July 20, 2021
July 20, 2021
For any relationship to thrive healthy communication is key. A health club’s relationship with its members operates under the same set of rules. That means that in order to achieve healthy communication, members should frequently hear from their club, they should be receive messaging across multiple channels, and there should always be room for communication to travel in both directions.
Over the past few decades, the way in which the world communicates has completely transformed, evolving and expanding to include new channels seemingly every year. Before 1973, email was largely unheard of and definitely not the standard for communicating. Text messaging wasn’t commonplace until the late 1990s, and mobile apps didn’t take hold until the first iPhone was released in 2007. For as influential as social media is in our world today, it wasn’t popularized until the aughts.
Most people remember a time when these communication channels that today are so ubiquitous were billed as far-off pipe dreams for a distant future. Now that they’re here to stay, health and fitness clubs should invest in them as ways to better engage their members.
Though the incredible diversity of communication channels has opened many doors for communicators, it can also be daunting to decide which to use, when. The growing diversity in health club members—in age, background, interests, etc.—only adds to the complexity.
Below we provide guidance and a few general rules of thumb about communication channels, including what types of messaging each channel best supports and which channels are most effective for specified target member groups.
85% of Americans own smartphones, and 88% of mobile time is spent on apps. Health clubs without a branded mobile app are missing out on a hugely universal, highly effective way to communicate with members. The ability to send push notifications reminding members about upcoming classes, scheduled events, and payment due dates is convenient for both members and health club staff. It also greatly increasing efficiency and message delivery success rates.
Building off the popularity of smartphones, text messaging can also be a great tool for communication—especially when it comes to urgent or time-sensitive matters. For example, if a club is closed due to inclement weather or a personal trainer is out sick and can’t hold his or her regular sessions, an SMS message is the quickest and most effective way to get the word out. Text messaging has a 98% open rate, compared with just 20% for emails, and 90% of texts are read within 3 seconds of being received.
Though the communication driven by these channels aren’t quite as direct, they’re still extremely important in developing a robust and well-rounded relationships with members. A strong website communicates a health club’s story, mission, and promise to members. It’s also a great source for information on club offerings, upcoming programs and events, and general updates.
However, a club website isn’t the only place to communicate via the web. Digital marketing has taken off in a major way since the start of the millennium. Using a combination of search engine optimization, directory listings, digital advertising, pay-per-click ads, and content marketing, health clubs can connect with targeted member groups and attract those they’d like to recruit as new members.
Though finding prime realty in a member’s inbox can be tricky, email is still an extremely important element of member communication. Just under 90% of Americans over the age of 15 use email, which means close to all health club members can be reached via email.
The trick is getting them to open the emails. Incentivize members to read emails by offering special email-only offers or creating rewards program that’s depending on email engagement. Whether it’s a list of fitness tips, a weekly or monthly newsletter, a holiday schedule calendar, or news about a new promotion, an email is a good mode of transportation.
A tool that can help create email target groups and provide templated messaging can be a huge help in optimizing this communication channel.
Scale communications with an intelligent member engagement assistant that can effortlessly connect with members in a prompt, polite, and persistent manner. Whether clubs hope to get honest feedback about a new facility development or are looking to upsell a member on a new program, a member engagement assistant can be a perfect solution.
Take club community outside your facility with social media. Between Facebook (which 71% of Americans use), Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Snapchat, there’s nearly unlimited potential to connect to members outside your club. As your members scroll through their feeds at night, your posts will serve as subliminal messages encouraging their engagement in your club.
Despite what some say, print isn’t dead. Flyers and handouts may seem old school but older health club members may be more comfortable and responsive with printed materials. A hand-written thank-you card mailed to a member’s home address on their member anniversary lets members shows a level of attention and care that can be the difference in maintaining a lifelong member relationship.
Though not appropriate for everyday communication, a phone call is often the best fit when you need to communicate about sensitive subject matter like payment questions or renewal discussions.
Remember that healthy communication isn’t a one-way street. Create convenient avenues for members to provide feedback and encourage them to do so. A suggestion box is a start, but periodic online surveys sent directly to a member’s mobile app, email, or phone through text messaging are more effective.
Health club members are busy people, with many competing interests and responsibilities. Using a combination of the above communication channels will increase your chances of fostering a healthy, long-term relationship.
Increase your success with a member management tool designed to help health clubs easily and efficiently connect with their members via a mobile app, SMS messaging, a member engagement assistant, digital marketing, websites, and more. Schedule a demo with Club Automation today to outrival the best with a multi-faceted communication strategy, or check out our Strategy Playbook for Fitness Clubs below.
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