Utilizing opt in text message strategies wisely can help you make the most of your digital marketing blueprint. Engaging your customer base through text message communication is a cost-effective way to share your message with the right people. Data shows that “around 98% of all SMS messages are opened [whereas] only 20% of emails are looked at.” 

This is not to say that email marketing doesn’t have a place in a successful digital marketing strategy. Email marketing is a highly useful tool for fitness clubs. Using text messaging as a complimentary channel enables businesses to reach their audiences even more effectively. SMS messaging opens up a dialogue between consumer and brand.

“85% of people [globally] want to be able to not only receive a message from a business but also answer a message from a business”. – Twilio

SMS Engagement: the Right Way

Engaging with customers via SMS indicates that your company is adapting to changing consumer needs and communicating with your customers how they want to be communicated with. Creating an ongoing text message campaign to engage customers throughout different points in their customer journey allows gyms to automate their engagement, and to be consistent in how they communicate with customers.

With smart campaigns, businesses can ‘set it and forget it’, freeing up time to work on higher level strategy. Of course, having a thoughtful automated campaign strategy doesn’t mean much if the SMS marketing list has not been built out. Here we discuss key opt in text message strategies you can use to grow your text message marketing list. Note: we have previously shared our best practices guide on SMS marketing etiquette, so please start there if you’re unfamiliar with TCPA and CTIA guidelines. The federal government and wireless carriers have specific rules for what they want to see in the opt in text message, so please be sure that you’re familiar with best practices. Now let’s get into our 3 top tips for incentivizing opt ins.

1 Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

When starting out with SMS engagement, your goal is to grow your SMS marketing list with voluntary opt ins. First off, per our best practices guide mentioned above, you should make sure that your customers know how often you’ll be reaching out. It should also be crystal clear to them what the content will look like. Setting expectations is the first step. So, what’s in it for your customers? Once expectations established, think about what would make your customers most excited to opt in.

Here are a couple SMS opt in incentives to serve as your inspiration…

Would they be thrilled to be entered into a raffle to win the hot, new kettlebell at your gym?

How refreshing would they find a free protein drink? This may be a perfect treat after an intense HIIT class.

Do you have T-shirts with your gym logo to hand out? Not only will your members be excited for free merchandise, but they’ll also be promoting your brand while they stroll around town.

Perhaps you urge members to toss their business card into a fish bowl for a drawing to win a free personal training session.

The sky is the limit with what you can offer. Just be sure that your incentive stays closely aligned with your brand. If you’re a wellness studio, your offer will vary from that of a boxing studio. In either case, listen closely to what services or offers currently get your members most excited, and follow suit with your incentive.

2 Deliver the Value your Audience Wants

No matter which communication channels you’re using to talk to customers, delivering value should consistently remain top of mind. Many businesses spam their customers with notices about sales, causing their customers to become irritated by the frequency and lack of value in the messaging. Don’t make this mistake. Instead, be thoughtful about your brand voice and the value you bring.

What makes your business unique?

What expertise do you have to offer to your niche?

Consider how you stand apart. Also, become clear on what value you can add to your customers’ lives.

From here, think about how you can best deliver this value to your customers. Perhaps this is best done in the form of an actionable monthly tip. Or it may be in the form of a brief ebook that demonstrates your expertise in the wellness sector.

Promote the Valuable Content you Offer

Once you’ve crafted content that you know your audience will enjoy, promote it! Set out a standee at the front check in desk to let your members know how they can receive this content.

Text in FITVID and your email address to 12345 receive a free monthly video fitness tip.

In the example above, the member opts in to receive a monthly video fitness tip that can be emailed out. From here, the gym can send a follow up email a few months later asking the member to opt into SMS alerts in order to receive more items of value.

Keep the following in mind: people don’t like to be bombarded with frequent offers. Sure, it’s important to make your customers aware of special discounts and offers.

However, it’s even more important to establish a meaningful connection between your business and your customer. By delivering value you do just that.

Once your opt in text message strategy begins to work successfully, and people voluntarily trickle into your SMS marketing list, continue to add value to their lives.

Whether in the form of fitness tips, account updates, or another unique way, ensure that you maintain a healthy ratio of useful information that your audience actually wants to receive. Your members will refrain from opting out of your messaging so long as they feel that the value they receive is additive to their fitness journey.

3 Make your Benefits Crystal Clear

Going back to what we discussed in providing clarity, you should make sure your customers know the benefit of being on your SMS list.

With this in mind, two benefits that you can promote are are loyalty programs and exclusive offers.

Encourage Loyalty

Loyalty programs are a great way to game-ify the experience for your members. Not only do customers receive points when they come to your studio, but they can win prizes that reward this good behavior.

The more points they receive, the closer they get to winning prizes that relate to your business. Gleantap integrates with Perkville, a customer loyalty program platform that enables fitness clubs to track points for their members.

A great way to remind members that they can win prizes for simply attending classes or workout sessions is to display a list of prizes they can receive on an ipad or poster in a visible area of the studio, which a reminder that opting into SMS alerts will allow them to closely track their progress.

Promote Exclusivity

Save your best offers for VIP members (those on your opt in text message list). Because they are giving you direct access to their phone, ensure that these members feel special.

Make sure that they are the first to know about any special in-club events or unique promos. Occasionally offer them free items or buy one, get one free promos. Consider unique ways to nurture the relationship with these people so that they’ll become your promoters and tell their friends to join your SMS list! Using a member engagement platform, pay attention to which promotions performed best. Rinse and repeat.

With the metrics at your fingertips, you will be able to adapt your most successful campaign copy and offers to different promotions throughout the year and build upon past successes.

You’re on your way!

You’re now on your way to building out a powerful SMS marketing list that you can use to set up automated campaigns to engage and retain more customers over time.