Target These Audiences to Grow Your Fitness Membership

As sites re-open following COVID-19-induced lockdowns, a common sight across all kinds of fitness and leisure facilities is a drop in membership. One report estimates that the UK experienced one of the highest rates of member cancellations worldwide, with 18.92% of members cancelling their membership either during or following lockdown. The challenge, therefore, for our sector is reclaiming members, whether they are new or returning.

One of the key aspects of formulating a great marketing plan is identifying your target audience, so we have identified three key audiences that you should be targeting to increase your membership moving forward.

1. Lapsed Members

Use your existing databases to target your ex-members. “It’s much cheaper to re-activate a previous customer than it is to generate a brand new one”: we’ve all heard this phrase, but how many of us actually commit to making our lapsed numbers our number one priority?

Yes, we need to work within GDPR, but contacting your lapsed members should be a regular monthly task – or a ‘done deal’ as we call it. Further, don’t just send them your latest membership offer via email: can you tailor your message to the individual? If ‘Sandra’ only ever used your classes when she was a member, don’t send her a free gym pass. Tell her what’s new on your timetable, invite her to a free class and to bring a friend, or send her a personal video from one of your instructors inviting her back.

What else can your CRM tell you about your customers?  What type of membership were they on previously and how did they prefer to pay? What time of day did they use your centre or club? What months did they originally join and when did they cancel?  What was their reason for leaving?  All this data helps you build a profile that can be used to contact that customer at the right time and with the right message.

2. Referrals

We estimate that word-of-mouth marketing is directly responsible for up to 20% of new membership sales each month and influences another 30% of buying decisions. According to Nielsen, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising.

So, how are you currently driving your referral programme? Do you have one? Do your staff know about it?

Now, more than ever, is the time to get your current members working for you to attract new customers to your facility. Since GPDR came into effect back in 2018, leisure operators have had to adapt their referral processes to comply with the new legislation. You can find our dedicated guide to creating a successful referral programme here, but these are our top 3 tips on how to maximise your word-of-mouth advertising:

  • Make sure the referral incentive has real value to the member
  • Utilise guest passes to encourage members to introduce their friends and family to your centre
  • Ensure referrals are mentioned at every touchpoint on a new member’s journey (POS, welcome email, reception, 1st appointment)

3. New Customers

Finally, we come to the audience with the biggest opportunity: new customers. Prior to the pandemic it was estimated that just 15% of the adult population were members of a fitness club or leisure centre. That’s a whopping 85% of customers who you could attract to your facilities. We know, however, that it’s not that simple.

What is simple is identifying small groups of your local community that you think should be your members (based on statistical analysis from your existing membership base) and then using digital advertising techniques to speak to them. 

For example, if you identified that younger females make up the majority of your fitness class attendances then you could use Facebook to target this specific community.  Your Facebook adverts’ criteria would look something like this:

  • Females

  • Aged 25-55

  • Living within 3km of the centre

  • Specific fitness interests

  • £5 daily budget

  • 2 week campaign

With this example you’d spend £70 targeting a very specific group with a very specific message, resulting in, by our estimate, around 300 additional website visits during this period.  What you do with that traffic when it arrives on your website is an article for another day, but you must ensure that the page they land on is related to the advert that sent them there, and encourages them to take some form of action.

Spending time identifying these small audiences and monitoring the results of targeted advertising will ensure a better ROI on your marketing spend. For more help with the type of content you could be using in these adverts take a look at our definitive guide to content marketing.