Fitness Marketing for Profit

October 4, 2021

Marketing a health club is costly, labor-intensive, and often difficult to validate. Yet despite its challenges, the marketing game is not optional.

The Fitness industry is more competitive than ever. And every gym, club, and studio is vying to grab their share of the market. To further complicate the situation, marketing channels and tactics have become so diverse and technically complicated that special skill sets are required to just manage the channels, let alone make meaningful decisions.

As a consequence of this complexity and competition, marketing budgets are micro-managed like never before. Campaign ROI and Profitability are metrics used to drive strategy. Yet digital marketing results are often only reported as “activity”—meaning as likes, follows, and shares. This makes counting actual Conversions almost impossible to decipher.

Where to Start

So how do clubs create marketing strategies that are effective (in terms of ROI) and realistic? The “channel” or delivery mechanism is not where the conversation starts. Neither is budget. It starts with an understanding of who the right targets are for each club’s brand. It starts with your data.

Data collection is a multibillion-dollar industry that sells the information they control to help every segment of the market to better understand their customers and prospects. Through analysis and predictive modeling, companies – big and small – consistently deliver personalized, relevant messages, via the ideal channels, and to the most qualified consumers in its market. This is how smart marketing is conducted. Answer the “Who?”, “What?” and “How?” to create a strategy that meets expectation.

On the back side of every campaign are analytics and reporting. The buyer’s journey is a complicated one and it’s commonly accepted that drilling down to the single “thing” that tipped the scale from prospect-to-member will always and forever be debatable. There are far too many ways to get in front of a potential member to say with 100% specificity that it was the digital ad that made them join and not the email or the postcard or the event they attended last week. Unless they say so, and even then, it’s questionable. This doesn’t mean that truth can’t be found.

How the Game is Played Today

When the plan starts with clean, accurate data that is tightly matched upon campaign maturity, attribution is easier to get to. Specific household-level data targets a single individual in a home based on their behaviors. So matching by “address only” isn’t accurate. It’s only when the target joins, that attribution is assigned. Loose “address only” matches should be parked separately and not factored into ROI and Profitability calculations.

Channel results are dissected to report which prospect received multiple channel ads, and join dates are compared with channel run dates. This narrows the options for being “the thing” that caused conversion by eliminating those that occurred after the join date. Other analysis strategies looking at lift are useful in determining attribution. This involves comparing the target group with a group that did not receive the email, digital ad, postcard, etc. to see the relative percentage of joins. Proving or disproving the value of a particular channel in the mix.

Fitness marketing is evolving and widening to include a powerful mix of channels and tactics that represent an opportunity to cost-effectively market the brand. However, these channels and tactics are nothing without the proper inputs.

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