The Internet may be more visible than email, but assuming your goals are sales, service and retention, your email strategies will always outperform your Internet strategies. Here are some reasons why: Most of your memberscheck their email daily, or at least weekly, but few of them visit your facility’s website weekly. Email users know how to navigate their email, yet must learn how to navigate your website. If your website has slow graphics or the user has a slow connection, you will quickly lose them. Your website has too much information for any one person; few want it all. You can customize your email to individual needs, so that a user only gets notices of group classes or of personal training offers, for example, but you can’t customize your web page to each member. Many of your staff members can compose an email message and send it; few can create a webpage. Emails can be fresh, while many websites contain old information. Finally, email has a better return on investment. Too many clubs spend time and money on their website and neglect their cheaper email strategy.
Your goal should be twofold: Encourage your sales staff to get email addresses from prospective members, but also encourage prospective members to want to give you their email addresses. How?
Use incentives. Offer incentives to employees to accumulate email addresses from current members. Print a card with a place to record the person’s name and email address. Give them 25 cents for each complete card, or a chance for a drawing for $200, a new TV or one month’s car payment.
Also, offer your members incentives to contribute their email addresses. Create a custom Internet magazine (e-zine) or newsletter, and offer to email them a copy so they can decide if they want to subscribe (opt in). Make sure to tell them that you will not share their email with anyone. Also, let them know the purpose of the e-zine: to help members better achieve fitness/wellness goals; for members to make suggestions or complaints to management; and togive them first shot at special events and offers.
If you want even more impact, give members 10 topics of interest to check off on the card that they fill out. For example, weight loss, personal training, programs for children or older adults, etc. This gives you a better idea about what to email them. If people don’t check items, revise your list. Use this to hone in on their needs.
Collect from prospective members. Guests who did not buy a membership are another prime source for email addresses. Follow up the meeting with contact by email, and get feedback about why they didn’t join, and what they are looking for in a health club.
Use public events. Every presentation a staff member makesat a school, Rotary club or other event can have a drawing for a gift in return for an email card. Always tell listeners you plan to send them a copy of your e-zine or newsletter.
Avoid public email lists. Public email lists should generally be avoided. First, those who compile them are not selective about who is on their list. Second, too many names on the list have not opted in (i.e., actively chosen to be on a list sold to others). Sending such emails is spam. Avoid these lists, and build your own.
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