A report by the Retention Guru, found that 67% of health club members in the U.S. and Canada retain their membership for at least 12 months. In other countries like the U.K., only 53% of members keep their membership for over a year.
Many gym and health club owners understand the value of developing and nurturing human connections with their members. A strong member engagement strategy that works for your business can help to drive member retention. In this article, we will discuss why member engagement is so important and what you can do to improve engagement with your members.
Why is Gym Member Engagement Important?
According to research from the IHRSA, the average health club has an annual attrition rate of 28.6%. There are several reasons behind this from regional factors to wider industry trends but many causes can be attributed to human nature. Consumer habits can change but people remain the same and engagement matters.
Building a strong foundation for gym member engagement is important. One report found that members at risk of canceling their membership were 45% less likely to quit the following month if they received a “successful commitment interaction” than those who didn’t.
The fitness and health club industry is an ever-changing landscape, you can’t just sell a membership then walk away, you need to build a community. Creating a sense of community is integral to success. Relationships equal retention and building a community where people can come to you and feel supported can increase engagement.
To find out more about keeping your members, employees, and clients happy and paying from industry leaders, listen to The Fitness Retention Podcast.
Member Engagement Touchpoints
When we talk about engagement it can mean different things to different people. If you’re talking about your website, then engagement probably looks like comments, likes, page views and such. Building an online community is a powerful tool and definitely needed in today’s modern world but it’s not the only part of member engagement.
For gyms, health clubs and fitness centers, members are paying to go to your gym for a reason so keeping them engaged in-person, as well as online, is critical. So, when you’re thinking about engagement, you need to consider your engagement touchpoints. These will depend on your members and how they like to be communicated with as well as their online and social media habits.
Your engagement touchpoints include your website, social media channels, online communities as well as how you communicate in-person. All these different elements offer numerous ways for your members to interact and engage with you and utilizing all of these touchpoints is helpful in setting up a solid membership engagement strategy.
8 Ways to Increase Gym Member Engagement and Drive Retention
It’s never too late to build a strong community atmosphere and drive member engagement. Engagement should be a strategic priority for any membership organization. Start off by defining what member engagement looks like to you and your business and then outline your member engagement aims and objectives. These should be fully aligned with your gym’s vision and mission statement. Here are some creative and simple ways to increase gym member engagement.
1. Build Group Exercise Programs
Group exercise programs help to connect like-minded people and create a sense of community. Community is a powerful retention tool. One of the main reasons fitness programs like CrossFit have had such a big impact is the communal atmosphere that’s created by group instruction. According to IHRSA’s researchers, the risk of canceling a gym membership was 56% higher among members who just used gym equipment as opposed to those who exercise in groups.
2. Regularly Communicate and Reach Out to Your Members
Supercharge your communication and keep in touch with your members. The relationship between you and the client continues outside of the gym whether that’s on social media, group conservations or a Facebook group. Contact members via push notifications, email, phone calls, and social media to stay in touch and update members with offers, events, and news. Using social media fitness tips, free workouts and nutritional tips is a great way to incorporate content marketing while communicating and engaging members.
If a member has missed their usual workout session, drop them a message to see how everything is going as missing a week or two weeks of workouts is usually the first sign of a disengaged member. This is where membership management software is very useful as you can set up automated emails or alerts that notify you if a member has missed a class or has been absent for an extended period of time.
In terms of gym management software, you may already have something set up or be on the market for a new system. To help you get started, we’ve put together a guide on how to choose gym management software for your fitness business.
When trying to increase member engagement, hosting seasonal or sales events is a great way to create an opportunity to communicate with members. Whether you want to host an event in the New Years to bring in new members or reward long-term members with the chance to get a hold of discounts and offers, events are a good reason to contact your members and keep them engaged.
3. Have a Strong Analytics System in Place
To track member engagement and see where you can make improvements or perhaps see what you’re doing really at, you need a software system in place with strong analytics. Stay up to date on everything that’s happening with your members and monitor member data down the smallest details. With this information, you can make well-informed decisions and make changes where needed based on real-time data and feedback.
Your membership management software should provide solid insights and analytics so you can know everything about your members. By using reporting you can make changes before a member walks away and cancels their membership. Helpful metrics to track include membership retention and sales, attendance rate, total revenue, and lead management and conversion.
4. User-Friendly Website and New Content
Your website is one of the most important touchpoints for member engagement. It’s a key part of building your online community. Your website is your brand and identity online, it’s where your clients and potential clients will go to find out everything they need to know about you. It should provide information to your members and allow them to manage their membership, sign up for events and even renew their yearly membership.
Keep your website up to date with regular fresh content. All great websites share common functionality features that help to offer the best user experience possible. The following elements are crucial on your website:
- Well-designed and professional site
- Easy to navigate
- Strong SEO
- Common questions and answers
- Fresh and sharable content
For some great business inspiration and insights from thought leaders in the fitness industry and the business world, check out these books:
- The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz – the classic manual helps to maximize your career, community, and relationships. This book is all about taking it to the next level both personally and professionally.
- Two-Brain Business: Grow Your Gym by Chris Cooper – from the founder and owner of CrossFit, this guide is about running and thriving with a fitness business. With a focus on developing strategies both from the view of the left and right side of the brain.
5. Don’t Take Longtime Members for Granted
It’s easy to focus on new members but don’t forget about those that have been loyal members for a long time. Engage members with new offers and tips and make sure to reward their loyalty with member benefits. A great way to reward both new members and current members is by running a referral program.
Create a win-win incentive so that current members receive a discount and new members get to try out your gym for free. You receive an extra member while at the same time boosting the chances that your existing member will continue to renew their membership. To start a referral program, decide on your incentive or promotion. Always keep it simple and be sure to track the referrals and pay attention to analytics. Check out our guide to creating an effective gym referral program to get you started.
6. Great Onboarding Program for New Members
It might be an obvious one but you should have an induction in place for all new members. The first six weeks can be very important when building a new relationship with a new member. Be sure to have a solid onboarding program in place for new members and keep them engaged throughout the whole process, making them more likely to renew their membership.
A perfect welcome for new members typically includes a tour around the facilities so they know exactly where to go and talk about a personalized workout program. Setting up a six-week plan for all new members will help to keep them focused over the coming weeks and will give you a good reason to check in on them to see how they are getting on.
A new member without a goal, a plan or someone to hold them accountable is much less likely to renew their membership. Part of the onboarding program can include assigning a staff member so they have a familiar face to approach if they have any questions. That way no member gets left behind and member engagement is nurtured from the beginning of the onboarding process.
7. Employee Loyalty
Your employees are essential to member engagement. After all, they are the ones who will be interacting with your members daily. Frequent staff turnover may harm member engagement and member retention. If your employees don’t stay around for very long then they are unable to grow their relationship with your clients. Keep your employees motivated and focused on interacting and engaging with members.
A major part of keeping new gym members comes down to the interactions they have with staff members. It’s important to make sure your members are having meaningful interactions. Train your employees to communicate well as members value communication from staff members. Every member of your fitness team should be speaking to members on a daily basis, whether it’s fitness related or not.
Meaningful interactions allow your team to build stronger bonds and relationships with members. This helps staff to be aware of any problems early on and provide the best experience possible, boosting member engagement.
8. Member Workout Tracking
There’s a high chance that your members have joined your gym for a purpose, so help them meet that goal by tracking their workout and fitness progress. Work with your members to set realistic goals that they can achieve, with your help obviously. Letting a member work towards a completely unrealistic goal in their first six weeks is a sure way to land a very disappointed client.
Allow your members to track their progress and show them they are getting better and fitter. There’s nothing more disheartening than putting in a ton of money and time into an activity and not seeing the results. By showing them how much progress they have made, it helps to keep them motivated to continue and drive member retention.
Using membership management software with workout tracking is an easy way for both employees and members to track progress. Another option is to hold a monthly progress review or even a weekly progress review with members. It’s a great way to keep them on track, engaged and the perfect opportunity to reach out and stay in touch.
Member engagement and retention are at the core of any fitness business. By focusing on what your members value, you can create a member engagement plan perfect for your business. Creating meaningful interactions, building relationships and a sense of community help to increase member engagement and drive members to keep renewing their membership.