5 Expert Tips to Use Facebook Ads for Your Fitness Business
By Lauren McAlister
Whether you’re a new fitness studio owner or a seasoned one, connecting with your ideal client can be a difficult task. You’ve put a lot of effort into fine-tuning your marketing efforts to help build your client base and you’ve managed to free up some of your time to connect with clients in-person by implementing fitness software at your studio. Face-to-face interaction is great, but it’s also important for you to know how to connect with clients and reach your target audience outside the studio as well. That’s where social media comes in.
Facebook advertising, specifically, is a hyper-targeted way to get the word out about your gym or fitness studio and reach your ideal customer on social. The best part: Facebook ads are relatively inexpensive—especially when compared to more traditional advertising outlets—which is probably one of the many reasons 68% of those in the fitness industry use Facebook advertising to market their businesses.
1. Micro-target your audience
It can be tempting to target your Facebook marketing efforts to anyone and everyone. However, MINDBODY Certified Consultant and fitness marketing expert Paul Hickey suggests doing just the opposite: “A good place to start is by creating a profile of what your ‘ideal’ client looks like and de-constructing from there, to eventually build a profile with numerous attributes, i.e., healthy living interest, nutrition, running, fitness, purchases online regularly, eco-friendly, etc. Aligning these attributes with the goals and beliefs of your business is a form of micro-targeting your desired, relevant audience." According to Paul, the more specific, the better. Otherwise, you'll simply waste marketing spend on prospects that aren't likely to convert into gym members.
Paul created the ad below for a fitness business using his micro-targeting technique with great success. This ongoing ad promotes the business and drives website traffic with a "rolling" daily budget of €3. It targets individuals living in Dublin with interests in Pilates, health and wellness, physical fitness, and yoga. To date, it’s reached over 18,000 people with over 2,000 link clicks (of which 1,770 were "unique clicks") to the Pilates Performance website.
Bonus Tip: Use the "Audiences" feature within Facebook Ads Manager to create "Saved Audiences" based on demographic and interest data ahead of time. Once they’re built, you'll save time creating ads in the future.
2. Focus your ad content, too
Like micro-targeting your target demographic, your ad itself should be relevant to the audience you’re marketing to. MINDBODY Certified Consultant and fitness marketing expert Connie Holen advises, “Get specific with your offers and promotions. When you create packages that help people reach specific goals it becomes a lot easier to focus your advertising budget to the people most likely to respond.”
For example, Connie created the ad below targeting newly engaged, 18-35-year-old women living within ten miles of the Pilatesmith studio. With a clear value proposition, eye-catching visual, and focused messaging sent to a narrow target market, her strategy is working—with over 90 landing page visits in just a few days!
Bonus Tip: Use Facebook’s Dynamic Creative feature, which automatically split tests and delivers the highest performing combinations of your ad creative, including images, videos, titles, descriptions, and call-to-action (CTA) buttons. Pay attention to your top performing combos and repeat for future ads.
3. Use the Facebook pixel to your ad-vantage
The Facebook pixel is a powerful piece of code that can be easily added to your website to take Facebook marketing efforts to the next level. It tracks visitor behavior, like when someone views your website, visits a certain page, or takes a particular action–like buying a class package, for example. Once added to your website (here’s how to do it), you can create “Custom Audiences” to retarget visitors based on set criteria.
Connie implemented the below ad for another studio with the goal of sending retargeted traffic to the yoga studio’s intro offer page to increase new member sign-ups. She created a custom audience of people who had visited the studio's website within the last 10 days but excluded current MINDBODY clients. Why did it work, according to Connie? “Focus! The ad follows up with potential clients who have some level of awareness of the studio already and shares a relevant testimonial and promotes the intro offer.” With over fourteen intro offer sales and $500 in additional revenue earned from just one Facebook ad, this is a technique worth trying for your studio or gym.
Bonus Tip: Diversify your ad strategy and use both “Saved” (interest and demographic-based) and “Custom" audiences (using your website pixel) to make sure you’re targeting prospective customers at each stage of their journey. Connie suggests, “Retargeting ads like this one can be an effective way to close the loop on warm leads to increase sales. However, this tactic is best used with other promotions that will drive initial traffic to the studio's website.”
4. Prioritize video-centered ads
Videos are an attention-grabbing way customers can learn about your brand. According to Paul Hickey, “More and more I am tending to video-based Facebook advertising as Facebook videos are now watched more than YouTube videos by consumers.”
Paul shared the video-based ad, below, to drive sales for a spring offer using defined target audience criteria. The ad performed well, with a reach of over 12,000 over four days with a defined budget of €75, a cost of €0.02 cents per view, and 42 unique link clicks.
Bonus Tip: Keep videos short and to the point (fifteen seconds or less), and don’t require volume for those scrolling without sound. Because users are often scrolling quickly, and on mobile devices, it’s important to customize your video advertising efforts accordingly.
5. Bring in the experts
Leveraging Facebook ads can be essential to standing out in a competitive market, however, it can take a lot of time and effort to D.I.Y. MINDBODY Consultant KK Hart says, “Consistently, I find that when clients run their own digital ads they run into persistent issues such as overspending, lacking clarity on goals, no measurements to define success, and overall not being able to be strategic to reach their target market.”
The lesson here: If you’ve implemented the tips above, and aren’t finding the success you’re looking for, it may be worth bringing in additional expertise. If you do, look for someone who is both an expert in the fitness industry and has vast experience in strategic digital and social media marketing.