Author Nick Hahn - VP of Product at Club OS
Having a strong email marketing strategy is one of the most cost-effective methods to grow your community of club members.
Data shows that email marketing campaigns produce an average of $36 for every $1 spent. That’s an unbelievable 3,600% return on your investment.
77% of email marketers reported a boost in engagement and 37% plan to increase their email budget.
It’s safe to say that email marketing is far from dead—it’s alive and thriving.
Community building and relationship nurturing is a cornerstone of our industry. So, it’s obvious why email marketing is a preferred communication strategy for fitness clubs.
In fact, according to Club OS survey data, 66% of profitable gyms leverage email marketing to engage with their member community and prospects.
But where do you even begin?
In this article, we’ll cover a handful of best practices for email marketing to help you get started.
Building an Email Subscriber List
Let’s start with understanding how to build a solid prospect email list. This list is critical to the success of your email campaign that is focused on boosting member enrollments and effectively engaging with current members.
Here are some of the more effective strategies for collecting prospect emails:
- Start a referral program.
- Place a newsletter signup form on your website or a QR code at your front desk.
- Run paid advertising for a new promotion on Facebook or another social platform where you interact with your audience.
- Create a signup form for people to take a gym tour and post it on social media and your website.
- Sponsor local sports or charity events to build brand awareness in your community.
When you first start building an email list, you may be tempted to buy email addresses from a third party. But this is almost never a good idea. We know it sounds easy and enticing, but more often these lists will be more trouble ￼ than they are worth.
There are many laws that dictate how businesses are allowed to communicate with consumers such as the CAN-SPAM Act, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).￼￼
If you are caught using a purchased email list, consisting of people who did not opt-in to receive your emails, you run the risk of facing heavy fines.
Not to mention, these lists typically consist of poor-quality leads and end up not being worth the price.
You must be patient as you build your email list. It will take time and effort. But if you do it the right way, then your list will consist of people who want to engage with your fitness brand and will eventually become loyal customers.
The Best Types of Email Marketing Campaigns and How Often to Send Them
Over 347 billion emails are sent and received worldwide every day, according to Statista.
That means if you want to stand out in your prospects’ inboxes, it's critical that you’re strategic, creative, and consistent about your messaging and email cadence.
Strong Subject Lines = Strong Open Rates
How you write the subject line is one part of your messaging strategy that can impact whether a prospect will even open your email.
The email subject line is what your prospect will see first before they even open the email. So, it’s important to have something that will draw their curiosity and attention.
Here are a few tips that will help boost your open rates whether your prospects are on desktop or mobile devices.
- The shorter the better. Best practice says to keep your subject lines between 35-45 characters (this includes spaces!), and no more than 60. Be succinct, without being too vague.
- Use emojis, but with purpose. Use emojis to complement the messaging, but don’t use them to replace words.
- Take advantage of the preheader text. The preheader is the line of text that appears under the subject line when viewing an email from the inbox. The subject line and preheader can work together to build curiosity and encourage recipients to open the email. Email service providers typically default to populating the preheader with the first line of text from the body copy, so it’s important to be thoughtful about this.
For even more insight into subject line success, we asked one of our team members, who is an expert in email marketing and has 15+ years in the field, for their input on the highly debated topic of subject lines, and here were their top tips:
- Use personalization/customization—i.e., Carrie, we are here for your gains!
- Ask a question—i.e., Are you ready to start your fitness journey, Carrie?
- Use a number—i.e., 5 Reasons You Should Include Recovery in Your Routine
For more tips on how to optimize your subject lines, and how to succeed at email marketing in general, check out this free eBook resource.
The First Email You Should Send to Your Subscribers
Now let’s get into what kind of content you should produce for your email marketing campaigns.
The first email you should send to your new subscribers is a welcome email that explains what they can expect from your email communications, including how often they can expect to receive them.
From there, one of the first email content pieces you should prepare is a newsletter incorporating a few different elements.
Below are some ideas that we’ve seen work for our customers, feel free to use them all, or just a few. You could also separate each of these content pieces into individual emails to spotlight any discounts, new service offers, or other promotions.
- Promotions—these help attract new prospects or upsell existing members.
- Your Group X class schedule—this can be a helpful nudge to those members who haven’t taken a class yet and to encourage the avid class-goer to try something new.
- Member success highlights—gathering testimonials about your gym’s services (such as PT or group classes) that highlight a member’s fitness success is a great way to boost your credibility.
Plus, it can help build loyalty with members, because you make the highlighted member feel special, and other members may strive to be featured in the next newsletter!
- Staff highlights—show a little personality and make your brand relatable by letting your audience get to know your team through your newsletter. This will also help your members and prospects feel more comfortable walking into your club.
- Customer reviews from third-party sites like Google—98% of people are reading online reviews for local businesses. Your target audience will trust the word of others more than they will your staff or brand. These reviews provide non-biased proof of value to your prospects about your fitness club.
For more ideas on what you should send to your prospects check out this guide to email marketing.
When You Should Send Your Emails
Now that you know what kind of email content you should send, it’s time to nail your email cadence (how often you send emails).
Email marketers across the industry have their preferred approach to how often you should email your subscribers.
The right cadence is different for every industry, business, and audience. But with a little time and some trial and error, you’ll be able to figure out what works best for you and your members.
We recommend you start with a biweekly email cadence. Once you are producing enough relevant content, then begin to gradually increase your frequency to weekly.
To learn more about tracking email performance, check out one of our other blog article here.
BONUS TIPS FROM CLUB OS
Here are some additional tips from the Club OS team that will help optimize your email marketing campaigns.
Using email and campaign templates will help you save time and deliver brand consistency.
Schedule email campaigns ahead of time. Once you have figured out your email cadence, create future campaigns and schedule their release date/time.
Be strategic with your promotion dates.
Our data shows membership enrollment spikes in January, August, and November due to seasonal events like new year’s resolutions, kids heading back to school, and Black Friday. If you offer summer memberships or sports camps, May is an ideal month to promote, as parents prepare their kids to be home for the summer.
Create some hype before the promotion starts.
Make sure to create some anticipation before your promotion begins. For the best results, we recommend emailing the promotion announcement a few days before it starts. Then, keep the hype going by sending an email the day the promo starts, and don’t forget to send another reminder email 1-2 days before the promotion ends.
Review and understand your campaign analytics.
You can use your campaign analytics to track certain performance metrics (click-through-rates, open rates, conversions) that will help you determine the success of the campaign.
Reviewing email analytics will help you better understand if your subscribers are engaging with your subject lines and the content you deliver.
Once you launch a campaign or two, take it to the next level by testing different email subject lines. A simple test could be splitting your list in half and running one subject line to list A and a different subject line to list B, then see which has a higher open rate.
Always include a call to action (CTA) in your email content.
The CTA should drive prospects to enroll in a gym membership or engage with your content (e.g., click on a link). If you don’t have a CTA, you have nothing to measure success.
Get the Tools You Need to Execute Your Email Marketing Strategy with Ease
The most effective way to execute any email marketing strategy is to use the right tools to do it.
As a club owner, you need a marketing automation platform designed specifically for fitness clubs that can scale with you as your business grows.
Club OS offers the most powerful communication tools in the industry.
With dynamic automation features and so much more, you can ensure your prospects are engaged at every step of the member journey.
Club OS will take your email marketing to the next level while also saving time for what matters most to you—your members.