There are some marketing tactics—such as increasing a gym’s social media presence—that have been around for years and seem to keep picking up speed. But there are others that give us a glimpse of the future, thanks to forward-thinking strategies that can be adopted by clubs of any size.

Consider these five fitness marketing trends that, in 2016, either made an appearance for the first time or seemed to finally get traction:

1. Mobile notifications

Those who saw smartphones as a way to increase memberships likely saw a nice boost over the past year. Not only is it savvy to tap into social media geared toward smartphone use—Instagram is a dominant force—but also providing opt-in notifications about class schedules, personal trainer appointments, and even motivational fitness quotes can all lead to a stronger connection between member and gym.

2. Blogs

Sure, blogs have been around for a long time, but many gyms, clubs, and studios have just realized the power of adding this kind of content to their online homepages. By making your gym’s site a place for people to get information about health, fitness, and wellness—and not just a spot to check class schedules—you’ll be driving more traffic to the site and keeping visitors there longer. Look for more robust blog activity in the coming years as gyms recognize that members love a one-stop place for health information.

3. Flash specials

One of the bedrock principles of marketing is that the illusion of scarcity tends to increase demand. That’s why “limited-time” offers are so compelling and why the last five spots in a reservation-only class might fill faster than the first 50 spots. With that in mind, some gyms benefitted from flash specials that might have lasted for just a day, especially if they were tied to a special event, like a gym’s anniversary.

4. Trainers as brand ambassadors

The role of personal trainers and class instructors got a major boost in 2016, as people elevated the profile of “superstar” trainers—just consider the way SoulCycle’s instructors have such a devoted following. But any trainer or teacher can inspire the same loyalty with brand-building. In the coming years, look for these professionals to be establishing their brands on Instagram and Twitter and connecting those followers to the gyms where they train and teach.

5. Automation

One of the biggest forward-looking trends for gym owners in 2016 was what they didn’t have to do: mundane and repetitive marketing tasks. Automating email and lead-nurturing campaigns allowed gym owners to send targeted emails to prospects, increase lead-conversion rates, and maintain contact with cold leads in order to re-engage those prospects. Not only can automation free up time for a gym owner and cut down on tedious tasks, but it can also significantly boost sales leads and streamline gym operation.

These types of trends gained significant traction within the past year, and they’re all likely to keep going strong into the future. What fitness-industry marketing trends are you seeing that you’re excited to try this year?  

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