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How to Increase Gym Membership Sales

Maximize revenue, attract more members and improve retention by implementing a comprehensive strategy.

12 min read2023-11-27T17:21:33.659Z
MKWritten By Michelle King

With over 112,00 gyms and health clubs in the United States, the fitness industry is competitive. If you want to ensure your gym thrives, you can’t wait for customers to come to you. It’s essential that you utilize sales strategies to get people in the door and grow your client base.

Effective Techniques for Attracting Gym Members

With hundreds of ways to attract new members, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. Before you begin optimizing your website or creating social media campaigns, we recommend perfecting the basics.

Top-Notch Customer Service

One mistake some gym owners make is focusing too much on marketing their facilities and not enough time creating an excellent first impression.

Dave Readle, Head of Social Media at The HIIT Company, suggests gym owners focus more on customer service, saying, “In a crowded fitness industry, standing out is essential. While many gyms focus on similar equipment and workout routines, the low-hanging fruit that is often overlooked is providing quality customer service.

The experience individuals have at the gym is deeply influenced by the level of service they receive. Going above and beyond in this regard can leave a lasting impression and build loyalty among members. It’s the small, personal touches that truly set a gym apart and make a meaningful difference in a member’s fitness journey.”

You can get feedback on your customer service by sending short surveys via email or text or adding survey forms with a box at your gym.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Delivering an exceptional customer experience isn't just good for your members’ fitness journey—it's also a savvy business move. Happy members tend to spread word about your gym to friends and family, giving your business valuable exposure. This word-of-mouth effect is especially powerful, with research indicating that a whopping 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know more than traditional advertisements.

Dave Readle (Head of Social Media at The HIIT Company) echoes this sentiment, saying, “You can’t beat word of mouth. When our current members recommend our gym to their friends and family, it adds a level of trust and authenticity that traditional advertising can’t replicate.”

You can incentivize your members to recommend your gym by offering referral credits, gift cards, free merch, or one-time discounts on monthly rates or classes.

Optimizing Your Gym’s Website for Lead Generation

Once you’ve perfected your customer experience, ensuring people can find you online is essential. Most consumers conduct online research before making a purchase. So, if they can’t learn about you from a quick Google search, they likely won’t visit your gym.

Creating a user-friendly, well-optimized website enhances your online visibility and is a powerful tool for lead generation. By incorporating strategic calls-to-action, compelling visuals, and easy-to-find contact information, you create a virtual doorway that encourages prospects to visit your gym.

Importance of a User-Friendly Website Design

You’ve likely experienced the frustration of visiting a website that’s challenging to use and ugly to look at. If you’re like 88% of online shoppers, you likely never returned to that site.

Your website’s effectiveness as a sales enablement tool hinges entirely on its user-friendliness. An aesthetically pleasing site makes it easy for users to find the information they’re looking for and increases the likelihood of them purchasing a membership.

Create Compelling Landing Pages

A landing page is a stand-alone webpage designed to convert visitors by guiding them toward a specific goal, often related to a particular offer like a free trial or fitness assessment. Although they are the least popular type of signup form, they have the highest conversion rate. These pages help gyms collect leads, which they can then nurture through personalized marketing campaigns.

Compelling landing pages are scannable, provide a clear call to action, and effectively communicate the value you offer prospects in exchange for their information.

Incorporating Effective Calls to Action

Including a call to action (CTA) on every page of your website lets potential members know what step they should take next, reducing friction while leading prospects down the sales funnel.

Examples of CTAs you may see on a gym’s website include:

  • Join Now
  • See Membership Options
  • Start Free Trial
  • Get Started Today
  • Schedule Your First Workout

Effective CTAs are easy to spot, actionable, and offer a clear benefit.

Include Contact Information

From learning about membership options to signing up for classes, there are numerous reasons why potential members may want to contact you. But if your website doesn’t have contact information, 44% will leave.

Keep prospects engaged and move them down the sales funnel by making your contact information easy to find.

Promotional Offers and Discounts to Increase Membership Sales

Word-of-mouth marketing and a solid website can only do so much to get folks through the door. Leveraging promotional offers and membership discounts present prospects with an attractive incentive to join your gym and beef up your bottom line.

Benefits of Offering Promotional Discounts

With 80% of consumers willing to try a new brand if offered a discount, promotional discounts provide a strategic tactic for expanding your gym's appeal. Beyond customer acquisition, they also function as a way to reward loyal members, improving member retention.

Examples of popular promotional discounts for gyms include the following:

  • Free seven-day gym pass for new members
  • Free one-on-one training sessions for new members
  • Membership anniversary merchandise discounts
  • Free membership upgrades after a set period

Implementing Referral Programs to Increase Membership Sales

According to Deloitte, individuals referred by other customers have a 37% higher customer retention rate. Gym owners can tap into the power of referrals by implementing referral programs.

Gym referral programs are initiatives designed to encourage existing gym members to refer new individuals to join your gym. This sales strategy helps leverage your existing customers to reach individuals you may not have access to. Referral programs incentivize current members to send new customers your way with rewards like membership discounts, complimentary services, or merchandise.

Latest Trends in Gym Marketing

Marketing and sales are like barbells and powerlifters, you can’t have one without the other. But if you don’t stay up-to-date on the latest marketing trends, your sales efforts may fall flat. Keep the following industry trends in mind to ensure your marketing efforts result in gym membership sales.

Social Media Marketing

With 90% of the US population having social media accounts, gym owners can’t afford to skip social media marketing. “Social media content is incredibly important in the digital age,” says The Hiit Company’s Head of Social Media, Dave Readle. “It’s our way of showing that our gym exists and what it has to offer.”

Beyond creating brand awareness, social media marketing can be an essential tool to boost membership sales. Sprout Social research reveals that 68% of consumers primarily follow brands for updates on new products and services.

The second most popular reason is to get exclusive promotions and deals. Gym owners can leverage these preferences by sharing updates, promotions, and exclusive offers, nurturing customer engagement, and driving membership growth.

Creating Engaging Social Media Content

Ten years ago, gym owners could post a generic photo and #fitness on their Instagram account, and that was enough to excite their audience. These days, millions of creators post high-quality images and videos on social media. If you want to stand out from your competition, you must be strategic about what you post.

Ditch low-quality images and less-than-engaging captions for the following content ideas.

User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is content about a product or service created by an individual, not the business itself. Examples of UCG in the fitness space include gym reviews, workout selfies at your facility, using hashtags you create, and member success stories. You can encourage your members to post user-generated content by having contests and challenges, creating a selfie area with good lighting, and displaying your social media handles and unique hashtags for members to use.

When you share content that your members create, it shows your audience that people genuinely enjoy going to your gym, providing an authentic endorsement.

Short-Form Video

Short-form videos like YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and most of TikTok, are social media videos that are under 60 seconds. As global attention spans shorten, this type of content has become one of the most popular methods to grab user attention. You can share nutritional, health, and workout tips with your audience to engage current members and attract new ones.

Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising uses social media channels to display ads to target audiences. Including this advertising style in your digital marketing campaign allows you to interact with your ideal customers, even if they aren’t following any of your gym’s social media accounts.

Advertising platforms, like Meta Ads Manager, let you create detailed audience metrics for your ad campaigns. This lets you target your ads to audiences most likely to show interest in your gym.

Influencer Marketing

Over the past few years, influencer marketing has skyrocketed, with 80% of marketers intending to dedicate a budget toward influencer marketing in 2023. This marketing strategy is a collaboration between popular individuals on social media and businesses to endorse a product or service. Partnering with a fitness influencer helps gyms connect with an audience of potential customers already interested in health and fitness.

Choosing the Right Influencers

When you think of a fitness influencer, you probably picture mega influencers with millions of followers, like Kayla Itsines. However, these influencers aren’t ideal partners for most gym owners.

For starters, working with a famous influencer who has millions of followers comes with a hefty price tag. A single sponsored post could cost you $45,000 or more. Additionally, these accounts promote a lifestyle that isn’t super relatable to followers, resulting in low engagement rates on social media platforms like Instagram.

On the flip side, micro-influencers, with 10,000-50,000 followers, have the highest engagement rate and charge between $2,000-$8,000 per post. Their content tends to resonate better with followers due to its relatability. This makes micro-influencers a better choice for gyms looking to connect authentically with their target audience at a lower price.

See also: How to Create a Business Plan for Your Gym

My Favorite Gym Marketing Campaigns

As a marketing professional who’s created content for fitness brands since 2018, I’ve seen my fair share of gym marketing campaigns. Here are two of my favorites.

Crunch Fitness Free Trial

I am very picky about where I choose to exercise. Before committing to a gym, I want to make sure it has the equipment I need and classes I enjoy. So, when Crunch Fitness opened a new gym 15 minutes from my house, I was intrigued but hesitant to purchase a membership.

Crunch Fitness understands the apprehension that potential members like me may have. They effectively address this by offering all new members a 7-day free trial, allowing them to experience their facilities and classes without the commitment.

This marketing tactic not only took the risk out of purchasing a membership but also eliminated a common barrier people face when considering a new gym. The free trial allowed me to explore the gym, try different classes, and assess if it met my preferences, ultimately leading to my decision to become a member.

Orangetheory Partnership With Rebekah Marsden

As someone who is reembarking on their running journey, I’m a huge fan of Rebekah Marsden’s “Trying to Become a Runner” series of posts on Instagram. While her account has a smaller following than other lifestyle influencers, her content feels more relatable.

Orangetheory's collaboration with Rebekah on Instagram is a savvy marketing move, particularly given their shared target audience of women aged 25-49. Through this partnership, Orangetheory taps into the authenticity and relatability of micro-influencers, creating a more genuine connection with potential customers.

This strategic alliance not only enhances Orangetheory's reach but also positions the brand as one that understands and aligns with the fitness journeys of its target demographic.

Strategies to Improve Member Satisfaction and Retention

While it’s tempting to focus all your energy on executing a killer sales strategy, it’s equally important to dedicate just as much effort to member retention. “Constantly focusing solely on attracting new members without nurturing the relationship with existing ones can create a revolving door of new joiners and current members leaving. This can be stressful and unsustainable for any business,” says Head of Social Media at the HIIT Company, Dan Readle.

To keep your members around for the long haul, gyms should focus on enhancing their members’ experience. The following strategies can help you provide more value to your clients and improve member retention.

Developing Personalized Fitness Plans and Programs

Note that 21% of people who don’t go to a gym report not knowing what to do as their primary barrier. Offering personalized programs helps gym newbies feel less overwhelmed, making them more likely to stick around.

Provide Ongoing Motivation and Support

Every frequent gym-goer knows that motivation is a finite resource. When excitement for a new workout routine wanes, it's important that gyms provide additional motivation and support to keep members invested in their fitness journey.

A study from Stanford University found that a single motivational phone call per week led to a 78% increase in gym members’ activity levels. Establishing a supportive environment not only enhances the overall member experience but also contributes to lasting relationships and the sustained success of your gym.

Seeking Feedback

One of the best ways to improve customer retention is by asking for feedback and adjusting business practices based on your customers’ needs. Head of Social Media at The HIIT Company, Dan Readle has found that customer surveys are a helpful tool for gathering this essential information, saying, “We regularly seek feedback from our members through surveys. Their input helps us understand their needs and preferences better, allowing us to tailor our offerings accordingly.”

Bottom Line

Every gym’s needs are unique. Sales techniques that worked for one gym may not work for yours. Test the techniques discussed above and track what strategies worked and which processes need adjustment. By creating a comprehensive and adaptable sales strategy, you can stay ahead of your competition and attract new members.

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