3 Marketing Strategies Gyms and Studios Can Use in 2022

Marketing to and reaching your target audience in a post-2021 market can be confusing. We’ve gathered a few tips and data to help you connect with new and existing members.

If you’ve noticed a shift in marketing trends and want to build better relationships with your current members while reaching a new audience, then keep reading.

However, if you’re looking for copy and paste marketing strategies like “post once a day on Instagram to grow your following.” Then you may want to check out some of our other marketing resources.

I’ve spent the last 10 years—my entire professional career—working in digital marketing, and I can honestly say that more has changed since 2020 than from 2011-2019. With everything going on in the fitness industry—and the world—I know how busy all of our members are right now. So to save you all time, I’ve read through the latest marketing updates and research to help you reach a larger audience in an ever-changing market.

3 Marketing Strategies Gyms and Studios Can Use in 2022 column width

3 Marketing Strategies that Gyms, Studios, and Health Clubs Can Use in 2022

  1. Make Your Marketing Personal

  2. Embrace SMS Campaigns (Legally)

  3. Adapt Your Marketing Campaigns, Don’t Trash Them

Before I tell you a little more about the research I found, I wanted to mention that there were a lot of strategies and tips that I had to leave out. To avoid the article becoming a novel, I had to narrow it down to the information I thought was most relevant to current times and vital for you to know.

Also, remember that every business is different, and I encourage you to look at your audience and adapt these strategies to best fit your model and capabilities.

Make Your Marketing Personal

Gone are the days when you could make one advertising campaign and call it a day. Now more than ever, you need to make sure your campaigns speak to each of your target audiences. That means campaigns need to:

  • meet your audience where they are—Instagram vs TikTok anyone,

  • use the language they use, and

  • know your audiences’ likes and dislikes.

If a member only checks in for yoga classes or reserves a swim lane, don’t send them a marketing email about your new weightlifting equipment.

Right before the 2021 holiday shopping season, the advertising platform Outbrain shared their findings from a survey of more than 8,000 consumers from across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Israel.

When they asked participants what makes them engage with an advertisement, they found that in nearly every country, consumers responded more favorably to—and engaged more with—content that aligned with their personal interests and was trustworthy.

They also found that 54% of global consumers—and 63% of U.S. consumers—consider brand accessibility the most important factor when considering a purchase.

How do you make your brand accessible?

It all comes down to being reachable and responsive. If you don’t have someone posting—or at least checking—on your Twitter account on a regular basis, then don’t include it on your website. Better yet, delete it, and avoid the possibility of a potential member trying to contact you and being left with a bad impression when they never hear back.

Making your brand accessible can mean more than just being responsive on social media; it can mean making simple adjustments like adding alt text to your images and captions to all your videos. This has the added benefit of making your campaigns more inclusive while also increasing your campaigns' attractiveness to search engines.

One more way you can make your marketing campaigns personal—this is a big one—ditch the stock images of young, fit people, and instead, opt for using “real” images of your club and your members. Not only will it help build and foster relationships with your current members, but it will help potential members see themselves in your gym or studio.

Your audience should be able to relate to the campaigns you put out.

Embrace SMS Campaigns (Legally)

Did you know that 85% of smartphone users favor messaging over emails or calls? If that surprises you, wait until you hear that texts have a response rate of 45%, which is 7x higher than the 6% average of emails.

So, here are a few dos and don’ts for your SMS campaign.

  • Do: tailor your messages to your members’ preferences and purchase history

  • Do: leverage geotargeting

  • Don’t: implement a text or messaging system with no way to reply or monitor

  • Don’t: take hours or days to reply to messages

  • Don’t: abuse your members’ trust by spamming their phones with texts

While 65% of consumers say they feel more positive about businesses with messaging than they do about businesses without it, always make sure you’re following the laws in your country or state.

Text campaigns can have big implications for your gym or studio.

Adapt Your Marketing Campaigns, Don’t Trash Them

You may have noticed recently that your paid marketing campaigns on social media or Google Ads haven’t been returning as good of an ROI—or return on investment—as in previous years or even months.

Don’t give your marketing team a poor performance review just yet. Across the board, brands are paying more per customer acquisition and getting less in return.

You have two factors to thank for the majority of any decline you’ve seen in your marketing efforts' effectiveness:

  1. Privacy regulations and the slow-moving death of third-party cookies, and

  2. Of course, the pandemic leaving consumers with less disposable income.

From GDPR to Apple’s cross-tracking transparency initiatives to Google saying farewell to third-party cookies, marketers have less and less data to use when optimizing their campaigns. Less optimized campaigns mean they are likely spending more—and doing more—just to reach a possibly less-engaged audience—in part, thanks to the pandemic.

So, how can your business adapt your marketing campaign?

  1. Accept that this new reality means you’ll need to increase your marketing budget year-over-year.

  2. Take a look at your current and old campaigns. If you’re using a lot of bid modifiers, stop that. Instead, take advantage of Google’s Smart Bidding strategies.

  3. Use the emerging type of paid ad that adapts copy in real-time to better match a user’s intent, Google refers to these as Responsive Search Ads, but Meta—formerly Facebook—calls these Dynamic Ads. Essentially, it’s giving your ad multiple headlines, descriptions, CTAs, etc., and is similar to A/B testing.

Ultimately, this can be a great opportunity for your brand to connect with your audience on a more personal level.

Take the time to understand your current—and potential—members' wants and needs, what worries them, and any barriers they may face. Once you fully understand your members, you’ll be able to develop innovative content and campaigns that demonstrate why your business is the right choice for your audience.

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Kaitee Anderson Fernandez

Kaitee Anderson Fernandez previously served as IHRSA's Director of Creative Content—a position that created digital, print, and video content to help tell the story behind IHRSA's advocacy and public policy efforts.