The benefits of improving member engagement in your gym, the existing methods and how gym-based technology can help.
Improving member engagement may not get the attention of some gym owners, but it should. How engaged your members are with each other, your staff, and their own progress can have a huge impact in their happiness, integration into a community, and ultimately their success. All of this can greatly improve your gym’s reputation and increase your income.
In this article, we will be taking a look at the benefits of improving member engagement, what methods there are for doing so, and how new technology has made it easier than ever to improve member engagement.
Before we go into the many different ways that you can boost member engagement in your gym, it’s a good idea to first look at what benefits this can offer. Here are seven benefits of improving member engagement.
Gyms typically have pretty poor member retention, they see a huge rise in membership in January and February, but then witness a large percentage of that membership leaving within 6 months. There are many reasons for this, few of them are actually within the gyms control. However, improving member engagement can actually help members to stay loyal to your gym for longer periods of time. Retaining your members longer means more profit per new member, and more profit overall.
Improving member engagement can be really beneficial for your members. They will have better support from the gym and their fellow members, which can help keep them motivated. They will also have better access to fitness education, which will help them train more efficiently. This means that your members could see improved results over time than they might have. Better results for your members means better testimonials, more word of mouth referrals, and a happier gym all round.
We’ve talked before about the importance of establishing a gym community. Improving member engagement can go a long way towards this. Offering members the chance to engage with each other both inside and outside the gym can help establish friendships, help people feel a sense of belonging, and may even lead to people establishing relationships outside of your gym.
Most gyms view their members as customers, and the members themselves probably feel the same way. While smaller studios and gym classes are often viewed by their members as communities. This is preferable, as it can really help your members feel a part of something. This means that they are more likely to forgive mistakes, are more likely to abide by rules, and are more likely to be welcoming and friendly to newer members.
Improved member engagement usually means better communication and more constructive (rather than aggressive) criticism. Knowing what your members like and dislike about your gym may not be easy to swallow, but it can give you fascinating insights into where to spend your budget in future. Gyms can inadvertently waste a lot of money on the wrong equipment while other areas that members actually care about are ignored. Being able to communicate better with your members can really help your gym to excel in the future.
Having happier, more engaged members can have a knock on effect on staff satisfaction. Not only will staff members begin to feel part of the community, but they will also benefit from happier members, meaning less abuse and hostility. Most people who work in gyms do so because they love the fitness world, so giving them the opportunity to discuss fitness and health with members will benefit both the members and the staff, and ultimately the gym.
Gyms theoretically have a lot of upselling opportunities for new members:
But often, this stuff gets ignored by members. Why would they want a branded t-shirt of a gym they’re not interested in? But once you’ve increased member engagement, then the chance to make some sales increases quite a bit. Improved engagement means more trust in your company, it means more loyalty to the gym, and it means more opportunities for you to sell your products in the first place.
There are several ways to improve member engagement, either online or in person.
Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are tried and tested ways to improve member engagement. Almost everyone has at least one form of theses social media profiles, and it doesn’t take much to get them to like or follow your business.
When done well, social media can have an incredible effect on member engagement. Private Facebook groups can really help your members get to know each other. While there is always the chance to go viral.
However, it should be pointed out that social media channels require a lot of maintenance, and a lot of creativity. You need to dedicate a lot of time to them, and it can also be really hard to engage anything but a small percentage of gym members. There are a lot of distractions on social media, and also, it is difficult to get all of your members on the same platform and reading your statements and messages.
Social media is one of those things where you need to go all in or consider avoiding completely. If you have the time, resources, and creativity to make a good job of it, then it is well worth considering.
Frequent emails can be another effective method of increasing member engagement, but as with social media channels, they need to be done well and consistently. Sending out an email once a week also doesn’t exactly keep your gym at the forefront of your members minds. Boring emails, or poorly written ones can actually have the opposite effect. On the other hand, funny, clever emails can endear your company to its members.
The biggest downside to emails is that members have no way of engaging with each other. They can only become more engaged with the gym itself. Emails also tend to have low engagement rates since it is a saturated channel (I have 1,325 unread emails in my inbox, just saying). And who knows what your members are up to when they receive your email? It’s extremely hard to catch them at a good time when they’re able to give you a second of their attention.
This is a pretty broad term for in-person engagement. In-gym communication can include running competitions, staff greeting members, charity events, fitness talks and events, and a whole host of creative ways to improve communication and engagement.
This is an excellent way to improve engagement and can largely be done for free. The only real downside is that it can take a lot of effort and doesn’t have the same reach as other methods. If you do it at 8am, then none of your evening members will notice, and vice versa.
Sending out letters and pamphlets is another way to communicate with your members and improve member engagement. But it suffers from the same issues as emails, in that letters won’t get your members engaging with each other. It’s one-way communication from you to them. Letter campaigns can also be expensive and time consuming.
They are best used as a one-off method to highlight or promote a service, or as a form of yearly catch up on all that you have achieved and what you hope to achieve in future.
All of the above methods for improving member engagement have their upsides, and you should definitely consider using some (or all) of them in the near-future. But they also have pretty significant downsides. The engagement is not organic (unless you have a well-run and large Facebook group), most of them are also not gym-specific areas.
But what about gym-based technology, what can it offer to help improve member engagement?
Let’s say that your gym has a personal fitness app that is available to all members. If this app has a community forum or newsfeed, then members can interact with each other on it. Because the forum or newsfeed is not part of a social media channel, there are much fewer distractions, and people who engage with it will be focused on your gym and the relationships they build through it.
If you are a gym and you are running an email campaign, a twitter page, and a Facebook page, it can be difficult to keep on top of all the communication from members. Some messages might slip through the cracks or go unnoticed for several days. But with a dedicated gym app, messages can be sent straight to you or your team, and can be dealt with immediately.
Unlike on social media, everyone who is using this app or technology will already be members of the gym so they will be able to communicate with each other without strangers or spam bots interrupting discussions.
If your staff members have access to the app (and they absolutely should) then they can communicate with members better. Obviously, there will need to be some training and guidelines for staff, but once this has been set up it will be beneficial for everyone.
With a gym-based app, members can not only interact with each other online, but they also have more opportunities to interact with each other in real life. If the technology encourages going to the gym when using it, it makes it more likely that by working out or talking to someone on the app, that they meet and interact in real life.
Being a member of a gym and having a private app where you can compete with other members, meet new friends, and discuss issues with staff, will massively help members feel like part of the gym community.
Technology can’t substitute the human part of community building, so it’s still important to lay a strong foundation to build a community on top of. But with a strong foundation in place, it can help to build a stronger sense of community in your gym.
As a gym owner, you should be looking at every possible way to improve member engagement. You then need to filter out what methods are practical and effective, and what methods could end up being more effort than they are worth.
Social media is not the only way to engage your members these days. As the fitness industry undergoes accelerated digitalization, look out for more fitness technology solutions that help drive member engagement.
MoFit is a gym-based fitness tracking and engagement app that builds motivated fitness communities. Intrinsically gamified and exclusive to your members! Get passed the limitations of social media and traditional engagement channels and contact us to learn more.
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