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Best Practices For Marketing Your Virtual Workout Offering

Our previous article, ‘4 top tech tips for offering virtual workouts’, discussed the tech you need to successfully set up and run virtual workouts. But as great as virtual offerings are, they are completely useless if nobody attends or makes use of them. So, how can you market your virtual workouts and get as many members as possible to engage with you, your business, and your brand?

The key is to position your business as being an expert in its field – both in-person and online.

These are just some of the best practices to consider when marketing virtual workouts, letting you drive maximum engagement, value, and, ultimately, profit.

1. Offer valuable content online to connect with your audience

You need to show your audience that your content is worth their time – and money!

A teaser live stream session is one way to do this. The goal is to show people that you can provide something of value without giving everything away for free.

What’s more, the quality of the videos you offer is essential; the more professional they look, the better the impression you’ll make on potential customers.

It’s important, therefore, to create and share quality content that showcases your offering and any specialities of your business (e.g., a particular style of workout). This really shows you to be an expert and a safe pair of hands that your members can put their trust in.

After you’ve released teaser live stream session, there are few other ways that you can hook your members into your content offering. Make some of it freely accessible online to gather interest and build trust, for example:

  • Create and release short-form videos on your website, YouTube, social media channels, etc that demonstrate the best way to perform exercises for maximum results
  • Write regular blogs around a range of different topics. This thought-leadership is a great way to boost your professional authority and demonstrate your businesses’ fitness expertise
  • Create supplementary content such as nutrition advice which then links to and promotes your online workouts

2. Use email marketing to nurture your existing member relationships

Now you know how to communicate the value of your virtual workouts, you need to work at getting members to notice you. Marketing virtual workouts can be easy if you know which channels to start with.

Email marketing is a great place to start as you can quickly, cheaply, and easily contact existing members directly, making it perhaps the most effective way to build and strengthen connections with your audience.

Design and draft emails for your members and send them using either the communications tool in your management software or using email marketing services like Mailchimp or Constant Contact.

Examples of types of emails you can send:

  • Newsletters with a round-up of recent blogs or articles you think your members may enjoy and a feature about the new virtual workouts you are offering
  • Special promotions to encourage take up of membership or attendance of a particular event such as the first few virtual workouts in a month
  • Follow-up emails after an online session with a recap of everything that was covered in the virtual workout

Away from email marketing, if you have an app, make use of push notifications and direct message functionality to reach members who may not see your emails. You could also consider putting livestream classes or workout video links into the same software you use for your normal class booking schedule on your website or app. This will make your virtual classes seem as great as your normal classes, as well as making them accessible, easy to find, and easy to book.

Remember that your existing members are your best advertisers. If you can turn them into fans of your virtual workouts, they’ll market you and your business effectively and for free! Our recent guide, ‘Making virtual workouts a reality’, takes you through everything you need to set up your own successful virtual workout offering and to make members into brand fanatics.

3. Don’t forget about social media marketing

Here’s where to let new and existing members know what’s happening. Once you know what virtual workouts you’ll offer, start to drop hints and teasers on social media – with clear branding for your business – about what’s coming soon and how to get involved.

Social media is your biggest supporter when it comes to getting the word out. Most of your potential customers will be on one platform or another, so find out where most of your members browse and start building your community there. Engage with them frequently, share your content, and showcase your achievements.

Best practices for social media include:

  • Promoting your virtual workouts both before and after the sessions, encouraging members to provide feedback on their experience
  • Using trailers, videos, and stories to remind people of the link they need to access your virtual workout
  • Talking to your members to get their feedback and looking at how you can update your business model to accommodate these
  • Making use of paid advertising to targeted audience groups on social media (e.g. to friends of those who follow you, to people in the local area who are interested in workouts, or to audiences who follow similar profiles)
  • Creating a branded Facebook group for virtual members, as this can help build relationships in a way that’s convenient and still personable. Get your existing customers to join the group and encourage them to tell others about it. Get discussions going among the members; it makes what you’re doing more visible and creates a sense of community
  • Making use of Facebook Live and/or Instagram Live to give followers a taster of your virtual workouts. Just make sure your video isn’t just a sales pitch and actually delivers a good workout.

3. Don’t forget about social media marketing

Here’s where to let new and existing members know what’s happening. Once you know what virtual workouts you’ll offer, start to drop hints and teasers on social media – with clear branding for your business – about what’s coming soon and how to get involved.

Social media is your biggest supporter when it comes to getting the word out. Most of your potential customers will be on one platform or another, so find out where most of your members browse and start building your community there. Engage with them frequently, share your content, and showcase your achievements.

Best practices for social media include:

  • Promoting your virtual workouts both before and after the sessions, encouraging members to provide feedback on their experience
  • Using trailers, videos, and stories to remind people of the link they need to access your virtual workout
  • Talking to your members to get their feedback and looking at how you can update your business model to accommodate these
  • Making use of paid advertising to targeted audience groups on social media (e.g. to friends of those who follow you, to people in the local area who are interested in workouts, or to audiences who follow similar profiles)
  • Creating a branded Facebook group for virtual members, as this can help build relationships in a way that’s convenient and still personable. Get your existing customers to join the group and encourage them to tell others about it. Get discussions going among the members; it makes what you’re doing more visible and creates a sense of community
  • Making use of Facebook Live and/or Instagram Live to give followers a taster of your virtual workouts. Just make sure your video isn’t just a sales pitch and actually delivers a good workout.

4. Include a verbal call-to-action (CTA) in videos or your virtual events

People need to be told what you expect them to do next. Call to actions are vital for pushing members and potential members further along the sales funnel, ensuring that the effort you put into virtual workouts benefits your business as well as your members.

This is particularly true if you’ve just finished a free teaser workout, as you might now want to encourage people to pay for any other virtual workouts they attend.

A clear call to action can remind people to sign up for the next series of workouts, or to sign up for a membership at your gym or leisure centre.

For example, you could say: “Thanks for coming to our workout! I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did, and if you’re keen to see more, head over to [your website] where all our virtual workouts are on offer.”

Even if you are offering virtual workouts in lieu of in-person workouts to current members (i.e. for no additional charge), you can still take advantage of the attention of your members to drive them to the e-commerce section of your website, or to related content.

5. Offer exclusive discounts

Exclusive discounts create a fear of missing out amongst your audience and can be a fantastic marketing tool. Exclusivity creates a huge interest and urgency in your audience.

Rather than offering generic deals to everyone, share them exclusively on selected platforms. Create a sense of urgency around your offer by limiting the number of seats or when the offer ends.

Remember to be specific with your promotions. In other words, you’re not just saying “I’m a virtual gym/leisure centre providing online workouts” – focus on specifics. For example, you could say: “For a limited time only, get 10 online workouts for only £40 — that’s a 20% discount!”

6. Encourage word-of-mouth advertising

People trust what their friends and family tell them much more than any advertising. So you need to ask your existing members for testimonials. There are several ways to do this:

  • Get quotes you can use on your website
  • Create a case study based on one particular member and their success
  • Ask your existing members to mention your new online workouts on their social media
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals from your members – if they’ve seen success with you, and they love what you’ve been offering online already, they’ll be happy to help you promote it

Make it worth their while by setting up a loyalty program – you could reward members who get friends to sign up for one of your workouts with a free workout session.

7. Test virtual offerings out on members

If you’re thinking about expanding your virtual workout offering to allow non-members to buy a virtual subscription, then it’s a good idea to test the product out on your paying members first. That way, you have a pre-made pool of customers that you can market to and you can see if the virtual workouts work for your particular business model.

For example, Gymbox, a London fitness and lifestyle brand with a focus on combining exercise and entertainment, expanded on their Instagram Live class success by partnering with video-on-demand platform Uscreen to develop a proprietary virtual fitness service – ‘Out The Box’. This is a digital fitness service focused in true Gymbox-style on redefining home workouts with a mix of on-demand and scheduled creative classes.

Gymbox is just getting started on Out The Box. The platform will be developed beyond classes with richer features providing personalisation, rewards, performance tracking, creating community amongst members, providing a range of fitness programmes designed to both complement their in-gym classes and cater to those needing at-home workouts only.

Understanding that there’s really only one chance to get it right with their digital fitness offering, the fitness operator has softly promoted Out The Box to members initially. Uptake has been positive but the aim is to create a product with a wider reach. Gymbox needs to be happy that the product is right to do this.

We’re renowned for our unique class timetable, which is created by our very talented studio team and it’s built solely by us for us so you can’t get the content anywhere else  – we don’t want to offer the standard on-demand content you can find elsewhere so we are focusing on what makes us different, the creative classes. People like coming to us, specifically for our unique classes, live DJs and our top of the range equipment. With Gymbox they’re getting something that they can’t get anywhere else and we need to transfer this online as well.” – Marc Diaper, CEO, Gymbox

We have years of experience helping our clients position their business as being an expert in the field in-person and online. On top of our wide range of incredible leisure software solutions, we are committed to sharing tips on how to get the most engagement, retention, and profit from your members.

Our recent guide Making virtual workouts a reality shares the secrets to creating, marketing, and running successful online workouts, helping business bounce back.

Want help marketing your virtual offering? Get in touch to learn about the services our team can offer.

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