In 2020, the fitness industry, along with the world, was slowed down significantly by COVID-19. As everyone adjusts to new processes, gym owners and other business people have been trying to find new ways to rejuvenate their revenue flow and make sure they can stay afloat.
While some have turned to client acquisition as a way to bring in new revenue, others have realized that member engagement and retention can often save more money in the long run. After all, it costs 5x as much to find a new customer as it does to keep an existing one.
With still months to go before vaccinations are rolled out, it’s essential to develop an engagement strategy if you haven’t already. Whether this is through online classes, staying in touch via email, creating a social media community, or a mixture of all of the above, retention should be your ultimate goal.
In this post, we will cover 7 tips for developing this strategy to ensure that your member base is secure and you are ready to go when people begin coming back to the gym. Let’s get started.
1. Listen to your clients
Due to COVID, amongst other challenges, your members are likely feeling uncertain about the future. Rather than try to ignore that or glaze over it, you should take this as an opportunity to listen to your clients and find out more about their needs. The better you know what they need, the better prepared you are to serve them.
There are a few things you can do to reach out to your members and establish communication to stay tuned in to what they are experiencing. Here are a few ideas for doing exactly that:
- Send regular communications to stay at arms’ reach, such as a newsletter or monthly update email.
- Use multiple channels: While some members will stay engaged via SMS, others might prefer email. Make sure you are utilizing all possible channels to avoid missing an opportunity.
- Ask for feedback: Unless you are asking for feedback, your members will likely sit on their thoughts, both good and bad. Add this to your list of regular campaigns to keep your finger on the pulse.
This initial push to listen more to your clients should hopefully give you a good idea of where they are and how you can improve their experience. However, this shouldn’t be a one-time push, but something you do on a consistent basis to stay in the know. Make sure to adopt a regular schedule to ask for feedback and stay in touch.
2. Engage with members on social media
Whenever your members aren’t in your gym or fitness club, they likely aren’t thinking about your brand. While this is understandable, if their life gets busy, it can be easy for them to forget about their fitness goals and begin to fall off from their normal routine. This is where social media can be a game changer for your engagement strategy.
The first step is to make sure that you are set up on the appropriate social media channels that work best for you. While Instagram and Facebook are likely your most popular, consider Twitter, YouTube, and other less-common platforms to see if they fit within your strategy.
From there, you need to get the word out and make sure your members know where to find you. Along with including links in your emails and on your website, consider adding an automated email for new members alerting them to your social media presence.
Finally, as your following begins to grow, make sure that you deliver high quality content on a regular basis to maintain their interest. This will require a certain amount of trial and error, but simply by putting your posts in front of more members, you will achieve higher brand recognition and retain more members in the process.
3. Celebrate victories with your members
When someone joins your gym, they are doing so because they believe that your services can help them meet their goals. However, as you well know, these goals can’t be achieved overnight and members can often get discouraged without motivation. This is why we recommend celebrating victories, small and large, with your members to help keep them engaged and encouraged.
Some examples of milestones worth celebrating include:
- Completing your 5th, 10th, 50th, or 100th class. With the right system, you can automatically send out these milestone reminders through email or SMS to keep them on track.
- Attending the gym a certain amount of days in a row / in a month. Consistency leads to results, so make sure to highlight when your members are in a groove.
- Reaching an anniversary date. Loyal members are your lifeblood, so make sure to celebrate anniversaries at annual intervals. This can be a great opportunity to present an offer to the member and lock in their membership for another year.
Depending on your gym, there will likely be other opportunities for celebrating victories with your members. The important thing to remember is that without any sort of plan in place, they will miss these moments and you will miss a chance to solidify your relationship with them.
4. Run fitness challenges
Now that you have a social media presence and have seen your members progress in their workouts, the time has come to push them further with fitness challenges. These can be done on social media, at the gym, or through a mixture of both. The important part is just setting up a place where members can interact with you and each other, all while trying to achieve the same goal.
While most challenges you might have seen highlight weight-loss as the goal, there are lots of different approaches you can take with your fitness challenge. For example, you could have a daily push-up goal that increases each day or a squat challenge where each day requires a longer rep.
The main thing to remember is that you are encouraging your members to stay active and building a sense of community. This is especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic, when people are looking for places to feel connected.
5. Set yourself up as their workout expert
As you begin to form your community and show your members the value you bring to them, you can start to set yourself up as their workout guide or guru. There will need to be a certain level of trust for you to engage with your members on this kind of personal basis, but there are a few ways that you can earn that trust over the course of their membership.
A few ideas include:
- Sending regular workout plans to your membership base. While these won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution, if you do this at regular intervals, you should be able to find something that works for everyone.
- Creating diet plans and recipes. Exercise is only one part of what you are offering and healthy eating can be tough without a regimen. Help your members out by sharing your expertise in this area, either through email campaigns or blogs on your website.
- Offering your time. One of the best ways to create lifelong customer relationships is to offer your time to them. Whether it is just to answer questions or for a private training session, your knowledge is incredibly valuable to them and devoting even half an hour to them can be helpful.
The best part about each of these? If they become popular enough, you can add them on as additional features to higher tier membership plans. After all, you want to make sure that you are receiving the same value you are putting in. Either approach you take, they will have a few new ways to engage with you and your company.
6. Use offers and promotions to improve retention
Finally, the last engagement tactic we will review is using offers and promotions to keep your members engaged and improve retention. Like any sort of engagement, you want to be tactful about approaching promotions, since if they are done in the wrong way it can put people off to what you are offering.
A few ideas for promotions you can run include:
- A free gym t-shirt or duffle bag when they first join as a new member.
- Discounts for upgrading to higher membership tiers.
- Reduced rates or special offers for bringing a friend to the gym. Bonus if they sign up themselves.
- Promo codes for gym equipment, protein brands, or meal kits.
If you are able to make your gym the one-stop shop for all of their fitness needs while providing them with incentives to keep coming back, you will have a highly engaged customer base to work with.
In 2021, customer engagement has never been more important. While the above ideas are a great place to start, ultimately it will be up to you to see these initiatives through and make sure that you are providing the highest possible value to your members.
Curious about how Gleantap can help you achieve these goals? Click below to set up a demo to learn more.