Over the last few decades, there has been a cultural shift in regards to fitness and staying healthy. Along with this shift there have been dozens of different apps and new technologies that have tried to encourage people on their fitness journey. One of the biggest players in the industry that has proven time and time again the importance of working smarter instead of harder is MyFitnessPal.
We will first talk about the history and success of MyFitnessPal. Along with that we will show how they were able to harness the power of app analytics into a user base of over 140 million. Without further ado, let’s start from the beginning.
From the beginning
This story begins where many fitness journeys often do: getting ready for a wedding. Back in 2005, Mike Lee, co-founder and CEO of MyFitnessPal was trying to lose weight with his then-fiancé before their wedding. After talking with a personal trainer, Mike and his wife received a list of nutritious foods and a note pad for tallying up their calorie intake.
Right away, Mike new that there was a better solution. Since he had been coding since he was 10 years old and wasn’t impressed with other apps or websites on the market, Lee decided to create his own program. This program would eventually turn into MyFitnessPal which would go on to be sold to Under Armor for $475 million dollars in 2015. Little did Mike know what the fitness world had in store for him when he wrote those first few lines of code 13 years ago.
How does MyFitnessPal work?
Now that you have some background on the company, let’s talk about some of the different features of MyFitnessPal that have set it apart in the past few years. As we mentioned earlier, at the time when Mike was putting together the app, there weren’t many fitness or nutrition trackers out there. And the ones that were did not do a satisfactory job, as they were either too cumbersome or full of bugs.
Along with creating a simpler app with a user-focused design, over time MyFitnessPal was able to add additional features that took fitness tracking to a whole new level.
Exercise and nutrition tracking
For instance, exercise and nutrition tracking, Mike and company were able to take a look at the poor design of other fitness tracking technologies and understand through user-stories the best approach to this conundrum. One of the first was one Mike saw himself in other fitness trackers: that you couldn’t save exercises or foods for repeat use. Something as simple as this was enough to give MyFitnessPal the legs it needed early on.
Checking in and seeing progress
Something else that was missing from other apps that would be uncovered through user engagement metrics was the ability to check-in and monitor progress. As anyone who has spent time around fitness clubs or gyms can attest, tracking progress is a huge component of fitness. Before MyFitnessPal, there was not an all-in-one solution to this problem.
Through the app users could do weekly weigh-ins where they would input their current weight and compare it with where you started. Additionally, the app will automatically update with this new information to reset your goals for the upcoming week in regards to calorie intake.
The other great thing about MyFitnessPal is it encourages habitual usage by making things easier with each subsequent usage. While it may take a while to set up your goals and input your first few meals and exercises, soon users will only need to spend roughly 30 seconds updating the app. As we mentioned earlier, MyFitnessPal is able to work smarter instead of harder, something users love.
The success of MyFitnessPal
It’s no secret that MyFitnessPal has been one of the most successful fitness-related apps of the last decade. However, this kind of success doesn’t just happen by accident. Mike Lee and the rest of the MyFitnessPal team were able to meet their users and customers along their journey and help them wherever they are to get where they want to go.
This should be a lesson to others who are trying to do the same. It’s not about creating the most extraordinary technology or providing the best service (although these both help), it’s simply a matter of understanding your audience and really caring about your relationship with them. Once you treat your users right, the rest is easy.
Speaking of users, MyFitnessPal boasts over 165 million users and is able to improve the experience of all users by incorporating metrics and analytics from tracking each of their fitness journeys.
While MyFitnessPal’s popularity is mainly due to it being a free app, they are able to earn money through premium memberships and ad revenue. The MyFitnessPal Premium offers advanced tools for tracking nutrition and exercise as well as removing ads for dedicated users. This is a good example of the “free-mium” model in use.
Other popular companies like Spotify and Hulu have taken advantage of this kind of revenue model. By allowing users to get the basic functions for free while running ads, you are able to make up the difference with ad revenue. However, once users are accustomed to the service, they will be more willing to pay you each month to avoid the ads. Either way it’s a win for your business and your customers.
Despite the fact that MyFitnessPal was acquired by Under Armor in 2015, they are still working tirelessly to serve their customers. As fitness continues to take off and fitness trackers like the FitBit and Apple Watch become more commonplace, the sky continues to be the limit for this fitness powerhouse.
For those who are hoping to get involved in the fitness world for themselves, MyFitnessPal is an excellent example of putting users first and creating a great customer experience for all. Do this for yourself and you’ll never have to worry about customer retention marketing or other ways of reducing churn rate again.
Co-Founder, Gleantap & Mastera