Top Five Digital Marketing Strategies Fitness Professionals Need in 2021 -

Written By James Patrick

With so many trainers and coaches cramming the online ecosystem to try and do business after 2020, it has become so increasingly difficult to stand out to the right audience of potential customers. For fitness professionals looking to create relevancy of their business online, consider the following five digital marketing strategies to implement in 2021.

1) Establish an Effective and Efficient Content Marketing Plan You’ve no doubt heard that content is king and this trend continues into 2021, but how does one create so much content on so very little time? I suggest doing what I call a Pinnacle Content System (you can listen to a full podcast where I describe this approach on my show Beyond the Image, episode 159 or go here) The way it works is you create one piece of “pinnacle content” each week. The best format for this is a video. Then you take all the elements of the video and you break it up throughout the week. For example:

  • Video posted to YouTube, Facebook and IGTV
  • Audio export to all the podcast platforms
  • 1-minute clip for Facebook Ads and Instagram posts
  • 15-second clip for Instagram Stories or Facebook Stories
  • Quote tile from an inspiration statement made in the video
  • Audiogram files using programs like Headliner.App
  • Transcript can be used for your blog and e-mail Newsletter

Now, instead of trying to think of what to post 365 days out of the year, you only need to think of 52 ideas and then break those ideas up into smaller pieces of content throughout the week.

2) Audience Growth I constantly hear from clients how “the algorithm” is against them or suppressing their posts. Not really true. The algorithm’s only job is to find out whatever keeps users on the platform. Sorry but it does not actually care about you or your business. The most effective ways to grow your audience while honoring what the algorithm wants is two-fold.

  1. Create shareable or savable content. This is truly the main statistics you should be looking at in regards to your posts. When someone clicks the save button on Instagram (bookmark), it will actually start to prioritize your content in their feed. The more people you get to click that button, the more of your audience essentially tells Instagram, show me more of this person’s content. This is why you will see some write in their post “save this post so you can refer back to it.” They are doing that because they understand how the algorithm works. Whereas when people click the share button on Instagram (paper airplane) they are doing your marketing for you by spreading your posts to their audience so you can organically grow. What are the posts that get shared? Posts that are entertaining, informational or inspirational. The more your content is shared the more you will organically grow. This is why you should study your insights to see which of your posts get the most saves and shares.
  2. Digital Partnerships. Gone are the days of build it and they will come. You need to approach your target audience where they already are and give them a reason to follow you. There already exists countless social media accounts that have the exact audience you wish to attract. You would approach these account holders with the intention of creating a digital partnership where you are creating free content for their channel in exchange for them to promote your page or account. There are always paid versions of this approach. One free example is approaching a magazine, like Inside Fitness, to offer them to create free content for their main feed, an IG Live workout, a co-live together, or something similar that adds value to their audience and in exchange you would earn the attention of a percentage of their followers who would naturally want to follow your account in return. The true key is to show that your account has enough value for people to want to follow.

3) Audience Engagement In 2021 prospective clients will expect a much longer cycle of being nurtured by sellers like you before they are willing to invest in you or whatever you are selling. Clients are savvy and have a very limited bandwidth of attention. Our goal as fitness professionals is not solely to earn the awareness to grow our following, but to then nurture that audience with great value so you can build authentic trust and rapport. The best means to do this is through your content marketing (see tip 1). The more valuable your content is to helping your audience achieve their goals, the faster and easier it will be for you to establish that connection and engagement. Your audience cannot just know you exist. They have to truly understand why you matter in the context of their lives. It is about them and what they need, not you. We need to put the social back in social media. While so many want to just be hands off and just have one-way conversations on these platforms, the entrepreneurs who take the time to build an engaged two way communication are the ones who will foster a more loyal, engaged audience willing to become clients.

4) List Building There are two types of lists you can build as an entrepreneur. There are lists you rent and lists that you own. Social media is a rented list. You could never export a list of your followers and their contact information from Instagram or Facebook. Just like you are never able to fully control how much of your audience sees the content you post. Although it is essential to build that social media presence (as it is where our audience’s exist), you also have to work to build lists you own. Why?

  • You don’t control how many see your posts
  • The platforms could go away or become irrelevant (sorry Myspace)
  • The algorithm will continue to change
  • You could even lose access to your accounts

Whereas a list you own stays with you. These can include your e-mail list, a phone list, a traditional mailing list and even your podcast subscribers is more of a list you own as there is no algorithm currently dictating what content you post that they receive. Best way to build a list quickly is by using a lead magnet; a free offer you are providing in exchange for the audience’s content information. Examples of lead magnets include free downloads, templates, e-books, e-courses, webinars, special offers, etc. There just has to be enough value in the lead magnet for your audience to want to opt in to receive in. When someone does opt in, they are saying to you that they are interested in hearing more from you and potentially what else you have to offer. They are a warmer audience more likely to purchase from you.

5) SMS Marketing Leaping off of tip 4, my 5th tip is to build an SMS text marketing list. Although e-mail marketing still works, the average e-mail open rate for marketing e-mails is around 18% whereas SMS/test marketing has an open rate upwards of 98%. Also, when an individual opts in with their phone number as opposed to their e-mail address, they are an even warmer prospect. Where many of us have several e-mail addresses and can easily unsubscribe or send messages to spam, most only have a single phone number. If you have people opt in with their phone number, that is your audience qualifying themselves for you! The most effective means to grow a SMS list are the same as an e-mail list. Offer a lead magnet or incentive that can only be obtained by texting you. Speaking of… I have a 6th tip that you are going to want to have as it will help you drastically increase your income in 2021. Want the 6th tip? Just text me at (480) 605-3254 and tell me you want the sixth tip and I will send it on over!

James Patrick is an award-winning photographer with more than 500 
published magazine covers, entrepreneur coach, podcast host and 
best-selling author of Fit Business Guide: The Workout Plan for 
Your Brand. He is the founder of FITposium, an annual conference 
and online education network for fitness entrepreneurs to thrive in 
their careers. His work can be seen at

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