CrossFit has exploded in popularity in the last few years. The fitness trend has been increasing since inception in the early 2000s but the growth between 2015 and 2019 has been exponential. That’s great news for box owners in one way. In another way, there is more competition for members with CrossFit Boxes opening at a ferocious pace.
There are over 15,000 CrossFit affiliates worldwide, making it the world’s most popular fitness chain. Who saw that coming? Clever gym owners, that’s who. But how can you stand out in an ever more crowded scene? It’s no longer good enough to open a box in your area and wait for people to find you. You need the best CrossFit marketing ideas.
Weekend easy CrossFit workout
Start an easy Saturday WOD and encourage members to invite their friends for free. One of the most appealing aspects of CrossFit is the camaraderie and team spirit that follows. By lowering the barrier to entry (less technical but still enough for the hard-core members to push it) for newbies, potential members can get a sense of the buzz and excitement. This might be all they need to sign up for a trial run.
From there, a CrossFit box owner, you need to take them to the next stage of the marketing funnel.
CrossFit t-shirts and apparel
Sell them at cost. Get the message out there. Having a real person walking around with your logo on their shirt is a free mobile advertising platform. Sure, they will wear it mostly at the box, but that also reinforces brand loyalty. On the occasions where they wear the shirt at the beach, running, at other boxes while travelling, and so on, you’ll get eyeballs on your CrossFit box name.
Take the entire crew down to the local running track, lido, gymnastics studio, climbing wall, or sports field. This not only takes members out of their usual routine but it shows the world what you’re all about.
Contact local businesses
Other businesses can be your best marketing channels. As most of your potential members will also use services in their area, it’s a good idea to do some cross promotion. Post your flyers on the walls or notice boards of other businesses and do something for them in return.
Website analytics tools will help you track and analyze visits. Some tools show you which companies have visited and which pages they looked at. Maybe your site gets visited by someone from a large corporation in your area. Could you interest the HR department or office manager in a package deal or discount for staff? Consider these website visits as warm leads.
Reach out via email, phone or targeted Facebook Ads. The bigger the business, the more lucrative it can be. Offer special classes just for the employees of the company. Sell the experience as a team-building exercise for their staff.
Meet the Family
Introduce your coaches and members to potential customers. It's a simple fact that people want to deal with people they like. The more you can show the human side of your box the better. Create short bios of all of your staff. If they write for the blog, add them to the author box on each post. Create videos of the coaches introducing themselves and teaching people at the gym. Post the videos on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and the blog.
If your members are enthusiastic (they should be) and willing to support your business, you could ask them to say a few words on camera for your marketing efforts. Social proof is a huge influence on people’s decisions so ask your members to talk about why they joined your gym and, most importantly, the positive benefits they have enjoyed.
The beauty of digital marketing is that you can be specific with whom you target. Unlike taking an ad out in the local newspaper (which can be a good idea) or posting your offer on a billboard, digital marketing lets you put your message in front of the people most likely to buy.
Facebook Ads For Custom Audiences
Create custom audiences and lookalike audiences from the people already connected to your Facebook page or visitors to your website. The algorithm can find people most like the ones that already interact with your business page. Facebook’s huge data set allows it to create a specific subset of people interested in fitness, that also live locally, and in a specific age range. It can also exclude current members of your gym. Lookalike audiences are demographics that look like your current members in terms of behaviour.
You can create your own custom audiences too. Say you want to target only people within 10km of your CrossFit box, aged between 24-35, are interested in nutrition and health (paleo, in particular), have post-graduate degrees, and earn over 50,000 a year. I’ve just described the average CrossFit member. If you want to increase the diversity of your gym, then you can always target other demographics but make sure you customize the message. What attracts a 25-year-old male to your gym might not be the same things that convince a 70-year-old female with a dodgy hip to join up. Both are just as important but they join for different reasons.
What about people that visited your website but didn’t convert to customers? Maybe they need some encouragement. They might also need more encouragement to trust your business.
It’s a fact in marketing that the more someone sees your brand message, the more they will trust it. That’s why Coca-Cola and Nike continue to advertise even though the entire planet knows of their products. By installing a piece of code on your website and configuring it to track movements of people around the site, you can then create audiences of people that, say, visited your pricing page. Or audiences of people that read your article on “beginning CrossFit”. You can then display advertising messages to these warm leads directly at a lower cost.
Offer people that visited your pricing page a discount on memberships until the end of the week. Or a free class for people that visited the Starting CrossFit blog post.
Google Ads For Local Targeting
Know what’s better than Facebook Ads for local businesses? Google Ads. With Facebook, you’re interrupting someone who’s scrolling through cat videos. Google Ads (ex-Adwords), on the other hand, help to answer people’s queries. If they ask where is the “best CrossFit gym near me”, you can show an ad that explains why your gym is the best. The more your ads resonate with the user intent, the more success you will have capturing leads.
Keyword Research: Educate Members and Future Members
As a CrossFit box owner or coach, you’re probably asked the same questions. “How to get better at Crossfit?” is a typical struggle. There’s no quick answer but you can always direct them to a detailed blog post for later reading. Take note of these questions and answer them in the form of a blog, video, or social media post.
Consider creating a Pinterest account and pin images that link to your frequently asked questions.
And don’t ignore random questions. Fewer websites compete for visitors to blog posts about less-frequently asked questions. This is an opportunity to get your website first on Google as the answer to the question.
Writing on topics not directly related to your local box will attract clicks from people that will never visit in person – website visitors can be worldwide. But that’s still a good thing. They might not convert to customers but you’ll be building your website’s authority and helping your most important keywords to rank in the long-term.
People type “I want to start CrossFit” into Google. Why not answer their concerns and guide them into becoming a CrossFitter. Obviously, you’ll be helping more than just people nearby, but again, this will only help strengthen your status as an authority. And you can use this content for other purposes. Send the entire post or a link to the post in your email sequences or welcoming messages. Direct people to it from your Facebook page. If someone contacts your gym and is asking about starting, you’ve got the perfect answer for them. Create a YouTube video explainer. The list is endless.
Email your current clients and work on increasing your email list. Despite tales of the demise of this oldest of digital marketing channels, email marketing is alive and well. And moreover, it’s still an effective channel for generating leads, communicating with current customers, and nurturing warm leads.
Here’s what you can include on an email newsletter:
- The improvements you’ve implemented in the gym
- What you’ve noticed about the overall training habits and where the group needs to improve
- Your plans for the gym are over a specified period
- What members get with your CrossFit fees
- How you can make money by referring new members to the gym
By communicating with your clients you will continue to reinforce the idea that you are an expert and the someone your members can rely on. When a friend asks them for advice on training, they will immediately think of you as the expert with the authoritative answers.
Use Answer The Public to find topics that people are asking about on the internet in your niche. For more advanced research, I recommend using a keyword tool that offers search volume data and “difficulty” scores, but Answer The Public is great for seed keywords ideas.
Local Business Chatbots
Before you shake your head in disbelief and ask where’s the humanity in Chatbots. Let me explain why you shouldn’t discount this form of marketing and customer service.
Unless you have the resources to stick someone on a 24/7 phone or chat system on your website, you’ll be missing out on some opportunities to grow.
Lead-generating Chatbots can assume the role of customer service and take some responsibilities for helping customers. The key is to not pretend that the chatbot is human. It’s a machine and it will be obvious to your customers. So just say it outright. But make it funny. A bit of humour goes a long way.
“Hi, I’m the BoxBot – I can’t do burpees but I can help you find what you’re looking for..”
This creates a better connection with casual browsers to your website.
Chatbots can answer common questions. The same questions you spend a lot of time answering by email or phone. What are your opening hours? Do I need to be fit to do CrossFit? What are your membership fees? Of course, this information should be on your website (and Google My Business) but not everyone will look there. People arrive on your website via different channels and not everyone searches in the same way. If you can provide a quick way to educate potential clients, it could be enough to sign them up.
Special Offers & Countdowns
Have you seen those countdown timers on sales pages? While countdowns can seem cheesy and fabricated, they get results. Timers create a sense of urgency. They play on the scarcity mentality that humans are programmed to react too. And it doesn’t have to be fake scarcity. Maybe you project a drop in membership over the next 3 months and you’d like to run a discount to counteract that temporary situation.
Referrals & Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing and affiliate marketing on the internet is a huge driver of growth for some businesses. Referral Marketing is a powerful tool for fuelling word-of-mouth leads. Imagine an army of people talking about your gym and actively trying to recruit people.
People that love your gym are happy to spread the word to friends and acquaintances. But when you add an incentive, it sweetens the deal and increases the circle of influence. “One free class for first-timers and a commission of 10% of the new person’s first 3 months membership fee” is an example of a referral reward.
When members know that they can reduce their own costs by sharing information about a place they love, it’s an easy decision for them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t forget the About and Contact pages. These pages are often the most visited on a website. And I’ve seen plenty of gyms waste this prime internet real estate. Help your customers make contact with you, get directions, learn about the gym, read the timetable, and anything else that might be relevant.
The fewer barriers you put in the way, the fewer excuses people will have for not turning up.
Before opening a CrossFit box, Start marketing on your website and social media pages. Generate interest by creating a buzz around your product. Content marketing takes time to generate a good ROI. But don’t let that stop you from creating content right from the beginning. In fact, writing great content is something you should do before you open the box. Check out this ProWritingAid Review for a detailed breakdown of how to leverage software tools to create content that drives traffic and gets engagement.
With 15,000 CrossFit boxes worldwide, it’s likely there’s already a local CrossFit affiliate in your area competing for first place in the customer acquisition race. Don’t be the runner-up!
Keith is the founder of Fat Frog Media. He has worked in the tech, fitness, food, and hospitality industries. Keith helps businesses improve their marketing and conversion rates.