Closed gyms, unemployed trainers. People remain isolated in their homes, but they are still eager to stay fit, they still want to keep in touch with their gym buddies. Sounds like a challenge?
They say that in many ways we will never go back to the times before the pandemic. At least not in the foreseeable future. Many of us will want to keep avoiding large groups of people and sharing equipment with others.
The fitness industry has to respond to this anxiety and find a new place in this new reality. At Autentika we believe that technology can significantly help bridge the gap between the gym, fitness club, or the coach and their customers. For the former, it may be a sales and service delivery channel, and for the latter, it may become a way to realize their sports-related ambitions and maintain their social relations.
Let’s see how it can be done.
Anna, a fitness trainer, shares a class calendar. She creates a schedule, sets a limit of participants. The mobile app is her virtual reception desk, which allows her to remain in touch with the participants of her classes.
Emma and Nicole met in one of Anna’s classes. They can’t imagine a training session without the support of their group. Motivation and a nice way to spend time, that’s the whole point, right?
They both purchase the annual plan, which allows them to save money. They often recommend the service to their friends by sharing a single entrance pass with them, which allows them to give it a try.
Class day. One of four in a week, because the ladies also take part in other classes. The group meets in the virtual locker room. Some jokes and gossip go around, the trainer reminds everyone what equipment they will need for their exercises. Participants connect from any given location (hey, not everyone lives in a big city!) using any device they have — a laptop, smartphone, their TV set.
Anna begins her session. All she needs to stream her video class is a computer with a web browser.
A smartwatch on her wrist sends information about burnt calories and heart rate. A live view of the exercise plan and the remaining time allows her to keep her pace and carry out the plan. She doesn’t even have to touch the device throughout the class!
Nicole follows Anna’s movements closely on the screen of her laptop. The familiar voice of their trainer and tips regarding consecutive exercises help her a lot. Awareness that the class is taking place in real-time and the trainer can see her perform motivates Nicole to work harder.
Nicole loves to compete and even here she tries to be the best. Her tenure at the club, presence in classes, training intensity, number of recommendations — she can gather points in many ways.
But not everyone is as good as Nicole. Helen is at the beginning of her road to fitness and she has some trouble with properly carrying out some of the exercises. That’s what the trainer is for, right? A quick request for a voice call and the ladies explain everything in the blink of an eye. The whole group also learns how to perfect their moves.
Thanks to easily available messages from class participants, Anna once again appreciates the convenience of her smartwatch.
Phew, finally, the session is over. Emma and Nicole spend a bit more time joking with her gym buddies in the “locker room”. Now a shower and… we’re home. No need to travel, change busses on the way! There’s no better thing after an intense workout than a comfy couch!
Simple? Not really, but possible with the right choice of innovative technology. It’s a specific business idea signed by a brand of gym or fitness club network, a clothing or sports goods manufacturer, or an employee benefits provider.
Moreover, this system can be simply converted for use in other sectors… It’s simply a paid video conference connection surrounded with some additional features. Why couldn’t we use the same system to keep in touch with doctors, psychologists, financial advisors, lawyers, teachers?
OK, but let’s get back to the gym. Because we wanted to take the most holistic approach, we invited experts from Whites. The Whites team took our concept solution for the fitness industry and added a marketing element, by analyzing the possible communication and promotion channels for this type of solution.
Let’s take a look at what it could look like on the marketing side.
The fitness market
It is prognosed that in 2020 the fitness market will grow by 30% against the previous year and its value will reach $22B. Although the effects of the coronavirus crisis will be experienced by many industries, it is worthwhile to take a look at the emerging business niches. Most recent studies show that in this industry the share of revenues originating from software applications will increase globally and reach the level of $3B.
Coronavirus and the change in consumer behavior
The perception of the situation among people who practice sports is not very optimistic. Most study participants declare they are uncertain that they will be able to return to their gyms and classes and predict that months have to pass before these places can reopen.
The current attitudes towards fitness clubs cause changes in consumer behaviors, as we observe an increased interest of Poles in buying fitness equipment.
The market for mobile applications is large and capacious. If we consider the number of people declaring that they regularly perform physical exercises in their free time, in the US this number reaches 23%, and in the UE, on average 30%. This amounts to roughly 208M potential users for mobile training applications in those countries alone.
COVID-19 and the lockdown period influenced our online searches. Looking into Google Trends and the scope of subjects related to physical exercises, we can see a large increase of interest in the second half of March.
The above graph presents the scale of interest in this subject field within the last five years — you can see that in the second half of March and in April we did typically observe such significant increases in searches regarding physical exercises. The fact, that the users carrying our those searches focus mostly on exercising at home is confirmed by the other graph which presents the number of searches regarding gyms and related subjects.
Here we can see a definite decrease in interest. Gyms are facing significant problems and people who are physically active seek ideas for how to continue their training at home. But it’s not the only group of people, who became interested in exercising at home.
As you can see in the second half of March the phrase “exercises for beginners” was much more popular than in previous years.
Today everyone is exercising online, although women mention it more often on social media and that’s where they seek inspiration. The graph below demonstrated the number of mentions for “fitness online” and “fitness app” in social media, broken down by gender.
You can see how the trend has changed — how the lockdown period influenced the popularity of the two phrases — “fitness online” and “fitness app”.
When creating content, you should keep in mind that the message should be diversified. You should present different benefits to fit different target groups. For example — people who work from home may be looking for exercises which will allow them to take care of their backs after a long day of sitting in front of a computer and also to virtually meet other people. Pregnant women will be looking for a safe training routine which can be carried out at home. Those used to intense training sessions at the gym will look forward to any indication of a tough workout.
In different channels different groups become more active than others — women use Facebook and Instagram more often, men usually turn to Twitter (the graph presents mentions of “fitness online” and “fitness app” broken down into social media channels):
Most efficient channels
- Facebook — has the greatest coverage of all social media, good content may benefit from the wide organic reach and even become viral — people share good content; this allows for the possibility of diversified communication: with the use of images, infographics, animations, as well as video, including live streams; also, you should not forget about the possibility to generate traffic — for example to the LP of the app.
- Instagram — is very visual, it is a great match for the fitness industry, it also allows for diversifying content, building a community,
- YouTube — allows you to share videos, which can reach people interested in specific subjects if well optimized, it also allows for redirecting traffic.
Good practices in communication
- live — example: Ewa Chodakowska, every day at 6 p.m. on Facebook — a great way to build a community and to present your product by providing a free experience — those who want more, can pay for access to the site
- sharing free training videos — e.g. Yoga with Adriene (a YouTube channel) — a great tool for building a brand, recognition, and coverage, it also allows for building attachment of the user to your content and your product
- promoting with particular instructors (AloMoves app, Instagram) — diversification of communication by presenting different instructors of different types of exercise, we can reach numerous target groups, give them what they need:
- building a community — Strava — organizing challenges, actions to support members of the community, showing their metamorphoses, encouraging them to share their achievements — here you can use hashtags
- you should test communicating through different channels and verify what works best for you
- visual content is a great match for the fitness world — images and video materials attract attention and engage users
- video content can be made professionally, but it can also be a cheaper format, live videos are a good way to promote
- you should build communities, engage users and constantly maintain the relationship
- it makes sense to provide some free content — the user will know what they can expect from the paid services
Promoting a mobile application
Within paid online channels of promotion for a mobile app a universal campaign promoting the application across the Google network is the most efficient platform to increase the number of downloads. This type of campaign works both for Android and iOS apps and within those campaigns, we can utilize all Google Ads outlets including Google Display Network, Google Search Network, YouTube, Google Discover, and Google Play (for Android apps).
This type of campaign is significantly different from standard Google Ads campaigns, there is no need to design particular ads, you add text suggestions for your ads and resources (images, videos, etc.) and Google’s system autonomously creates ads by adapting them to particular formats and testing different combinations of the provided resources.
Within the campaign we can pick the goal for optimizing between increasing the number of downloads, increasing the number of actions within the app, or improving the value of the in-app activity. The best choice for promoting a fitness app is optimizing for increasing the number of activities because we need to focus on building a community around the brand and obtaining new users, who will naturally become our evangelists
The second channel in which we can create campaigns to promote mobile apps is Facebook. Here the effectiveness understood as the cost of obtaining a download is less favorable than in the case of Google Ads, but it allows us to reach a group of users potentially interested in physical development. On Facebook, the size of the target group interested in physical fitness amounts to 180M people.
From the very start, you should attempt to reach this group, because of the wide range of remarketing possibilities and the ability to increase the number of fans of the brand on Facebook, if not for any other reason. But Facebook campaigns are much more effective in further activating the gathered users.
Activation of users within a mobile app
Google Ads campaigns are a great tool to increase the number of app users, but the activation of existing users is not one of their strengths. For this purpose, social media campaigns such as those on Facebook or Twitter seem to work much better, especially if they include elements of Marketing Automation meant to activate users.
Within MA we can use a wide scope of notifications based on user preferences, behavior, time since last activity, and many other elements. We can test solutions in real life and use scoring tools to find messages which are a better match for the target user. We also have a wide range of message types that we can use, such as a newsletter, webpush, in-app notification, or SMS.
This product allows us to use notifications when our friends enter the virtual locker room to let us know that it’s time for a training session. We can also set a reminder for any time and increase or decrease the intensity of the session depending on user activity. Using MA the possibilities of activating existing users are practically unlimited.
In paid campaigns, Facebook and Twitter may be the most effective channels (although not in every country). Both these channels allow for running campaigns with the main purpose of activating existing users.
Paid website promotion
Aside from the mobile application we can also use paid campaigns to promote a website. Here we have many more campaign options to choose from as well as many more optimization and user activation possibilities.
Google Search Network campaigns targeted for keywords related to exercising at home, training, the training app, etc. are effective in promoting a website. The initial analysis of keywords shows an increased interest in this type of service. In recent months we are reaching six million global searches including the related phrases. The cost per click within such a campaign varies depending on the country, competition, ad quality, and the target site, but it’s certainly one of the most effective online advertising channels.
Social media are also an efficient tool in increasing the number of website visitors, also, they allow for combining paid campaigns with building an organic community, which increases the range on its own independently of ad spendings.
Here we can distinguish three channels:
- Facebook as the most universal advertising channel, with the highest number of users and a low conversion cost and user acquisition cost.
- Instagram has the best coverage among the target group which is the best match for the fitness industry and allows for building a community, sharing the effects of training, which increases brand visibility, although conversion costs here are usually higher than in the case of Facebook.
- Finally, YouTube, which doesn’t generate many website visits and the conversion to website cost here is usually very high, but in the times when most fitness classes moved online, it is a very important channel in terms of building an image. The number of impressions in a YouTUbe campaign is only limited by budgets, and wide targeting possibilities, the ability to reconnect with video viewers and build advertising sequences may prove to be the key in increasing brand awareness in the market and reaching potential customers. We can also use Google Display Network campaigns for activating all users and increasing traffic to the website.
As part of the marketing activity on our website, we can also implement Marketing Automation to complement the activation of users in the mobile app. Many MA systems allow for combining in-app activity with events on the website. For example, when the user receives a notification in the mobile app that their friends entered the virtual locker room they can receive a webpush including a link to the current training session, which they will be able to join immediately. Here there are also no limits to how we can use MA to activate existing clients and in this type of website, it is a must.
We’re curious about your opinion regarding our idea. Let us know what you think in the comment section, or contact us directly:
Autentika (https://autentika.com/) — Product, UX, UI Design, Web & Mobile Development, E-commerce. Working both with big brands and startups: DPD, Bayer, TVN, Wirtualna Polska, Intel, Teva, Bidroom.
Design Team: Grzegorz Wiktorski, Patryk Ilnicki
Whites (https://agencjawhites.pl/en/) — a digital agency that helps clients to increase trafﬁc on their websites and grow on the online market by selecting and combining the most precise solutions, such as Data-driven SEO, Growth Campaigns, Content Marketing, or Social Media activities. Most of their clients are well-established and internationally recognizable corporate companies: Red Bull, Orange, Discovery Channel, Netguru, DHL, Henkel, Nestlé, Medicover, Randstad, Etam, Virgin Mobile, Roche.
How to help the fitness industry (and others) with a single application? was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.