June is Gym and Fitness Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! This means that in addition to our usual posts with tips on connecting with customers, marketing strategy, and growing your business, we’ll be sharing insights specifically for gym owners, trainers, and fitness professionals. If that includes you, it’s time to whip your marketing into shape by getting the most out of these high-ROI techniques. If not, don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing our usual resources that can help you effectively market your local business. And keep your eyes peeled, your industry might be the one we feature next month!
Is your fitness business struggling to improve student or member retention? If so, you’re in good company. This continues to be a top pain point across gyms, studios, boxes, or classes everywhere. While new student specials or free trials are an essential tool for acquiring new customers, it’s important to keep them engaged within that window of time, in order to win their business. So whether you’re trying your luck with a deals partner (or even ClassPass), or stick with your own new student/member offerings, these tips will help give your retention rates a boost!
Choose the best approach for your business
There’s an understandable draw of deals sites, like LivingSocial or Groupon, that promise to win you new business, and this premise continues to keep these larger players in business. Despite inherent challenges, some businesses have managed to find success, while others have ended up losing money on the deal. Make sure you take into account not only the decrease in revenue, but also the opportunity cost. Be prepared to have your classes, facilities or sessions inundated with lots of deal seekers who have very high no-show and drop-out rates. Deals students booking time on your schedule, who do not show, or fail to convert to a repeat customer also cost you valuable time that you could have been earning a full rate with existing customers, or new customers who are willing to commit to your training or fitness approach.
This is why so many gyms and fitness businesses have chosen to bypass these third-party companies and offer their own version for those who are interested, but not yet sure whether it’s the right solution for them, or are unwilling to commit to a longterm package. This provides flexibility to create a program without having to abide by partner terms and discount so deeply.
Be that as it may, most of the value of these sites remains in the advertising and exposure to a very large, local customer base that you might not have had access to otherwise. So, be sure to clearly identify your goals, so that you can decide on the approach that is best for your business. No matter what option you choose, be sure to implement a comprehensive communications plan to keep these valuable new students motivated and engaged in order to increase conversions.
Provide an amazing experience — despite the obstacles
As with any customer acquisition and retention strategy, it all starts with providing your customers with a phenomenal experience. Make sure to start things off on the right foot by offering new students a bottle of water and towel. The water bottle (or both) can be branded for your business, which allows them to keep you top-of-mind, even after the session is over, and can be a talking point for others who are looking for a new fitness solution. You’re already starting to build trust, but it also allows you to start the introductory conversation on the right foot.
Dedicate time to getting to know each of them. From medical history and injuries, to the countless emotional and personal goals that they want to tackle, make sure to get a deep understanding for what they’re hoping to accomplish overall. Allow these goals and reasons to drive the type of program you create, and plug into these in order to keep the students motivated when they’re losing steam. That focus and determination will get them to the finish line, so when explaining the exercises, always relate them back to the client’s emotional goals.
While it’s important to give these new students some special attention, don’t forget about current students or members. New student specials aren’t usually applicable to existing students, but they feel the pain of overcrowding and unseasoned beginners requiring more explanation and a learning curve. So, try to keep the peace and encourage them to help their fellow students who are new the practice. If you notice a visible influx, why not provide a loyalty offer, that perhaps isn’t as steep as the new customer promo but keeps them happy, motivated, and patient. It could also be a free gift, or branded gear.
Be prepared to address some of the challenges that go with filling classes with deal seekers. They are testing the waters, and a bit unsure about their abilities and whether or not it’ll be a fit for them, which can mean they aren’t as committed to giving it their all. It can feel as though they’ve only ever got one foot in the door. So, try your best to coach them and make them feel comfortable in the facilities and become familiar with different exercises or sequences. If you’re concerned that many of them will be no-shows, make sure to have them sign up for SMS alerts, and send them text message reminders, which have been proven to cut down no-shows by 80%.
Implement a comprehensive communications strategy to keep them engaged
Connecting with customers is the best way to ensure their continued loyalty to your business. Just as you prefer to do business with brands and companies that value your patronage, so do your students. The more connected they feel to you, the other instructors and students, the more they’ll feel a part of a community.
This creates a sense of support, which will help they stay on track to achieve their goals. Set up an email drip campaign, to keep them engaged throughout their trial period. Whether it’s more information explaining how to do different introductory poses, exercises or workouts, or a recap from class, these will allow them to stay connected and gain more confidence in between classes or sessions.
Be sure to convey the value of consistent practice in these emails. Tying it back to their original fitness goals will reinforce why they tried your approach to begin with, and will encourage them to make a longterm commitment. The goal of these should be to educate this new audience and emphasize the value of your business. It should also get them excited to be starting this journey.
Take into account topics that will complement their goals, but maybe aren’t as directly tied to your business as well. If they’re looking to be healthier, overall, then clean-eating recipes or meal planning tools might help them achieve this goal. You can give them a questionnaire when they sign up to identify some of these other interests and segment your email campaigns accordingly. Or, consider sending a fun email that sets the record straight about workout myths or popular misconceptions.
Utilize SMS marketing, to send targeted text messages that will keep them coming back. In addition to sending out class or session reminders, you can also alert them to upcoming events or classes that they haven’t yet tried and might be a good fit. You can utilize this full list of creative SMS ideas, to ensure they remain engaged.
In addition to these core emails, which you won’t need to change much, do make sure to also account for a more personal touch. Try calling or sending a quick email/text directly to each new student following their first session or class in order to reinforce how it will help them achieve their specific goals, what the benefits are, as well as identifying and celebrating any progress they’ve made.
You should also call to check in with current members or students so you can keep a finger to the pulse of the business, and also be able to gauge their satisfaction, goals, and needs and get in front of any issues or concerns before they get frustrated and drop out. As a reminder, Signpost’s Mia automates this process by automatically sending out feedback requests in order to identify advocates who can give your business more referrals and five-star reviews, as well as intercepting negative reviews. If you’re curious to see how Mia can help your fitness business connect better with customers, sign up for a free demo, today!