Automation is quickly becoming a must-have in today's digital world.
Anytime you book a flight, make a payment, or create an account online, you’re given an automated response via email, text, or push notification to confirm the action you’ve taken.
These types of automated responses are more for client satisfaction and streamlining the needed communication flow between client and vendor. They keep it fairly simple.
However, when using automation for retention, these campaigns take on a far more complex nature in that they have to be:
- Reactive to client actions
If you have a club management provider without automation capabilities, there is enough cheap email marketing software out there these days, some even send autoresponders on online subscription for instance.
But to get the most out of it for your gym, be sure to check out if all the main club related events can be captured, targeted, personalized and acted on so you can increase retention.
Within the context of retention for fitness clubs, automation campaigns built for retention need to keep clients engaged and motivated throughout the lifetime of their contract.
They’re not only effective because they keep your members on-task and engaged, but also because they help establish a relationship between your brand and your members.
As it stands, communicating with clients has been shown to improve retention rates by up to 24% in some industries when coupled with incentives to stay.
This isn’t to say that jus sending an email every few weeks will improve your retention rates, rather sending targeted, situational messages to users at the right time can help retain their business.
In this article, we’ll explore tips and strategies on how you can use automation to boost retention in your fitness club.
Targeting Your Gym Members
The foundation for any automation campaign is the segmentation you use to separate, target, and message your users.
This can come in the form of tags or events, but in terms of automation campaigns, you’ll need both to run successful campaigns.
Targeting by Events
When targeting members by events, you need to establish what events deserve certain types of communication.
For example, if a user hasn’t attended the club in over a week, you can set up a message to motivate them to come back.
Having the event “Last club visit” will work to signify when their last attendance day was and you can set the campaign up to be dynamic so that whenever a club member meets your criteria, they are sent that message.
These types of messages work wonders as they are not usually open-ended, meaning that they are meant as a reminder and don’t need to have human-to-human communication.
However, there are event messages in which automation should be used to give the recipient the option of resolving their issues online, over the phone, or in person at the gym.
For example, contract renewals may be a touchy subject when it comes to the question of whether you should automate messages for clients to renew their contracts.
If you have the option for a client to quickly resolve the issue online in your client portal, then crafting a message for them to renew online, on the phone or in person is a good idea as it leaves them with all the options available to make their decision.
Here we’ve set up the campaign to send an email 4 days before the event (contract_end_date) is set to occur.
From there we can personalize the message and say:
By creating a message like this, we’ve given our client plenty of options to renew their contract. We’ve also personalized the message to be specific to their name, renewal date, and type of contract.
Using events like these as your triggers for messaging campaigns can really provide your users with quick and easy solutions to problems that may otherwise cause them to leave your gym.
Segmenting by Member Tags
Grouping your gym members into segments or tags can do wonders for your communication by sending specific information to the most relevant users.
You can group members by:
- Contract type
- Classes frequently taken
- Attendance frequencies
- Access controls
- Products purchased
There are no limits to what you can tag your users by, although it’s important to tag them into groups in which they will be relevant to certain types of correspondence.
For example, you can send zumba related content created by your instructors or marketing team for your zumba class members and send them weekly or bi-weekly tips and motivational cases via email.
Also, if any updates are coming for your Zumba classes such as a change in venue or instructor, you can quickly select the Zumba tag and notify everyone about it with a quick SMS, email, or push notification.
Most of these messages will be updates or simple confirmations, but again, much of the battle for retention is establishing rapport and a relationship with your members with simple little acts such as these.
You can also tag your members automatically through the sign up process. Once they sign up online or at your front-desk, you can automatically enter them into tagged groups based on what they’ve selected.
Here you can ask quick questions in a drop down menu or from a tabbed list. These options can be things like:
- Workout experience
- Training goals
- Current or past medical issues
Your sign up process is really the ground-zero for segmenting and tagging your users, so extract relevant information from there whenever possible to begin the segmentation process smoothly.
Automating Motivational Tips
It’s no secret that members often times stop working out simply because they lose motivation. As mentioned above, you can tag members into groups and have them opt in to receive motivational tips and reminders on a regular basis.
Sometimes clients just need a little extra push to get out of bed in the morning or to get into the gym after a long day of work.
And you can give it to them!
Automate via tags and events to send members small reminders an hour before their registered classes.
These are great to keep them engaged, are short, and only take a minute or two to set up.
Clients that are more engaged within the gym on a regular basis or more likely to reach their fitness goals and make their infrequent attendance a more permanent habit.
As demonstrated in the image above, these can be sent via SMS or mobile app push notifications to ensure that you’re reaching your members on channels they’ll often check.
If your training facility does club-wide challenges in which all members can take part in, it’s good to notify them to sign up.
Challenges are a great way for members to actively participate among groups, even if they prefer working out alone.
They work as an extra incentive to get into the gym, and automating invitations to join them only takes a few minutes.
Automate messages with links for them to sign up online or just a one-click push notification that will sign them up in your mobile app.
If you’ve ever used supplements when training, then you know what a painful reminder they can be of your laziness if they’re sitting in the corner of your kitchen accumulating dust after not being used.
That’s why it’s good to promote product discounts and deals so that your members can get the supplements they need to help them reach their goals.
You can even target users specifically based on their purchase history in your gym or in your online store for better segmentation and product recommendations.
The Future of Automation
As more and more digital processes become used in everyday club operations, you’ll start to see the increased use of machine learning processes for club management.
With Perfect Gym’s Business Intelligence module, not only will customers be automatically segmented based on their behaviors and attributes.
Furthermore, the machine learning process will eventually A/B test messages and prioritize them based on their conversion rates so that the most effective messages are being sent to the right people at the right times.
Members that have lower retention probabilities can be sent specialized offers to incentivize them to stay based on how effective those offers were with similar members in the past.
While humans will still need to craft the messages, the machines will dictate which messages get sent and when based on historical results.
As countless other industries use machine learning to make predictions and automate correspondence, the club management industry isn’t far behind.
Here are some quick tips to help you when creating automated campaigns to send to your members for better retention rates.
Know Your Communication Channel
This may seem obvious, but we’ve all gotten paragraph long SMS messages from various businesses telling us to do this and do that.
If you need to send a long message, do it over email. Short messages and reminders can be reserved for SMS or push notifications so that the recipients can quickly glance at their devices and read the message.
Be concise and short with your SMS or push notifications and leave the longer (albeit still short) messages to email.
As mentioned earlier, personalization should always be used in automated correspondence. According to VWO, personalizing email messages with someone's first name can increase open rates by up to 3%.
This may not seem like a lot, but if you’re sending a few thousand emails per month, that 3% quickly adds up and can be the difference between a few retained members versus a few churned ones.
You should always offer to give a tour of your facilities and in-person onboarding to new members.
However, providing them with a link to an online FAQ in your welcome email along with a number to call for assistance is always a good practice.
List the most frequently asked questions with thorough answers and a quick description on how to communicate with someone in person.
It will do wonders.
The importance of not spamming your clients cannot be overstated.
As soon as they opt out of receiving emails or text messages from you, it’s over; a valuable channel of communication has just been lost.
Keep in mind how frequent members are getting messages and if you can create segments that do not overlap with each other.
Write with a Voice
Establish a voice for your correspondence. Do you want to be funny? All business? Or a little bit of both?
Find your voice and stick to one that identifies with your brand. Being unique is a good way to build on relationships with your clients, but make sure it identifies with the persona you want to engender as a brand.
Some may argue that automation can do more harm than good when using it for gym member retention. However, we disagree.
Using automation effectively and responsibly takes work, but when done correctly it can really boost your retention rates by opening up a channel for you and members to engage with and solve problems together.