitors from ranking above you on a branded search. Typical brand keywords may include:

  • 123Gym
  • 123Gym Los Angeles
  • 123Gym 24/7 Health Club
  • 123Gym Pricing
  • 123Gym Contact
  • 123Gym Free Trial

Service Keywords: Search terms that relate to your services are essential when trying to get the most out of local SEO. While using generic keywords here can be effective to attract a wider audience, using long-tail service keywords can help your website rank for potential members searching nearby. This is particularly critical when trying to rank across consumer queries such as “Gym Near Me” or “Yoga Classes Near Me”. Here’s some examples of service keywords.

Generic:

  • 123Gym Personal Training
  • 123Gym Yoga Classes
  • 123Gym 24/7 Membership Plans
  • 123Gym Hiit Team Training
  • 123Gym Cycling Class

Long Tail:

  • 123Gym Personal Training Los Angeles
  • 123Gym Yoga Classes London
  • 123Gym 24/7 Membership Plans
  • 123Gym Hiit Team Training Brisbane
  • 123Gym Cycling Class Chicago

Search Keywords: While the above two categories can typically be filled with keywords internally, search keywords require solid keyword research. Despite this, they often yield some of the best results when trying to rank organically. These are the keywords that are typically targeted through a range of blogs or via a topic cluster. Examples are provided below regarding a wider context:

  • Which ‘weight loss’ program is best?
  • Is ‘Personal Training’ Worth It?
  • What are the benefits of ‘HIIT Training’

Overall, these categories will typically cover the essential keywords needed to start building a fitter business. Should you look to create a more in-depth library, you can read more on keyword research here.

Invest in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

You may have heard the term SEO and that’s because it’s essential when trying to drive organic traffic to your gym’s website. It is also an essential part of marketing. But what is it? SEO is essentially the process of optimising the structure of your website and its content so that a search engine such as Google, delivers your content to potential members. Some simple tips for gym SEO include:

Local Search: Focussing on local SEO can be one of the best investments for fitness businesses as search engines such as Google look to provide the most relevant information to searchers. This means that people looking for gyms are more likely to be directed to your website via a google search if you’re local. So how can you implement local SEO into your gym marketing strategy?

  • Include your location throughout text headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.).
  • Create a Google Business and list your address
  • List your gym on local business directories (Yelp, YellowPages, etc.)

Long-Tail Keywords: Operating within such a competitive industry means that the chance of ranking well within search engine results pages is quite low. This means that it’s extremely difficult to be found across search queries such as “Best Gym” or “Fitness Clubs.” As such, using specific long-tail keywords can not only help you rank (show up) on google but can also lead to higher click-through and conversion rates. Long-tail keywords that include location also helps with local SEO endeavours. Examples of long-tail keywords may include:

  • Powerlifting Gym in Brisbane
  • Women’s Health Club in London
  • 24/7 Access Gym in Los Angeles

Page Load Speed: Page load speed can be a vital factor when looking to create a user-friendly website that can help grow your fitness business. According to Unbounce, Pages that load within two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that take five seconds to load have a bounce rate of 38%. Now, while phrases such as “Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML” or “Remove Render-Blocking JavaScript” can sound intimidating – there are a few simple things you can do to start with. This includes:

  • Contact your web host and ask to upgrade your package so that you’re running on their fastest server. While you are on the phone, make sure you are connected to the closest data center location.
  • Images can cause websites to be extremely slow when the files are too large. So, before uploading any images to your website, go onto google and search for an online image compressor. A good rule of thumb is to keep images under 550kb. Alternatively, you can use photoshop or other programs to export images for the web, saving all pictures with smaller file sizes.
  • When editing website pages, there should be an option to enable lazy loading. This essentially detects when certain content is visible for a user and loads it accordingly. This means your web pages do not need to load all content before becoming interactive.

You can read more about page speed optimisation here.

Start a Content Marketing Strategy

Essential to every gym marketing plan is a well-rounded content strategy that drives organic traffic to your website and generates new leads. Over the long-term, content strategies tend to provide the largest return-on-investment as a one-time investment can be leveraged for years to come. So, what’s involved in a good content strategy? Here are a few elements typically utilised across the most successful fitness businesses.

Blog Creation: The creation of an industry blog is one of the first tasks you should put on your priority list. This not only acts as a central hub for user information, but it also provides an immense amount of value for current members, acts as a reliable source for lead generation, and greatly builds business credibility. As mentioned previously in the article, one of the most effective ways to build this form of external-facing content is through a topic cluster. This enables you to pick a valuable keyword and create content to cover the most popular relative search queries. Here’s an example:

Gated Content: Gated content takes your content strategy to another level, proving to be one of the most effective methods of lead generation. It involves the creation of in-depth resources that are offered in exchange for contact details. Examples of gated content include e-books, business templates, or whitepapers. If you’d like to see an example of gated content you can click-through to our gym marketing plan template. This piece of content includes everything you need to start marketing your gym business and is something our team invested countless hours into creating. Why do we ask for your details? Well, we like to keep in touch to make sure gyms around the world continue to grow and succeed. Without you, we don’t exist. Our priority is building a fitter gym industry, we also just happen to make the world’s premier gym management software. When you download the marketing plan you’re pledging to succeed, even if you don’t want our software. It’s free and unconditional! If you do want to partner with VIGYR and get all we have to offer, you can sign up for a free trial here.

 

Social Media: Creating a content strategy for social media can be a long process to begin with, however, spending time to think tactfully about what you’re putting out into the world is never a bad investment. As mentioned earlier, the core foundations of a social media content strategy revolved around three content pillars that will guide everything you post. The important thing here is that your brand voice remains consistent with who you are as a business and all messaging is aligned across all social platforms. Regardless, taking advantage of the content interaction pillar to promote other elements of your content strategy (Blogs and Gated Content) is an effective way to maximise reach and conversion.

 

While these tactics are important, knowing what to write about is even more essential. You can always target individual keywords, but these are often over-saturated making it extremely difficult to break through the clutter. Creating content around long-tail search queries will often yield better results as niche searches can more easily be penetrated. How do you find what members are searching for? Well, you could always take advantage of the work done by other fitness clubs by reading their articles and writing an updated/ more in-depth version. Otherwise, there is a range of free online tools that you can use – one of them being ‘Answer The Public’. This site allows you to enter target keywords and generates the most popular search queries for those keywords. This can be extremely powerful when partnered with Google Keyword Planner, allowing you to find industry-relevant keywords and in turn, relevant searches relating to those terms.

Here’s an example:

Answer The Public Gym Search

Create a Marketing Budget for your gym

A commonly overlooked aspect of gym marketing revolves around budget creation and implementation. So, while the ‘numbers’ side of things isn’t always as interesting, they play a key role in maximising your return-on-investment and ensuring marketing spend is optimised.

Gym marketing budgets are always difficult to initially establish as oftentimes guesswork is needed without performance data. The important part here is to understand your target demographic and their likely buying journey. How do they browse for information? Where do they browse for information? What platforms do they trust the most? What is your current average cost of generating a lead? What is the lifetime value of that lead? Once you understand some of these core principles, it’s much easier to align your budget with any marketing goals.  Every gym is different but what you’ll typically find within the fitness industry is that a total spend of 5-15% of total turnover is recommended.

After analysing a multitude of companies within the fitness industry, we have compiled a rough estimate of budget allocation percentages to provide some guidance.

*Please note that this should not be considered as financial or professional advice, acting purely to provide budgetary context. 

Budget Allocation 

  • Retention Strategy – 5%
  • Referral Strategy – 10%
  • Search Engine Marketing – 35%
  • Social Media – 45%
  • Email Marketing – 2.5%
  • Print Media – 2.5%

Budget Refinement: Though starting can be difficult, budgeting for gym marketing activities will become much easier as you progress. All guesswork is replaced by performance data and key marketing KPIs can be used to optimise future activity. Some of these metrics include:

Cost Per Lead

Total Marketing Spend / Total New Leads

Customer Lifetime Value

Customer Revenue Per Year / Duration of Relationship in Years – Customer Acquisition Cost

Cost of Customer Acquisition

Total Sales and Marketing Spend / New Customers Acquired

Click-Through Rate

Total number of conversions / Total Ad Interactions

Obtaining such data essentially provides valuable insight into what’s working and what isn’t. Where to increase marketing spend and where to cut costs. It’s an imperative part of your business, especially when looking to maximise the efficiency of your marketing dollars. Most of the information required to calculate the above metrics are relatively easy to find with most figures being accessed via the analytics tools provided on different advertising platforms (Facebook Analytics, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, etc.)

Here is an example of a basic marketing budget template:

Get Your Free Gym Marketing Plan Template Today!

While this article was designed specifically to give you all the details needed to build a successful gym marketing strategy, there is a lot of information to take in. So, if you’re looking for a well-designed and easy to digest gym marketing plan template – we have you covered!

This template will walk you through every aspect you need to start marketing at your gym with a ‘plug and play’ design. All you need to do is fill in information relevant to your business and there you have it. A customised gym marketing plan that will serve to underpin all future business activities. Download your very own copy here.

Access the world’s premier gym software equipped with powerful marketing capabilities

Whether you run a small specialised studio or lead a global fitness empire, VIGYR is for those seeking the world-leading tools and high growth resources needed to build a fitter business.

Built to enable the fitness industry to build happier, healthier, and more inclusive communities around the globe, VIGYR Member Systems delivers world-leading solutions known to build fitter businesses. So, say hello to complete process optimisation across an innovative suite of powerful features, support, and business growth resources that are redefining what to expect from a gym management software. Find out what is driving the future of the fitness industry around the globe.

Start your free trial today!

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