Owner and Founder of Level One Sites, Vin McCauley, is always surprised when he finds a Box that created its own website.
“Most Box owners don’t build their own building, they go and lease a space. Most Box owners go and buy equipment, they don’t try to weld steel into a rig,” said McCauley. “So it always surprised me that they try to build their own website, especially when it’s, for most Boxes, the No. 1 most important and most used marketing tool they have.”
According to McCauley, a Box’s website has four to nine seconds to capture someone’s attention. “You better know what you’re doing because it costs real dollars,” said McCauley.
In August 2014, when Jonathan Pingel opened CrossFit Papio in La Vista, Nebraska, he used a service that created his Box’s website and offered a free SEO class to help him learn how to make it appear at the top of a Google search.
The importance of SEO and being on the first page of a web search cannot be understated. In fact, McCauley lives by the saying, “The best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google.”
So, in order to ensure a website lands on the sacred first page, McCauley has three main criteria: the overall design, organization of content and the functionality of the site.
Trey Tamble, the founder of Siteplicity, knows just how important aesthetic appeal is when it comes to a gym’s potential members. “More and more Box owners are realizing the importance of having a good, quality website,” he said. “People don’t realize how important that first impression is [in] establishing the quality of your brand, the professionalism, the overall look and feel of your gym. It’s really important that the website looks good right off the bat, because even as a brand new gym, that’s going to be people’s first interaction with your gym.”
McCauley and Tamble agree that imagery is a crucial part of a website, as it’s the first look into a Box. Both said photos should not be of the “firebreathers” of your gym, or grainy and out-of-focus iPhone pictures. Likewise, blogs, WODs and CrossFit vernacular should not intimidate potential members on the homepage.
Instead, Tamble recommends showing success stories, be it of a major weight loss or members simply feeling better about themselves.
McCauley said it’s essential to consider the slightest design detail, such as if buttons are the correct color, in the correct location on the site and have the best keyword phrasing. In fact, Level One Sites has a 39-step website-building process, which takes approximately 30 days to complete.
Although he did not build his site, Pingel said he appreciates having access to everything. He, or his Coaches, can go into the back end and add pictures, create pages and add functionality to everything on the site. “321goproject.com knows the ins-and-outs [of our business]. Our insurance is through CrossFit, so they know what a Box owner really wants. Usually, they have their own ideas before I have ideas on how to do things, and how to make my life easier. So, I think it just saves a lot of headache,” he said.
While McCauley said a website itself can get people to the gym, it’s then up to the Affiliates to retain the members.
“One of the phrases that we use here is we can help bring people to your door,” said McCauley. “But it does, at some point, fall on the business owner, the process that they’ve put in place, the quality of their staff as far as closing that deal, signing up the member and then retaining that.”