The fitness industry has faced many issues over the last year. With financial uncertainty and job worries, many people re-evaluated their spending patterns. Members started to cut their monthly outgoings in the wake of uncertainty. Keeping members has always been a challenge in the fitness industry, but the coronavirus pandemic magnified the issue.
Between business closures and members’ leaving, many brands struggled to stay afloat. With fewer resources to invest in the business and a dwindling membership base, fitness businesses started getting creative. The world is beginning to reopen with vaccine programs progressing throughout nations. Members’ views are changing with a new acceptance of home fitness.
While some members never left you, others are hesitant to come back. It’s time to re-engage current members and reach out to any that may have left during this period. Drive value back to your former members and retain the members you do have. In this article, we discuss the state of member retention during the Covid-19 crisis and 10 customer retention email campaigns your business needs.
Skip ahead to:
- What is Member Retention?
- Covid-19 and Member Retention
- Why Use Customer Retention Email Marketing?
- 10 Retention-Boosting Email Campaigns for Your Fitness Business
What is Member Retention?
Gym member retention is critical to the ongoing success of your business. In a membership-based company, it’s easy to get excited about a new member, but the real value comes from retaining the members you do have. Your long-term and consistent members are a major part of your business revenue.
Member retention is the ongoing process of keeping your members engaged, paying, and preventing member churn. Membership churn is how many members leave your business. Member retention is at the core of gym management. It’s what keeps members happy, paying, and even referring friends and family.
Every year, it’s normal to experience an influx of members around key times in the year such as after the holidays and before the summer. But to run a sustainable membership-based business in the long term, your member retention strategy is crucial.
COVID-19 and Member Retention
According to RunRepeat, 59% of Americans who canceled their memberships don’t plan to renew after COVID. Gyms and health clubs face unique challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. They need to regain confidence in their members. Also, they are working with reduced attendance and capacity as well as fear around the spread of disease in public spaces.
The good news is that according to data collected by IHRSA and MXM, there is a 0.0023% infection rate in health clubs. The sample tracked 49.4 million check-ins and no cases led to community transmission.
As gyms and fitness centers try to return to some sort of normalcy, they will need to focus on retaining those members that have joined in the last year. You will need to nurture relationships and engage members to keep them coming back again and again.
Dr. Paul Bedford, an industry-leading expert on retention and the owner of Retention Guru, delves further into the topic of member retention on The Fitness Founders Podcast. He talks about retention now and in the future, the fundamentals of a great retention strategy, and creating an engaging customer experience.
Why Use Customer Retention Email Marketing?
There are several benefits to using email marketing in your customer retention strategy. Nowadays, marketers have access to a ton of different marketing channels like social media, paid ads, in-app messages, and push notifications. But email marketing continues to be a powerful and widely used form of marketing. Here’s why.
Email marketing can be as inexpensive and cost-effective as you need it to be. Compared to other forms of marketing, email can be much lower and cost-effective. Email marketing is growing in popularity, so you have higher inbox competition to stand out. However, it remains a smart channel to use that delivers a good ROI. With the right strategy and software, your retention email marketing campaign can scale as your business grows.
Easy to Target Customer Segments
With email marketing, you can segment your email list and use personalization to communicate with members. The benefit of segmenting your email list is that you can deliver relevant content to the right audience. If you send content to members that are actively interested in the topic, it will help to boost member engagement. Personalization is an essential part of communication and email marketing.
Engage Members Effectively
Emails are easy to personalize and engage effectively with members. You can send your members entirely relevant content that adds value and keeps your brand fresh in their minds. Members expect brands to make an appearance in their inbox. You can announce your latest classes, referral program, and fitness challenges to keep member engagement high.
Retain More Members
Ultimately, the more engaged your members are the more likely they are to stay. If you can motivate and inspire members to stay active while showing tangible results, they don’t have a reason to leave. Your member experience and ability to engage members are key. Email marketing can form a crucial part of your overall member retention plan and streamline every interaction with your business.
Stuart Brauer, the owner of WTF Gym Talk and Urban MVMNT, a fitness studio in Charlotte, North Carolina talks about why your brand needs to engage members. He discusses ways to keep your customers loyal and how to use your brand to engage members.
10 Retention-Boosting Email Campaigns for Your Fitness Business
To retain members and scale your business, you need a toolkit of retention email campaigns ready to go. These are customizable messages that are usually triggered by an event. By using email marketing software, you can streamline this process so that it doesn’t require a ton of time to implement. You can use email marketing to reach a large or small audience. The beauty of it is that it’s entirely flexible and can grow with your business.
1. Welcome Email
Your welcome email will arrive after a digital membership sign-up or after onboarding a new member at your gym. This person is already sold on your value proposition and made a financial commitment to your brand.
The welcome experience gives you the perfect opportunity to educate a member on how to use your digital fitness platform, your COVID protocols for the gym, or share your latest fitness class schedule.
This is your chance to reaffirm the benefits of joining your fitness studio in the first place. Try giving limited-time access to some exclusive features or sharing your latest blog post that’s relevant to new gym-goers.
The Customer Engagement Playbook for Your Fitness Business
2. Abandoned Cart Email
When a customer puts your product in their shopping cart but fails to checkout, this behavior will trigger the abandoned cart email.
This may be relevant for purchasing a 10-pack of classes, paying for an online course, or purchasing your branded shakers and merchandise. Usually, customers would expect a cart abandonment email to contain some sort of special discount or promotion to entice them back and close the sale.
For example, 10% off the purchase, free shipping, or access to premium digital content with their membership.
3. Upsell Digital Membership Email
If you have recently launched your digital fitness platform, try upselling your membership to existing customers. You can do this either as a separate membership altogether, include the digital option in your membership, or increase the price slightly.
You will likely have a mixture of in-person and digital-only as well as a hybrid membership option. A digital fitness platform adds value and allows your members to work out at home when needed as well as visit you. Upsell your digital membership to increase flexibility and convenience for your members.
4. Customer Feedback Email
Your members will receive a feedback email after completing a specific milestone. This could be after they streamed their first fitness class, completed five spin classes, or made a purchase on your eCommerce website. Asking for feedback is a great way to gauge customer satisfaction and find out where you can make improvements.
The most successful member relationships are crafted from actively listening to your customer base. Brands that take the time to listen, pay attention to comments, and take feedback on board create a strong foundation for genuine connections. This helps to increase retention, customer loyalty, and satisfaction.
5. Incentive Email
An incentive email offers an incentive to provoke a certain action. You can include an incentive email in practically any marketing email. It could be a part of your welcome email, abandoned cart email, or your campaign to increase customer engagement.
The main characteristic of this type of email is that it contains an offer that encourages the reader to take action. The sole purpose of the email is to drive business through customer retention.
6. Customer Win-Back Email Campaign
These are the members who canceled their membership in the last year. The aim of this email campaign is to send a highly targeted offer to get them back in the door. You want to re-establish your brand in their mind and show your value.
Perhaps they would benefit from your recently launched digital fitness platform, or maybe they would love a personal training session to get back in shape. It’s important that you show complete understanding at this time, but that you can help them achieve their goals.
7. Thank You Email
The thank-you email is a simple email using automation that can add a nice touch to the member experience. This email would be triggered by behaviors such as a purchase, signing up for a new class, and leaving a review.
These kinds of touches can make a lot of difference and keep your brand fresh in the minds of your members. The thank-you email will form part of your automated series of emails, which also includes your welcome email and abandoned cart email.
8. Referral Email
Referral emails are a great way to not only attract new customers but to reward your existing ones. When your members feel valued and appreciated, it helps to boost retention and engagement. When you send a referral email, offer an incentive to draw your customer in and engage with your brand.
By rewarding habitual usage and introducing them to offers, new features, and services, you can keep engagement and motivation high. A referral email usually includes an incentive for both the referrer and referee.
9. Special Occasion Email
Celebrate milestones and accomplishments with a special occasion email. Whether it’s a birthday, holiday, or fitness accomplishment, make sure to celebrate your members. This can do wonders for engagement and member retention.
For example, if your member has a weight loss goal and achieves it, make sure to acknowledge it and celebrate with them. This adds a great level of personalization and demonstrates how your brand drives results and delivers an effective workout.
10. Re-Engagement Email Campaign
The re-engagement email is slightly different from winning back customers. This is for members who still have memberships with you but they have stopped engaging with your brand. You haven’t seen them in a while and they are unlikely to book a class or gym session.
The aim of this email campaign is to provide an offer to welcome back members and promote engagement. Over time, you can continue to reinforce your value and keep customers motivated both in and out of the gym.
When it comes to member retention, email campaigns can play a big role in streamlining the process to effectively retain members. Your email marketing strategy improves the overall experience with your brand while driving business and expanding your brand. Member retention is always a hot topic within the fitness industry.
Whether we’re living in a pandemic or not, you will always need to find creative ways to increase member retention and prevent member churn. Email is a cost-effective way to segment your email subscribers, personalize your communication and boost customer retention.