Did you know that 90 percent of fitness studios and health clubs lose between 30 and 50 percent of their members each year? This is a staggering number, and also disheartening for anyone who’s responsible for improving member retention at their athletic club. Whether you run a traditional health club, a yoga studio or a crossfit gym, odds are good you’ve experienced some of the common challenges of keeping your members engaged.
The good news is that there’s a lot you can do to woo your members and keep them excited when they’re on your premises. But what about all the other times? How do you attract and engage members digitally - when they’re anywhere but at your location? Here are some of the best marketing tips to help you fill in those gaps and improve your overall retention.
Revisit your Website
First, start by taking a fresh look at your website. Even if you’ve updated it relatively recently, there are almost always ways to improve upon it. Your website is not only a digital information hub, but it’s also one of the best places to captivate and support your members. Here are a few areas to specifically review:
1. Your content.
Is your website copy SEO-optimized? Do you have the right keywords in place throughout, so that prospective members will find you? This is important in all industries, but it’s extremely important in a market as saturated as the athletic club market.
Also, do you have a content marketing program in place? If not, this is a strategy that’s absolutely worth your consideration. Producing high-quality content, à la on an active blog, gives you a vehicle by which you can reach members and improve your search rankings. As with your website copy, every piece of content you write should include the right keywords and center on topics that matter to your audience.
2. Community building.
One of the best retention strategies that health clubs can use is creating a true community of like-minded members working toward similar goals. It’s not enough to assume that you’ve built a community because people come to your gym to work out; you need to intentionally encourage camaraderie and friendly competition.
If you haven’t before, try initiating a fitness challenge (or a series of challenges geared toward people at varying fitness levels). Post an invitation to join the challenge online, and post the results of the weekly check-in on your website. For example, maybe you’ve challenged your most elite athletes to run a marathon. Every week, you can post a leaderboard of the members who got the top five fastest times in that week’s training run. Add in some perks to motivate the people who place the highest in your competition, and you’ll increase engagement even more.
3. Contact options.
Another area to look at on your site is your contact page. Depending on the age group of your ideal members, communication preferences will vary. One great option to consider including is a live chat feature on your website, which can be a cost-effective way for you to boost customer engagement. If a member has a question, they can quickly send it via live chat and get a personalized, quick response without ever picking up the phone. This will be very attractive to a lot of people, especially those in the younger generations.
Optimize your Social Media Presence
Again, take a look at your website. Do you have visible links to your social profiles? Do you have ‘social share’ buttons enabled on your blog posts? If not, these are both really important steps to take to grow your digital network of members.
Furthermore, make sure you have someone at your club tasked with handling comments or questions sent via social media. Like it or not, social media is often where members will air their complaints, express their confusion or communicate their satisfaction. If a negative comment goes ignored, you could quickly lose that customer. But on the flip side, a quick and empathetic response to the person can help diffuse or even remedy the situation entirely. Being accessible and responsive on social media are two ways to increase engagement and retention.
When it comes to online engagement, email marketing is still a top way to reach members and keep them engaged. If you have an active blog and an exciting calendar of events, think about compiling this into a fun and visually appealing newsletter format you share via email once a month.
Or, think about using email every time you have a special offer. Let’s say you’re holding a free day of classes, open to the public. In your email to members, encourage them to invite their friends to come to one of the classes with them. This is a great way to use digital engagement to get new faces inside your gym.
If you focus on dialing in these elements of your digital strategy, you’re all but guaranteed to have much greater success engaging your members online. And the more connected they are to you, the more likely they’ll stick with you for a good, long while.
If you’d like more information, or some help implementing these strategies, please contact us! We have a lot of experience working with health clubs and can help you reach your goals.