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Everything you need to develop your fitness app marketing plan

Learning how to market your fitness app is just as essential as developing a product that helps users stay motivated to exercise while delivering tangible results. This can be particularly difficult for health and fitness apps as your product’s benefit becomes most clear over time. After the fitness app install boom throughout 2020, the key challenges for health and wellbeing apps in 2021 are to gain a competitive edge, acquire more high-LTV users and focus on retention. This guide outlines everything you need to know about building your fitness app’s marketing strategy, including where to begin, core features you need to consider, how to define your target market and which marketing channels will be most effective.

Fitness app market analysis: Where to begin

Before developing your fitness app marketing plan and strategy, you need to learn what keeps users engaged with other fitness apps and how the fitness app market is continuing to grow well into 2021. Below are some fitness app download statistics to give you an overview of the current market and what is anticipated for the future.

Growth of the health and fitness app vertical

According to the online public health resource HealthWorks Collective, there are more than 97,000 health and fitness apps available for mobile and tablet devices. Over half (52%) of smartphone users get health-associated information from their device and 15% of 18-29 year olds have health apps installed. In addition to this, the popularity of fitness apps isn’t slowing down. According to leading market research company Technavio, the fitness app market has the potential to grow by US$3.50 billion between 2021 and 2024 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.34%. Moreover, a study by Polaris Market Research shows that the market is anticipated to reach $15.59 billion by 2028.

Types of fitness apps you need to know

Here are the defining features of most fitness apps — some of which are often combined in one app.

Workout plans and personal training

Workout apps offer guidelines users can follow to achieve their fitness goals in the gym or training at home. These types of apps should try to vary the methods of exercise to keep users motivated and engaged. For the same reason, clear and concise demo reels and similar videos are also critical to the user experience.

Many fitness apps will allow users to create their own workouts while also providing set routines. It’s important to ensure that your educational content — such as demo reels and helpful prompts — is easily accessible to users even after their workout is complete.

Activity tracking

This type of health and fitness app can monitor a user’s activity such as sleep patterns and running times. Google Fit is an example of an app that utilizes activity tracking. This app works with other apps such as 8fit, Calm and Instant — to give users a holistic view of their health.

Geolocation is a great feature to offer if, for example, you have a running app. This enables you to suggest running routes or present a visualization of a user’s latest run on a map.

Diet and nutrition

Some fitness apps will track a user’s diet to monitor and optimize their nutrition. This is a function that activity tracking apps can also include in their offering. For example, MyFitnessPal offers a free calorie counter and exercise journal. Users can scan barcodes to keep track of their calorie consumption with ease.

For health tracker apps that offer statistics and advice on diet and nutrition, it is important to present a user’s statistics in ways that are visually compelling. Gamification can also be used to keep users engaged by rewarding them as they progress towards their fitness goals. Zombies Run provides users with dynamic narratives and in-app rewards that further incentivize regular engagement.

Regardless of which of the above features you offer, when you build a fitness app, you should always allow users to set their own goals. Goal setting is an integral part of the user experience and there is no one-size-fits-all routine that will be perfect for every user.

What are wearables?

Another important feature you need to be aware of is wearable connectivity. This is when data can be collected from devices other than a smartphone, such as an Apple Watch, to deliver accurate data. These types of wearable devices can store valuable information such as heart rate, the intensity of an exercise, the number of calories burned, and total number of steps.

Optimizing your onboarding experience

Even if your app is free to install, your onboarding experience is critical. Users want to access the benefits of your app as soon as possible, so it’s important to streamline the onboarding process as much as possible. When looking for ways to improve your onboarding you should consider the way teaching tools are accessed and how easily accessible users can get support. By implementing onboarding tutorials, you can provide users with short, clear info on how to reap the benefits of your app. You should A/B test your onboarding experience to ensure that you are giving your audience the best introduction to your app possible. To learn more about A/B testing, you can read our guide: Everything you need to know about A/B testing for mobile apps.

Next steps: reaching your target market

Defining your target market is a critical step in the development of your overall strategy. In a recent Forbes article about FitOn they revealed that, as a category, most fitness apps only retain 15% of users in the first 30 days. With so many fitness apps already available to install, it’s important to identify what makes your product unique and how to make this known to potential users.

8 Marketing channels for fitness apps in 2021

There are several tools that can be used to reach your marketing goals. Below you can learn which ones are available and what makes them an asset to your overall strategy.

  1. Paid user acquisition (UA): This is the process of gaining customers by acquiring them through advertising. Anytime you pay to promote your service to attract new users you are employing paid UA.

    However, UA is more complicated than simply acquiring users. You will also need to track those users, calculate LTV and retain high value users. Not only will this lead to better ROI, but it will also give you a great understanding of your app health. This is a great way to identify ways in which your app can be optimized. In the age of iOS 14.5+, it’s even more vital to get your users as engaged as possible in the first 24 hours.

    There are several ad formats you can use to advertise your app, including banner ads, interstitial ads, expandable ads, native ads and rewarded video. Our guide to choosing the right ad format has all the information you need to get started.
    When implementing paid AU as part of your overall strategy, you need to be vigilant against fraudsters looking to steal your ad spend. Learn how Adjust can help by reading about our Fraud Prevention Suite.

  1. In-app messaging: In-app messaging: This allows you to communicate with users when they have your fitness app open. For example, you may want to trigger an in-app message after a workout to promote your subscription package. Having just completed a workout — and therefore benefiting from the app — it may be the best time to present your user with this additional offering. Take this in-app message from 8Fit, for example. This appears to non-subscribers when the user selects a new workout:

In-app messaging has the potential to disrupt the user experience and should therefore be utilized sparingly. This is another feature that should be A/B tested for optimal results.

  1. Push notifications: Not to be confused with in-app messaging, push notifications are another way to communicate with users who have your app installed. The difference between push notifications and in-app messaging is that users can get push notifications at any time, not just while they have your fitness app opened. To learn how to craft the perfect push notification, read our: Strategies to maximize the impact of push notification campaigns.

    These messages are not in-app, and will therefore pop up on users’ screens at any time that you define. To grab the user’s attention you need to provide great content that peaks their interest. You can achieve this with promotions, offerings or reminders to keep them on top of their fitness journey. However, users do have the option to turn push notifications on and off. If most of your users are opting out of push notifications, you can use in-app messaging to prompt them with the benefits.

  2. Social media marketing: More than one billion people are active on Facebook and over 100 million people use Instagram every month. According to Statista, the average internet user spends 2 hours and 23 minutes on social media every day. Although this varies per country, this presents an unmissable opportunity for every fitness app developer.

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Social media ecosystems can be used to get closer to your users, build a community and spread awareness of your brand. As well as including social media in your overall content strategy, you can integrate social media into your app so that users can easily share their progress with their online networks.

  1. Influencer marketing: Social media influencers are content creators who have built a loyal following that is the target market for your fitness app. It’s possible to work with influencers to raise awareness of your brand. Moreover, this comes from a trusted source that has credibility with their audience.

    Research suggests that the influencer marketing industry is set to grow to approximately $13.8 billion in 2021 and 75% of companies are intending to dedicate a standalone budget to the channel. This is a critical marketing method for fitness apps because of the results-based nature of fitness and health.

  2. Email marketing: According to GetResponse, 47% of marketers rate email marketing as the most effective marketing channel. This practice is a great way to keep users engaged with your content. To learn more about email marketing, read everything you need to know about email marketing for mobile apps.

  3. Content marketing: Developing your content marketing strategy involves several different ways to reach your audience. Gymshark understands that motivational content plays a large role in encouraging new users to begin their fitness journey. To capitalize on this, they frequently share user-generated content from their clothing and app users on their social media pages. Create engaging content on your website and find ways to ensure you have a media presence.

  • ASO: Investing in ASO is also crucial in ensuring that your app is optimized and findable in the app stores. This is the practice of optimizing your app store listings. The aim is to become visible to organic users and increase conversions by utilizing the category rankings. To learn everything you need to know about ASO, read our: Guide to App Store Optimization.
  • Blog: Your website is a great way to find new users with SEO while also generating content for your social media channels. Create a blog and offer content that represents the value of your company. You can find examples of engaging fitness-focused content on blogs operated by MyFitnessPal, 8Fit and Google Fit. Each blog should provide content based on popular search terms, requests from users, and analytics that show what users need to know to move forward.
  1. Media and PR: This is a great way to raise brand awareness in respected media outlets. At Mobile Spree San Francisco, Leigh Isaacson and Casey Isaacson, co-founders of Dig Dates, outlined ways in which you can help media outlets share your brand. Before co-founding a dating app, Leigh was an investigative reporter. In this video she uses her unique experience to give insight into both sides of this process.

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By combining these marketing methods you can reach your target market, retain valuable users and grow your fitness app while standing out from the competition. To learn more about fitness app growth and essential features for this vertical, you can read our Best practices for health & wellness apps here.

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