open rate

5 Strategies to Improve the Open Rate of Email and SMS Campaigns

For any organization hoping to get involved with customer retention marketing, there are a few different tools that you will need to familiarize yourself with. Two tools that can be incredible powerful when it comes to reducing churn are email and SMS marketing. However, according to Mailchimp, with low open rate statistics and an oversaturation of digital marketing channels, creating a powerful campaign can be difficult.

This is why we have put together 5 strategies designed to help you improve the open rate of both email and SMS campaigns. Although open rates are historically high for SMS, these tactics can still be used to improve both of these tools for greater success. On top of that, when combined, they are far more potent than when they are done separately. Let’s begin by taking a look at the state of email and SMS in 2018.

The state of email and SMS in 2018

The first thing that you should know about both email and SMS is that they have been around for a while, both for personal and professional use. This familiarity can be huge when it comes to reach customers, as they already understand the platform and how to communicate. In fact, the 98% open rate of SMS often comes from users always being near their phones. Whereas, the ubiquitous nature of email has led to a steady decline of open rate stats over time.

Now, in 2018, with a variety of new and innovative communication platforms, most customers still prefer the tried and true methods of email and SMS. That being said, customers are also much more interested in receiving a good customer experience when they are interacting with a company. This is why best practices must be put into place in order to get the most out of these tools.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at these 5 strategies to help you increase the open rate of your messages and better serve your audience.

1. Boring subject lines

Yep, that’s right. Our first strategy is going to sound ludicrous, but according to a report based on over 200 million emails, Mailchimp discovered that boring, straight-to-the-point email subject lines are actually better than showy or flashy alternatives. In order for customers to want to click through to read your email (and hopefully convert), they need to know what they are going to be reading.

A good best practice here is to state the title of the article you are sharing or pretend you are writing a title if the email doesn’t include a link. Something that informs users without telling the whole story is the balance you will be looking for.

SMS subject lines

You might be thinking, “Wait, SMS doesn’t have subject lines,” which is accurate. However, with more smartphones on the market than ever before, MMS or Multimedia Messaging is becoming more popular and allows for marketers to include a subject line. Although this may not be necessary for every message, there will be times where an extra flair will go a long way, in which case MMS is recommended.

2. 80/20

The next strategy for optimizing your open rate and getting the most out of your campaign is known as the rule of 80/20. Under this rule, you want to dedicate about 80% or 4 out of 5 messages to being insightful and helpful to your customers, while only actually selling the other 20% of the time. Along with providing a better experience to your customers, it will also make your emails and SMS messages with sales content more powerful.

Now, even though you won’t be selling with each message, another way to increase open rate and conversion rate is by including a call-to-action with each SMS or email. Especially with the immediacy of text marketing, having a clear next step for customers to take will make them look forward to your messaging and help your open rate.

3. Optimize, optimize, optimize

As you start to build out your campaigns, you will start to see areas that can be improved along the way. Our advice is to optimize everywhere you can along the way, whether it is optimizing emails for mobile devices or maximizing your SMS, making these subtle changes will only further improve your open rate.

Although this doesn’t seem that revolutionary of a strategy, as customers begin to become familiar with marketing automation and other techniques for increase customer engagement they will want a better experience. Automating and optimizing wherever possible in the process will help you continuously improve your performance.

4. Understand the delivery method

We mentioned earlier that both SMS and email work best, both in regards to the power of the campaign and open rate, when working together. However, there will be times when you will need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of both avenues along with which is best used to meet your goals.

For example, there are plenty of occasions where an SMS message should be used, due to the speed and ease of use. That being said, the same efficiency can work against you in other scenarios with less timely info, in which case an email will be more appropriate. As you plan out your campaigns, make sure you understand the delivery methods you will be using and that they are the best option for what you hope to accomplish.

5. Track, tweak, repeat.

The last strategy for improving the open rate of your email and SMS campaigns is to track everything, tweak what needs fixing, and do it all over again. Again, this may seem simple, and we recommend doing this with all of your marketing, but it will greatly improve the performance of your campaign if you are always performing maintenance and making sure you are putting your best foot forward.

In the case of email and SMS, this looks like changing subject lines, trying new formats and keywords, as well as asking your audience for feedback on how you can improve. Each time you approach the campaign, you should be considering how it will improve your customer’s experience and do whatever you can to help it. As long as you keep this in mind, you will have nothing to worry about in regard to retention or open rates!


ABC Financial: Streamlined Services for Customer Success

As anyone who has worked in the Fitness industry or simply had a gym membership will tell you, getting members to come back to the gym can be difficult to do. Although America has been set on getting fit for the last few years, unless fitness clubs are focused on customer retention, members will continue to fall through the tracks.

One company that understands this better than anyone is ABC Financial, the Arkansas-based gym management software solution that aims to help gyms and fitness clubs create a better member experience. They do this by providing seamless, streamlined services that allow gyms to focus on helping their members get fit and leave the technicalities to them.

Over the last 30+ years, ABC Financial has been helping fitness businesses to focus on customer experience and are now a leader in the fitness industry. In this article, we will take a look at their history, offerings, and what sets them apart, hoping to unveil tips and best practices we can all use to improve our own systems for success. Let’s take a look.

ABC Financial

History of ABC Financial

Founded in 1981 by Jim Bottin, ABC Financial began simply as a secure payment processing platform for fitness clubs. However, over the course of the last few decades as technology has progressed, so has ABC Financial’s software and services offered. Now, they cover everything from managing gym employees to providing mobile apps to the same thing they were doing in ’81, securing payments.

Now, ABC Financial is working with over 7,000 health clubs in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. By staying on top of the latest cutting edge technology, ABC has been able to stay relevant and at the front of the fitness industry. As they continue to aid these fitness clubs, their software only improves further, setting them up to hold their spot at the top for the foreseeable future.

Streamlined Services

In fact, it is the streamlined nature of ABC Financial’s services that is so important for fitness club owners and what sets them apart. Since these health clubs, like any monthly service, value the knowledge that they will receive payment from their customers each month, it is up to ABC Financial to make sure this happens without issue.

They do this in a few different ways, such as providing a place for members to see their bill, but also through customer retention tactics geared toward keeping them around. As they have grown, ABC has had experience working with clubs small and large, single and multi-location, preparing them to work with any company seeking their services.

Built-in Customer Retention

This focus on automation has obviously served them well. As more companies are beginning to see the value of customer retention and experience-focused initiatives, organizations like ABC Financial are continuing to grow simply by focusing on what customers want. By keeping everything within reach for fitness club owners, they can provide the type of experience members are looking for.

We call this built-in customer retention, meaning that when you are providing value to your audience, you don’t have to worry about customer churn. As long as customers are interested in your services and excited by the experience you provide, they will continue to work with you. This is something that ABC Financial understands for both themselves and their clients.

DataTrak

Now that you have an idea of how ABC Financial aims to improve the member experience, let’s take a look at their product offerings to see exactly how they accomplish this. Let’s first look at DataTrak, a web-based club management system that helps owners reduce delinquent payments and improve the customer experience. They do this in a few ways, including member check-ins, schedule management, and more!

A lesson that can be learned from DataTrak comes from the name, and that is the value of member data for creating a memorable experience. User engagement metrics and smart analytics now offer companies the ability to guide members through their customer journeys with triggers and touchpoints. Additionally, with DataTrak’s employee portal, owners and operators can make sure their employees are doing their best to serve their members.

MYiCLUBOnline

The next offering provided by ABC Financial that we will review is their product MYiCLUBOnline, which allows members the opportunity to manage their schedules, contact info, and more. MYiCLUBOnline is the bread and butter of what makes ABC Financial work, allowing members to schedule their payments in advance and monitor their payment history in order to avoid complications.

Either by having it built within a site of ABC’s making or through their existing site, fitness clubs can employ the use of MYiCLUBOnline seamlessly, allowing them to incorporate this offering without disruption. Along with that, ABC provides a full team to help you get started, since they understand this can be a stressful time when changing providers for something as crucial as member payments.

Mobile apps with Netpulse

The final product offering from ABC Financial actually comes in collaboration with another fitness company we have talked about before, NetPulse. Knowing that NetPulse is a leader in fitness club mobile apps, ABC has opted to let them handle the mobile app services for their customers. Although this may seem like a potential area for ABC to get into, they understand that NetPulse can do a better job than they can currently.

This unselfish nature is what has made ABC into the company they are today. By focusing on what serves the members instead of their own purposes, they are able to create a product line that speaks for itself in regards to member retention and the customer experience.

Success of ABC Financial

After reviewing the history, offerings, and strategy of ABC Financial, it’s clear that they have an understanding of the fitness industry that has served them well in their 37 years of operation. For others in the fitness world, this should be an indication that processes like tracking member data and focusing on the member experience are what can set you apart when it comes to added value.

We hope to continue seeing success from companies like ABC Financial that choose to focus on customer needs above their own. As we move into a world more technologically advanced than ever before, this aim to be human and appeal to members on a personal level will continue to be even more important. Our advice: follow the fitness leaders like ABC Financial and who knows? The next company we review could be yours.


How User Experience and Customer Experience Go Hand-in-Hand

When you first start to plan any marketing strategy, you often try your best to imagine how your campaign will be received. Questions such as “How will this best reach our target market?” and “What is the best way to get our message across?” will likely be running through your head. Now, in 2018, there are one or two more questions you should be asking, including “What is our user experience like and how can we improve it?”

In this article, we will cover how user experience fits into customer engagement marketing in 2018. Along with that, we will discuss the merits of both UX design and focusing on the customer experience, as well as the differences between these two approaches. By the end, we hope to have guided you through how best to optimize both your user experience as well as the larger customer experience for your audience. This way, you will be well equipped to take on the age of the ‘experience’ that find ourselves in today. Let’s get started.

user experience

The age of the ‘experience’

Over the last few years, companies like Amazon have revolutionize the customer service industry to the point that consumers are now more interested in a positive customer experience with a company than actual products or services. In fact, according to ThinkJar Research, 55% of customers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience, with the operative word here being ‘guaranteed.’

For years, large brands have been able to get away with the promise of a good user and customer experience without the need for follow-through. Now, with social media and online reviews, brands have to invest in the customer experience in order to stay competitive. Otherwise, their lack of follow-through can end up severely damaging their brand reputation. With this in mind, let’s take a further look at how UX and CX fit together to make this possible.

UX vs. CX: What’s the difference?

Now, if you aren’t already familiar with the differences between UX and CX, User Experience is all about the interactions customers have with your product, while Customer Experience encompasses everything about your relationship with the customer. For instance, if a phone has good UX, then it is easy to use, but good CX would mean that when you call customer service to ask about your phone, that is an easy process as well.

While focusing on the user experience is important, whether you are developing a mobile app or creating a physical product, without the larger context of CX you can only go so far. However, if you can approach the user experience design of your product with knowledge of how it will affect the way customers interact with your brand, you have the chance to stand out from the crowd.

User Experience basics

You may still be wondering how user experience and customer experience work together. In order to better understand this, let’s take at some UX design basics and see how they can be applied to improving the customer experience. Two of the main UX principles are to be contextual and be human. This means that whenever you are developing an experience, you want to walk through how it will affect the user within the context of the situation.

The same goes for planning out the customer experience. From the time that they show interest in your product until you hopefully win their business, you should be thinking: how would I want to be treated? This empathy puts you into the place of the end-user and allows you to tap into what your customers want. That being said, user engagement metrics and other analytics should be used, not just your gut feeling.

Empathy and the end-user

It will be this empathy for your customers that sets you apart from your competition. As more companies invest in customer experiences, those who can provide value to their customers through each interaction with a brand are the ones that will be set apart. Organizations need to begin investing in marketing automation and other programs that seek to make customers’ lives painless and efficient.

Not only that, but once you begin to make customer experience a focus, your audience will come to trust your company. As you develop this trusting relationship, customers will be more willing to share their thoughts with you as well as participate in new programs. By putting them first, you are flipping the paradigm, something they will come to appreciate as they see the value you provide.

Customer experience marketing

In the end, this is what you are aiming for with customer experience marketing: to create an environment where customers want to be a part of your brand. For far too long, companies have been focused on products instead of experiences, but as user experience continues to show customers how much better they can have it, this will continue to change.

For your own company, try to analyze each aspect of your offering and find areas that can be improved. The best time to get started on a strategy like this is right now. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools like SMS marketing now available to you that can be used to optimize the customer experience. Take advantage of these tools whenever you can, that way you can take things into your own hands instead of playing catch-up with your audience.

How to get the most out of both strategies

As we wrap up this article, we wanted to leave you with some final advice on how to get the most out of both user experience and customer experience design. It all begins by taking time to get to know your customer, what they need, what they want, and what the value. Each of these will tell a story, one that you can address on a micro level with UX, and a macro level with CX.

By optimizing, tweaking, and perfecting your customer experience, you are setting out to be the exception. This won’t be easy, but once you start to see how your customer retention efforts are affected, you will see that your investment will be worth it.


Upgrading your Bulk SMS Messaging Campaign in 6 Painless Steps

As the amount of digital marketing channels continues to expand, mobile marketers are trying their best to upgrade their campaigns to ensure an optimized experience at every turn. One way they are doing this is through bulk SMS messaging, an increasingly popular and powerful tool for customer engagement. In fact, according to a recent report, bulk SMS engagement rates are 6-8 times higher than email marketing.

That being said, it’s one thing to set up a bulk SMS campaign, it’s something else entirely to upgrade your campaign and take your customer engagement to an even higher level. With this article, we hope to help you achieve this ascension with 6 painless steps for upgrading your SMS marketing campaign. Once you complete these steps, you will be well on your way to a better process and a more satisfied customer base. Let’s get started.

bulk sms

Bulk SMS Best Practices

Before we get into the actual steps you will need to take to upgrade your campaign, let’s look at a few bulk SMS best practices. Each of these practices should be employed throughout the entirety of your campaign and are what will separate a good campaign from a great one. These best practices include:

Create a sense of urgency: Bulk SMS messages are almost instantaneous, with over 95% of customers receiving them within 2 minutes. Make sure that your messages match this sense of urgency as much as possible.

Find the right frequency: When it comes to mass text marketing, timing is everything. Try your best to keep timing in mind while making decisions about how best to approach your audience.

Provide value at every turn: Due to the intimate nature of SMS, you should always be providing value to your customers. Before each bulk SMS message, think to yourself “Does this provide immediate value to the customer?” If it doesn’t, it’s not worth sending.

As we now take a look at these 6 steps you will need to take to upgrade your campaign, remember each of these best practices. If nothing else, they will put you on the right track and frame of mind for creating an exceptional customer experience.

How to improve your campaign

Now that you have those best practices in mind, let’s take a look at how best to improve your campaign. As with any sound customer retention marketing plan, each of these steps works best in combination with the others, so keep this in mind as we review them. Without further ado, let’s start with step one.

1. Track everything

The first step in improving your bulk SMS campaign is to track everything you do from day one. Typically, analyzing data is seen as something that comes later, but unless you set up the proper mechanisms for capturing user engagement metrics from the beginning you may get to the end of your first campaign and realize the data you need is missing. Instead, set up adequate feedback tools from the start so you can always be tweaking and upgrading your campaign.

2. Plan out the customer journey

The next part of setting up your campaign is to plan out the customer journey. Depending on the marketing automation capabilities of your bulk SMS platform, you should be able to set up just about everything at the beginning in regards to touchpoints and scheduled messaging. Use SMS short codes to allow customers to trigger different optional campaigns and plan out your automated responses to make sure you are ready for everything.  

You may notice that these first 2 steps don’t even involve sending out a bulk SMS message, and for good reason. The planning stage of the campaign needs to address these issues in order to have a more successful campaign. By setting up a flow for your customers will follow as well as metrics to capture their journey, you will continuously improve your performance and the engagement levels of your campaign.

3. Include a call to action, always

Speaking of customer engagement levels, let’s talk about the actual messages of your campaign. Our third step is to include a call to action in every single bulk SMS message you send. Although this might seem excessive, it goes back to our best practices, specifically to provide value at every point. Unless your message can include a clear call to action with a next step customers can take, it probably could work just as well as an email.  

4. Segment your audience

Next up on our list of steps: customer segmentation. While you may be able to have one target audience when you first start off your SMS campaign, once you reach a certain level of subscribers you will need to start dividing them into groups. For instance, if you are a fitness club, you wouldn’t want to send the same message to someone who just joined as someone that hasn’t been to the gym in a few weeks.

By segmenting your audience, you are able to send tailored messages that can truly resonate and provide value to your audience. The better that you can reach them with the right messaging in the right place at the right time, the less you will need to worry about customer churn and satisfaction.

5. Be concise

Along with the high-speed nature of SMS messaging, it is also very concise and you would do well to remember this. First of all, bulk SMS messages are limited to only 160 characters, so you need to stay within this character limit to avoid splitting the message in two.

Additionally, we mentioning thinking about timing earlier, and your customers don’t want to receive a ton of text. They want concise, simple updates and calls-to-action, so do your best to provide this for them.

6. Make your intentions clear

Finally, the last step in our painless 6-step guide is make your intentions clear to your audience throughout the process. Customers now care more about their experience engaging with a company than they do the actual products or services provided, so maintaining an open and honest dialogue is key to showing them you care.

This also refers to opt-in best practices, since this is not only a good practice to have in place, but it is actually required by law. Make sure that you are submitting to the correct rules and regulations while always offering subscribers a way out should they need one. By being open about your intentions, how often they will be receiving messages, and how they can opt-in and out of your messages, they will actually be more inclined to engage with you and your brand.

Final thoughts

As we mentioned at the beginning, the best way to approach improving your bulk SMS campaign is by walking through each of these steps and then using them in collaboration with each other and SMS best practices. Now that you have the tools that you need, now comes the time to put them into place. So what are you waiting for? Upgrade your own SMS campaign today!


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.

throwback fitness

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.