Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Measuring Member Communications - FitPro Business Article

The best type of communication is face-to-face and with new members these interactions happen regularly in the club. However, early on in the member journey it is also important to send other forms of communications, as this opens the channels to easily stay in touch with members in the event that they start to visit less.

Measurements from the initial communication include open rates, bounce rates, and un-subscribes for e-mail or text. If you send out a welcome pack, include a voucher that needs to be redeemed, and record how effective these communications are. To increase the value of your messages, the verbal communication in club should overlap; if the member expects the message or voucher, they are more likely to open or use it.

Don’t lose new members

If new members start to lapse, or don't meet their target visits, turn up the communication. Unless you have several hundreds of members joining each month who then lapse straight away, a phone call is the most effective contact. You can follow up with a text or e-mail as a reminder. You've invested a lot of time and effort to sign-up that new member, so don’t leave them to their own devices so soon after they've joined.

Monitoring first month visits is a really good key performance indicator, and if you follow this up with a scoring system for new low-usage members that are contacted and retained, you can set targets to aim for.

Ongoing communication

Regular contact with your steady members can be in the form of an e-newsletter, letter, in-club flyer, or a combination depending on what contact details you have for your members. You can measure engagement as before by looking at opens, click through rates, or by tracking bookings or purchases if you set-up some basic analytics on an e-newsletter.

We miss you

When you look at absent members, it starts to get really interesting. Everyone has an opinion on contacting absentees, but one thing is certain – doing nothing is a mistake. Contacting long absent members can also be unwise, so it’s about catching the member after a short but reasonable time off, and getting them back into the club. A text or e-mail is an easy way to start; you can measure delivery/open rates, and calculate returning members. You could then try another written contact, or go straight to the phones. By writing to members first, you reduce the number of calls required, and also made the call easier, as you are now following-up on the message.

Stay in touch

The leavers' dataset is a superb source of prospective members, yet many clubs make nothing of it. An ex-member survey, linked to an amnesty offer to re-join is a great tool to show that you still value ex-members’ opinions, and would like to welcome them back. You might expect a great many un-subscribes from this kind of e-mailshot, but they typically don’t happen, and instead you can still track opens, clicks, and ex-members using the re-join amnesty code. If you know how long a returning member stays on average, you can estimate the return on investment of the campaign.

Social media is fantastic for sharing your check-in, workout, goal, challenging a friend, or posting a link to an event, and can certainly add value to the overall member engagement experience. Five years from now, when you collect every members’ Facebook ID, Twitter handle and other identities as they join, you will start to be fully joined up.

In the meantime, you still need to focus on collecting all your members’ mobile numbers, e-mail and postal addresses in order to both complement and back-up verbal communication. Keep it simple by focusing on your member’s visit patterns and be innovative by measuring the effect and adapting your communications.

This article was originally published in FitPro Business Magazine July 2013

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