The Top 3 Lead Generation Channels for Gyms in 2021

Email marketing is great, but let’s be honest – we are all drowning in emails today. Even brand new subscriptions ultimately get ignored or worse, moved to the spam folder.

While email campaigns allow you to include longer descriptions, lots of hyperlinks, embed photo or video content, they often miss the mark on getting the attention of your leads straightaway.

“I’ll go back to this later,” thinks Tom who just checked his phone after rugby practice. But next time he opens the inbox, there’s already a dozen new emails that will completely replace the memory of that promo email.

Don’t get discouraged. Advertising your gym through email marketing is very much still recommended, it just might not be your most effective sales channel in 2021.

The three lead generating channels that can help you increase your fitness sales now are Social media, SMS and Events. Scroll down to learn more.

1. Social media

As one of the most advanced channels for advertising, social media is constantly changing. This can be a bonus or a setback.

If you can stay up to date with new trends and what other influencers are doing, you can easily turn content into a conversion tool.

What makes social media ideal for capturing new leads? The immediacy! Plus a range of easily accessible tools to showcase your brand while participating in different challenges.

    • TikTok and Instagram remain the most popular among Generation Z, where Facebook is taking the overall lead among all generations.

Thinking of social media as an extension to your gym’s first impression can be helpful when you introduce new classes and new employees.

Here are a couple of activities that can help you introduce your brand to new leads.

🤳 Livestream

Stream a class and invite prospects to join. Create a schedule of PTs to jump in on social media to give daily motivation to followers. Organise virtual Q&As with members to coach them into living healthier.

👀 Behind the Scenes

Share your pre-sale preparations. Show how your team does planning or works out together. You love Halloween or Christmas? Great, film how you’re decorating the gym!

💪 Workout Content

From demonstrating how to perform a single exercise to recording workouts with instructions from your PTs, video content generates great engagement, especially among new leads.

🍏 Educational Clips

Nutrition and mindfulness are areas of improvement for many people. Instead of focusing on making these long and detailed, prepare a series of short videos that can be shared on a particular day. Start your own hashtags (for example, #NutritionThursday) or take part in global celebrations like the #WorldMentalHealthDay.

💯 Challenges

Join popular challenges on TikTok and Instagram. If you need some inspiration, take a look at Gymshark who have 2.5 million followers.

When you think of social media as a lead generation channel, there are two different ways of using it. The first one is to simply post as much as possible and focus on content marketing. The second option is to invest in paid promotion with sponsored marketing.

While the first type of social media presence will help you create a more consistent brand image, the second type will ensure your posts reach a wider audience.

Don’t forget to have a clear call to action (CTA). Ask leads to go to a landing page, visit your website where they can view all membership options, or text you with a promo code. Make the sign up experience as easy as possible.

2. SMS

Did you know that customers are more likely to open a text message before any other form of mobile communication?

SMS marketing is probably the hottest form of lead generation right now.

Emails are likely to end up in the spam folder, app notifications are likely to be ignored after a while, but SMS messages have a 98% open rate on average (compared to 20% open rate for emails).

If that doesn’t persuade you, 75% of consumers actually would prefer text messages over social media to communicate with a brand.

Here are the key things to remember when implementing SMS marketing for your gym:

    • Strong branding will improve trust: Including your gym’s name in the sender field, compared to a random mobile number, is likely to increase the open rate and the number of new signups.
    • Personalisation goes a long way: Try to always use the first name of your leads when contacting them. If you meet someone new and remember their name, it always makes a good first impression. The same logic applies to SMS marketing.
    • Include a CTA: For your SMS campaigns to be successful, you need to have a call to action. Link to a landing page to speed up signups!

SMS is short and sweet and it’s bound to drive up your sales. There are no tricks with SMS, but try to make new campaigns relevant and fun.

When exercisers join the gym, they don’t just buy a membership to use your facility – they also purchase a pass to your community.

3. Events

Who doesn’t like giveaways? But offering discounts and rewards to new customers is just one way to interpret events.

Networking opportunities are even more important today after months of isolation than pre-COVID.

Inviting people over for a special event will increase your chances to position yourself not only as a fitness expert, but also as a community booster.

We all went crazy for the online quizzes during the pandemic. What most people are looking forward to now is to continue to test their knowledge and participate in themed nights out in the real world. So why don’t you borrow inspiration from pop culture to create your own themed workouts?

Here’s an example. Remember the big speech from Full Metal Jacket? Imagine you set up a film-inspired bootcamp experience that starts with a similar kick-ass speech.

You can begin the session with a military warm-up, then use the strengths of your facility (indoor or outdoor) to create a truly memorable workout, and finish with a complimentary branded gift and a healthy smoothie – or a themed cocktail – to keep the networking going after the adrenaline’s on.

The key elements to a successful fitness event:

1. Create a buzz before the event: you can publish events for your upcoming classes on social media or event post them on Eventbrite. Invite as many people as you can!

2. Welcome exercisers with enthusiasm: use special events as a unique networking opportunity to not only learn more about prospects and your existing members, but also spread the news about your referral program.

3. Give them a workout to talk about: whether you have surprise moves, pop culture references or an inspirational speech prepared, go big, have fun and make it memorable!

4. Leave attendees with something to show off: this could be a branded T-shirt, keychain or a water bottle. You can also offer a pair of tickets to a new film or comedy show to a randomly selected winner at the end of the workout.

80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services, according to SalesForce.

To make a profit from these events, you should charge extra for the experience, but first make sure that you’re bringing the extra value.

A different type of networking event you can organise is to throw a charity marathon and help support a local cause. You can replace marathon with a health fair or a day of challenges and surprise guests. The more creative your events, the more leads you’ll generate.

Events will allow you to stand out from the competitors and involve your fitness community while doing so!