Are you using proven gym membership retention strategies to keep your health club clients loyal? Retaining your existing customers is much more cost-effective than trying to attract new ones so it pays to keep them engaged. Not to mention the fact that loyalty is a sign that you’re running a successful business that’s truly delivering value to its customers.
In this article – we share 21 powerful gym retention strategies that’ll keep your customers loyal for the long-term (including some innovative digital marketing ideas).
According to IHRSA Trend Reports, fitness club retention is most heavily influenced by price. It’s the #1 reason why members leave clubs. But dropping prices means devaluing your services and reducing profit margins.
So, what are the other options? How can you provide extra value without eating into your bottom line? If you’re already delivering great customer service and top-notch facilities, what else can you do to boost gym retention?
Let’s start by looking at some tried and test gym retention ideas that’ll increase member loyalty…
- Improve Your Group Exercise Offering
- Provide Extra Value
- Position Health As An Investment
- Utilise Email
- And Other Digital Tools
- Offer Post-Class Social Events
- Stay On Top Of Maintenance
- Question Existing Members
- Solve Their Problems
- Run Seminars
- Give Birthday Gifts
- Encourage Them To Try New Activities
- Promote Investments That You Make
- But Don’t Sell Too Much
- Show Your Personality
- Re-Target Previous Customers
- Engage Cold Leads
- Encourage Online Interaction
- Offer Gold Cards
- Create a Private Facebook Group
#1 – Improve Your Group Exercise Offering
People stay because of the people. When they consider leaving, they worry they’ll lose their network of like-minded friends. Improving your groupX offering encourages interaction and helps to build those friendships so that people are less likely to leave.
#2 – Provide Extra Value
Tangible items in the form of downloadables are usually valued the most. So, offering free ebooks, shopping lists, and cheat sheets can be really effective gym membership retention strategies.
#3 – Position Health As An Investment
Your blog is also a great platform to educate members, so use its full potential. Help them see that investing in their health will pay off immediately, as well as in the future. Do this by summarising scientific studies about the short-term health benefits of exercise, as well as its impact on life expectancy.
However, you can’t get away with vague statements about generic health benefits. People have heard them too many times and just tune out. Instead, use specific data that quantifies the benefits such as…
- Here’s how working out can save you up to $2,500 per year
- Gym members are 40% less likely to be obese
- Gym goers are 50% less likely to have an elevated resting heart rate (a measure that has been shown to increase your risk of heart-related death)
- Club members are 14x more likely to meet weekly physical activity guidelines
- The average gym members heart rate is 5 beats lower than non-members
#4 – Interact
No-one likes to be ignored after the sale. So make sure your staff is trained to interact with ALL your members, not just the chatterboxes that are easy to approach. It’s one of the simplest yet most underused gym membership retention strategies there is.
Communicate with your members regularly about stuff they care about (not just self-promotional content). For bonus points, segment your database so you can send truly personalised emails.
US giant Life Time Fitness recently increased their profits using this technique, but you can easily do it on a much smaller scale with a $10 MailChimp account.
#6 – And Other Digital Tools
This totally works with SMS text messages too. Got an app? Then use push-notifications too. Keeping your facility top of mind is a key component of high gym membership retention.
#7 – Offer Post-Class Social Events
Keep it fun and informal. The boutique spinning studio BeCycle hold their ‘BeSocial’ class on Friday evenings, after which they all get ready together and go out for dinner or drinks.
#8 – Stay On Top Of Maintenance
Out of order machine or broken showers really annoy members. So keep everything in tip-top order, and be sure to get repairs done lightning-quick. If you don’t get the fundamentals like these right, then no amount of fitness member retention programs will help.
#9 – Question Existing Members
What’s their favourite thing about your facility? The be sure to highlight it in all your marketing and promo activities going forward. You could do a survey, but just chatting with them face to face works well too!
#10 – Solve Their Problems
People will remain loyal if you can solve their problems. Addressing common objections or FAQs is a great basis for helpful content. So make a list of barriers to a healthy lifestyle, and then create blog posts with ideas for overcoming them.
For example, lack of time is a huge barrier to exercise for most people. So create articles that include time-saving tips, short and sweet HIIT workouts, or quick weeknight meals.
If you can help remove their barriers to exercise, they’ll visit more often, and see more value in their membership. These can be really simple yet effective gym member retention strategies for health clubs and fitness studios.
#11 – Run Seminars
As gym membership retention ideas go, this is super-simple yet highly effective. Giving people additional value is a sure way to keep them loyal. So, why not run a 45-minute seminar on pre-triathlon nutrition, cycling techniques, or meditation for stress?
Oh, and make sure you encourage people to invite a friend for free, then collect all their details during registration. It’d be rude to miss the opportunity for a few new leads…
#12 – Give Birthday Gifts
We’re talking about an actual free gift on member’s birthday, not some crappy 10% discount coupon that requires them to spend money first. A free massage, birthday smoothie or nutrition kit, that’ll surprise and delight them. These kind of genuine acts of kindness are what people talk about, and help generate positive word of mouth.
#13 – Encourage Them To Try New Activities
This is a great way to get them to use their membership more often. In their subconscious, their ‘cost per visit’ is reduced as they attend more frequently. This, in turn, makes their membership seem better value (or less expensive) than it would do otherwise.
So, be sure to promote new classes, workouts, or services via your blog and social channels. Describe the who, why, what, where, when, and how, so that members know everything they need to get started…
- Who it’s ideal for
- Why it’s beneficial for their health
- What’s involved
- Where it’s located
- When it takes place or is available
- How they can take part
A new activity might be just what it takes for someone to come back in and give the gym another try…
#14 – Promote Investments That You Make
If you spend money on new equipment or renovations, then use your marketing channels to let EVERYONE know. Call out exactly what the benefits to your members are, such as…
“Our brand new luxury changing rooms will have you refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to face whatever work or family throw at you”.
Help them to see that they’re getting more for their money. It might be obvious to you, but sometimes we need to spell out the link to make people truly appreciate the benefits. And not everyone will be aware that you’ve invested or upgraded, so tell as many people as possible.
#15 – But Don’t Sell Too Much
Follow the 80:20 rule here, so that 80% of your content is helpful, valuable, or entertaining. Limit sales promotions to a maximum of 20% (i.e. one in five posts).
If your goal is to increase gym member retention, then you’ll need to resist the temptation to upsell. There’s nothing wrong with mentioning your products or services, but they need to be positioned as beneficial (rather than a sales pitch).
There’s a fine line and getting it wrong can backfire – instead of building loyalty you’ll have undermined your authenticity and credibility. We recommend creating a content calendar ahead of time, to ensure you strike a balance between valuable and promotional blog posts.
#16 – Show Your Personality
Websites tend to be quite formal, with well-crafted content and considered calls to action. However, blogs and social profiles provide an opportunity to showcase more of your brand’s personality. They’re written from a human perspective rather than that of a business. And this personality is something that can keep members loyal because it creates a human connection.
According to Moosylvania, the business characteristics that matter to Millennials are…
High-quality products (75%)
Fits their personality (53%)
Social Responsibility (40%)
Shares similar interests (39%)
Says important things (31%)
So, use your marketing channels to talk about your values, what motivates you, and what you struggle with. Get excited about new trends, and be skeptical of diet fads, just as you would be in real life. Use the same kind of language that you would if talking to members in real life so that they form a genuine connection to you.
#17 – Re-Target Previous Customers
The majority of ex-members already know, like and trust your business. So remind them of how much they used to love visiting and all the associated benefits.
#18 – Engage Cold Leads
Whilst you’re at it, contact all those people who came in but never actually bought. This may not technically be a retention strategy but it’ll still boost your bottom line.
#19 – Encourage Online Interaction
Invite comments so that your blog and social media become two-way conversations. Regular communication and interaction will develop your client relationships. You’ll build bonds with members, develop an online community, and give people even more reason to stay loyal.
The more social bonds that a member has within a club, the less likely they are to leave. So, use your digital marketing to encourage conversations between your staff and members, as well as between members themselves. End your blog articles and social posts with a question or request member opinions in the comments section.
#20 – Offer Gold Cards
Give your existing members gold cards that allow them to bring a friend once or twice a month.
#21 – Create a Private Facebook Group
Inviting existing members to be part of it, will create a feeling of exclusivity and show that you’re providing additional value for free. Don’t use it to promote PT or products though. The sole purpose of this type of group should be to create a community by encouraging interaction. So post open-ended questions that invite contribution from members.
So, there you have a comprehensive list of 21 gym member retention ideas that are proven to work. Implementing these will help your business to boost loyalty and reduce churn, resulting in greater profitability.
Gym Membership Retention Strategies That Leverage Marketing
You may have noticed that many of these gym retention ideas involve digital marketing…
When you think of member retention, you probably don’t think of blogging or social media. Most gym websites and social profiles are created with selling in mind. The structure and content is designed to capture visitor’s contact details and encourage tour appointments.
In many cases, they aren’t updated regularly, and their main job is to generate leads for the membership sales team. Gyms that take this approach are missing a huge opportunity to keep members loyal.
Yet the content they’re receiving is turning them off by not helping them navigate their everyday problems, being too long, sales-driven, and not tailoring messaging to individual cultural interests.“
A blog is something entirely different. It’s a sub-section of your website that gets updated regularly and is designed with value in mind. Both blogs and social platforms encourage interaction, answer questions, build community, and provide valuable information. This makes these channels well-suited to establishing relationships with members so that they’re less inclined to leave.
This video outlines how health clubs and studios can use blogging and social media in their gym membership retention strategies…
A blog is a great platform to provide even more value, interact more regularly, and help members to fall in love with your brand. And it’s these aspects that will help you build loyalty and increase gym member retention.
If you’d like help with your blog or social media, then head over to our services section.