Why gyms & clubs need to be thinking more seriously about mobile

Dan Holt is the Managing Director of Inbound.co.uk, a full service digital agency specialising in digital brand strategy, content marketing, SEO and social media.


You have probably heard about the rise of mobile technology and what it means for your marketing. It’s a big deal and it’s only getting bigger.

This short report brings together member survey data, website analytics and insight into Google’s growing preference for mobile optimised websites, as well as providing guidance for each of the key factors you need to consider before investing in mobile.

What do people think?

We asked over a hundred members of gyms how they would find their next gym:
– 66%% said it would be via Google whilst browsing on mobile.
– Over 86% of these said it that if the website was not optimised for mobile and the user experience was poor then they would give up and try to find another gym.

So that’s 56% of potential members that you’ll be losing if your website is not optimised for mobile.

Does the data support this?

Survey feedback is one thing, but what we’re more interested in is what the websites themselves tell us. What proportion of gym website’s traffic comes from mobile and tablet compared to traditional desktop traffic?


Using aggregated data taken across a number of gyms and clubs we can see that mobile and tablet traffic account for over 70% of total traffic for the average gym website! Desktop traffic is now a relatively small part of total traffic for many gyms.

However, just because all this traffic is coming from mobile, does it mean that it’s converting? Well if the website isn’t optimised appropriately then you would assume not. Let’s see what the data tells us:


As you can see, sign up rates are nearly three times higher on desktop because so many subscription paths on gym websites are not optimised for mobile. In other words, if your website has serious problems with mobile, then it is creating serious problems for your business!

How does this impact your rankings and traffic?

For a long time Google have taken into account your mobile user experience when determining mobile rankings, and consequently a lousy mobile website will mean less mobile traffic. However, this has now gone a step further. In late 2016 Google introduced their mobile-first index which means that Google will treat the mobile website as its primary source of data. In other words, if your mobile website is poor, then all of your rankings, even when someone is searching on desktop, could suffer!

It’s not all bad news!

The one thing currently saving you is the fact that everyone else is dreadful on mobile too, so if you’re in the minority that embrace mobile over the next 12 months then that could mean huge things for both your rankings, traffic and conversion rates.

What should you do?

Optimising for mobile is a huge opportunity but is one that is littered with potential pitfalls. Here is a list of the key things to think about when going mobile:

Don’t invest in a separate mobile site.

They are more costly and time consuming to maintain (as it’s a completely separate site) and discouraged by Google. If you want to maintain and improve your rankings, then you need to redesign your existing site so that it’s mobile responsive.

2. Find out what device your audience is using

If you already have analytics installed this is simple. Just select Audience > Mobile > Devices. You can then see the different kinds of mobile device that send the most traffic. When the design is being developed, it needs frequent testing on each of these devices to ensure the user experience is flawless.

3. Keep the mobile version simple, but ensure the core content is the same for both desktop and mobile

Users are increasingly using their mobile devices for the same tasks as on desktops and therefore expect a consistent experience across devices. However, the difference is in navigation. A mobile user should be able to get from beginning to end with just the use of one thumb – the moment you force them to involve the second hand is the moment you’ve ruined it – which means clear calls to action and simple, large buttons. Keep the surrounding content to an absolute minimum.

4. Optimise the images for mobile

One of the biggest frustrations for the mobile user is slow loading pages. Keep the imagery lower resolution than on the desktop and avoid other media heavy files, such as videos.

5. Make it easy to find the contact info, location and phone number

This is so important. Think about why someone might be browsing your site on mobile; there is a good chance that they are trying to find where it is or to ask someone a question. This is particularly important if the subscription process isn’t great on mobile as at least if you offer them a telephone number (which must be click to call) you give the member another option before they get frustrated and move onto another website. Contact forms should also be as short as possible.

6. Ensure analytics is installed and conversion tracking set up

If you didn’t have analytics already set up, then make sure you do moving forwards. It will tell you (among many other things!) how mobile is now performing versus desktop and which devices you may have problems on.


Posted in Interviews, The Fitness Network.