Kicking off November with a few product updates

We are making the rounds today with several random improvements that many have been asking for.  Onward and Upward.

Waiver – Click Required

For our more risk averse customers, we’ve made a small enhancement to the online waiver functionality.  As the title says, you now have the option to require that the client click on your waiver link in order to accept the waiver.  Nothing can guarantee they will read it, but at least you can go a step further and increase your legal protections.  This is probably the part where we should have a bunch of small print saying we are not lawyers and in no way assert that our product will protect you from lawsuits… yada yada…  Learn more here

User Role – Give them data

For most of you, the user roles we have previously provided work well enough.  But, not everybody is the same.  We’ve added a new role which includes ‘Reporting’ along with the Professional Full Access profile.  Knowledge is a powerful tool. Yield it wisely. 🙂

Package & Membership Deep Links

This is the first of probably many ‘deep links’ that we will be developing over the next several releases.  What is a deep link?  It’s a link that you can generate from Fitli that you can put on your website and take users directly to a specific page within the application.  The first one we are launching tonight will allow you to generate a link to either a list of all packages and memberships or a single package/membership.  This is useful if you’d like to promote you packages/memberships on your website and have a “buy” or “purchase” button which will take the user directly into the Fitli purchase flow for that item.  See a bit more on the help desk.

Customer Export

Yes.  You read right.  You can now click a button and get a full export of your customer list in CSV format.  This export will include all data that you have in the system about this customer from contact info to notes.  Use this file to load directly into your email program such as Mailchimp of Constant Contact to keep things in synch.  This one is kind of self explanatory, but if you want to read more, you can do it here.

Don’t forget. Save money with our new Annual Billing option

Many of you may still be on a Free Trial.  Others are on a Monthly Billing Plan.  We are introducing Annual pricing.  Of course, you save money by going Annual.  So, if you are pretty happy and expect to be with us a while, the Annual Plan may be a good option.  See the Annual Pricing options at the Pricing Section of the website. Then, if interested, just send a message to support@fitli.com to let us know you’d like to change.

Help – Easier than ever

We are always happy to answer your questions.  But, we are not available 100% of the time and we know that one or two of you like to figure things out for yourself.  You probably already know we have a help desk.  We keep mentioning it.  Now, you can get there directly from the Fitli app from the pull down menu in the top right on the web.  If you are super excited and can’t wait, go now and  Visit the Helpdesk!

New Look and Feel for Fitli

SEO in 2017: All About User Experience

Fitness and wellness site owners are often led to believe that SEO is just a matter of knowing the right tricks. Master those tricks, and Google will catapult your site to the top of their results. However, Google and other search engines have grown extremely adept at detecting any attempt to achieve artificially high rankings. In 2017 search engines penalize site owners for tricks like “keyword stuffing” and “link spam.” Sites with in-depth, original content and an exceptional user experience reap SEO rewards. This is great news for site owners in the fitness and wellness space, who would prefer to focus on member sign-ups, rather than ever-changing algorithms.

Rethinking keywords and backlinks

These are two areas that many site owners have been led to believe they must master in order to rank high in search results. Keywords and backlinks are still relevant today, but a lot has changed. In 2017, old assumptions about the importance of keywords and backlinks can easily lead to “keyword stuffing” and “link spam.” Considering that Google has fine-tuned its algorithms to recognize these practices, they will hurt your SEO more than help it.

Avoiding “keyword stuffing”

Site owners often hear that they need to stuff their content with keywords that potential customers are searching for on Google. For example, if you run a yoga studio in Santa Barbara, you may feel pressured to constantly repeat “Santa Barbara” and “yoga” on every page. You certainly want to include those keywords when relevant, but do so sparingly. If Google detects evidence of unnecessary usage of keywords, a practice known as “keyword stuffing,” they may penalize your site for it.

Google now tends to favor content containing a broader range of relevant keywords that often occur naturally within a rich, in-depth treatment of your topic.

Avoiding “link spam”

Site owners often feel pressured to get backlinks to their site by any means possible. Google has highly sophisticated ways of sniffing out sites that are generating backlinks not by merit, but by other means that Google considers “link spam.”

Of course, backlinks still matter. Search engines look for links clearly inspired by a genuine appreciation of your site’s great user experience and original content.

SEO in 2017 is about user experience

While keywords and backlinks will always carry some weight, the center of gravity in SEO is content quality and user experience. This is welcome news for businesses owners, especially in the fitness and wellness space. Rather than trying to master keyword-density or generate backlinks, focus on in-depth fitness and wellness content and an intuitive experience. After all, in 2017 search engines are trying to think like their users. Use of mobile devices for browsing continues to grow so search engines reward mobile-friendly sites. Search engine users don’t want to wait for pages to load, so sites with fast-loading times get rewarded. Search engines reward fresh, original, in-depth treatments of topics.

Have a look at Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and SEO Starter Guide for their latest recommendations.

A new outlook

Overall, an SEO plan primarily focused on keyword-density and backlink-count is not a viable option. In 2017 Google penalizes sites with abnormally high concentrations of narrow keywords or loads of questionable backlinks. Sites with a great user experience are rewarded. It’s time to turn your focus on what truly makes users happy: fast-loading, mobile-friendly sites with intuitive functionality and fresh, original, in-depth content.

Contact us to learn more about SEO in 2017.

Small Business Startup Tools

You’ve decided to take the plunge and start a small business. You are officially a small business startup! You’re about to learn things you never knew you didn’t know. Every day a new challenge awaits you. It may be a marketing issue or a product issue. Maybe it’s operations or customer service related? It might be accounting or tax related. You never know.  Unfortunately, you can’t just send your issue over to the appropriate department… because you are the department. You are all the departments. So you need help. You’re in luck. Today, more than ever before, there are tools and applications for everything. At Fitli, we use or have used at least 20 different online tools and applications to run our business. Here are a few of my favorites:

Read more

6 Strategies to Increase Traffic to Your Small Business Website

According to a study from Forbes, 9 out of 10 consumers go online when they’re looking for products or services—and of these, about 90% never go past the first page of search results.  That means achieving a high ranking in search results for your small business website is critical to your success.  The question is how do you best achieve that? What you can do, right now, to improve your rankings in Google and other search engines?

Hubspot recommends these 6 strategies you can use today to improve your search engine rankings to increase website traffic, grow your small business and boost your sales:

1.  Build a Professional-Looking Small Business Website

Your website is the face of your small business. It’s the first thing customers and prospective customers see. It’s how they evaluate whether they can trust your company and the products and services you offer.  If your website looks amateurish or it’s buggy, customers will conclude that you don’t know what you’re doing. They will assume your website is a reflection of your products and services.

For the technically proficient, you can certainly create your own website using one of the several CMS tools on the market.  If not, you can partner with a strong marketing agency or freelancer.  You can find freelancers and agencies in your area using online tools like Upwork or Freelancer.

2.  Optimize Your Small Business Website

Search engines like Google use algorithms to find the highest quality content that matches the keywords people type.  There are several proactive steps you can take to make sure your website appears high in search engine rankings when people type in keywords related to your business.  Search Engine Journal summarizes some of the most important of these, like identifying targeted keywords, creating useful content, and building high-quality backlinks to your site.

3.  Create a Blog

Publishing a blog with useful content is a great way to improve your site’s SEO. It also helps to build trust in your brand.  According to Hubspot, businesses which blog 16 or more times a month get on average 3.5 times more website traffic than those which don’t.  Make sure your targeted keywords are weaved organically into your blog posts. Also make sure your content answers questions your customers have. It should help them make smart consumer choices.

4.  Have a Consistent and Compelling Brand

Branding is a hot topic.  For some, branding is about logos, taglines and color schemes.  For others, it’s about the promises you make to your customers, and the extent to which you keep those promises. In the end, branding is really about is how people perceive your business.  As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon describes it, branding is “what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”  To get started, check out Hubspot’s “How to Brand Your Business on a Budget,” with useful tips on creating buyer personas, developing an identity and voice, and making customer service a top priority.

5.  Embrace Email Marketing

Email marketing remains among the most effective tools small business owners can use to connect with customers and boost sales.  In fact, according to a 2013 report from the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing yields on average a 4,300% return on investment for large and small businesses in the United States.  You can expand your email database by giving prospective customers incentives (like valuable content) to provide their contact information by filling out forms on your website.  Once you have your email database in place, send customers information they can use on a regular basis, perhaps through a weekly or monthly newsletter.  Email marketing will increase traffic to your website, and that helps improve your SEO.

6.  Get Active on Social Media

Engaging customers on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is one of the best ways for small businesses to increase traffic to their websites.   You can get started by creating a Facebook business page which includes your location and business hours.   You should also create a Twitter account and learn how to use Instagram for your small business,  Finally, you need to learn how to get positive customer reviews on sites like Yelp.

Conclusion

According to Neil Patel writing for Forbes, 90% of small business startups fail.  The ones which succeed find innovative ways to make sure customers can find their products and services online.  One of the best ways to do that is by joining an online marketplace.  To learn more about the ways our online marketplace will get your business online and mobile in minutes—and make it easy for your customers to interact with your business, contact us today.

Tips to Find More Customers For Your Gym

It can be hard to find new customers when you own a gym. Many people already have a gym that they love so it can be hard to compete, especially when you are first starting out. However, even as you grow, there is a big competition between gyms. More and more gym owners are trying to cut their costs in order to get more customers. Low membership fees are not the only way to increase your membership.

Here are some tips to get even more customers in your doors.

1. Hire the best personal trainers that you can get! 

Too many people come to the gym yet they really have no idea what they are doing. Good and great personal trainers can really offer a lot to your customers. They can help get them on the right path so that they can reach their goals, as well as make sure that they get the body that they want.

The most important thing that makes a personal trainer great is their customer service. They need to pay attention to their customers the entire time. They are both encouraging, as well as motivating. A good trainer will make the time go by faster, so that you might not realize how hard you are actually working. They will make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly so that you get the results that you are looking for.

2. Offer classes for your customers. 

There are many boring gyms that are just filled with equipment. Equipment is great (and necessary) for gyms, but to rise above some of the other gyms in your area, you may want to look into classes. You can offer classes in yoga, cardio, kickboxing, weight lifting, and much more. Weight loss classes and abdominal exercises are always popular. Try to keep up with the latest trends in gyms to ensure that you are going to be attracting more and more customers.

3. Be open when your customers want to use the gym. 

Many people like to go to the gym in the morning before work, while others prefer to go right after. There are also many who are night owls who will be there as late as you are open. For this reason, you need to be open as much as you can afford to, in order to reach as many customers as possible.

4. It is also important to be well-staffed during busy hours. 

It is important to have enough staff when you need it. Otherwise, you will make people wait and they won’t be happy. Some may even go to another gym if they can’t get the help that they need when they need it. For this reason, you should always have extra people on hand for your busy time and less during the slow times.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. 

Word of mouth advertising and referrals can be some of the best forms of advertising that a business can have. Not only are people more likely to spend money when they know satisfied customers, it doesn’t cost anything to get customers to spread the word about your business, making it the cheapest form of advertising that you can do.

All you have to do is remind your customers to spread the word and then reward them. Give them a free class or (if you are feeling really generous) month for every referral. This will make your customers even more likely to tell their friends, helping to grow your business.

In order to get more customers into your gym, you they need a reason. Not only should you have all of the equipment that they want, you should offer good personal trainers and classes to attract all types of customers. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Satisfied customers will bring even more customers through your doors.

Contact us to learn more about Fitli and how we can help you find more customers for your gym!

 

3 Steps Toward a Mobile-Friendly Fitness & Wellness Website

As a small business owner of a gym or studio, you may rely heavily on local, tech-savvy customers that find your site on their smartphones. However, your site may not be mobile-friendly, and like many small business owners, you may not know how to fix it. With this dilemma in mind, here are three steps to help you on your way:

1. Adopt a mobile-first frame of mind

The first step to take as you consider revamping your website is to reorient yourself to it. In the past, site owners had a desktop-first mentality. The main focus was to get your site to look good on a desktop/laptop. Then you might start thinking about mobile. However, in October 2016, mobile traffic in the U.S. surpassed desktop/laptop and tablet traffic for the first time, and the trend has only continued in 2017. As a small business owner, this means your customers have transitioned to a mobile-first mentality, or are well on their way. This is especially true as an owner of a fitness or wellness site, as your customers are often well ahead of the curve. Therefore, if you want to keep attracting tech-savvy customers, you’ll want to adopt the same mobile-first mentality that they have.

2. Fix the small things

Once you’ve gotten yourself into a mobile-first frame of mind, give your site an honest once-over from a mobile perspective. You can start with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Then take the time to visit every page of your site on your smartphone. Start with the text. As you browse your site on a three or four-inch screen, are you squinting to read the text on your About page or latest blog post? If so, you may want to change your site’s default font size. Of course, like everything else in design, it gets complicated. Since font size is relative to font, and some fonts run larger than others, there really is no ideal default font size. Nonetheless, you can easily see first-hand whether your site’s text is too small for smartphones. If it is, and you’re not sure how to fix it, ask a designer or CSS-savvy friend for help.

Another area to look at is your buttons, especially any that might lead to sign-ups at your gym or studio. Is the button big enough to easily tap on a smart phone? As a rule of thumb, Apple recommends buttons that are at least 45 pixels wide and tall. Still, even if your button is big enough to tap, is its text easily readable? If not, it’s time to make it bigger.

3. Get responsive

Just in case you haven’t heard, responsive web design (RWD) is a big deal. In fact, it’s such a big deal, and has been for so long, that it’s almost old news now. At this point, recommending RWD for web design is a bit like recommending Google for search. It’s stating the obvious. And speaking of Google, they recommend responsive design. At the same time, Google’s search algorithm has begun penalizing sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. All the same, many site owners, unsure or what to do, have hesitated to make the transition. As a result, their sites are not “responsive,” which means they don’t change in response to a changing browser-window or a different device. On the other hand, a truly responsive site will not only expand, shrink and rearrange its content to best fit your browser window or device, but will progressively hide or bring back menu items and other content, as needed.

For many small business owners, responsive design is the best way to make their site mobile-friendly without creating an entirely separate mobile version of their site. Of course, if you’re using a site builder like Wix, or a content management system like WordPress, there are many preexisting plugins and themes that will help make your site responsive. However, most site owners will need to reach out to a designer and make a financial investment. However, if having a responsive design leads to more mobile traffic, and more mobile traffic leads to more sign-ups at your gym or studio, then your investment in a responsive design may quickly pay for itself and then some.

4. Getting started

Like getting in shape, making the healthy transition to a mobile-friendly site takes time. Your first step is to adopt a mobile-first mindset, just as your customers are. Once you see the mobile-friendly changes you need to make, you can then start addressing the easy ones, such as larger fonts and bigger buttons. Finally, when you’re ready to make the long-term commitment, it’s time to reach out to a designer to help you transition to a fully-responsive, mobile-friendly site.

Schedule a demo to learn more about how to make your fitness or wellness business succeed.

 

Fitli Product Updates – June 2017

To wait or not to wait… that is the question… the question you will have to ask yourself after this release.

Wait no more.  Waitlist is here.

We are super excited to launch the next big booking enhancement in as many months.  Only 3 weeks ago, we launched the first iteration of Check In.  It’s a very simple approach to start with.  A class is full.  A customer gets added to waitlist.  If a spot opens due to either cancellation or change in capacity, everybody on the waitlist gets notified.  At that point it’s first come first serve to book the open spot.  We wish you many full classes. Learn more here

Edit to your hearts content

As always, we hear you and respond with changes. There are many places in the software that were once un-editable either after saving or, in the case of a session, after the session occurred.  Starting today, you will be able to edit pretty much anything about a session at any time.  That includes capacity, instructor, clients, check in, and facility.  With great power comes great responsibility.  In other words, be careful. We’ll help where we can, but it’s in your hands now. 🙂

Don’t forget. Save money with our new Annual Billing option

Many of you may still be on a Free Trial.  Others are on a Monthly Billing Plan.  We are introducing Annual pricing.  Of course, you save money by going Annual.  So, if you are pretty happy and expect to be with us a while, the Annual Plan may be a good option.  See the Annual Pricing options at the Pricing Section of the website. Then, if interested, just send a message to support@fitli.com to let us know you’d like to change.

More on chat and support

Last time we talked about the new chat feature.  We have decided to invest further in this capability and started moving our entire support process to the new system. Starting today, you will see links to the new FAQ.  We will also be able to point you to articles and videos right there in the chat box.  We do still need to sleep once in a while, so we can’t guarantee we’ll be there to answer 24/7, but we’ll always respond to you as soon as possible.  Visit the new Helpdesk!

Fitli Product Updates – May 2017

I’ve worked at a big Silicon Valley tech company and I know lots of people who do.  Those companies believe they know what everybody needs.  They think they are smarter and more visionary. They like to quote Steve Jobs when he said “…sometimes people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”  Even if that were true, which I don’t necessarily agree with,  people can certainly can tell you the problems they have that needs solving.  That is why we at Fitli believe in you.  We believe in listening to what you have to say.  When you have pain, we feel it.  When you feel frustrated, we feel it.  To that end, we do our best to ensure that each release includes a heavy focus on improving things with the current product and THEN work on new features.  Enjoy our new release and keep the feedback coming.

New Look

You may have noticed the new www.fitli.com site we launched a few weeks ago. It’s been upgraded to https for additional security and clients creating a new account will have no problem figuring out where to go.  The clean and simple design is where we will be taking the rest of the site. Enjoy.

Sorting things out

With this release, the customer list will be sorted alphabetically from A to Z based on first name. Of course, search is still the best way to find a customer if you have a long list. Now, after you search for a customer, you can clear the name with a click and get back to the full list.  Lastly, when you add a new customer, we automatically filter the list to that customer so you can make their first purchase without delay.

Location. Location. Location.

To be more accurate, we actually call it Facilities (even though Location is more appropriate).  Some of you noticed that the “Facility” doesn’t show up on the various notification messages.  Starting tomorrow, that will change.  We will be posting an FAQ soon on this, to clarify what will show up where.

Avoiding Pitfalls

We feel terrible when we find out that one of you hit a snag… and doubly so when we realize it’s something we should have fixed.  We have added clearer error messages in a few key spots.  Hopefully, you won’t even notice. 🙂

Collecting the Digits

It’s always nice to have your customers phone number for more reasons than we care to list.  But, when you don’t have it, you don’t have it.  So, phone number is now optional when adding an new customer.  And we aren’t going to force clients to add it up front when creating an account either. Always trying to balance between making things easy and providing more information.  Simple won this battle.

Annual Billing Option

Many of you may still be on a Free Trial.  Others are on a Monthly Billing Plan.  We are introducing Annual pricing.  Of course, you save money by going Annual.  So, if you are pretty happy and expect to be with us a while, the Annual Plan may be a good option.  See the Annual Pricing options at the Pricing Section of the website. Then, if interested, just send a message to support@fitli.com to let us know you’d like to change.

Friendly Reminders / Chat Support

Lastly, you probably noticed that we have been testing out different ways to provide support.  We have settled on a system and you will continue to see the little blue chat button at the bottom right of your screen.  Go ahead and give it a try next time you have a question.  You will also see nice little pointers and reminders on occasion.  Let us know how it’s working out.