Retaining members will continue to be a top priority for gym owners this year. In the last two years, membership numbers have widely been impacted by the pandemic. Consumers continue to work out at home but there is potential to get them back and excited about the gym.
Two questions that all gym owners need to ask in this climate are, “How do I get current and new members back in the gym,” and, “How do I retain them?” To answer these questions, we turn to Darwill’s Senior Account Executive, Mike Mills, who has specialized in the health and fitness industry for over 25 years. Mike shared with us the key marketing strategies that gym owners should focus on to retain memberships. Keeping reading to learn from his Q&A below:
Mills: I suggest the following four things to gyms that are looking to increase their retention rates: trigger-based marketing, referrals, safety messaging, and updated technology. Let me dive deeper into these four and what I mean by each.
Trigger-based marketing is a “set-and-forget” tactic that pairs with your CRM integration and puts your member data to work. The ease of automation gives you more time to focus on other gym needs. Integrating direct mail with innovative marketing technology allows for data-driven, automated messaging to target the right members, at the right time, which improves response rates. We have various triggers that align with the actions or behaviors taken by your members. For example, if a member has not visited your club or gym in the last 15 days, you have the ability to target them with a campaign inviting them back in. Sending personalized marketing that contains relevant messaging to the individual keeps members engaged. Why not put your data to use to target members and keep them in the gym.
Referrals are another great way to retain members. This marketing effort provides an offer or promotion to an existing member that gives them a benefit when they refer someone new. For example, this offer may encourage them to refer a friend in return for a free personal training session for two. By doing this your gym gains a new member while also keeping the existing one coming back. People tend to find it easier to cancel a membership when they are working out alone but have a harder time canceling when they have two or three friends working out with them. It may be easy to leave a gym but it’s hard to leave friends that hold you accountable to stick to a workout regimen.
Another key message that all gyms should be focused on, especially now, is gym safety and cleanliness. As of July 2021, 22% of U.S. gyms and studios had permanently closed, according to the IHRSA due to the rise of COVID-19 and member concerns. Members take safety and cleanliness into account when it comes to staying at a gym. To reduce the impact of losing memberships, tell your members how you are keeping them safe with your cleaning protocols within your marketing. Don’t just advertise these protocols, make sure your team is trained and carrying them out. Have your team sanitize equipment frequently to increase trust. Members want to feel safe and clean in the environment they are working out in. When they see that staff is putting in the effort to protect them, they will feel more comfortable and confident in your brand.
Lastly, I advise gyms to stay current with technology. Update your equipment and technology to stay relevant. Consumers are looking to interact with modern technology. They will leave your gym for a competitor at a similar price point with modern technology and equipment.
Mills: I am pushing gyms to take advantage data-driven direct mail. Utilizing data allows you to get more targeted and efficient in who you are prospecting to. Instead of the old every door direct mail (EDDM) model where homes are blanketed with marketing in hopes people come in, we run your data in our advanced models and only target those that look like your current member base. We train robust look-a-like models that optimize your marketing spend by identifying top responders in your market, all in effort to market in a more precise way.
Rapid Retargeting is another automated service that we encourage gyms to incorporate into their marketing plan. Rapid Retargeting allows you to convert anonymous website visitors that have researched your brand into real members. With this approach we take the IP address of the anonymous visitor, run it through our reverse IP append algorithm, find their physical home address, and target them with marketing based on what they were looking at on your website. 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them. That’s why I can’t stress enough to gym owners to implement these strategies.
On top of these, I like to remind gym owners that they need an omni-channel approach that enables them to reach and contact consumers across multiple channels. Through things like search engine marketing (SEM) and Facebook ads, gyms can up their digital image and be seen by their target audience.
Lastly, I advise gym owners to keep their direct mail interactive. This can be done by use of QR codes or scratch-offs. QR codes can be easily scanned and take the consumer directly to your website for the offer included on the mail piece. Scratch-offs encourage consumers to engage with the mail piece to receive some type of offer or incentive. These features help push the consumer further along the conversion process.
Mills: To pull members in, you have to be strategic in your messaging. Think about what your current members and prospects need to hear. Research the trends to help craft messaging and if you’re not sure what to do, Darwill is happy to help. The top performing messages that I see now are:
If you need help retaining members or looking to get new ones in the door, Darwill is here to support your goals. We will happily create a custom strategy and walk you through our proven campaigns that will have you seeing results. Contact Mike Mills today to get more out of your member focused marketing.