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A Beginner’s Guide to Retention Email Marketing


With such a strong focus on new member acquisition, especially in the fitness industry, it’s easy to overlook retention strategies. It’s your long-term customer retention rate that forms the bulk of your membership base. In the majority of gyms and health clubs, 50% of all new members will leave in the first six months. Fostering long-term relationships as part of your customer service, doesn’t need to be complicated. In this retention marketing guide, we’ll focus on email marketing.

As far as marketing tactics go, retention email marketing is a cost-effective and simple way to re-engage members, reduce member churn, and increase member retention. Before we discuss how you can incorporate it into your customer retention strategies, let’s look at what retention email marketing is and why it works. Skip ahead to:

What is Retention Email Marketing?  

Retention email marketing is the practice of sending out thoughtful emails at the right time to customers. By sniffing out the best opportunity, you send an email to a customer that can engage them, highlight their value to your business, or help them get the most out of your product or service. 

From birthday emails to a ‘welcome back’ message and promoting your loyalty programs, use your email strategies to improve customer satisfaction, highlight your excellent customer service, and turn members into your brand advocates. 

Retention emails should be specific. They need to be personalized and reflect a deep understanding of the customer, their pain points, and a desire to support them on their road to success. Customers are less likely to open an automated email if it seems robotic and emotionless. 

Speak to your members as if you were addressing them face-to-face in a friendly, personalized tone. Your emails should show your members that you have taken the time to think about their needs and wants. Here are a few key elements to think about for your retention email strategy:

  • Use your members’ name in the subject line 
  • Have a clear and compelling call-to-action 
  • Personalize as much as possible 
  • Keep it straightforward and simple 
  • Make it clear who it’s from 
  • Remind them of your worth and value 

Why You Should Use Member Retention Email Marketing  

Email marketing campaigns can be a useful tool for your business. Email marketers can get $44 back for every $1 spent on email marketing. That’s a whopping 4400% ROI. 67% of email marketers plan to personalize email content to boost engagement and customer retention. Here are four reasons why you should use member retention email marketing.   


Whether you’re a large fitness business or small, boutique gym, you tend to have time and budget constraints. Retention email marketing can be a very cost-effective form of marketing. You have direct access to email boxes of all your members and have the potential to send out emails to a large number of subscribers at a very low cost.  

Better Member Experience 

The most successful gyms create unique member experiences. Personalization is a crucial part of the customer experience. It’s also essential to retention email marketing. Personalized emails stand out in an inbox and are much more likely to be opened and clicked on. By understanding your customers, you can personalize emails in a way that boosts engagement and increases retention. 

Increased Customer Lifetime Value 

Customer lifetime value looks at how much money a long-term customer can make for you. If you have a member who is happy with your services and is engaged, they are more likely to continue their membership and ever refer to friends and family. The right retention email marketing strategy can show your members that they are appreciated and make them feel special. 

Foster Loyalty and Boost Repeat Business

Personalized email marketing is essential to customer loyalty. When you deliver a super-relevant message to your members’ inbox at the right time, you are showing your members you genuinely understand them. You know what they want and can help them achieve their goals. If you haven’t seen one of your weekly members in a while, a relevant email might be offering them a session with a personal trainer or some educational content about hitting weight loss goals. 

8 Member Retention Emails Every Fitness Business Should Use 

There are several different types of member retention emails you can use. Although they fall under different categories, they all have the same purpose, which is to retain members. The right email marketing campaign fits nicely into your customer retention strategy and helps to boost engagement and reduce member churn. 

Welcome Emails 

This is the first email you send when a new member signs up to your gym. It should form part of your onboarding experience and help to get your new member acquainted with your brand. Onboarding emails are the perfect time to set expectations and start building your new relationship. 

The right welcome email removes any roadblocks from the onboarding experience early on. Be sure to ask for member feedback as well. By asking for feedback early on in the relationship, you show that you care and that you’re interested in forming a long-term relationship built on trust and openness.   

Thank You Emails 

A thank you or thumbs with no hidden agenda can do wonders for member retention. Whether it’s a thank you for being part of your gym community or just a pat on the back for coming so far on their fitness journey, these types of emails have no hidden agenda. This email aims to invoke emotion from the reader and to make them feel good and appreciated.

Tell your members how awesome they are. On this occasion, don’t include a call-to-action and keep it simple. Just a quick thank you for being a valued member or for buying something from your product range. Your members are the reason your business is alive and doing so well. Make sure to send a thank-you email every once in a while. This helps to make them feel good about your brand while feeling valued at the same time. 

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The Reminder Email 

The reminder email isn’t the easiest to write. This is the email you send after you haven’t heard back from a previous email. When a member doesn’t reply to your email, you don’t want to come across pushy, but you do want to give them a gentle nudge. This person could be at the highest risk of churn if they have stopped responding and engaging with your brand.  

The fact that your previous message went ignored could be a sign you’re about to lose a member, so the reminder email is crucial for retention. Stay friendly and professional and turn the relationship around with a carefully-worded follow-up email. Use these types of emails to engage customers you may lose if you don’t reach out.   

The Birthday and Special Occasions Email 

People love presents. So, adding an exclusive birthday email can be an effective retention tool. Send out a birthday treat like a personal training session, a gift voucher for your juice bar, or a free branded product like a water bottle. Make your members’ birthdays ever more special and remind them that you’re thinking about them. You don’t have to make a significant gesture, but people often accept the smallest of gifts with gratitude. 

There are also special occasions throughout the year that can be tied into your retention email marketing strategy. From Mothers Day and Valentine’s Day to Christmas and Easter, there are times throughout the year that you can use to your advantage. A significant part of customer retention is ensuring that your brand is fresh in the mind of your members. That means reaching out with regular, personalized, and relevant content.   

Education Emails 

Bringing value should be a top priority when it comes to keeping your members coming back. These types of retention emails are used to educate the reader. Most people sign up for a gym or fitness class for expert instruction. As a fitness expert, you are in a position to help educate your members. Educational emails solidify you as a fitness authority. 

You may send your members instructions on how to use the latest system update or your new app that allows members to manage their bookings from their phones. You can also send emails linking to your latest video content showing members how to nail their form and succeed in their fitness goals. By adding value and positioning yourself as an expert, you can help to increase brand loyalty and member retention.  

The Abandoned Cart Email 

This email won’t apply to all businesses, but if you sell products online and in-store, it can be beneficial for driving sales. Whether you have a small shop at your check-in desk or sell a whole range of protein powders online and branded products, this email can be very useful in winning back a customer.  

The cart abandonment email is pretty simple and should include a snappy subject line and introduction. It should consist of the items left in the cart, a discount or offer, and some sort of call-to-action button. For this type of email, you can start by sending a reminder followed by another nudge a few days later before finishing up with an offer or discount. The same email campaign structure and style can apply to services as well. If a person has a class pass or membership in their cart but hasn’t committed, you can reach out to them.  

Referral Emails 

Referral emails can be great for member retention as well as customer engagement. Ask for referrals from your loyal customers. As a business owner, you understand that member retention is essential, but so is attracting new members. Referral emails kill two birds with one stone. Engage your members while leveraging their customer loyalty to attract new members. 

A referral program works by turning your happy customers into brand cheerleaders. Generally, you offer an incentive for both the referrer and referee. A referral program can be an effective way to generate new members while also rewarding customer loyalty. Word of mouth marketing is powerful, and people tend to trust a recommendation from friends and families. To get you started, we’ve put together a guide on how to create an effective gym referral program.  

Announcement Emails 

Have you launched a fitness app, upgraded to the latest fitness equipment, or re-vamped your yoga studio? If the answer is yes, then your members should know about it. Announcement emails are pretty standard and a part of most businesses. If you’ve updated your gym or made changes, you want your members to know. 

Executed well, this type of email can get members excited about a new product, update, or service. If you have members who previously wanted a way to book classes and manage their membership digitally and you just built a branded app, you have the opportunity to target them with a personalized heads up. If you’re reaching out to members who were interested in a product or service, make sure to include the fact they are receiving the information because they were interested in it previously. 

In Summary 

To improve retention, you need to focus on the entire customer journey – not just acquisition. Customer loyalty and retention is about consistently providing an exceptional member experience, from the moment they walk through your door. 

It’s essential to nurture existing customers, leads, and members. 

Repeat customers who are happy with your service are more likely to become your brand advocates. So, in the long term, excellent customer service won’t just reduce your churn rate; it will also help bring new members in through the door. 

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"I think Glofox speaks to lots of different fitness businesses. I looked at a few options, but the Glofox positioning was more flexible. Without it the business wouldn't be scaleable”
Mehdi Elaichouni
Owner at Carpe Diem BJJ

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