When Blink Fitness had to temporarily close its doors at the height of the pandemic, the company quickly shifted its focus to where consumers were: online.
We recently spoke with Michelle Horowitz, Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing and Communications at Blink Fitness, about the online training courses the company has been offering since last year to help motivate members, the role influencers continue to play in their marketing efforts and the channels that work best for the brand.
What has Blink learned from 2020?
2020 was an unprecedented experience and we have definitely seen the digital age accelerate for the industry. We spent the first few months of the year before COVID-19 on a completely different marketing plan. So we had to completely turn our focus and re-prioritize.
The postponement with the gym closing in mid-March 2020 was also unprecedented for our business, which relied largely on the footprints of retail and our 100+ gyms. Much of the change has been about rethinking the way we share our digital content and it has given us the opportunity to innovate. Less than a week after our closure, we started an online fitness class called “Get Up & Blink” that we ran daily on Facebook. It was developed by our personal trainers and we had a different trainer focus on a different exercise every day, from yoga to weightlifting. We did this five times a week and saw a tremendous impact. It was primarily designed to retain and retain our current membership base, but we have opened it up to everyone. We have reached and continue to reach nearly 1.9 million people. Now it happens twice a week.
We also have an app that launched in 2019 and it has become a great way for us to keep in touch with our member base and invite new members to join.
Tell us more about the Blink mobile app.
The app has three components: fitness, nutrition, and one component we call “recovery”. We’ve included content produced by Blink, as well as some popular fitness partners like Aaptiv and Daily Burn, and put all of them on the app. Members can also use the app to enter the gym. This is a smooth and contactless experience.
In addition, we have introduced two new products. One is a reservation system for our busier gyms that allows people to think about when to come in. We also enable people to find out how busy their gym is. Essentially, it’s a capacity tracker that we’ve built into the app. We want people to feel comfortable when they hit the gym and give them the freedom to plan their experience. The app was always important, but secondary. Obviously, at the time of writing, there were no plans for the capacity tracker and reservation. that everything came out of this time of uncertainty.
Is the app available to members only or is there an option to purchase a standalone subscription if you are not currently a member of Blink Fitness?
There will be a digital version of the app that you can purchase as one of the membership options. We’re just not there yet. We still have a three day free trial where people can jump on the app, sign up, and experience it.
Influencers have become an important part of Blink’s marketing strategy. Can you talk about how the company is focused on this particular channel?
I’ll take a step back and say that our content strategy has really become the backbone of our marketing and advertising strategy. It gives us the freedom to focus on specific target audience segments and within relevant channels.
We found that many of our micro-influencers have their own followers and people who rely on their wellness journey. By working with these influencers, we really focus on making Blink a central part of this community. If we dig a little deeper into the inclusivity of the body, we look at influencers at different stages in their lives with different reasons for getting into the gym. They might want to lose weight, they might want to tone up, or they might just want to have fun.
It’s really about how you feel and how you look. Our influencers recognize that going to the gym and exercising can often be intimidating – especially for people who are at the beginning of their journey and don’t know how to begin. For women, the weight training area of the gym can often be scary. It is therefore important to help them ease fitness and make it easier for them to get into the gym.
Is there any channel that you’ve seen the greatest success on so far?
I don’t think a channel can work well in and of itself. They can exist, but when things work together – whether you call it the flywheel effect or force multiplication – we get some of our best results.
We have optimized each of our channels from social media to email to payment [for] Performance that works at a much higher level than in the past. We try to focus on creating an integrated storytelling. It’s all really tight, rather than looking at each channel individually. Even so, we’ve seen tremendous improvements across the board in our channels – especially in the areas of email and social networks – and we continue to iterate and research them. We just recently launched TikTok, which we’re really excited about, and it really gives us the opportunity to authentically reach people on this channel.
We’re open to exploring and building on the channels we’re on right now. And that goes back to our content strategy as well as how we look at certain target audience segments and use these channels to reach people. It’s the classic march to the customer: the right message, the right time, the right channel.