Fitness Club Spotlight: The Alaska Club

When it comes to establishing yourself within a fitness community, there are a couple of routes that you can take. One is to find your niche and stick to it, like we saw with Throwback Fitness, while other clubs choose to aim for a catch-all approach, offering the widest possible range of products and services. However, there is a specific fitness community that takes a little from each of these tactics and uses them in combination to create an exceptional customer experience. They are known as The Alaska Club.

In this week’s Fitness Club Spotlight, we will take a look at the premier gym franchise of our largest and coldest state, Alaska. Given their unique situation and relatively small target market, the Alaska Club shows that with a focus on customer engagement and value added you can reduce customer churn and make a name for yourself. Without further ado, let’s take a look at this club’s unusual and insightful history.

the alaska club

History of The Alaska Club

Back in 1986, Andrew Eker, Tom Behan, and a group of fifty investors came together to begin what is now known as The Alaska Club. Although the business is now thriving, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, within 2 days of closing the sale, the price of oil took a plunge, severely effecting the club’s investors and the greater Alaskan public. Not to be discouraged, Eker and Behan soldiered on and made it through the tough times.

Now, the business has grown to include 16 clubs in Alaska with close to a thousand employees serving tens of thousands of members, according to club President Robert Brewster. He went on to say that “catering to the varied and individual needs of members is part of what has made the company a success.” It was this focus on the needs of their members that brought them to our attention and why we believe them to be worthy of praise for their work in customer retention.

Offerings

As the club has grown over the last 32 years, the offerings presented by the club have followed suit. While back in the 80s, the Alaska Club was simply one large gym space, their website advertises that they now have two express workout facilities, a women-only club, and even a high-end facility with spa amenities. Each of these different clubs has its own twist, which allows customers to choose the best option for them.

While some would be skeptical of cannibalization in such a small market like Alaska (and they wouldn’t be alone), Brewster says that user engagement metrics tell a different story. Instead of limiting customer engagement, having a wide selection of clubs for members allows them to go to a different gym based on their schedule, with some favoring one facility for every-day workouts while visiting others occasionally for something new.

Locations

In fact, this diversification of offerings is just one example of how the Alaska Club has their finger on the pulse and truly understands the needs of their clientele. While it isn’t always possible for other clubs to have multiple locations like Alaska does, including something for everyone is definitely within reach. On top of that, each location has a rigorous course schedule so that no matter what type of work out you are looking for, you will likely be able to find it.

Making the most of a unique situation

Now, operating in Alaska is a unique situation that comes with its own difficulties and challenges. That being said, the Alaska Club is a good example of working with the cards you are dealt to make the most out of any situation. Considering the fact that many members don’t have as many options as most Americans when it comes to fitness, Alaska’s dedication to customer engagement is something worthy of praise.

For other clubs, there will be particular challenges that will be specific to your business. Addressing them, you can either choose to see them as a problem or a threat. Our recommendation is to follow Alaska’s lead and make the most of the situation you are in, focus on the core values of your customers, and meet their needs whenever possible.

Quality over quantity

This all goes back to a simple business model that has work for decades: focus on quality over quantity. While it is true that the Alaska Club has a wide range of offerings like any medium-large club, none of them are there to fill space. Each of them is designed with certain groups of members in mind. Where others might make a shoddy one-size-fits-all product or service, Alaska uses customer segmentation correctly and better serves their entire audience in the process.

Again, no one of these customer retention tactics are mind-blowing or make a big splash, but they can be incredibly effective when done correctly. The Alaska Club is showing others in their area and around the country that a focus on customer needs, delivering a quality experience, and excellent service are a winning combo in a member-first market.

Tools for success

Along with putting these tactics into practice, the Alaska Club also uses tools at their disposal for success. For instance, they have their own mobile app for members to book classes, track their progress, and stay up to date with the club. Their website is easy to navigate, find class information, and sign up. And on top of all that, they keep the latest gym technology at each of their locations so that users never have to want for more when it comes time to exercise.

As tools like SMS marketing continue to take off and show true potential for improving customer engagement and retention, more businesses like the Alaska Club will need to take advantage of them for greater success. Again, these strategies aren’t complex, but they can make a world of difference when you take the time to understand their uses and approach them properly.

What we can learn

After reviewing the Alaska Club and walking through what makes them different, let’s take a look at what can be learned from their success and applied to others. For instance, such best practices as:

Focus on the customer experience: The Alaska Club delivers value to their customers by listening to their needs and doing their best to meet them, thus offering an exceptional experience members will think twice about abandoning.

Use tools at your disposal: Unless you are using all of the tools at your disposal to make a better experience for your customers, why would your customers believe you have their best interests in mind? Use the tools at your disposal whenever applicable!

Quality over quantity: Customers don’t care if you offer every class in the book if none of those classes are what they are looking for. Focus on delivering quality classes that your customers actually want if you hope to keep the coming back.

Now as you begin to assess your own customer engagement campaign and better serve your customers, you will be building off proven and successful techniques. Best of luck!


7 Best Practices for Improving the Customer Experience

Over the course of the last few years there has been a subtle but prominent shift in the way marketers think about customers. As this shift has occurred, customer retention marketing and customer engagement have gained traction as strategies for improving the customer experience. So much so, that today, customers are more interested in the customer experience that brands provide, even more than the actual product or service.

According to Deloitte, 62% of companies view customer experience delivered by brands as a competitive differentiator. This means that unless you are focusing on the experience of your customers, you could be falling behind or working from a disadvantage.

In order to help you improve the customer experience for your business, we have put together 7 best practices for doing exactly that. With these best practices in mind, you can provide an exceptional experience at every interaction with your customers and keep them around for life. Let’s take a look at exactly how you can do that.

customer experience

1. A customer-first approach

In today’s market, the first step in improving the customer experience is to make sure that you are promoting a customer-first approach and culture at your company. This may sound like the old adage, ‘the customer is always right,’ but in truth putting the customer first doesn’t mean they are always right. It means considering their values, needs, and ideals first as a jumping off point for the rest of the experience.

For some businesses, this will mean looking at user engagement metrics to get a better understanding of their customers before launching a campaign. For others it could mean a complete rework of their current marketing to turn the focus back on the customers. No matter what approach you take, make sure that you are always keeping the customer first.

2. Putting yourself in their shoes

Now, a focus on customers first is nice to say, but until it is put into practice it is essentially meaningless. This is why the first part of your strategy should be putting yourself in the shoes of a customer. By reading through customer feedback or speaking with customers you have a sound relationship with, you can start to create an idea of how they operate and what they need.

Growing up, we were taught the Golden Rule, “to treat others the way you want to be treated.’ A solid foundation for any marketing plan is to take this idea and turn it into a reality. Think to yourself, as a customer, ‘would X appeal to me?’ Whether it does or doesn’t, analyze the ‘why’ of the issue and you will develop a clearer picture of where the customer experience can be optimized.

3. Cover all your bases

Once you have taken time to consider the question of “What value can we provide to our customers?” the next step is to figure out the best way of delivering that value. Some will tell you it is through SMS marketing, others will say email, and still some will mention social media. In reality, the best approach is all of the above, something known to marketers as an omni-channel approach.

While it is true that some methods work better than others, like text marketing’s 95% open rate, the best way to improve the customer experience is by covering all of your bases. In fact, the Aberdeen Group claims that companies with the strongest omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers, as compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel strategies.

4. Optimize both sides of the process

So far, we have mainly talked about best practices for putting customers first and thinking about them. However, there should be a good amount of time spent looking at the other side of the process, meaning the people who are responsible for creating a great customer experience. After all, without them, there would likely not be any customers to retain in the first place.

Take for example the Washington Post. When Scot Gillespie, CTO at WashPo, was asked to create a better customer experience across 26 products, he focused just as much on the people behind the process as those experiencing it. What ended up happening was a complete 180 in regards to the Washington Post’s customer experience and the creation of a more satisfied team. Unless you boost your own staff as well as your customers, it will be incredibly difficult to create an optimal customer experience.

5. Collect feedback, always

Once you get started with omni-channel marketing, you need to make sure that you are collecting customer feedback whenever possible. This is important for many different reasons in regards to the customer experience. First, when you are trying to improve your omni-channel marketing, you need metrics to figure out what is and isn’t working.

However, more urgent and vital to the customer experience, you need to create customer feedback loops in order to continue learning from your customers. Unless your audience knows exactly how to get in touch with you and you have a constant way of receiving feedback, you will soon find yourself chasing outdated ideas and trends. Stay on top of things and always be collecting, analyzing, and using data to create a better customer experience.

6. Be proactive instead of reactive

Something you may soon discover after reviewing customer feedback data is common trends that lead to customer churn and user dissatisfaction. Use this as an opportunity to get your customer journey in tip-top shape and take a proactive approach to customer experience instead of a reactive one.

Far too often companies only improve when they receive backlash. By going the extra mile and making changes before a problem arises, you will not only create a better customer experience, but reduce the amount of problems and complains along the way. Customers that start off on the right foot are much more likely to stick around than when you begin the relationship trying to win them back.

7. Under promise and over deliver

Our final best practice for delivering an exceptional customer experience is to under promise and over deliver. While we don’t believe in selling you or your brand short, you should always set realistic expectations for your customers and then try your best to exceed them. Customers will be happy if you meet their expectations, but blown away if you take it one step further.

The value of customer experience in 2018

It is clear from these best practices and general market trends that the value of customer experience has never been higher than in 2018. In fact, according to Gartner, 89% of businesses are soon expected to compete mainly on customer experience. With this in mind, best practices like the ones we just reviewed can greatly transform a business and set you on the right path toward total customer retention.

The only thing that stands in your way is getting started. As you can tell, most of these best practices have little to no cost associated with them, so you can start employing them today. So, what are you waiting for? Get after it and start creating an amazing customer experience for your audience!  


ClubReady: Creating an All-in-One Fitness Solution

In the world of fitness, finding a niche and sticking to it has become a common practice for both gyms and fitness-adjacent companies. When faced with the vastness of the industry, it can make sense to narrow your focus, however some companies are up for the challenge of doing it all. One of those companies is ClubReady, a brand attempting to create an all-in-one fitness solution.

Doing our part to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the fitness industry as well as find insight in the success of other companies, today we are taking a look at how ClubReady is attempting to have it all. First, we will look at their history, followed by their offerings and key features. Through this article we hope to show how the right approach can make a world of difference, no matter what industry you operate in. Let’s get started.

clubready

The ClubReady story

Back in 2007, Andrew McMaster and Brad Denton founded ClubReady on the simple idea that there “must be a better way.” They had been working with gyms and fitness clubs and knew that the status quo wasn’t working. Ever since, the duo has been doing their best to serve fitness clubs, gyms, and other health-related centers with tailored platforms that work with any size and type of club.

In the 11 years since its inception, ClubReady has grown into a much larger operation, working with clubs all across the country. As they have grown, they have implemented marketing automation and other new technologies to create a more efficient program for their clients. Now they are able to provide a solution for just about anyone, proving that there was a better way of doing things.

Creating an all-in-one solution

When comparing ClubReady with other similar companies, it is clear to see how their all-in-one approach gives them a leg up on their competition. While most brands that try to have it all aren’t able to work well with all their customers, ClubReady provides all-in-one solutions that are anything but one-size-fits all.

This mainly stems from ClubReady’s knowledge of the industry. They know that fitness club owners can benefit from user engagement and retention practices that help clubs to keep more customers and provide better experiences along the way. There are a few ways they do this, so let’s take a look at both, along with the features that make them possible.

Gym management and GYM HQ

The first solution that ClubReady provides is something call GYM HQ, a gym management platform that is scalable and efficient. Similar to the offerings of brands like PlumIQ, GYM HQ was created with the intent of helping fitness club owners focus on their customer’s experience instead of the daily operations of the club.

ClubReady boasts that GYM HQ provides expert offerings in member support, past due communications, accounting, payroll, HR best practices, and operational guidance. It’s clear that they share our belief that if owners are able to simply focus on what they are best at and provide the best customer experience without worrying about these things, the gym will continue to improve.

Lead generation and LEADSPEAK

However, as much as customer retention marketing can improve a business, without lead generation it can only go so far. This is why ClubReady has another offering called LEADSPEAK, which helps fitness clubs to never lose track of their members. This tool is another example of how ClubReady understands the fitness market, as their trainers get the info they need without flooding them with extra work.

Through LEADSPEAK, owners can monitor their customer’s journey and keep what’s important at the top of their mind. This offering is cloud-based, which means that trainers and owners alike can access it on the go and stay ahead of their customers.

Consistency throughout

Now that you have a better idea of the offerings that ClubReady provides, let’s take a look at the core features of their platforms that sets them apart. The first area where ClubReady excels is by maintaining consistency throughout their platforms. Whether it is GYM HQ, LEADSPEAK, or something else, their focus on UX is something to be celebrated.

Other fitness solutions and even gyms themselves should take note of this. By providing a consistent design approach to each of their offerings, ClubReady makes it easier for gym owners to expand into new areas and new products. Not only that, but this streamlined design can help to increase conversions as well.

Focus on core benefits

Another area that ClubReady has found success with is focusing on the core benefits they provide. Despite the fact that they provide an all-in-one solution, they aren’t lost in excess features or tools. Instead, they simply do what they do better than others and that is enough to get the job done.

For fitness club owners, this again should be worth taking note. When you have too many things happening at once, customers can get distracted or even confused, which leads to atrophy and churn. By focusing in one your core benefits, customers will come to associate those benefits with you instead of a bunch of unnecessary features.

Integrations with other platforms

Finally, the last thing that ClubReady has done to push themselves forward and help their fitness owners is with their integrations with other platforms. Although so far we have talked about their all-in-one approach, they have realized that in some cases it is easier to have an integration with a solution than provide a subpar experience themselves. In fact, Gleantap and ClubReady work well together for this exact reason!

Final thoughts

As you can see from the ClubReady story, understanding your audience and providing the right solutions can help to provide a huge boost to your business. The final though we will leave you with is this: how can you take steps to improve efficiency and customer engagement with your business today?

While ClubReady has shown what works in the fitness industry, you have the exciting opportunity to take on whatever industry you work in and clear your own path to success. The hardest part is starting, so if you haven’t, get after it today!


Short Message Service Marketing: The Key to Customer Retention

In the digital world that we now find ourselves in, mobile marketing channels are sprouting up all around us. With close to 5 billion mobile users globally, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but to the savvy marketer it should be seen as an opportunity. Some have tried to establish themselves in these new channels, but many are finding success with the tried and true approach of using short message service (or SMS) marketing.

When you consider the fact that, on average, mobile users spend around 87 hours per month on their mobile devices, you can begin to understand this shift. Along with that, reports claim that over 95% of text messages are read within 2 minutes, leading to sky-high mobile engagement levels.

With this article, we hope to state our case for using short message service marketing to increase customer retention. Additionally, we will review some best practices for meeting your customers where they are and how to better serve them in the long run. Let’s take a look.

SMS and customer retention

As we have mentioned previously, customers have far more competition both in terms of price and offerings in today’s market than ever before. For this reason, customer retention and engagement is becoming a valuable strategy for many businesses to not only drive new customers coming in, but keep them around for the long haul. Short message service marketing is a key aspect of this.

When you consider that 64% of consumers are more likely to perceive a company positively when they are contacted through text message marketing, you begin to see the power of SMS. On top of that, if you are able to provide helpful information and tailored content, SMS marketing can help you establish relationships with your customers that are strong enough to survive even when a new competitor enters the market.

The power of SMS

This is the power of SMS on display and unless you are using texting as part of your mobile strategy, you could very well be missing out. According to Mobilexco, response rates from SMS are 209% higher than from phone calls, text, or Facebook. Imagine the kind of engagement you can have with your customers when you utilize these marketing tools to the best of your abilities.

However, it is one thing to highlight these statistics, it is another to put a plan into place. Next, we are going to review some best practices when conducting short message service marketing. Through this, we hope to aid you in establishing yourself with your SMS campaign and better serve your customers, leading to reduced churn rate and increased engagement.

Short message service marketing best practices

In today’s day and age, consumers are more concerned with having a great customer experience than products or services. Short message service marketing is one of the most powerful ways to deliver this experience, but in order for it to truly be memorable, there are a few best practices you need to put in place. What follows are some staples of a great SMS campaign:

Offer a value proposition

Right off the bat, when you get the SMS opt-in from your customers, you need to establish that your texting campaign will offer value to them. There are a few ways in which you can do this, but the important part is that from the first message they receive they know exactly what to expect from your program.

Some do this by presenting an offer or discount just for signing up with their program. Others include exactly how many messages they should expect to receive as well as a way to manage how often you are reached. Again, this will often depend on the type of customers you are targeting, but being straightforward, upfront, and honest will always go a long way to showing how valuable your short message service marketing campaign will be to your audience.

Automate your messaging

As AI and machine learning technologies become more advanced, marketing automation will become a powerful force in customer engagement. In fact, marketers using short message service campaigns can already automate their messaging to a certain extent in order to provide better interactions with their customers.

Similar to how chatbots go off a set flow and script, you can automate certain messages and have your audience use SMS keywords like HELP, INFO, or MORE to engage in a conversation that can be automated well in advance. This sort of automation not only provides a better experience for your customers, but it saves you time as well. Just make sure to continue updating these messages in order to stay relevant with your messaging.

Run support through SMS

Another area where marketers have seen success with automation is when running support through SMS. Due to the almost instantaneous nature of SMS, support queries can be answered and resolved in a matter of minutes. Even Facebook understands the relevance of a quick turnaround with messaging, now offering a direct conversation with brands about customer service issues.

This kind of mobile user engagement shows your audience that you are there to help them at every turn. Although you don’t want to be oppressive with your marketing efforts, finding the balance of always being within arm’s reach of your customers allows you to serve them better. Then, when they need something, they know you are always there to help, positioning you exactly where you want to be.

Test content and timing

With any mobile marketing campaign, you need to have adequate facilities in place for both measurement and the ability to test out new procedures. For instance, finding the right timing for your messages might take some time, but it will be well worth it. Make sure that your short message service marketing has these practices in place in order to continuously improve your campaign.

Even if you think that you have found the best way to do things, we urge you to not become complacent. When this happens, customers will slowly drift away unless you are careful. Make it a focus to analyze user engagement metrics and run regular tests to make sure your campaign is fully optimized at every step in the process.

Customer retention and you

As you begin your short message service marketing, we urge you to take these best practices to heart and understand how powerful customer retention truly can be. In today’s market, businesses and customers no longer have time to set on their thumbs. You have to take action and make an effort to stay relevant.

Our final word to you is to start now. Whether you have tried SMS before or not doesn’t matter, but now is a unique time when it comes to mobile marketing. We recommend taking advantage of this position and using the tools you have available to create an exceptional experience for your customers.


5 Customer Retention Strategies that Actually Work

Over the last few years, there has been a dramatic shift in both the amount of digital marketing channels as well as level of competition for small to medium sized businesses. With large companies driving prices down and customers having more choices than ever before, it can be difficult to create the right retention strategies to reach your audience and keep them coming back to your business.

As customer engagement and retention professionals, we understand the need for sound retention strategies in our current market. In today’s fast paced economy, you no longer have the luxury of trial-and-error, so you need to know your campaign will work the first time through. This is why we have put together these 5 customer retention strategies that have been proven to actually work and can help you take your retention marketing to a whole new level. Let’s take a look.

retention strategies

Why do we need retention strategies?

Although you may have heard that there is a need for retention strategies, unless your own business has struggled in this regard, it can be hard to comprehend. However, the numbers don’t lie when it comes to this need. For example, only 32% of customers will make a second purchase after one year. That’s two-thirds of your audience that is walking out the door.

On top of that, these customers are actually easier to sell to than first time customers, with some reports claiming it is anywhere from 3 to 12 times simpler to resell existing customers. Additionally, a 5% increase in retention can increase profits by up to 95%. Not only do these stats show the importance of customer retention, but they may even make you wonder why you haven’t been focusing on this before.

Now that you have a better understanding of the need for these retention strategies, let’s look at 5 tactics for improving customer retention and reducing customer churn.  

1. Make a good first impression with onboarding

The first of our retention strategies focuses on one of the largest areas of customer churn: the onboarding process. Unless you have a sound strategy in place, up to as much as 75% of your customers will be gone within the first week and by the end of the first month only 4% of customers will have stuck around. This is obviously a huge problem. However, with the right tools and focus, you can make a last first impression that keeps them around.

The important area you want to focus on here is avoiding creating roadblocks that hinder your customers’ progress. These might include asking too many questions, requesting too much responsive action too soon, and many other annoyances that might lead customers to churn. Typically, by referring to your user engagement metrics, you will be able to identify and target the specific areas where customers are dropping off. Once you get over this first hurdle, your retention strategy will already be greatly improved.

2. Guide customers through the process

Now, what often happens when businesses start to employ retention strategies focused on onboarding is that they forget to take care of customers further through the process. Instead, you should treat each are of the process like onboarding and always be aware of where your customers find themselves and how you can improve their experience.

A powerful way to do this is with marketing automation and SMS. By establishing triggers and touchpoints along the customer journey, you can deliver tailored messaging and content directly to your customers in order to keep them engaged and remind them of why they came to you in the first place. Through a multi-channel approach, customers will be less likely to churn and may even make more repeat purchases.

3. Empower customers to meet their full potential

As you help guide customers through their journey, it is up to you to give them the tools they need to reach their full potential when working with your company. Without your intervention, customers may come and go without ever realizing all the capabilities of your product. Ideally, this should never happen, but unless you are actively pursuing a relationship with them, they will fall through the cracks.

Depending on the type of business you have, there will be a few different ways you can do this. For instance, customer-facing businesses that rely on repeat visits or purchases have found that customer loyalty programs can help their customers to discover new areas they might not have found previously. The important part is that you find what your customers love most about their experience working with you and then do your best to improve that experience whenever possible.

4. Never give up

Now, you may believe that the customer journey ends when a client churns. However, as long as they are still receptive to your brands messaging, there is always a chance to win them back with targeted retention strategies. By never letting go and pursuing these customers persistently and respectfully, you can win back customers that others would have let go.

For example, I still received win-back campaigns from Blue Apron and Dollar Shave Club. While I only used each of their services for a short time, I still receive monthly emails letting me know about the latest deals. While some might see this as annoying, I know that if I ever wanted to join their program again, I could very easily do so. By keeping yourself within arm’s reach, you make yourself accessible to these customers and who knows, they might be looking for that extra nudge in the right direction.

5. Measure twice, cut once

As we mentioned earlier, you should always be measuring the success of your retention strategies in order to analyze them and learn how to better treat your audience. It goes back to an old saying my grandfather had: Measure twice, cut one. If you can consistently track user engagement and analytics, you can create better campaigns that lead to higher success rates.

However, this is often easier said than done. In order to get the measurements you need, you will want to map out your customer journey and pinpoint areas where analytics can be taken so that you can continue to improve. If you are just starting your campaign, building in these tools from the ground up will do wonders for you in the future, so make sure to keep this in mind.

Overhauling the entire campaign

At this point, you can see that each of these retention strategies should be used in combination with each other for a fully optimized campaign. Unless you have already put these strategies into place yourself, this will call for a complete overhaul of the entire campaign. That being said, you shouldn’t worry about this. In fact, you are likely due for an overhaul.

Thankfully, now that you have these retentions strategies in your tool belt, you are well on your way to retaining more customers, creating better customer engagement, and offering an exceptional customer experience. From there, the rest is up to you.


Fitness Club Spotlight: Throwback Fitness

Today’s fitness market has evolved from humble beginnings until a multi-billion-dollar industry. As competition continues to increase and more options become available to consumers, only the fitness clubs that provide exceptional services and experiences are able to rise above the noise. In our Fitness Club Spotlight series, we are going to take a look at gyms and wellness centers around the country that are doing this well. Today’s subject: Throwback Fitness.

Founded in 2014, Throwback Fitness has won multiple awards and top-gym lists due to the simple fact that founders Ryan Wilke and Brian Gallagher have discovered a way to make working out fun. While other gyms focus on the results you can achieve at their locations, Throwback is dedicated to the customer experience. Let’s take a look at how this focus on the customer has helped them create one of the most unique exercise experiences in the country.

The story of Throwback Fitness

Throwback Fitness began with a simple idea: to recreate the feeling of group gym classes and recess from the days before kids even knew the word exercise. Most adults today see working out as just another thing on their list to be crossed off, but founders Ryan and Brian wanted to create something their members would look forward to.

By infusing their classes with teamwork, competition, accountability, and nostalgia, Throwback Fitness has been able to find the perfect balance of fun while providing a killer workout in the process. On top of that, Throwback Fitness plays music from the 80s and 90s in their gyms to enhance the experience and maintain a lighthearted environment. It’s clear just from their website that this is not your average fitness club.

Creating an exceptional customer experience

This is the reason why Throwback Fitness has received write-ups in Refinery29 and other sites: the exceptional customer experience. Customers are no longer interested in products and services as they are in a wonderful customer experience. In fact, one of the best customer retention strategies fitness clubs can employ is a focus on customer experience.

Through creating an experience that leaves members both satisfied and wanting to come back for more, Throwback Fitness is able to keep their existing members while growing their base. Instead of having to worry about members dreading the gym, Throwback Fitness members look forward to their classes the same way they would recess growing up. As it turns out, nostalgia is a powerful customer retention tool.

Harnessing the power of nostalgia

In reality, Throwback Fitness is only evidence of something many of us have already understood: nostalgia sells. There are countless examples of big brands harnessing the power of nostalgia to bring customers back again and again. Now, while this isn’t something everyone can do to the extent of Throwback Fitness, it is worth taking note that finding a specific niche that members connect with is an important part creating an exceptional customer experience.

For example, CrossFit has grown into a fitness powerhouse by focusing on a single issue that their customers connected with. While CrossFit made their focus fitness, other companies can do the same by lasering in on one area and doing that better than anyone.

What we can learn

Now, obviously Throwback Fitness is doing something right when it comes to customer engagement, as they are able to consistently fill their classrooms. In order to learn from their success, we need to take a closer look at their strategy and what makes it work. Next, we will look at three different areas that all fitness clubs and gyms can improve in order to maximize customer retention.

Finding your niche

As we mentioned earlier, one of the ways in which Throwback Fitness sets itself apart is by finding a niche and sticking with it. For them, the nostalgia of the 80s and 90s as well as of simpler days in school has been enough to keep them going, but what this mean for other fitness studios?

It all comes down to finding what sets you apart from other gyms and making sure your members know what that is. From your SMS marketing to your customer loyalty program to the signage at your gym, customers need to be reminded what made them choose you over the other fitness clubs in their area. As long as you can keep that competitive edge, members won’t have a reason to look elsewhere for their fitness needs.

Focusing on what works

The next thing we can learn from Throwback Fitness is to find what works and run with it. When Ryan and Brian first started creating an environment similar to their school’s recess, they likely didn’t know what they had. It wasn’t until others began to catch on that they say the true potential of their business.

When you are first starting out, you may attempt many different strategies to increase gym memberships. Some will work, and others will fail. Take these struggles for what they are and once you find something that clicks with your audience, focus on that. It may not be what you originally thought would work for you, but as long as it does, you should be trying to improve that area as much as possible.  

Keeping customers engaged

The final piece of the puzzle for Throwback Fitness involves their strategy for retaining customers which is simple: keep members engaged. Although they offer specific classes on their course schedule, dedicated members of Throwback Fitness can pay a flat fee to enjoy any of the classes available. The simple fact that they can offer this shows that they understand how to keep their members engaged, no matter what the class or workout involved actually is.

This should be a lesson to other fitness clubs: the specifics of your strategy are not as important as creating an exceptional customer experience. Your members will respond to the feeling they get when they enter your gym more than how much membership costs or what machines you have available. Focus on that feeling and you will have customers for life.


How To Increase Opt-ins And Properly Promote SMS Marketing Campaign

For any company that wants to get involved in SMS marketing, there are a few different questions that quickly come to mind. For example, “Where do I start?” “Who should I be texting?” “What should I be sending?” Each of these questions needs to be taken on in order to get your SMS campaign off the ground. However, the most important question you should be asking is actually “How do I increase opt-ins?”

Since getting users to opt in to an SMS campaign is often the most difficult part of the process, we have put together a guide on how to promote and increase opt-ins. While we have looked at text opt-in best practices before, in this article we will focus less on the messages themselves, and more on how to promote your campaign outside of your current customer base. With that said, let’s get started.

Create an opt-in web form

The first step for any campaign is to create an online form of some kind that users can submit in order to join your text marketing list. Since text messages are heavily regulated and consent must be received before any messaging can be sent, web forms are one of the easiest ways to increase opt-ins right off the bat. You can even use Odoo’s approach in the below example and simply have your customers fill out this short form to begin their campaign.

That being said, even if users are the first to sign up online, you should still confirm that they are consenting to opt-in. This is what is known as the double-opt-in approach and it ensures that you are getting off on the right foot and avoiding breaking any rules covered under the TCPA.

Begin with email contact list

Once you have created a web form, one of the fastest ways to increase opt-ins next is to let your email contact list know about your SMS campaign. This list is typically your largest reach for existing customers and by letting them know about your new SMS channel, you can establish a solid foundation for your SMS campaign.

However, not all of your email contacts will want to join your SMS campaign. This is why sometimes you will need to include an incentive to help make taking that next step even easier. Above, we see that Home Depot entices their current customers to join the SMS list with a $5 coupon, helping them to increase their text marketing audience while offering their members value straight from the start. 

Include full legal terms on all advertising

Now that you have reached out to your current customer base, now comes the time to start promoting your SMS campaign across other channels. While you are doing this, we recommend that you include the full legal terms of your campaign right within the advertising. Look at the bottom of this ad to see what we mean.

By including not only the standard “Msg & data rates may apply,” but how often you should expect to receive text messages, you are able to set the proper expectations for your customers. If they know that they will only be getting less than 4 messages per month, you are eliminating questions that might hold them back. This will also save both of you time as you won’t need to send the entire terms of service every single time someone signs up, just the standard opt-in message.

Integrate SMS across all channels

So far, we have mainly talked about how to increase opt-ins through better calls to action and targeted campaigns. However, another best practice for increasing opt-ins is to integrate SMS across all channels. By making SMS a focal point of your mobile marketing campaign, you will make it harder for customers to go without SMS messages.

For instance, you can start sending thank you messages via text blast along with email. Once customers start to use the much more efficient texting system compared to email, they will see the value in your campaign and be far more interested in remaining subscribed.

Run banner ads

In the same way that your email contact list can be a good starting point for increasing opt-ins, running banner ads on your social profiles with a clear call-to-action is another way to capitalize on your current marketing efforts. Since most social users are on their mobile devices in the first place, this can be a breakthrough when trying to increase opt-ins.

You can even look at user engagement metrics to find the best way of targeting users from other channels like social. This can give you a better idea of how your customers operate and how you might better reach them with future messaging.

Place SMS info on product packaging

The final way to increase opt-ins through outside advertising that we will look at is by including a call-to-action right on your product’s packaging. So far, not many businesses have been doing this, so not only is it a good way to reach customers right after purchase, but it will make your campaign stand out from others. Simple tricks like this can make your SMS campaign that much more

Make your texts valuable

Now, as we mentioned at the beginning, most of this blog post has been about increasing opt-ins through traditional advertising means. This is important especially at the beginning, however, there will come a time where you will need to focus less on the SMS opt-in and more on retaining subscribers. The best way to do this is to make your texts valuable to your consumers.

Whether you are running support, sending out offers and coupons, or simply using SMS to guide your customers through their journey, each message you send needs to provide value to your audience. In fact, the best way to increase opt-ins after your initial launch is by making your texts so valuable that customers will wonder what they are missing. If you can consistently deliver the value that they are already looking for, you will have customers for life.


text opt in best practices

8 Text Opt in Best Practices (With Examples)

In the world of SMS marketing, nailing the opt-in is critical for establishing your place in the lives of your audience. Unless you have a well thought-out plan for approaching the opt-in and making sure your customers stay engaged with the program, atrophy will work against you and could offset the progress you have made. However, by using text opt in best practices, you won’t have to worry about that happening.

Through this article, we will guide you through text opt in best practices for creating an optimal campaign as well as the guidelines and laws put in place by the TCPA and CTIA. Please note that these are best practices and should not be taken as legal advice. Make sure to consult with your attorney about the right opt-in practices for your business. Considering that mass text marketing’s historical open rates are 3x that of email and 30x better than push notifications, optimizing your campaign should be at the top of your priority list. Let’s get started.

TCPA Text Opt in Guidelines

The baseline for best practices of any text marketing campaign is to follow the rules put out under the TCPA or Telephone Consumer Protection Act. These laws were put in place to protect consumers from receiving spam and its part of the reason why SMS marketing is as effective as it is here in the U.S. and Europe.

TCPA guidelines stipulate that you must

  • Receive consent before any message can be sent.
  • Mention your company name
  • Give the coupon or value proposition
  • Mention the frequency of messages that will be sent monthly
  • Disclose possible carrier costs and fees
  • Give an option to ask for help and opt out of future texts

The first rule here is the most important. You are legally required to receive consent before any messages can be sent. This is why the opt in is not only vital to success, but mandatory and legally required. Use the opt in to get their consent and then focus on the rest so that you don’t lose them.

Before starting any text marketing campaign or even begin thinking about text opt in best practices, make sure that you are compliant with these guidelines. Companies that forgo these guidelines can face fines anywhere from $500-$1500 per text message, so this is definitely something you don’t want to mess around with.

1. Follow the rules

In the spirit of Fight Club, our first two rules are the same: follow the rules. However, this should tell you how serious this is, not just to us, but the federal government. When someone asks to join your text marketing campaign, you will send them the SMS opt in message. This is fairly standard, but to give you an example, it will look something like this:

Please reply YES to receive updates from Example Company. Std. msg&data rates apply. Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel.

Right away, you are establishing consent by having them reply YES while getting the legal talk out of the way and providing them with further options. This is a fairly standard message, so there isn’t a lot of creativity that goes into. However, you can start to define the campaign for them in this message and state your intentions.

Start your own SMS campaign!

Double Opt In

The double opt in, meaning someone asks to join your campaign and then you reconfirm with the first message, is the best way to stay within the rules and establish a professional relationship with your audience.

Again, since the opt in is a legally required aspect of your SMS marketing campaign, it bears repeating. In fact, some businesses include a double opt in even if their members already give their consent through a web form. This not only covers you from legal repercussions, but it’s a simple best practice that is absolutely worth the time.

2. Be clear about your intentions

Have you ever signed up for a newsletter, expecting a message every couple of weeks and instead began receiving one almost every day? Annoying, right? The same thing can happen with text marketing unless you are upfront about your intentions. This text opt in best practice is a simply tweak, but it can be a life saver.

Let’s take a look at that first text we sent again. This is actually an opportunity for you to establish with your audience the frequency of your messages. For example:

Please reply YES to receive updates from Example Company. Std. msg&data rates apply. Approx 5 msg/month. Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel.

Right from the get-go, you tell them to expect 5 messages per month. How you space these out is another text opt in best practice we will review shortly, but establishing this from the opt in will help retain subscribers

3. Offer an incentive right off the bat

Once you go through the process of receiving consent for an opt in, there are a few text opt in best practices for sticking the landing. One best practice is to offer an incentive right off the bat. Think of it as a way of saying thank you. For instance, if someone replies YES to your campaign, you can send them a message like this:

Thank you for subscribing to Example Company’s Text Reminders! Use offer code SAVINGS for 20% off your next purchase.

Right away you are cementing the relationship and showing the value of the text marketing program. Now, customers will not only be more receptive to your messaging, but they might even look forward to it.

4. Choose the right short code

So far, these text opt in best practices have mainly focused on what happens after a customer finds out about your text campaign and tries to join. On the opposite side of that, short codes can be used to entice users to your campaign with an easy to remember, 5-6 digit phone number. While some companies try to go the old-school route of having their number spell something, most just choose an easily remember combination.

Like Redbox, who has a call to action that simply reads:

Text SIGNUP to 727272.

Not a very difficult number to remember, right? Just like with UX design in software development, the easier you make the process, the more people are likely to follow through until the end.

5. K-I-S-S

This brings us to our next text opt in best practice known as K-I-S-S, or Keep It Short and Simple. Consumers value SMS marketing due to the fact that it is often quick and painless. When you start to blow up their inbox with lengthy messages is when you will begin to lose them. Especially now when MMS is available and links can be included in the message.

For instance, instead of writing something like:

Example Company: Hey there! Did you know that you can save 20% this weekend when you shop in our stores? Don’t forget to mention our texting campaign at the register!

You could follow the K-I-S-S rule and write something like this:

Example Company: Save 20% off this weekend! Show them this message or go to Example.com/offer for more details.

As you can see, this conveys the same point, but in a much simpler fashion that will likely lead to higher conversions.

6. Use keywords that compliment your brand

Although it may not make sense to try and create a short code that spells something out, text marketing keywords are another story. These keywords are what customers will use to reply to you and trigger automated responses. For instance, STOP and HELP are included in almost every text marketing campaign. However, you can create branded keywords that make things easy for your customers. For example:

Text WORKOUT to 55555 for more information on gym membership.

Since the keyword is in line with the information you hope to receive, your audience will have an easier time getting started. This is just one example, but some text opt in best practices here that you should follow include keeping it less than roughly 7-8 letters and making sure it isn’t close to another keyword you are already using. This will make sure your audience doesn’t become confused or frustrated.

7. Measure everything

Another text opt in best practice that almost goes without saying in our data driven market is to measure everything. Although you may be able to set up most of your texting campaign when you first get started, creating an exceptional process takes time and maintenance throughout. By measuring your results, you can perform A/B testing and hone your craft.

For instance, this text message:

Example Company: Thanks for subscribing! Find more info at Example.com

Might perform better than this message:

Example Company: Thank you for subscribing! Be sure to check out our website for more info.

Even though they are almost the same. Without the right tools for measuring this, you wouldn’t ever know. Make sure that whichever text marketing software you are using allows you to track user engagement metrics. These will be invaluable to you and your business moving forward.

8. Always provide a way out

Our final text opt in best practice actually has to do with opting out. Under the TCPA, subscribers must always have an easy way out. You can even see this in the first example message we went over.

Please reply YES to receive updates from Example Company. Std. msg&data rates apply. Approx 5 msg/month. Reply HELP for help, STOP to cancel.

That part at the end, “STOP to cancel,” is important. Even your most dedicated subscribers like to know that they have a way out if they need it. Make sure you include this in regular messages so that your subscribers don’t feel as if you are trying to work one over on them.

Final thoughts

As you can see, while text marketing may seem to be a simply process from the outside, there is a lot of thought and time that goes into creating an exceptional campaign. Each of these text opt in best practices should be used in combination with each other in order to maximize your chances and truly create an exceptional customer experience.


FitMetrix: A Focus on Customer Experience

In an industry that has become oversaturated with digital marketing channels, increased competition, and a lack of customer loyalty, some businesses are looking to change the game with fantastic customer engagement and experiences. One such company is FitMetrix, which helps fitness clubs and wellness centers to focus on their customers and deliver an exceptional experience.

Even though FitMetrix has only been around since 2013, they have made a significant splash in the fitness industry. In this article, we are going to look at the FitMetrix story, along with how they have found success and why focusing on the customer experience is the best option for fitness clubs moving forward. Without further ado, let’s start at the beginning.

fitmetrixThe FitMetrix story

Founded in 2013 by Monica Dioda and Josh Lloyd, FitMetrix began as a solution built around group training, but has evolved into something much bigger. By making strategic partnerships in the fitness industry, FitMetrix was able to add some key integrations early on that made it easy for fitness owners to get on board. However, unlike other platforms, FitMetrix decided to take the solution to the clubs.

Instead of hosting everything on their site, FitMetrix creates unique experiences for each of their clients, creating mobile apps and websites that focus on the customer. Along with that, members can track everything right through the app they create for their clients, meaning customers can do everything right within the club’s website or app. By focusing on making the customer experience painless and easy, FitMetrix helps fitness brands retain more customers.

Looking to retain more customers at your fitness club? Download our free ebook!

Activity monitoring

One of the key aspects of FitMetrix’s offering is that the fitness members can monitor their activity, both at the gym and in the comfort of their own homes. Then, from there, clients of FitMetrix have access to their user’s engagement metrics and can see where they are in their fitness journey and how best to serve them.

FitMetrix then encourages members to stay engaged through fitness competitions, global leaderboards, and more. They also allow their clients to send personalized messaging to help make it simple for their customers to interact with these fitness brands. All of this together creates a good experience for both FitMetrix’s clients as well as their customers.

A data-driven approach

When you are fighting the uphill battle to reduce churn rate, a data-driven approach is one of the best tools you can have in your arsenal. FitMetrix has been able to make data a huge focus due to the fact that they are constantly taking in new data directly from the customers they are helping.

This should be a good lesson for other fitness owners hoping to improve both their customer engagement and retention. User engagement platforms can not only help keep your customers attention, but you can learn a great deal from analyzing how they engage with you. However, collecting the data is only part of the equation, you also need to actually use it to create a fantastic customer experience.

Creating a fantastic customer experience

In the same way that UI and UX designers must create a user interface that works specifically for their end-users, as marketers we must create customer experiences that line up with your audience’s values. This is why data is essential to customer retention and engagement. Unless you understand your audience, you will have a hard time serving them well.

However, once you do have that data, you can plan out a customer journey and continuously optimize it. As your customers change, so too will your experience design need to change. This is what FitMetrix understands and it is the reason they have become so successful.

The success of FitMetrix

Although they began only 5 years ago, it hasn’t taken FitMetrix long to find their value and place in the market. In fact, just a month ago they were acquired by MindBody and now have an even greater chance of reaching more customers to create great experiences. This acquisition shows what we here at Gleantap have known for some time: that customers are now less concerned with products and services, and more interested in customer experiences.

Other brands, not just in the fitness sector, should take note of this and take another look at their customer service teams and journey. Are you providing the best possible experience for your customers? How could you improve?

Partnerships

One of the ways FitMetrix was able to stand out from the crowd was with their smart integrations and partnerships with their platform. Even before their acquisition with Mindbody, they were working with them to offer a better customer experience to their clients. They also partnered with Perkville to enhance customer loyalty, another growing area in customer facing businesses.

Making the right partnerships early on can take your business to the next level. That is one of the reasons why Gleantap partners with top players in the fitness market, to make the experience simple and easy for our club owners.

Revenue model

Due to the level of customization and personalization that FitMetrix provides their clients, they do not have a set revenue model for most of their services. That being said, this sort of model works well for companies that have a product that can be scaled based on the circumstances. For instance, you would not offer the same product to a large chain as you would that of a boutique club.

Final thoughts

There is an obvious push for better customer experiences both in the world of fitness and customer retention marketing, with the variable being “What are you going to do about it?” Although it can seem overwhelming to small business owners, there are options available to you for tackling this problem head on.

For example, SMS marketing connects you with your entire audience in seconds. A focus on customer engagement can help your customers find value in new ways. Each of these is within your reach and the effect it can have can be revolutionary. So, again, we ask: What are you going to do about it?


Text Messaging - Customer Retention

Boost Member Retention & Referrals through Text Messaging

In the world of fitness clubs and gyms, customer loyalty is the name of the game. Keeping loyal members at their location is the easiest way for gyms and fitness clubs to stay profitable and ahead of the game. One of the best ways to keep members around is by keeping them engaged, whether that be through a rewards program, mobile app, or tailored workout classes.

For many businesses, whether they are centered around fitness or not, loyalty is the lifeblood of their organization. However, customers today are less concerned with brand loyalty than they used to be. According to McKinsey Research, only 13% of customers are loyalists, who don’t shop around. Most are looking for the best price in town or additional features, with no thought as to who is making the offering.

This is why it’s all the more important to have a successful loyalty program. It’s important to be proactive in engaging your customers, exciting them with additional perks, reward points and making it fun with gamification.

Read Fitness Clubs & Wellness Center Use Cases

Power of text messaging

What may be seen as an unlikely source of increased loyalty to your brand, text messaging has been proven time and again as a powerful tool for both member retention and increasing member referrals.

Text messages have open rates of around 95% and are the best way to meet members where they are, which is on their phones. If you have the right positioning with your text messages, you can influence your members in a truly remarkable way.

Gleantap

Gleantap is a text messaging and customer engagement platform that has partnered with Perkville to help local businesses boost member retention and referrals using the power of SMS. You can now automate your customer success campaigns at scale through text messages.

Gleantap + Perkville is like loyalty on steroids. It combines the might of Perkville’s rewards program with Gleantap’s automation to get powerful messaging directly into the hands of consumers. Gleantap also creates insightful reports to show business impact through your loyalty campaigns.

How does it work?

One brand that has benefited from this partnership already is Planet Fitness’s franchise United PF that has recently implemented Gleantap and Perkville’s platform across their 67 clubs to increase member retention and referrals. They are already seeing some early wins with this roll out.

United PF has opted to display the texting instructions for their loyalty campaigns on TV screens that they have at each club. Below are some details of this implementation –

    

Increase Reward Sign Ups
To increase Perkville sign ups, gleantap has made it very easy for members to sign up for the rewards program. PF Members can sign up for Planet Rewards by texting REWARDS to 635-65.

Increase Adoption
To increase adoption of perkville, gleantap has made it easy for members to access their points and get a link to redeem their points. United PF members can access their reward points by texting POINTS to 635-65. By making things as simple as sending a text, you are putting the ball in your member’s court, so to speak, making it easy and completely painless to get involved in the program.

Increase Referrals
Referrals are powerful and drive up your revenue & growth easily. With Gleantap & Perkville integration, we make it simple & luring for your members to refer their friends. Displaying REFER instructions along with the reward points, can have a great impact on boosting referrals.

Integration with your mobile app

Gleantap also integrates seamlessly with your mobile app letting you run your loyalty & customer success campaigns through push notifications. It opens another communication channel with your customers.

Whether these push notifications simply remind them of an upcoming workout class they have signed up for or rope in lost sheep that might be on the verge of cancelling their membership, integrating Gleantap with your mobile app only furthers the extent of your member retention and loyalty programs.

Looking to implement this at your location?

If you are already using Perkville, talk to your account manager or Schedule a Demo and someone will get in touch with you ASAP. Your solution to member retention is just around the corner, don’t wait!