Opinion: How fitness brands can pack a punch when marketing their apps

As gyms have closed and yoga classes have moved to Zoom, fitness apps have seen a boom due to COVID-19, but that growth trend was already well underway beforehand. According to market research company, Technavio, the fitness app market has the potential to grow by US$1.68 billion between 2020 and 2024. Moreover, a study by Polaris Market Research shows that the market is anticipated to reach US$14.7 billion by 2026, with Asia being the second-largest market in the industry. But with growth comes competition, and marketers need to make sure their apps are top of mind when consumers are in need.  

For health and fitness marketers looking to step up their game, we’ve outlined eight crucial touchpoints to take into account:

1. Paid user acquisition

Paid user acquisition (UA) is a staple of every marketer’s handbook - or at least it should be. Basically, it’s advertising. Any time a business pays to promote a product or service to attract new users, it is employing paid UA. But there are several ad formats commonly used to advertise apps, including banner ads, interstitial ads, expandable ads, native ads and rewarded video - and each app has to find the right mix of formats for itself. 

But your efforts shouldn’t stop once a user has been acquired - make sure retargeting strategies are also in your marketing mix. Mobile retargeting is the key to keeping your best, most valuable customers interested and retained. By showing acquired users targeted ads, marketers can re-engage and bring them back to the app after they’ve bounced or entice them with specific incentives and offers. 

2. In-app messaging

In-app messaging allows companies to communicate with users when they have their fitness app open, allowing you to engage with them directly and even try to up-sell them on new services or products. For example, say a marketer wants to trigger an in-app message to promote a subscription package. Targeting a user who has just finished a workout - and therefore understands the benefits of the service - may be the ideal time to promote a new product. A/B testing will help marketers understand the most effective ways of engaging users for optimal results.

But in-app messaging has the potential to disrupt the user experience and should be used sparingly.

3. Push notifications

Not to be confused with in-app messaging, push notifications are another way to communicate with existing users. The difference between push notifications and in-app messaging is that users can get push notifications at any time, not just while they have a fitness app opened. These notifications pop up on users’ screens, although users do have the option to turn push notifications on and off. Feel like most of your users are opting out of push notifications? Use in-app messaging to prompt them with the benefits of push notifications. For example, let users know that by opting into push notifications they’ll be the first to know when new programs drop or can receive motivational messages to keep to their goals. 

4. Social media marketing

More than one billion people are active on Facebook and over 100 million people use Instagram every month. In Asia, according to aggregator Broadband Search, the average internet user spends two hours and 16 minutes on social media every day - presenting an unmissable opportunity for every fitness app company. Social media ecosystems can be used to get closer to the targeted users, build a community and spread brand awareness. In addition, by including social media in overall content strategy, businesses can integrate social media into their apps so that users can easily share their progress with their online networks, and promote their app in the process.

5. Influencer marketing

Social media influencers are content creators who have built a loyal following and who work with brands to raise brand awareness. Influencers can help you gain access to new, loyal users, particularly as your product will be promoted by a trusted source that has credibility with their audience. This is a critical marketing method for fitness apps because of the visually appealing, results-based nature of fitness and health. Meanwhile, research by IM Agency suggests that the Southeast Asia region’s influencer market will reach US$2.59 billion by 2024.

6. Email marketing

Email marketing is a great way to build relationships with customers and get them to engage with your brand. In fact, Statista suggests that 49% of consumers want to receive weekly promotional emails from their favourite brands. By notifying customers of promotional deals via email marketing, companies can ensure their consumers feel valued for their loyalty. Email marketing is especially important because of the one-on-one nature of the medium. While algorithms decide whether your social media audience will see an ad, emails go straight to your target’s inbox, as long as you follow best practices and don’t end up in spam.

7. Content marketing

There are several different ways to reach your target audience when employing a content marketing strategy. First, marketers should invest in app store optimisation to make sure their apps are findable in the app store. By optimising app store assets, brands can become visible to organic users and increase conversions.

It’s also important for fitness apps to create engaging content to help users solve problems and answer questions. Creating a blog and making sure content is SEO optimised can also help new users discover your website. But it’s important to develop and publish content that represents your company’s values. Each post should be carefully thought out and planned based on popular search terms or requests from users.

8. Media and PR

And don’t forget PR outreach - a great approach to raise brand awareness with targeted media outlets. Companies should have a strong media outreach strategy in order to build brand awareness as well as visibility in targeted media outlets. This will help to increase your brand’s credibility as readers are more likely to trust the content provided through earned media efforts as opposed to paid advertising.

By combining these marketing methods, businesses can reach their target audience, retain valuable users and ensure their fitness app stands out from competitors.

The writer is April Tayson, director of Southeast Asia at Adjust.