How to Run a Successful Online Challenge

Online challenges are a great way of introducing potential clients to you and your work with the goal of bringing them on as paid clients to grow your health and wellness business. In addition to helping your challenge participants to know, like, and trust you, an online challenge can also bring awareness to a larger health goal and give participants a sense of the value you offer before needing to invest.

If you haven’t yet run an online challenge, think of it as a short group program with a very specific, short-term goal. These challenges give clients a quick win because the expected outcome or goal is small and doable which is great for morale and helps clients gain some initial momentum to improving their health.

Here are 5 best practices to help you get started with your own online challenge:

1. Be Clear on Your Challenge Goals

Before you start building your challenge, first it’s important to know what you’re hoping to accomplish with your online challenge and what you’re going to focus on. Knowing who your ideal client is the first step. What goals will you help them achieve? Without clarity on this, your challenge likely won’t hit your target market and you may not get the traction you are looking for.

In order to develop a strong understanding of your ideal client, ask yourself what problems are they facing and how can you help provide solutions to solve these problems? What are their interests? And what are their limitations?

Once you’re clear on your ideal client, you’ll want to strategically decide on what the challenge goal will be. Start with being precise about the overall journey that you want to walk your ideal client through beyond your online challenge. What are the topics that will be relevant to all (or at least the majority) of your clients? Once you have a shortlist of topics, further streamline that list to include topics that are popular within your community of ideal clients. What do they commonly complain about? What is one thing they’d feel motivated and good about?

If you’re unsure as to what your growing community is interested in, one surefire way to uncover what your audience wants is to simply ask. Using a poll or survey via email, Instagram Stories, or even a poll within your Facebook group can help take the guesswork out of your planning.

One final tip to take into consideration when planning is to consider any other factors that may be relevant to your audience such as the seasons, world events, or even life events.

2. Be Specific and Keep It Simple

Keep your challenge simple and relevant to help a participant see results easily and feel like they’ve reached a level of success. Here are suggestions for keeping it simple and specific:

      • Tackle only one topic during your online challenge to keep it digestible and actionable. The more you can present your participants with bite-sized pieces of information and actionable changes, the more you’ll set them up for success with small daily and personal wins. Reiterate in your daily messaging the importance of each small actionable task and how following through will benefit them.
      • Challenge duration is another important element. In order to keep participants engaged on a daily basis and progressing through the challenge, aim to run your challenge anywhere between 5-10 days. This is an approachable time period for participants, yet it still gives them enough opportunity to begin seeing results. Remember, the outcome of your challenge is something small and easy to attain in a short period of time, unlike a group program that will tackle more topics to achieve a larger goal.
      • The focus of your challenge should be one piece of the puzzle that you typically cover in your one-on-one consultations or in your signature group program. This gives participants a taste of the value you offer in your paid offerings, and it’s important because you are more likely to convert challenge participants into paying clients afterward.

3. Provide Supportive and Interactive Content

Don’t overlook the content you’ll provide to your challenge participants. The format of the content for your challenge will largely depend on the specific outcome you’ve outlined and should be as engaging as possible. Since you’ll likely have different content speak to different participants, aim to provide a combination of material such as:

      • Live video sessions
      • Short pre-recorded videos
      • Worksheets
      • Infographics
      • Meal plans
      • Shopping lists
      • Exercises
      • Accountability questions
      • Journaling prompt

It’s important to focus on actionable steps that your participants can take each day, without a huge time commitment. Aim for daily tasks that take less than 15 minutes total and provide clients with an easy sense of accomplishment, ensuring to keep engagement high.

4. Choose Your Delivery System Wisely

Utilizing a delivery system for your challenge that is organized and easy to access contributes to your client’s success. Here are a few different ways you can choose to run your challenge:

      • Using Practice Better to run your online challenge allows you to keep your educational content, community engagement, and client accountability all in one place while keeping it linked to your client’s health record. Another bonus is that it’s super easy to reuse your challenge content for your next program!
      • Another way to run your online challenge is by email, so you’d send out your content and communication to participants by email only. The drawback is that it can be difficult for your clients to reference the content because it is all sent separately. It’s also more challenging to engage with your participants over email, and there is no community encouragement or motivation.
      • Some practitioners may choose to use social media to run their online challenges. The drawback here is that not everyone is using social media and may not be comfortable doing so, which limits your signups. As well, any content you share can be difficult to reference and reuse afterward.
      • Using a specific e-course platform may seem like a great idea, however, it does make things more convoluted for your clients as they will have to sign up for another platform just to access your content. This also makes things less streamlined for you as the practitioner, because the online challenge won’t be linked to your client’s health record.

5. Keep Participants Engaged and Motivated

Participant engagement is a key aspect of your challenge. Without strong engagement strategies, participants are more likely to drop off partway through your challenge. To keep your participants’ attention and to boost motivation, try these tips:

      • Plan for daily communication with your challenge participants such as posting in a group chat or holding a group video session. This can be a recap of what is on the challenge agenda for the day, some inspirational content, a great recipe, etc. Plan this content out ahead of time to make it easy to stick to.
      • Prepare a daily call to action for your participants such as encouraging them to share their progress, wins, and even struggles with each other on social media or in a group chat. If you’re taking the challenge yourself along with your participants, dare to share your own progress, struggles, and tips!
      • Consider offering a giveaway halfway through or at the end of your challenge to reduce drop off midway through, and encourage completion.

Once your challenge is over, it’s helpful to have a follow-up plan. To get feedback from participants, you may want to send out a survey and comb through the group engagement for things that participants loved and where they struggled. This will help you make improvements to your challenge the next time you run it! The benefit of running your challenge multiple times is that you can refine it each time, making it better and better. As well, you can get your participants and community excited about it ahead of time, furthering its success.

Tips For Filling Your Next Challenge

If you’re unsure of how to fill your challenge once you’ve created it, check out some of these simple strategies to help!

  • Introduce your upcoming challenge to your community in your newsletter or in a dedicated email sequence encouraging them to sign up as your call to action.
  • Share details and ready-to-use content promoting the benefits of your upcoming challenge with your professional network whose communities could benefit from participating in your challenge.
  • Announce your challenge in your Facebook group and on your Facebook pages (both business and personal) and share examples of what they’ll get from going through the challenge. Examples could include a delicious recipe included in the challenge, easy food swaps, expected outcomes, etc.
  • Use Instagram Stories to talk about your challenge and the value participants will get from it. Using video is great because it helps you show off your personality and is engaging.
  • Let your family and friends know about the challenge and ask them to join or share with anyone they know who could benefit.
  • If offering your challenge to existing clients, you may consider offering existing clients a small bonus for inviting a friend.

Offering online challenges in your practice is a great way to engage with your community, exemplify the value that you can provide as a practitioner, and support your practice. Take these best practices into consideration when creating and running your challenge, to really set you up for success!


Practice Better is the complete practice management platform for nutritionists, dietitians and wellness professionals. Sign up for free today.

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