2021 Fitness Marketing Ideas: Get More Clients This Year

It’s January, and with the start of a new year 2021 fitness marketing campaigns are in full swing. But this year they’re a lot different than usual. While January usually ushers in a huge focus on fitness, we saw this happen throughout 2020 as the world fell in love with staying fit more than ever before. 

A wide range of fitness classes, diet plans and related services became increasingly popular in the wake of the pandemic. And yet, COVID-19 also posed more challenges than ever for the fitness industry as well. Businesses were forced to pivot their models and adapt to the new normal – really fast. 

This has meant opening and closing with modified operations during rolling lockdowns. And even as services resumed in certain countries once lockdowns were lifted, dealing with customers’ weariness of shared equipment. Many fitness instructors have turned to online services where they continued to work with their members. But it’s safe to say that we’re in for a few more pivots in the months ahead. 

And so in 2021 the fitness industry will have to continue to rely on harnessing the power of online classes and social media to keep them going. That’s why in today’s blog, we’ll be talking about 2021 fitness marketing ideas to help you keep you keep going strong. 

The best way to adapt to the new normal

Before we get into what you can do to get more clients, let’s think about how you can pivot fast and successfully. The best way to do this, would be to ask yourself what customers want right now. While the pandemic made people feel concerned about going to the gym, staying fit is still a priority for most fitness enthusiasts. 

Add to that the anxiety, isolation and monotony of staying at home, and more people are working out than ever before. Especially as WHO, and other health organizations, have encouraged people to work out as a great way to stay fit and boost immunity. As a business owner or a marketer, you can capitalize on the fact that your customers need a way to feel happy, healthy, blow off steam and stay fit. Your secret to success is to offer them all the best options that you can, along with incentives to keep them engaged. 

There are a couple of ways in which you can tap into the opportunities to reach a wider audience: 
  • Think about how your brand can help potential clients address pain points during the pandemic, and update your messaging to reflect this.
  • Invest more heavily in digital marketing efforts. There’s a higher number of consumers spending more time online now. This means that you can reach a wider audience, while spending less through a combination of paid ads and organic content.

As you’re looking at how to shift your strategy, it may feel tempting to dismiss the brand awareness campaigns that you’d been previously planning. But you’ll need some of these efforts in the mix as well. 

People are on the lookout for a substitute for working out outside their homes as well as health supplements and fitness accessories as well. So if your business is in these spaces, now’s the time to double down on efforts to expand your efforts and reach. As potential clients become more familiar with your brand, they’ll be more likely to trust you too. Your brand awareness efforts right now, can go a long way to enhance your customer lifetime value (CLV). It will also help you cut down on customer acquisition costs (CAC).

2021 fitness marketing strategies 

With all that in mind, let’s now get into some of the most effective 2021 fitness marketing strategies that you should focus on. These strategies will help you pivot your business model, adapt better, and continue to grow and thrive regardless of what you face this year.

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2021 fitness marketing: Build on your brand loyalty 

Fitness is in an industry in which brand loyalty and trust are extremely important. Most people don’t even want to switch their instructor once they’ve made a connection. But, going online, how can you keep this level of loyalty steady? 

  • Always keep your members updated and informed. Let them know about your latest company news. If your gym will be closed for an extensive period, let members know immediately. Put their membership on hold right away and give them alternatives to stay fit. 
  • If you already have a fitness business that runs online, give members free shipping and attractive discounts. 
  • Elevate your customer service levels. We live in uncertain times and it is important that your members feel that they can rely on you. Respond to any customer queries within 24 hours. Stay available on social media, email, via phone calls or even live chats. 
  • Give customers external resources. Create a culture where you share useful health and fitness tips with your members. 
  • Stay on top of the latest fitness trends and proactively address questions that you hear commonly.
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2021 fitness marketing: Start blogging

Whether you’re a small scale operation or a large franchise, you have access to a lot of low cost marketing methods that can still improve your bottom line significantly. Blogging is one of these methods. And there’s more than one advantage to having a blog. 

  • Use it to stay in touch regularly with your members and even prospective clients. 
  • You could promote any events that are happening at your gym or virtually.
  • You can share a wealth of informative tips through your blogs. 

Now, you may not see a lot of revenue coming in from your blogs right away, but if you stay the course, you’ll be able to build a reputation as a thought leader or expert  in your niche. With that kind of recognition, you will be able to more easily generate brand loyalty, long term followers and even long term revenue. 

Don’t only focus on writing about your gym though. Pick up topics that your members and prospects would find useful. Talk about areas like shedding excess weight while at home, how to tone up trouble areas of the body, exercise gear that people can purchase easily and what the latest workout trends are. Your blogs need to have the right balance of photos, videos and text. These can be useful in breaking up lengthy chunks of copy. They can also play a big role in keeping visitors on your page for longer.

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2021 fitness marketing: Offer free passes

Offering a free gym pass for one week to your newest members is a promotional tool that’s been around for a while in the fitness industry. When it comes to a service that people are very particular about, they aren’t always ready to put down money without even trying it out first. During a 7-day trial, they can experience your gym’s culture, customer services, equipment. 

Or if your gym is closed at the moment, and you are offering online classes, programs or have an app, you can offer a trial of your virtual options. Just be sure to collect the names and relevant details of those who sign up. Not only will this help you follow up with them in thoughtful ways, it will also help you keep an eye out for those who try to take advantage of your free trials more than once. 

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2021 fitness marketing: Share reviews and success stories

Most people read through reviews and success stories before they spend on any health and fitness product or service. They want to make sure that they are spending on something that will get them the results they want. 

When it comes to fitness, not every plan or product works for every potential client. And that can make customers weary, especially since big investments can be involved. Like we said earlier, people want to try and save more during the pandemic so providing them with proof that your methods work, will increase the chances of conversions. 

Incorporate as many positive and powerful reviews and successful transformations from your members as you can in your marketing. For example, let’s say that you have a very high rating on a Google approved review platform. You can use excerpts in your Google search ads and in your display and social media ads. If possible try filming a client testimonial and include before and after pictures if you can. You can also ask your clients to film the testimonials themselves, with a few guidelines on what to speak about and how to present themselves. And then you can use a service like Kimp video to enhance, edit and brand your videos.  

Basically, if you know that your clients are happy with what you have provided them so far, incorporate it into your marketing. It’s the best way to retain your current customers and convince new clients that they can get success with your services too!

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2021 fitness marketing: Get motivational!

You may feel that sharing motivational quotes is so cliche. But there’s a reason why so many businesses, and especially fitness businesses do it! Motivation is hard to sustain when it comes to launching new habits, and people appreciate the positive affirmations. And these can range from referring to the physical aspects of working out to the mental health benefits. 

To add a bit of originality to this tried, tested and true method try incorporating quotes of your own or your team’s. You can also get motivational quotes from your current members and share them. These quotes will provide a more authentic representation of your brand’s culture. And because of that they could go a long way to encourage those who are on the fence about trying out your fitness services or products. 

Keep in mind, your motivational quotes don’t all have to be on the inspiring and/or serious side. You can try sharing fitness motivation that’s funny and speaks to the everyday struggles we all face with motivation or tackling a difficult workout. Or you can incorporate recipes and hacks that can help make sticking to a plan and achieving fitness goals easier.

2021 fitness marketing: Welcome members back

The rules and regulations associated with Covid are different from one city to another, and often change from week to week. Whether you find yourself in a lockdown or not, chances are you’re dealing with a wide range of restrictions that keep changing all the time. 

And with all of the uncertainty and potential health risks, a lot of people feel hesitant about returning to physical gyms and fitness studios. At the same time they’re antsy about staying at home so much too. So be sure to communicate clearly with your clients, and potential clients, when it comes to all the steps that you have taken to ensure that they can work out in a risk free, or minimal risk way. Emphasize how you’re following the recommendations of public health organizations and any additional steps you may be taking. And don’t just stop at one post or email. Plan campaigns around how you can share this information on an ongoing basis to reassure your audience. 

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For instance, you could share a video about opening your doors to a limited number of people at a time, disinfecting your gear and workout surfaces, maintaining the recommended distance between workout stations, and so on. A carousel ad, blog, and a series of social media posts can also be handy ways to communicate this. Start with the channels you know your audience turns to most, and then post updates to all of the others as well. Alongside this, consider hosting a week of relaunch events that consists of content and virtual events.

Here are a few ideas to help your customers feel energized to maintain their fitness routine once more:
  • Offer personalized nutrition and workout plans for those who sign up.
  • Livestream a few classes for free so that everyone can check them out. Consider setting up a sign up for each session so that you can increase the chances that you’re getting warm leads and so you can follow up with them. 
  • Share profiles of your trainers – this can range from bios to interviews. Make this content candid authentic and candid.
  • Include testimonials, reviews and success stories in your content calendar that specifically address the benefits of your new offerings.
2021 fitness marketing: Start a virtual community 

For many people, the gym is also a place that gives the chance to make new friendships and creates a sense of community. The endorphins and feeling good physically are great, but there’s so much more to gain from being a part of a community. 

When gyms had to close down in the wake of the pandemic, people missed this aspect of their fitness routines A LOT.  But all hope is not lost because you can create a community online. This can take the form of a Facebook group where members can post in response to prompts and fitness challenges, and also gain access to helpful content. Or it could involve using a tool like Slack to create a channel where your members can continue to interact with their buddies.

This will help them stay motivated in between training together, whether virtually or socially distanced. And it makes your channel or group the forum that makes it all possible.

Here are some ideas for helpful content you can post, or encourage members of the virtual community to post:
  • Healthy recipes and meal prep hacks
  • Workout tips and new workout ideas
  • Progress videos and images 
  • Host a live streamed competition or a virtual competition for a limited number of participants
  • Fitness trivia  
2021 fitness marketing: User generated content 

All over the world, people are trying to be as creative as possible with their workout routines so that they are able to stay fit and have fun. Ask your clients to tag your account or use a particular hashtag when they post videos of workouts you encourage them to do. You’ll then have a steady stream of user generated content to incorporate into your content calendar. 

You can also use this same strategy to launch contests with the winners getting a discount, free classes, products, etc. Try to give away the products or services that you want to increase awareness of. And always credit the creators of the content you share and give a shout out to your clients for sharing. This is a great way to keep interacting with your customers and to also get your business some much needed exposure.

If you are able to, hold a live workout session on a regular basis. This could be on a weekly basis or even a monthly basis. But just aim for consistency so that your audience knows they can count on you. Aim to schedule the workouts for windows of time when you get the most engagement from your followers. And make the videos of your live streams accessible to those who want to see them after the fact. Below are examples of some user generated content posted by clients who use Beachbody.

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2021 fitness marketing: Send out marketing emails 

Email marketing campaigns can be very useful for your fitness business right now. It is the perfect way to let people know about your latest developments and newest services and promos. Because email can help you with lead generation, this is a strategy that you must not overlook. 

If you want your clients to remember your brand, send out a weekly newsletter with something interesting included each time. This could be a collage of images, some new stories that are inspiring, tips and tricks, things to try out and ways to stay fit. 

You could also send out newsletters talking about the latest improvements that are being made at your gym or to your online classes. This way, clients will look forward to the opportunity to use your space or sign up for your programs. 

When it comes to other topics to cover, just be sure to keep your clients’ preferences in mind. Your emails will come across as more interesting and helpful as a result, and you’ll get more engagement. 

And similar to best practices for blogs, make sure that your email designs also have a good balance between the amount of text, images and videos or animations included.

Some other best practices that your email marketing strategy would benefit from include: 
  • Don’t force newsletters on clients. Get them to sign up and make it easy for them to update their preferences on the types of emails they receive or to unsubscribe.
  • Purely text-based email newsletters can fall flat if they’re too much information for people to try to get through. Try getting a couple of interesting branded template designs done so that you can prep your marketing emails more easily and make them more effective too!
  • Have a great call to action. Your emails need to have an action that will get customers to engage. Think about whether you want them to come back to the gym, sign up for online sessions or visit a specific landing page and be direct with your CTA.

To get people to sign up for your email, and remain subscribers, always provide them content that has value and relevance. Make it easy for them to sign up by having a brief form on your site. And include links to sign up on your social media profiles too.

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Berlei sent out an email newsletter featuring 3 home workout essentials. The subject line is interesting and compelling enough to make people want to find out what’s inside. The ‘No Gym? No Problem!’ tackles the current problem that people have with working out from home. They then go on to show the three essentials. They come with well written explanations and great CTAs. Their offer has a 30% discount which makes this one well rounded sales pitch.

2021 fitness marketing: Incentivize referrals

Fitness brands need to focus on gaining new members, but especially at a time like this, you also need to focus on retaining your existing members. If there is one campaign that can help you with both, it would be a referral program. 

A referral program helps you incentivize your existing members, getting you their loyalty, and will also bring in new members to your business. There is also no time limit on a referral program, so you can run this all year around. By creating an opportunity for your existing members, it will help increase their loyalty to you and help you tap into the power of word of mouth marketing. 

When members get you referrals, you could reward them with a discount on their monthly rate, or your program or product fees. If you’re not sure about how effective this particular strategy would be for your brand, or aren’t sure if you have the capacity to run it, do a test run with a small group of clients. 

If the strategy is a success you’ll know that it’s worth investing more resources in, and you can incorporate this permanently into your marketing plan. Here are a few ideas for rewards you can let your customers choose from: 

  • A free personal training session
  • Discounts off subscription or membership fees
  • A credit that can be used towards programs, classes or products

And remember you’ll want to give incentives to the referred customer to convert as well. Try rebranding your free trial if you have one, or creating an exclusive one for this purpose.

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2021 fitness marketing: Do a six week challenge

Challenges can brighten up a mood. In fact, challenges are a mood! So why not opt for one that runs for six weeks and gets your clients going? Six week fitness challenges are a great way to help clients form the habits and routines that they want to. And these habits and routines will be associated with your brand!  

This type of campaign is a great way to help customers who are looking to reinvest in their fitness efforts, to hook prospective customers who need some help forming a fitness habit, or even past customers who have cancelled their memberships.

Pair up your fitness challenge with an offer, if you want to see even more results. For example, everyone who signs up could be eligible for a certain discount. And those who make it through to the end could be incentivized with a bigger deal or prize.

Fitness brands can look really good in 2021 

As a fitness brand, you may be riding the wave of the new year, and the focus that many put on their fitness in January, but still wondering what next. And the answer to that question is that 2021 looks to be serving up opportunities alongside challenges. Fitness is a topic that is very much trending right now and will continue to do so. And all around the world, virtual workouts, apps and other such programs and platforms are continuing to launch and grow. 

While you might be new to this way of reaching and connecting with clients, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use and repurpose all of the expertise and methods you know so well. As a business in the fitness industry, if you are able to try even a few of the strategies in this blog, you can definitely still bring on new clients and keep your existing clients engaged in 2021 too.