Having a retention strategy for your gym has always been important. It’s one thing to get new members through the doors, but doing everything you can to keep those members active and engaged is key to long-term success.
But over the past few years since COVID-19 first appeared, the necessity to build long-lasting relationships with your members has never been as critical. With all the unknowns and unpredictability that COVID-19 brings with it, many people have re-evaluated certain things.
And oftentimes, one of those things has been their gym memberships.
Taking the time to invest not only money but effort, innovative technology, and new ideas into making sure members continue to see the value and want to come back to your gym is important.
But where do you start and how do you know what members want?
When you think about legacy within the fitness industry, Gold’s Gym has established itself with a cult following for almost 60 years. They’ve done an incredible job at retaining their members over time.
However, with changing times comes the need to adapt and evolve. Gold’s Gym partnered with Gleantap to take its retention strategy to a whole new level through engaging marketing campaigns.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the retention strategies that worked for Gold’s Gym, how they achieved results and a few other things about the fitness industry in the US.
How Competitive Is the US Fitness Industry Right Now?
There has always been healthy competition in the fitness industry, for both individuals and businesses alike. But in recent years it’s become even more of a challenge to stand out among the rest.
People all across the US are becoming more aware of how important a healthy lifestyle is and the benefits that come with it. Ultimately, this has led to a steady increase in popularity and competitiveness within the US fitness industry.
But other than people wanting to become healthier, why is the fitness industry growing at an incredible pace? Well, there are a few reasons.
Even with varying restrictions and shutdowns over the past couple of years due to COVID-19, new training concepts, evolving trends, and unique business models are constantly emerging.
Plus, virtual training and fitness classes have become mainstream, making it even easier for people to get active without having to travel to a physical gym. This means that it’s even more difficult for fitness clubs to lure their customers back to their physical locations.
In regards to the US specifically, it stands as the single largest health and wellness market in the entire world, with over 41,000 total clubs. In fact, around 64 million people in the US were part of at least one gym, and many of those people had more than one membership.
This is why having a gym retention strategy is incredibly important. Even though you might have a member, they might also be a member somewhere else that does a little more to encourage them to come back more frequently.
And with all that said, those numbers are only in relation to health clubs. So if you wanted to consider the likes of community recreation facilities, hotel gyms, and boutique studios, it’s even more of a competitive landscape.
7 Retention Strategies that Worked for Gold’s Gym
There can be several retention strategies a gym can implement to create a more inclusive environment and ensure members stay long-term. But, there are always going to be challenges to overcome. The biggest challenge Gold’s faced was improving its overall member engagement during the initial onboarding process.
Gleantap helped Gold’s overcome some of these obstacles and created long-lasting effects with successful and engaging marketing campaigns.
Let’s take a closer look into seven specific retention strategies that worked for Gold’s Gym that have helped further establish its legacy in the fitness community.
1. Guiding Members Through Onboarding
The first 60-days of membership are often the most critical, and Gold’s recognized that this was an ideal time to take their engagement with new members up a notch. There was a focus on ensuring new members bought into the services offered and an encouragement to set them up for success.
This retention strategy campaign was run with the power of Gleantap and it was designed to contact new members within the first six weeks of them signing up. There were roughly one or two messages that were sent out each week that highlighted different elements of a membership and the benefits that came with it. A big piece of this campaign was introducing Gold’s fitness class schedules.
One of the very first messages that a member received was a breakdown of fitness class schedules. This allowed members to know exactly when a class was happening so they could determine what worked best with their personal schedules. By doing this, members were more likely to find a regular routine and stick with it for longer.
By leveraging the power of Gleantap’s automation, several Gold’s locations completely automated their onboarding process. This provided trainers and staff additional time to focus on other aspects — like helping members achieve their fitness goals. Engaging members effectively during the first six weeks can make a big difference in whether or not they become long-term, loyal customers.
2. Engaging with Members Before It’s Too Late
Every gym or fitness center is going to see members cancel memberships and decide to leave, and there can be any number of reasons for this. But Gold’s decided to take a proactive approach to retain every member they possibly could by simply engaging with them.
Gold’s decided to take a closer look into how many members were deciding to leave and the reasons behind why they were choosing to leave. They put together an internal retention team that had a sole focus on contacting members who had their memberships pending cancellation.
Simply engaging with members and trying to find out the reasons for them wanting to leave led to a significant improvement in retention. And it was all because they improved their communication. Through this, they were also able to add new experiences to the gym because of the feedback from members and being more responsive to the inquiries they were receiving.
Updating fitness equipment, aligning with the latest fitness trends, and adding new programs and services made a huge difference in keeping members around for longer. Gleantap used the power of intelligent, automated, and intentional customer engagement to help this campaign be successful.
One franchise used the effectiveness of a simple message to re-connect with over 300 people. Of those that were contacted, 64 ended up returning to Gold’s as members. When you engage with members and show that you care, it significantly increases the chances of them returning.
3. Win-Back Campaigns
Sometimes there are those members that get away. In a similar approach to engaging with members before it was too late, Gold’s implemented an automated campaign to win back customers that had already canceled.
The strategy was simple: use the power of automation to contact lost customers at the 30, 60, and 90-day marks to re-engage them and highlight what they were missing. Not every member ended up returning, however, the campaign worked well enough that some did.
There can be any number of reasons for a member deciding to cancel their membership. Some might forget to renew, others might not feel motivated, and there can be those that think they might get better results somewhere else. Without taking the initiative to contact these former members with an automated campaign, Gold’s might not have ever been able to bring them back.
4. Targeted Campaigns
Recognizing the power of engagement, Gold’s also created a strategy that was centered around an SMS messaging and email campaign. Gleantap used its intelligent automation to leverage the power of timed upgrades.
Different franchises had different approaches, but the general concept remained the same. The focus was to implement an SMS messaging and email campaign for new members around the 30 to 45-day mark of their first signing up.
Members would receive a message that highlighted all the different benefits that they could receive if they moved to the next membership tier. This also usually included some type of incentive or offer to upgrade their membership.
By highlighting these benefits, several Gold’s franchises saw an uptick in membership upgrades. One saw over 300 new conversions and there were hundreds of other upgrades across all other franchises.
Gleantap was able to determine the optimal time to target members that had a plan with a straightforward upgrade. Knowing this information allows the power of automation to do the work for you.
5. Upselling the Advantages of Personal Training
There was also a large push from some of Gold’s franchises to offer free personal training sessions to new members. There was no obligation to continue after the offer, but members could immediately dive in and experience some of the extra value that came from this type of service.
One of the biggest benefits of this was to showcase and highlight Gold’s mobile app as another source of extra value members would receive. When members knew that it existed they were more likely to use it. And since it was packed with hundreds of personal training workouts, highlighting this meant members could experience first-hand the benefits that personal training could bring.
The overarching concept for these campaigns was to have a tangible way to show members that Gold’s had anything and everything they could need to reach their fitness goals.
6. A Different Spin on Achieving Fitness Goals
How do you track or monitor your fitness progress? Many people monitor diet and calorie intake, some stick to just stepping on the scale, and others use a combination of different tactics.
But to try and set themselves apart from other gyms, Gold’s developed and introduced new technology to help members reach their fitness goals, called Styku. It’s a 3D body scanning tool that recreates the members’ body shape. By having accurate measurements of overall shape, composition, and circumferences, members can track how their body changes in 3D.
The scan only takes around 30 seconds to complete and then members can visually see their progress as they work towards their fitness goals. It’s a much more compelling way for members to see where they are slimming down and determine what’s working the best to help them get there. And if something needs to be changed, they can easily switch parts of their training routine or schedule to be even more efficient.
7. Referral Campaigns
Engaging with members as early as possible is bound to bring several benefits, and Gleantap helped Gold’s create referral campaigns to generate additional member acquisitions. Within the first two months of a member signing up, SMS messaging and email strategies were put into place to encourage members to invite their friends and family to come with them to the gym.
If a friend signed up, the member would receive a free month or a discounted membership. The results of this campaign were incredible, with over 500 new members added across all of Gold’s franchises.
Taking it a step further, this campaign worked hand in hand with other targeted campaigns. With over 500 new members, there’s a high likelihood that several of them with also upgrade their memberships. And not only that, but these 500 new members also provide the opportunity to refer additional members.
How Did Gold’s Retention Strategies Achieve Results?
By simply engaging with current members there was an opportunity to create new experiences that members wanted. This helped reduce the possibility of a member leaving since Gold’s offered everything they wanted, and then some. Plus, through an automated strategy of SMS messaging and emails campaigns to win back members that had already canceled, there was a new opening to re-engage with and entice those members to return.
Automating these processes meant onboarding became more streamlined and value-added services were top of mind for members. All of this led to a higher level of customer loyalty and a better chance of keeping members long-term.
Leveraging the power of intelligent automation through Gleantap, Gold’s has been able to not only increase its retention but also attract a whole new wave of members looking to up their fitness game and be part of a community.
There isn’t a perfect strategy for gym retention. Some gyms are going to have different needs compared to others, and some gyms are going to have a different membership base. But at its core, a retention strategy plays a critical role in every type of gym.
Gold’s Gym understood that there was a need to adapt to the changing times to keep members long-term and also attract new members that would feel welcome coming into the club for the first time. Making these changes came at a crucial time as well, since the US fitness industry is more competitive than ever.
All of these retention strategies that worked for Gold’s Gym are based on automated campaigns and providing exceptional customer service. When members feel like they’re part of a community and their concerns are heard, they’re going to be more likely to stay.
Looking for ways to scale your fitness business and take it to the next level? Gleantap has everything you need to simplify your marketing and sales strategies and deliver a more efficient and personalized customer experience.
Co-Founder, Gleantap & Mastera