Ah, the art of attracting new clients or members and retaining the ones you have. With so many different methods to promote your fitness business, figuring out the best ones to put your resources into can feel completely overwhelming. Do you tweet? Do you post to Instagram? Are you on Snapchat? On top of that, every company under the sun is trying to capture people’s attention, so it can feel nearly impossible to make an impression. But what if there was a neglected marketing method that, when used correctly and as part of a multi-touch campaign, could yield results unlike any of the current “hot” methods?
That’s right, we’re talking about sending your prospects and clients something directly to their physical mailboxes—otherwise known as direct mail. Before you say “Mail? Like the stuff in my mailbox? That’ll never work!” you should know that standard direct mail open rates can reach up to 90%. Also, according to an InfoTrends survey, 82% of direct mail is read for a minute or more and 56% of consumers who responded to direct mail went online or visited a physical store.
Let's take a look at how your fitness business can use direct mail to boost member acquisition and retention.
Getting Started with Direct Mail
The first thing you'll need to start your direct mail campaign? Mailing addresses. If you’re going to be sending to your current members or clients then this should be rather easy, but don’t just send the same thing to everyone (more on that later). If you want to use direct mail to attract new business, there are ways of sending targeted mailers to people that meet the location and demographics of your choosing. In order to accomplish that type of localized and targeted direct mail campaign you can use a service like Mailjoy which can assist in segmenting and sending to the right people, even if you don’t have their addresses.
Second, it’s best to start small. It’s a fact that most initial marketing experiments won’t bring in the type of results that are desired, but with a little planning you can ensure you’ve put your best foot forward and refine when the data comes in. With some direct mail companies offering little to no minimum sends or spends it can be incredibly easy to test out different campaigns and messages.
Define Your Campaign Goal
What do you want to achieve with your direct mail campaign? Do you want to promote an intro offer? Do you want to upsell your current clients on a new service? The list of possibilities goes on and on. Be specific with yourself and your prospects/clients in your direct mail campaign and don’t provide too many options or messages. Every piece of content within your campaign should focus on getting the recipient to take the desired action, which in turn contributes to your goal.
Segment Your Lists: Who’s Your Target Recipient?
Would you send the same happy birthday card to your grandma as you would your 2-year-old nephew? Probably not. The same goes for your direct mail campaigns. Instead of sending the same thing to your entire list, think about the best ways to segment your audience depending on your campaign and its goals.
Sending physical mail isn’t free like it is to send email, so you need to be a little more thoughtful with your experimentation and segmentation. But the point of trying something like direct mail is to make an impression that your current and future members aren’t expecting, and that your competitors aren’t already doing, so don’t be afraid to spend some money—just do it wisely.
If you’re sending mail to your existing clients or members, you should already have some great segmenting data to work with. You know when their membership is due to expire, how often they use your facilities or attend classes, and other important insights, so you can use this information to target them accordingly. Plus, if you use Club OS for your automated sales and retention emails you'll already have an idea of what messages work.
If you’re looking to grow your memberships or client base, and don’t already have a mailing list of qualified prospects, you can still effectively use direct mail marketing. All you need is to know the zip code of the area in which you'd like to target and some basic demographic information about your ideal client type.
With that information you’ll be able to use the USPS's “Every Door Direct Mail” service to do a targeted, localized campaign.
Deciding What Type of Mail to Send to Members & Prospects
There are several ways you can go with your direct mail campaign—postcards, letters, packages, and so on. So, which one should your club start with? The most cost-effective method of trying out direct mail is going to be with postcards. They’re cheap to produce and, with the right design and copy, can be very effective. Whether you want to start with a send of 10 or 1,000 postcards, this is easily accomplished, though obviously there are more price breaks to be had with larger sends. Some services that handle printing, design (or give you templates), and mailing can be a great resource. Sure, you’ll pay a little more than if you did it yourself, but if you factor in how much your time is worth then you’ll end up saving money (and headache).
Sample Mailjoy postcard pricing. Includes printing, mailing, tracking, and managing.
That being said, bulkier mail is likely to have a better response rate. Oversized envelopes have been found to have the best household response rate, followed by postcards and then letters. Small boxes, padded envelopes, and even tubes will standout more than postcards or letters, but will obviously be considerably more expensive and possibly impractical for most fitness businesses just getting into direct mail. However, they can work wonders when used sparingly, such as sending a box of healthy treats to an important member thanking them for a referral or encouraging them to extend their agreement. Until you’ve established what type of bulky mail works best for your fitness or studio business, it’s best to use them sparingly to make sure each one counts.
What Should Your Mail Look Like?
Direct mail campaigns are a great opportunity to give prospects an idea of what to expect from your club, give current members a positive “I already belong and I feel great about it” feeling, and even remind past members why they once loved your gym and should come back.
Be sure to keep your design and copy on-brand—colors that match your club's palette, fonts that match your website and marketing materials, and so on. As for the graphics of your mailer, try to think of something that will stand out while still keeping your ideal recipient in mind. What is most likely catch their attention? It may be bright colors, unique images, or photos of your gym. It simply depends on your audience. Remember—segment, segment, segment!
Example postcard design with simple, focused information.
When it comes to the copy, consider being bold and attention-grabbing. Keep the message simple and focused on getting the recipient to take the desired action. What you write will depend on what you're sending and what your goals are, but you can still employ a "less is more" mentality even with larger mailers or packages. Never lose sight of your goal, as it's the reason you're spending your money. Make every dollar count.
How to Manage a Direct Mail Fitness Campaign
If you have the time and resources, you can always manage a direct mail campaign yourself. However, when it comes to managing, segmenting, and tracking results of specific mailing lists, it can start to feel like a part-time job.
Running a direct mail campaign doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds though. With services such as Mailjoy, GrowMail, and Amazing Mail, a lot of the heavy lifting can be automated and tracked effectively. Ideally, you’ll want to know who’s been sent what and if they’ve received it. This brings us to tracking the effectiveness of your direct mail campaign—otherwise known as ROI.
How to Track Direct Mail Campaign ROI
Because sending physical mail isn’t free, it’s important to provide a method of tracking the success of your campaign. The average ROI for a direct mail campaign is somewhere between .5 and 2% , so that's a good range to aim for your first few campaigns.
Of course, it can be difficult to track direct mail ROI since you can’t apply UTM parameters (the standard method of tracking clicks on website links) to postcards you’ve sent out to find out if an action has been taken. However, there are some methods of tracking direct mail campaigns, such as:
- Provide a specific URL that the recipient can use to take advantage of a special offer. For example, if you’re promoting an intro offer, provide a specific page URL on your direct mail postcard such as www.yourwebsite.com/mailoffer. An example of this can be seen in the sample postcard design above.
- If you can’t create new web pages on your website, you can still use a similar technique by creating a promotional code for direct mail recipients to reference when calling or submitting a form online. For example, if you’re promoting a holiday special you can simply put “call or contact us online and mention ‘holiday card 2017’ to take advantage of this special offer.” Similarly, on your website you can add a "promo" form field where the recipient can enter the promotional code.
- Are your sales charts going up and to the right? That's a great sign that something is working. If you can weed out data from the successes of your online campaigns, then it should help to shine some light on the effectiveness of your direct mail efforts.
Next Steps After Your First Direct Mail Campaign
As you test the waters of direct mail for your fitness business, keep trying new things. If your first campaign doesn’t meet your expectations, take a look at what worked and what didn’t and then try again. You'll also want to analyze the goals you set. Were they too ambitious? That’s okay—you have to start somewhere and you can’t learn anything without trying. Have a goal, don’t confuse the recipients with too many options, keep your design and copy simple, and always focused on getting the recipient to take the action you want. Happy sending!
Get Your Online Fitness Campaigns in Place with Club OS
Although Club OS can't help with your direct mail campaigns, we sure can help with your online and email-based sales and retention efforts. With over 2,000 gyms, studios, and other types of fitness businesses already using our services, we are an industry leader in sales and retention technology specific to the world of fitness.
Contact us right now, or click to download the free sales scripts e-book below that you can put into action today!