Marketing Strategies to increase member retention at your health club

Marketing Strategies to increase member retention at your health club

Introduction

How do you increase revenue for your health club/gym? The obvious answer: Acquire more customers. That’s what most fitness businesses focus on.

While there’s no doubt that every club/gym needs new customers to generate more revenue and build a larger community of healthy and active people, focusing your marketing efforts solely on that is a recipe for disaster.

With rising competition in the health and fitness industry, acquiring new customers is getting increasingly expensive. According to IHRSA, clubs spend a median of $103 on sales and marketing to acquire a member.

Regardless of where your club is based, you need to remember that both your existing members and potential customers have a ton of options available to them today.

According to IHRSA’s Health Club Business Handbook, the average club is estimated to have an attrition rate of upto 45%. Another study by IHRSA estimates that each club member that leaves can cost upto $674 in annual revenue, including non-dues revenue.

All these statistics point to the fact that acquiring new customers isn’t enough. You need to pay equal attention to member retention, if not more.

Role of marketing in member retention

A large majority of fitness marketing is aimed at filling the sales pipeline with leads via social media, email marketing, content marketing, paid advertising and SEO. Every business needs to acquire new customers to grow. However, as we mentioned earlier, it’s also becoming increasingly hard and expensive to acquire customers. According to a Club industry report, it can cost upto 9 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

The fact is, health club marketing is no longer just about brand awareness and acquisition. You need to deliver a memorable and consistent omnichannel experience to members across their lifecycle, especially post-acquisition.

This includes regular communication with members:

  • Letting new members know about all the amenities your club/gym offers and how they can book them
  • Sending targeted offers to members based on their interests and membership tier
  • Keeping members updated with new classes or events at your club
  • Addressing their common issues or questions with customer-focused content etc.

By marketing to your existing members, you can build stronger relationships with your members, increase engagement and ultimately generate more revenue.

Marketing strategies to increase member retention

Now that you understand the importance of marketing to members, let’s look at some of the strategies you can use to do it effectively at your club to generate predictable revenue:

Focus on attracting the right members from the onset

As a health club, you want to have members that actually value the experience you offer. This starts with knowing who your ideal customers are and what they want. Once you understand that, you can look to attract them with the right messaging on the channels where they’re most active.

Not every member that joins your club will be your ideal customer and it doesn’t make sense to turn them away just because they don’t fit your demographic or psychographic profile of your ideal customer. However, you do need clear brand positioning that sets your club apart and attracts members that share your values.

Provide a frictionless onboarding experience

What are you doing when a member signs up with you? Are you engaging with them from the get go? Are you providing them with all the information they need to get acquainted with your staff, amenities, classes etc? Are you making them feel that they belong there?

The fact is, the experience your members get in their first 4-6 weeks of joining can have a huge impact on how long they stick with you.

Smart Health Clubs’ member marketing solution helps clubs remove all friction from their onboarding process and deliver targeted messages across multiple channels to engage members from the minute they sign up. In their first month, you can send your new members personalized welcome messages, introductions to trainers and other relevant staff, information about classes that will help them with their health and fitness goals, amenities they can take advantage of (with CTAs and deep links to make bookings), and even updates about any events happening at your club.

Join our live webinar on 4th october to learn more.
Smart Health Clubs Member Marketing Solution - Onboarding

Segment members and send targeted campaigns/offers across multiple channels

One of the best ways to engage your members is sending them relevant messages and offers. If you’re sending the same message to everyone, you’re going to lose them. That’s why segmentation is key. For instance, a new member who hasn’t booked a class in their first month needs different communication than a member who has been regularly booking classes over the last few months. Segmenting your members into different groups based on demographics, interests, purchase history or membership tier and then sending them targeted campaigns will drastically improve your engagement and retention. You can also promote offers to lower-tier members to get them to move to a higher level.

Smart Health Clubs helps you do all of this and more. Being an integrated member engagement platform, it allows you to have all your member data in one place, create segments by adding filters based on various criteria and send them targeted messages. For eg, if you launch a new Zumba class and you want to target members who have booked a Zumba class before, you can do that really easily with our Member Marketing Solution. Mesa Fitness, a multi-location club based in Colorado, has been using this feature effectively by segmenting their new members and sending them targeted messages around nutrition tips, starting with a personal trainer, tips on how to get fitter etc. Check out what Dylan Bennett, Marketing Director at Mesa Fitness has to say about their experiece.

Smart Health Clubs Member Marketing Solution - Targeting

Keep them updated with relevant content and news

As a health club, your goal is to improve the overall health, fitness and well-being of your members. One of the ways you can do that is by sending regular content to members around health and fitness. These can be in the form of tips, guides, new trends and developments in fitness and wellness etc. For example, you can segment your member list and target only new mothers at your club with post-natal health and workout tips.

Additionally, you can share relevant news updates about your club, such new classes, programmes, events or amenities that your members will find useful. So if you’re running a new class around post-natal workouts, you can send emails and push notifications inviting relevant members to join the class. The key is to send out timely communications to your members via multiple channels.

This is where Smart Health Clubs’ member marketing solution is extremely useful. It allows you to easily send targeted content to members via email, push notifications and even feed posts to reduce your manual effort and keep your members engaged at every stage.

Leverage User generated content

Your members are a goldmine of content. You can tap into their knowledge and unique experiences to not only create quality marketing content, but also make them feel more engaged with the brand.

Some examples of user-generated content include:

  • Before and after transformations
  • Video testimonials in the form of reels/stories
  • Members sharing their workout/training videos at your club
  • Gym selfies

According to a study from Stackia, user-generated content gets 2.4 times engagement than content created by a brand.

However, getting users to create content can be challenging. A great way to incentivize your members to create content is holding contests. Eg you can run a contest where the member who posts the most creative gym selfie with a branded hashtag and your club/gym’s name in the caption gets access to a free class, or free non-dues next month.

Run challenges and contests on social media

As we mentioned in the previous point, contests and challenges are a powerful way to boost member engagement and retention. They not only help build a strong relationship with your members, but also provide them with an incentive to improve their health and fitness, which is what you strive for as a health club. The best thing about this strategy is that you can run multiple challenges throughout the month/year for different member segments.

Here are some examples of challenges you can run:

  • Eating fit challenge: You can create a diet plan for your members for one week and have them post 1 story/day about what they ate for the next 7 days, tagged with your club’s handle.
  • 30-day walking/running challenge: You can set goals for your members in terms of the no of steps or kms daily they need to cover and have them track it through the app and post their progress online.
  • 100-skipping challenge: Ask members to record themselves performing 100 skips without stopping and post it as a reel. Have them tag your handle and use a custom hashtag to be eligible for a giveaway.

Create a Loyalty program

With the average health club attrition rate as high 45%, you must do everything you can to build loyalty. An effective way to achieve this is creating a well thought-out loyalty program that will give members a strong reason to stay with the club long after the initial contract is signed. When creating the loyalty program, make sure it’s simple to understand and easy to join. Give new customers a chance to sign-up for it during the onboarding stage itself and reward members for being consistent with things like checking–in, attending classes, hitting their health and fitness goals etc.

A great example of this is Meredian Fitness. They have a strong loyalty program for members that show commitment to fitness. Their members earn 5 points every time they check in, 10 points if they are a top performer in the class, 50 points for every 5 kilos they lose in weight etc. They also reward members when they leave a positive review on social media, upgrade their membership or refer a friend/family member. They offer handsome rewards to members – Free health check, discounts on non-dues, free spa treatment, free annual membership etc.

Create an online member community

Most members join a health club because they want to be part of a larger community of like-minded people working towards common health and wellness goals. Creating an online community is a great way to boost member retention even when your members are not physically at your club. One of the ways you can do this is by building member-only Facebook groups. You can have one central group for your club members, or multiple groups based on location or interests. These are great places for your members to share content, ask questions to their peers and experts, share their experiences and progress, plus a lot more.

With Smart Health Clubs you can even build a Facebook-like online community on your club app, where members can join interest groups, interact with other authenticated members, post updates on the wall, share their achievements, motivate others etc. Your trainers and dieticians can create private groups and you can schedule club events and updates as push notifications. According to IHRSA, 70% of club members that made new friends through their membership self-identified as ‘promoters’ and more likely to bring in new members through word-of-mouth.

Smart Health Clubs - Social Network module

Run exclusive Virtual Events for members

The pandemic made virtual events extremely popular, and they are still a fantastic way to keep your members engaged outside of the four walls of the club. If done well, they can offer an immersive wellness experience to members. From virtual meditation and relaxation classes to a virtual zumba classes and workouts, there are a ton of ways you can use virtual events to offer an interactive experience to your members.

You can hold these events live on social media (inside member-only Facebook groups for example), or use a purpose-built live streaming solution offered by Smart Health Clubs. It’s the next best thing to a face-to-face class at the club, providing a single-click experience with all content protected behind a paywall, simple setup and detailed member attendance reports. The best part is the automatic conversion of live videos into on-demand videos that can be accessed by people in specific membership tiers later at their own convenience.

Smart Health Clubs - Live streaming solution

Regularly track campaign and member data

The strategies discussed in this article will definitely help you drive a lot more engagement. But it’s also vital to regularly track the performance of your campaigns and member data to understand what’s working and what isn’t, so you can optimize your efforts to maximize retention. Unfortunately, this is a real challenge for a lot of clubs, as they use multiple member-facing apps and tools, making tracking extremely difficult.

The solution? Using a integrated member marketing solution like that offered by Smart Health Clubs. It’s designed specifically for health clubs and allows in-depth tracking across campaigns, channels, amenities, classes and bookings midstream so you can make quick pivots if necessary.

Smart Health Clubs Member Marketing Solution - Campaign tracking

Conclusion

Clubs need to use a multi-pronged approach to retain members in this highly competitive environment. By implementing the strategies outlined in this article, you can strengthen communication and relationships with your members, both of which are key to member retention. Doing this at scale, especially if you have multiple locations requires the right technology solution that’s built for the unique needs of full-service health clubs.

Join our live webinar on 4th October to find our how our Member Marketing Solution can help your fitness business improve member retention and generate more revenue from existing members.