March 5, 2020 Beth Cadman
Communication with members is critical. But knowing how and when to communicate is a challenge all facilities face. In discovering the best ways to do so, however, we can hope to improve retention rates significantly.
When it comes to communicating with your members, the options are plentiful. Since the explosion of the digital era and with technological advances ever-improving, the tools available to business owners to deliver practical, immediate comms to their customers has progressed in unimaginable ways.
Each of these avenues presents an opportunity, a new way to connect with a member, to resonate with them, to increase trust, satisfaction, and strengthen loyalty. Conversely, however, because there are so many different ways in which you can communicate with your members, and so many different aspects to consider on how to present and curate the comms you deliver, there are also increased risks. In fact, 89 percent of customers have switched brands thanks to bad customer experience. Communication done poorly could increase frustration, dissatisfaction, mistrust, and increase the likelihood of a person looking to discontinue their membership.
There is no denying that effective communication is integral to high member retention. Human beings crave interaction, and if they use a service that fails to communicate with them effectively, they could end up feeling dissatisfied with it purely for that reason. People cite the main reasons for leaving a gym to be that they didn’t receive any guidance, that they didn’t have a partner to keep them motivated, or that they felt out of place. By communicating with members, it is easy to identify when they are feeling this way and help to reassure them, remotivate them, and even help them find like-minded members to connect with.
If gyms can reach out to their members at the right time, with the kind of content they find valuable, motivating and entertaining then not only can they keep their existing members engaged and happy, but hope to change the mindset of those who are at-risk and turn them into loyal, committed members once more.
So how do gym operators and their teams find out which comms works best on members? Should they email them, call them, send them a text, use social media, engage with them via an app? The answer to this question is that there is no universal formula, and it is through data collection, experimentation, analysis, repetition, and gathering feedback that gyms can hope to create the most effective comms strategy to ensure that member retention remains high.
Some of this information will be offered up by members themselves. During the onboarding process, asking ‘how do you like to be contacted?’ is a simple way of gaining a better understanding of the preferred communication methods of individuals. If someone hates to be bothered by phone and finds it intrusive, it doesn’t matter how fantastic and tailored to them your offer is, they aren’t going to be receptive to it if you try to tell them about it by phone. Another person may find trolling through emails totally boring, and your carefully crafted content will immediately be dragged into the virtual waste paper basket. Give them a call, however, and they feel like you’ve made an effort to contact them personally, that they have the opportunity to ask questions and that they can act immediately with a real human at the other end of the line who is there to help them every step of the way.
It’s also important to consider the kind of information that you want to communicate to your members. Some require a more creative, unique approach, where others are much more responsive to information that is packaged in as factual and straightforward a way as possible. Think also about what you are trying to gain from your comms. Do you want people to sign up for a new class? Complete a survey? Refer a friend? Whatever your end goal is will have an impact on the way you create your content and the vehicles you use to deliver it.
Because people like to receive information differently, you might need to create different ways of communicating the same thing, so you have all your bases covered. It’s not always possible to tailor every piece of comms to the individual, so instead, you can think about separate ways of presenting the information. Some people respond much more enthusiastically to visual stimuli such as powerful imagery or video content; others prefer to have something physical that they can refer back to like a leaflet or flyer. Some people like simple, clear facts, others prefer more flowery language and like to be told a story to help them engage with what’s being conveyed. But of course, these are not the only factors which may affect how you communicate, the location, the time of day, even the changing of the seasons could influence your decision.
This is why to keep up with competitors, creating an omnichannel approach is best. A 2020 report from PWC stated that the number of companies investing in the omnichannel experience has jumped from 20% to more than 80%.
Communication channels are tools used by businesses to create a relationship and deliver important messages to their audiences. They are the avenues by which customers experience the products, services, and overall brand, and the way you choose to do so with your customers can either enhance customer experience or detract from it and will have an impact on all aspects of the business from visibility to reputation to sales.
According to a recent survey, texting is still the most widely used form of communication. Of course, the wisest businesses communicate via multiple channels to give the best result. This is a smart move – providing you know which channel to use and when. Understanding the predisposition of technology to members is crucial. A fitness class for the over 80’s may not best be advertised solely on Twitter, for example. Or, if data reveals that the majority of professional women over 40 prefer to be communicated by phone, this should be the primary communication option when you want to target working mums for a new flexible workout programme.
The range of people that are members of a gym today is much broader than in previous decades. This calls for a more variable and more stimulated communication strategy. Fitness and wellbeing now extend to the very young as well as the older generation who are working for longer and remain more engaged in society in proactive and meaningful ways. Because of this, it is crucial to be open and efficient in communication both through innovative and more traditional avenues and to stay informed and on top of industry trends, competitor comms, and smart analytics.
Keepme is a gym member retention tool that has been created to ensure that your facility communicates with customers when they need it most. Not only can you set up automated messages to go out to members when specific criteria are met, but you can also track and analyse marketing campaigns. Keepme’s unique scoring system also allows operators to monitor each member’s Keepme score to ensure that members who are at-risk or on the verge of becoming so are carefully and considerately nurtured back to health.