Health club owners must turn up the speed on the treadmill if they’re to gain a competitive advantage in the fitness industry. Gyms can bank on an influx of new members in January following festive indulgence and a “new year, new me” attitude to getting fit and shedding some of that Christmas pudding.
However, driving up memberships at your club should be an all-year-round mission. As soon as an individual has motivated themselves to join a gym, you will be up against a wealth of health clubs and gyms vying for their attention. This is why you need a health club marketing strategy that connects with potential members and builds your brand credibility.
As your goal is to establish yourself as the industry leader for all things fitness, it’s important to create and share valuable fitness-related content that expands your reach and helps acquire new faces.
Even though COVID-19 disrupted the fitness industry, it also demonstrated to health club and gym owners the need to adapt quickly or risk being left behind. They had to consider what their members needed to stay fit and how to attract new members, particularly with the shift in working patterns, hygiene protocol, and customer behaviour.
The Leisure Database Company (TLDB) revealed in its State of the Fitness Industry Report UK for 2022 that memberships decreased by 4.7% from 10.4 million in 2019 to 9.9 in 2022. However, this industry is still very much a crowded one, with 7,063 clubs still sweating it out to increase and inspire their active community.
From workout tips to sharing client success stories, a methodical approach to your health and fitness content marketing strategy can help you stand out from the competition.
Define your target audience
A gym membership demographic is diverse. From age group, personality traits, and gender, to determining their underlying motive behind signing up, you need to know who you’re trying to reach with your fitness content efforts.
Gauge a deeper understanding of each of your members by creating a persona for each group. For example, millennials may love nothing more than plugging in their headphones and banging out a 10k run.
Conversely, older members might not be as interested in taking up a high-intensity activity such as squash or boxercise. Individuals who’ve likely eased into retirement may simply want to remain active in the twilight of their lives. Classes such as aqua fit and chair yoga could be far more suitable. Also, consider their availability — many can exercise during the day, so focus on creating a schedule at a time that suits them.
Whether the main goal is to socialize, lose weight, or boost elite performance, people from all walks of life engage in exercise to stay healthy. Honing in on your target audience allows you to tailor your content, marketing campaigns, and sales pitches to their needs.
Perform health club keyword research
Once you’ve identified your target audience, you need to form a strong online presence by converting your knowledge into user content that’s original, engaging, useful, and arguably the most important – relevant.
You can only make your health club content relevant by finding out what your audience are searching for. This is where keyword research comes in, allowing you to look for common search phrases. For example, if you’re keen to attract people looking to lose weight post-pregnancy, it would be constructive to write content about “what to do in the gym for weight loss”.
This gives you the opportunity to easily branch out into other relatable content such as diet and nutrition — “what foods are good for weight loss” and “best exercise tips for weight loss”. Not only does this attract your target demographic to your website, it also builds credibility and trust, meaning they will look to you as an expert over other health clubs.
Local SEO is another marketing ploy that can help your gym achieve some quick wins. When someone wants to try out a new gym, they will run a Google search and call the first one or two gyms on the list. This is why you need to be pushing for that number one spot. But how do you go about improving your visibility in Google’s local search results?
Firstly, you’ll need to create a Google Business Profile. It’s free of charge and provides a swift boost to your Google rankings, because it’s much easier to gain a high ranking for a Google Business Profile than a website. It’s like a mini digital storefront for your gym, giving potential customers in your area a quick summary of what you have to offer. This information is also what they’ll see when they click on your business on Google Maps.
The focus of your content here should be on buying intent keywords. For example, someone searching for “spin classes Leeds” is likely ready to start pedalling and decide which local gym to join. These keywords drive the fastest conversions, so place them on your homepage and create services pages around them.
If your gym is easily searchable by keywords such as “health club near me” or “gyms in [city]”, you can be safe in the knowledge that customers will come to you organically. This will also drive traffic to your website, enabling them to discover your library of blog posts, success stories, and other informative pieces that offer value.
You can still use local SEO to share educational content, but on a much smaller scale to your website. The size of a typical Google Business Page post is limited to 300 words, of which only up to the first 100 words may be visible to your customers during the first impression. Why not talk about the main “benefits of joining a gym”, with a CTA leading to a phone call?
An active Google My Business profile is like gold. Let your customers know about new offers and classes, changes in opening hours, and even an insight into your instructors can be an excellent relationship-building tactic. Also ensure your key details (address, phone number, etc) are consistent and up-to-date across your online platforms.
There are many common fitness myths that need debunking. Should I exercise on an empty stomach? Do larger muscles equate to greater strength? And that’s without the suspect slimming pills.
Credible health and fitness content can transform the reputation of your gym. Here are some ideas on how you can make your content creditable:
- Use an infographic to explain the science behind your content when necessary. If you argue that a fasted state can be beneficial to diet and exercise, then do this in a visually interesting way to engage the reader.
- You can’t get better verification than client success stories. Show them off in a series of blog articles and social media posts. Provide before and after images and an overview to potential members of what the client did to achieve results. This gives the reader an image of what the journey will entail and a clear end goal of what they could achieve if they join your gym.
- Talk about your gym’s values, the backstories of your team members, and your passion for exercise and wellbeing. The culture of a gym is extremely important, so you’ve got to sell yourself as the perfect place for someone to workout from a comfort and motivational perspective.
- User-generated content is another powerful tool to help expand your reach and engagement. Allow gym aspirants to check out your reviews and access photos and videos of members using your facilities. This can be very influential when enticing new members.
Promote your digital fitness platform
Of course, not all your members have to live within close proximity to your gym. The rise of the digital fitness platform during the pandemic gave gyms and health clubs a greater outreach than ever before. Not everyone raises a smile at the prospect of having to drag their body to a gym.
There’s a level of convenience with virtual fitness that suits certain members more than others. They don’t have to worry about their favourite classes being fully booked or fret about traffic conditions, heavy work commitments, etc., that prevent them from adhering to a regular exercise schedule.
Make this a pivotal cog of your content strategy to engage and attract the wider community. Use different content avenues that we’ve outlined earlier in this blog to promote its advantages and maybe even offer some taster sessions.
Best of all, if you’re business provides an on-demand workout package that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, it gives members full control of their work-life balance.
Concentrate on your prospective clients
The golden rule with any fitness content marketing is to keep your potential recruits as the hero of your story. Keep thinking back to what your client values and how your facility can give them what they need.
Show that you understand them and reiterate how exercise can be life-changing. Just think of the man who wants to increase his life expectancy so he’s around to watch his kids grow up.
As a fitness club owner, you understand that exercise is amazing for our self-esteem, health, sleep quality, and then some. Great content can do the same by inspiring all those gym sharks ready to circle the waters.
Once your free content convinces them, it makes your aim of converting them into a paying customer much simpler. They’ll think, “If their free content is this good, imagine how brilliant it’ll be when I start paying.”
Healthy stream of content
Fitness club and gym content marketing takes time to work, so plan a constant stream of content. Strength training is all about repetition, and there’s an large element of this to your content strategy.
People want to learn more and buy into something that’s got a feel-good factor, so each piece of content you post should have a positive spin. After all, the benefits of staying healthy and regular exercise are paramount, and you’re helping them to achieve their aim, whatever that may be.
If your fitness business delivers the inspirational content needed to kick-start someone’s fitness push, it’s highly likely they will be loyal to you and sign on the dotted line. Watch new members stream in and feel the weight lift off your shoulders.