Your clients need you but how will they find you in today’s world unless you have a website?
Life happens in cyberspace now. The impact of the internet on business is immense, with almost 10% of total retail sales made online. This is a huge number, but unless your name is Arnold Schwarzenegger, it will be difficult to make inroads without an online presence.
The good news is that it no longer costs a small fortune to bring your website to life.
Brainstorm a Niche
Fitness is a broad field — so broad that you probably won’t be able to effectively cover every area related to it. But there is likely a special aspect of the fitness world where you excel. Focus your attention on finding the particular customers looking for “that” whatever it is.
Before charging headfirst into the nitty gritty of website building, decide on your niche and how the website will help you dominate it. Do you want to focus on personal training, or is there also a line of workout gear you’d like to sell? Is your thing workout routines or the importance of healthy eating and dieting?
Do you envision the website as a blog where visitors can learn about important aspects of fitness, as a place where they can find videos of workout demonstrations or as some combination?
Your answers to questions like these will make a big difference in what your website will eventually look like and how it will function.
Get a Domain Name
If your fitness center or other business already has a name, this part will be straightforward. If not, you’ll need to come up with a catchy, attention-grabbing business name and buy the corresponding domain name through a domain broker like NameCheap.com or your web host. Need to brainstorm ideas? Here are a few tips:
Simple and Catchy
- Keep it simple and catchy: You want people to remember it. If they can’t remember it, they won’t find your website. The best domain name is the one that lodges in a person’s head and they can’t get it out.
Avoid Weird Domain Extensions
- No weird domain extensions: Stick with .com. It’s the most common and easily recognizable.
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No Hyphens or Numbers
- Don’t use hyphens or numbers – Hyphens might make your domain name look neat when it’s written out, but people tend to forget them. Numbers also complicate things because if you tell someone your domain name verbally, they might wonder if any numbers in the name need to be written as numbers or spelled out as words. The goal is not to confuse potential customers.
The good news is that awesomely important piece of the website puzzle will only set you back about $15 a year. Lots of web hosting packages include the first year free when you sign up.
You gotta have web hosting. A web host is a company that stores your website on special computers called servers. Once the site is uploaded, other computers can access it over the internet. Without web hosting, your site can’t actually be online.
The web hosting industry is vast and competitive, with service providers offering an assortment of features and prices to choose from that will make your eyes glaze over. The good news is it’s a buyer’s market with prices running about $60 annually and constant downward pressure on prices.
Some providers offer free web hosting but you have to be careful. One caveat about no-cost hosting is that it’s a case of buyer beware when it comes to quality. These services tend to cram so many websites onto a single server that load time is noticeably slower and the site more likely to crash (become inaccessible).
The usual suspect companies like Bluehost, HostGator and GoDaddy are all worth a look and provide a good feature set at a reasonable price For blogs, Wix — which we’ll be coming back to below — is a good option.
Designing a website used to require a significant amount of technical skill. To the relief of prospective site owners everywhere, this is no longer the case. Rather than paying a programmer a substantial fee for highly skilled labor — a full-blown website like this can cost many thousands of dollars – you can now put a number of affordable and easy-to-use website building tools to use to create the fitness website of your dreams.
Besides the obvious cost savings, the actual act of building a website has simplified to the point where virtually anyone can do it with with a variety of templates and layouts that let you customize to your heart’s content.
While Wix is listed at the top of recommendations for best blogging platform by community-based web hosting research group HostingCanada.org, in recent years it has become one of the most popular and highest-rated general site builders — and for good reason. Its selection of templates — both for desktop and mobile use — is enormous.
Fitness professionals will especially appreciate the industry-related templates. Themes are colorful and attention-grabbing, navigation is easy, and every Wix template includes a built-in search bar.
Last, there a variety of apps and widgets that allow you to easily add features like workout calendars and live chat support for all visitors and customers. Price ranges from a free bare bones plan an extensive VIP option that includes domain name registry.
This software comes with more than 45,000 free plugins and thousands of website themes. It doesn’t quite have the drag-and-drop simplicity of Wix but is still fairly easy to learn for those with a little bit of technical acumen or who aren’t afraid of a learning curve. Provided that you can handle your own website backups and security, this is a quick, affordable way to get a pro-looking website online in short order.
In fitness, as in any other business, attracting new customers and turning them into regulars is the key to success. There are ultimately many strategies that personal trainers use to do this, but in the online realm, an effective strategy to do this with is known as a marketing funnel.
A marketing funnel describes the steps that a website owner deploys to move a customer through progressive stages, beginning with not even knowing that your business exists, to buying from you and eventually becoming a loyal customer who tells friends about you and encourages them to patronize you as well.
Your goal is to encourage your prospects, gently nudging them from one stage to the next with attention-grabbing website content, free goodies or other tantalizing offers. Though different gurus list varying names and stage numbers of the marketing funnel, here is one breakdown:
Think of the top stage as the broad end of a funnel into which you attempt to attract a large number of potential customers. Moving towards the narrow bottom end of the funnel, you lose people who, for whatever reason, lose interest. Don’t worry about that. No fitness professional should expect every person who enters the top of the funnel to make it all the way through. The ones who do will make up the hardcore fans who keep your business solvent.
At least that’s the plan. Here are some considerations along the way.
One of your first tasks will be to spend time on search engine optimization (SEO). This is when you tweak your website copy and format to appeal to Google. Learning SEO in-depth goes beyond the scope of this article but you can get started here.
The Big Idea is to position your site high on the first page of search results for key terms. This means when someone types in any of those terms into Google, they are presented with the page that lists your site. This is a good thing when it happens and is one stage of the funnel. Your prospect has now gone from not knowing about your business to at least being aware of it.
Most people leave websites after navigating them for only a few seconds if something does not catch their attention and induce them to stay. Create an attractive layout that’s easy to navigate and prospects will stick around longer. This allows the chance to offer an inducement to move them to the next level of the funnel.
Maybe a free ebook on workouts to help lose weight or build muscle mass or whatever your niche happens to be. Do a good enough job with the freebie and they may be interested in paying for more extensive services and, voila, you have a raving fan who has made it all the way to the end of the funnel.
In other words, you’ve got a dedicated customer on your hands. These three fitness marketing funnels are good examples of how to use your website to round out a fitness business.
And One More Thing…
Always keep your customers in mind.
When building your website, the mantra should be “convenience.” When people visit your website, you want it to be easy to find what they need. Avoid the confusion common to many websites. If you have a blog, make sure that your content is up-to-date and you post frequently. Important information should be easy to find and pages must load quickly.
The Bottom Line
It’s hard to run a successful business anymore without some kind of website. Luckily, much of the technical heavy lifting has gone away thanks to site builders that almost build it for you to market funnel tools that steer customers into your clutches.
This isn’t to say that creating and maintaining an effective website is easy but it’s a lot easier than it used to be. That leaves you more time to focus on what matters – keeping your customers happy, healthy and in shape.