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8 Ways to Incentivize Your Members

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As lockdown is easing across the country, many gyms are looking at ways to keep members motivated and loyal. The COVID-19 crisis has left many people with financial concerns. Now is the time to think about how incentive programs could work for your fitness business. 75% of consumers say they prefer companies that offer rewards. Incentives are a great way to retain members and keep them feeling valued and appreciated. 

In a hybrid fitness business where you’re running both digital and in-studio elements, you need to think about how you can incentivize members online and offline. Your incentive program should form part of your overall gym member retention strategy. In this article, we will discuss why member retention is so important and eight ways you can incentivize your members. 

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Why is Member Retention So Important? 

Retention is a huge part of the health and fitness club world. Member attrition is a massive threat to a gym’s financial health. Having members that return to your business on a regular basis is a pivotal part of your business. 

Attracting a new member is five times more expensive than retaining an existing member. You are up to 70% more likely to sell to an existing customer than a new one. Retaining members offers significant benefits to your bottom line as well as your ability to upsell services. Acquisition strategies tend to be costly which is why it’s so important to retain the members you have and continue to increase brand loyalty. 

Over a lifetime, your members are very valuable to your business. A robust member retention strategy keeps customers coming back and renewing memberships month after month. Incentive programs are apart of your member retention strategy. It’s important to keep members on their toes and to show your appreciation regularly. After all, the success of your business revolves around your members.  

Dr. Paul Bedford joins The Fitness Founders Podcast for an episode on retention now and in the future. The industry-expert talks about the fundamentals of a great retention strategy and how to create an engaging customer experience in a virtual setting. 

Incentivize and Motivate Your Members 

People like to feel appreciated; it’s pretty simple. When you offer long-standing members incentives, they are more likely to stick around. But, it’s important that your incentive program motivates your members as well. Motivation and incentivization go hand in hand. 

One of the biggest reasons members drop out of the gym is a lack of motivation. Research shows that about 50% of members will quit the gym after the first six months. That’s a high percentage of members. So, what causes a lack of motivation? Things like unrealistic goals, inconsistent schedules, and no accountability are major contributors to a lack of motivation. 

When you’re thinking about designing your incentive program, think about how you will drive motivation. You need to do more than offer a financial incentive. You want to create a sense of competition, drive results, and use different tactics to incentivize members to achieve their fitness goals. For example, a fitness challenge with a prize fuels a bit of friendly competition and creates an achievable goal for members.   

Your retention strategy is a long-term process. As a hybrid business, it’s a good idea to think about incentives that work for both parts of your business. If you’re looking to combine your physical and digital memberships, you might offer a free month of your digital streaming platform for the winner of a fitness challenge at the gym. In general, it’s easier to upsell to existing customers so it’s smart to market your different services to your current members.  

A recent episode from the Alloy Personal Training Podcast explores the topic of a hybrid business model further. With gyms closing again across some states in America, the episode talks about the need to be able to pivot quickly in any direction and having the assets and technology in place to run a hybrid business. 

8 Ways to Incentivize Your Members 

It’s easy to think member discounts are the only way to incentivize your member base, but there are plenty of things you can do to keep your members happy and engaged. Member retention is important to your bottom line and worth the investment. 

1. Rewards Program 

A rewards program for referrals is a great way to increase word of mouth marketing. A referral program is a systematic way of getting new members through the door while rewarding your existing members at the same time. The referral program works by offering an incentive to both parties so that everyone benefits.

A good referral program with great rewards for the referrer and referee is a low-cost way to increase brand awareness. The reward for long-term members encourages them to share their positive experiences with friends and family. A happy and engaged member who loves your services should jump at the opportunity of an incentive-based referral program. If you’re not getting referrals, find out why and rectify the situation. 

To create an effective referral system, we’ve pulled together everything you need to know to get started. With 92% of people trusting referrals from people they know, referrals present a huge cost-effective marketing option. 

2. Early Renewal Incentives 

As members approach the end of their membership, it’s a great time to implement an early renewal campaign. Target members who are nearing their renewal period and offer incentives for an early renewal. Use incentives to gently nudge prompt and early membership renewals.

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Whatever strategy you decide to use, always test its effectiveness before rolling it out to multiple locations. One way to create convenience and flexibility for members is to offer an installment renewal plan for early renewals. This would be a member-only offer and would target members ahead of their annual membership date. 

Whether it’s extending the grace period or giving members the ability to freeze memberships, find an incentive that works for your customers. You don’t actually need to implement an early bird discount incentive if you’re not seeing a return on investment. The added incentive of renewing membership by a certain date for a reward creates a sense of urgency. 

3. Birthday and Holiday Gifts 

A simple way to show appreciation to your members is through birthday and holiday gifts. This can be as simple as a free smoothie at your gym cafe. A happy birthday message and a short note on their progress with a small reward is a great way to incentivize existing members. A gift card for a local business or for your gym shop is a good gesture that can go a long way. 

You can use holidays throughout the year to offer member-only gifts and events. You may want to host a New Year’s event or throw a summer picnic to reward all your members for their hard work. You can get creative with your member incentives and continue to add value and drive brand loyalty. Here are some ideas for birthday and holiday gifts:

  • Bring a friend for a free workout or streaming class pass 
  • Access to one-off online premium guest instructor classes 
  • Member-only themed fitness classes
  • Host in-person and online training clubs 

4. Fitness Community Challenge 

Fitness challenges are a fantastic way to encourage community. Gym-wide challenges create a sense of competition and motivate members to battle against each other. You’re giving members the opportunity to work out with friends while helping them to achieve results and stay motivated. You can set up both ongoing challenges and one-off monthly challenges with prizes to help fuel the competition. 

With a huge shift to digital fitness in recent months, it’s important to create incentives that cater to both your online and offline audiences. While there will be some overlap, you may have gym-only and digital-only members to target and communicate with. Online fitness challenges are ideal for engaging members and delivering results. They allow you to connect with members in their homes while rewarding them for their loyalty and offering an incentive to get moving. 

By figuring out how to get your members moving consistently and stay motivated, you can improve member retention and keep customers satisfied. If you’re thinking of setting up a new contest, here are some fitness challenge ideas: 

  • Healthy lifestyle and eating challenge 
  • At-home mindfulness challenge 
  • 30-day plank or ab challenge 
  • Walk to 5K challenge 

5. Wellness Incentive Programs

Wellness incentive programs focus on several aspects of well-being. On top of fitness, you can include elements such as nutrition, meditation, and stress management. With a wellness program, the aim is to help members increase their fitness but also reduce stress and boost healthy eating. With a program like this, you can offer an incentive where their participation enters them into a raffle. Prizes could include a holiday or a gift card for a local restaurant. 

How you deliver a wellness program is entirely down to you. You have the option to include personalized meal and health plans and check in regularly with members to keep an eye on their progress. Use trackable metrics so you can show members how far they have come and clearly show results to keep them motivated. 

6. Celebration and Recognition Events 

When a member joins your fitness facility, they usually have a goal in mind. It’s your responsibility to create achievable and realistic goals for your members that will encourage them to renew their membership. Make sure to celebrate members who have completed challenges and fitness programs as well as hit personal targets.  

Go out of your way to congratulate members for their hard work and loyalty. Members who have hit their weight goals and completed fitness challenges will brag about your brand to their friends and families. Not only will they continue to pay for your services, but a happy member will act as a brand cheerleader for your business. 

7. Charity Community Challenges 

A charity community challenge is a good way to incentivize members. This would involve you making a donation to a charity based on your members’ positive behavior. Perhaps your fitness center will donate $5 to charity for every member Yelp review. Or you could offer a retail discount for every five food items donated to a food bank. 

Member incentives can do more than benefit just your members. A charity incentive is often a great way to get members moving and show your more charitable side. Send out a quick survey to your members to find out the charity they would love most for you to donate to. When you involve your members in the process, they will be a part of the charity drive from the beginning and have a say where the money is going.   

8. Run Sweepstakes and Giveaways 

Another way to incentivize members is through member-only sweepstakes and giveaways. This could be a financial incentive or product giveaway. Think about what your members value the most. If you’re giving away products, ensure that it’s completely relevant to your business. For example, a yoga studio may team up with a local yoga clothing brand to giveaway premium yoga leggings. 

Whereas, if your business is more focused on strength training, you may want to give away a box of protein bars, protein powder discount, or one month’s access to premium digital content. The important thing is that your members will see value in it. Rewarding existing members creates a positive member experience which helps to boost your overall retention rate.  

In Summary 

A good incentive is something that your members will value. That’s why there are a ton of different options when it comes to member incentives. If your members value flexibility and convenience, then that’s what you need to offer. Whether it’s a birthday gift, running a charity challenge, or creating a sense of competition with a fitness challenge, you can go above and beyond to incentivize your members and support your member retention strategy. 

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