The $500k Full Circle Inbound Marketing Gym Case Study

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Gym Case Study

It seems like the goal of every gym is to attract new clients, retain existing ones, and upsell the ones who are already on board. Over the course of one year Digital Elevator was able to help one of our gym clients do just that. I wanted to share with you the approach we took and the kinds of results we have had for this client and how your gym can do the same thing.

We covered this gym – Big Al’s Family Fitness – early on to give readers an idea of our approach and the timelines. You can read about the early posts here:

Inbound Marketing Infusion

You can see from the links above that initially we performed a lot of the fundamental local SEO tactics that Digital Elevator excels at:

  • Strong content as a foundation
  • On-page optimization: title tags, meta data, picture optimization, etc.
  • Off-page optimization: link building, content syndication, citation building
  • Social media
  • Consistent content: blogging regularly, blog syndication and distribution

These tactics were all put in place to help the gym drive qualified traffic to the site. This aspect of inbound marketing lends itself mostly to search engine optimization, or specifically, attracting new clients to the gym.

Lead Nurture

Lead nurturing is perhaps one of the most challenging and overlooked aspects of a solid inbound marketing campaign. Most SEO companies merely drive traffic to a website and stop there. An inbound marketing campaign however, insures that traffic is driven to a website but also takes measures to ensure that that traffic gets closer to becoming a paid customer.

In the case of the gym, Digital Elevator setup email nurture campaigns to complement the gym’s existing lead capture tool: a free 30-day guest pass. This guest pass captures a visitor’s name, phone number and email address. The email address is one of the most effective ways to reach a potential customer and this is why: Email’s have the highest open ratios of any marketing platform, hovering somewhere in the 20% range. Plus there’s the fact that a person who signs up for a 30-day guest pass doesn’t necessarily capitalize on that pass. People are busy, maybe they forget to come to the gym, get caught up doing something else, or just plain forgot they have the pass. The remedy to this is to hit them up with strategically planned emails.

If a 30-day guest pass lead has signed up but has not yet come into the gym, we continue to send them email reminders until they do. The lead also has the option to unsubscribe to these emails should they decide they no longer want to join. Over the course of one month, the lead is sent emails to remind them of their opportunity to join the gym and get a tour of the facility. This lead nurture element alone has boosted the lead-to-conversion ratio some 10-20 percent.

We do this all via email automation software. This is an integral piece of the online marketing plan and one that almost has to be done automatically given all of the contacts and the ever changing states they are in – 30-day pass registrant, member, personal training member, etc.

Additional Gym Email Lead Nurturing

Existing members can and are also placed on email nurture campaigns to upsell them additional gym services. For example, we created separate email nurture campaigns for:

  • Senior fitness classes
  • Personal training
  • Group fitness (Yoga, Zumba, Koga, etc)
  • Kids’ fitness programs
  • Nutrition programs
  • The affiliated Muscle Maker Grill restaurant

These emails went out to existing members with reminders, offers and promotions to take advantage of the gyms other services and amenities. If you consider the amount of services a gym of this size offers, it is simple for a member to forget that they can take advantage of all of the happenings at the gym. Email campaigns are soft touches to remind members of the things that they were once told about but that are not always top of mind.

Nutrition Guide: Lead Capture, Brand Awareness and Link Bait

Digital Elevator wanted to help solidify Big Al’s gym as a great place to work out but also as a place that was chock-full of resources for members. We decided that a free downloadable PDF guide on Pre and Post Workout Nutrition would serve this purpose and others. We spent a considerable amount of time researching and creating a guide that was based on the latest scientific evidence in this area and made it available for free on the website.

From there, we promoted the guide on social media nearly every week but also did specific outreach programs to local businesses, fitness professionals and other influential people on LinkedIn. Over the course of two months the guide became the second most popular page on the website and received 100s of downloads.

The LinkedIn technique aided in lead capture because it gave the Big Al’s marketing team a way to approach local business owners with something valuable and bring awareness to the Big Al’s name. Secondly, online influencers who found the guide helpful would link to it and increase the authority of the website and help in our SEO efforts. The guide is also available for print and Big Al’s can use it to provide value to its existing members.

Blog Lead Capture

The blog is another area where Digital Elevator captures leads for the gym. We consistently created really great posts and drive traffic to them but also place pop-ups on the blogs with special offers for personal training. As our research indicates that the majority of people who read the blogs are existing members, we chose to cater a special personal training offer to these individuals who submitted their email. These people would then enter our personal training email nurture campaign mentioned above.

Making it All Work

The Big Al’s inbound marketing plan took some time to put together and carry out. When we came onboard Big Al’s captured about 20-40 leads from the website on a good month. Now it is fairly standard that we give them 150 leads a month or more (gyms are very, very seasonal). Big Al’s lowest paying customers make the gym about $240 a year in revenue (likely double that). If you look at the amount of leads we are bringing in times that revenue number (150*$240), we are putting a potential $36,000 per month in their pockets or $432,000 per year.

Here is a summary of the steps we took to form what I call full circle inbound marketing campaign:

  1. Create great content– services pages, pictures, videos, and graphics, all the best textual and visual content we could create originally.
  2. Implement on-page optimization– optimize site for title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags, and other on-page elements according to the keywords we researched.
  3. Blog like crazy– blogging is a great way to create content and earn links. It also has the added benefit of allowing you to rank for long-tail keywords and capture leads.
  4. Off-page optimization– build citations, links and relationships with other fitness websites. This is an ongoing process much like most of the items on this list.
  5. CRO– conversion rate optimization. Making the pages on the site convert more website visitors into actual leads via the 30-day guest pass. We also find other ways to convert visitors into leads as well as look at ways to upsell existing members other services.
  6. Email nurture– get potential members and existing members on individual email nurture campaigns until then become the type of customer you want. Non-members first become members and existing members are sold services like personal training, kids fitness classes and other group fitness classes.
  7. Maintain leads– maintaining leads involves a lot of the above in addition to pleasing them on social media, providing them with freebies and goodies, and making them feel good about being part of the Big Al’s team.

This list is not exhaustive but pretty much sums it all up. If you have a gym and want to do the same, contact Digital Elevator today!

Daniel Lofaso
Daniel Lofaso
Daniel E. Lofaso is the lead SEO and owner of Digital Elevator and is also the founder of startup SwellSpy. Connect with Lofaso on Twitter and LinkedIn

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