Top Email Marketing Strategies for Gyms, Fitness Studios, and CrossFit Boxes
My friend Bryan runs a gym.
He had a problem communicating with his members.
He just couldn’t get people to commit to upcoming events or challenges.
It seemed like everything he said was “In one ear and out the other,” as he told me.
Once, to prove a point, he wrote in all caps on a whiteboard right next to the member check-in.
“IF YOU READ THIS – COME SEE ME TO GET A PRIZE.”
After one week, do you know how many people came to see him?
Just two, out of 300 gym members.
When he first told me that, I couldn’t figure it out.
Why couldn’t he get through to them?
Obviously, they don’t hate Bryan. They come to the gym, often 3+ days/week.
They’re dedicated and they come to him for all of their fitness and nutrition advice.
It took me a month or so but I finally got it.
Ready for the answer?
As soon as Bryan’s members entered the gym they were in what I call “GYM MODE.” (P.S. This goes for all your members too)
“GYM MODE” means that when your members are at the gym they’re not making ANY future plan or checking their calendars — they’re there to work out.
Bryan could talk about his events and when and where to sign up multiple times, but no one was in a place that they could take action on it.
So they just nodded their heads along until he was finished.
How many times has this happened to you?
And you’re left wondering where you went wrong.
This is unfortunately a common problem for gyms and you lose people that would otherwise want to buy your services because the message isn’t hitting them AT THE RIGHT TIME.
The best solution to this problem that we’ve found by FAR is email marketing.
In this guide we are going to show you:
- Why email marketing works for gyms and fitness studios (and fixes this problem of communication)
- How you can use email marketing to exponentially grow your fitness business in three areas (Plus exact scripts that you can use)
- The exact services you can install to get started today, along with next steps and best practices
Why email marketing works for gyms and fitness studios
If you’ve been running your gym for any length of time, someone at some point has probably told you that “the money is in the list.” And while there are very few hard rules in business, in today’s highly connected world, this one just happens to be 100% correct.
Here’s what I’ve seen first hand:
When you start contacting your membership more via email, you connect and build a deeper relationship with your members.
And when you have their trust, they will be throwing money at you to solve their problems.
- Having an endless supply of clients who want to hire you as a personal trainer or nutrition coach because when they come into your gym, take your advice or read your emails they connect with your brand and think “This guy gets me.”
- Having your members come up to you, and tell you EXACTLY what the next event or new class they want you to create is – so they can buy it
- People constantly referring their friends as new members to your gym because they love the results they’re getting and want the same for their friends
Sounds too good to be true, right? But if you aren’t convinced to how powerful email marketing can be yet, look at it this way:
1. Email performs, extremely well.
In fact, it outperforms every other online marketing channel out there. According to a 2014 study by McKinsey and Company, email marketing outperforms social media marketing in terms of conversion rates by 40X.
2. Email is yours. You own the platform of communication.
It can be a huge risk to build a business on a platform you don’t own. Facebook can change its policies overnight, Google can blacklist your site. But with an email list you have a direct line to your customers that nobody else can take away.
3.With email, your marketing efforts aren’t “one and done.”
Most marketing efforts don’t last — they’re created once, they’re seen once, and then they’re gone forever (looking at you Facebook Ads and Google Adwords). But thanks to the power of email automation, once you write a great email, you can use it over and over again whether you have 100 people on your list or 10,000.
4. You can track it.
On top of all of this, email marketing is the most quantifiable marketing channel to date. From inbound leads, campaigns, conversions, etc., you can track and measure every step so you can figure out exactly what is or isn’t working.
5. Email is engaging.
Everyone is in their email inbox, ALL THE TIME.
You want your members to build a habit of coming to the gym.
But even while they aren’t AT the gym, you can get them to think about their fitness during the day if you’re sending them helpful and insightful emails.
How you can use email marketing to exponentially grow your fitness business in three areas:
Any communication problem in your gym can be solved with a simple marketing tool.
As we’ve talked about, now more than ever, people are tied to their email inboxes.
It is the primary source of communication between businesses and their customers.
For you, it can help grow your gym in three ways.
Email marketing allows you to:
- Convert new leads and get more members
- Keep your current members engaged with your gym
- Upsell current members on more expensive services
If you own a fitness studio and want to know how to get more members – keep reading.
Use email marketing to turn free trials into paying gym members:
Most gyms use a free trial membership to get people in the door.
It’s a timeless marketing technique and it works.
“What should I make for dinner?”
“Don’t forget to call Sam about this weekend.”
It’s probably the same for you! And you work in the business!
Despite best intentions, they get busy, they don’t answer your calls and ultimately you fall off their radar.
You can use email marketing to stay top of mind for your new prospects by setting up an automated email to everyone that signs-up for a free trial.
What we suggest is to have at least two emails go out to your prospects while they’re in their trial period.
The first email you send out should look something like this:
This email accomplishes a lot in a short period of time.
Prospective members are:
- Welcomed to the gym
- Directed on where to go when they first come in
- Given a gym schedule
- Given an extra little bonus
- Connecting with you and your team if they tell you their goals (aka WHY they’re coming to the gym)
Here’s a template that you can copy/paste/use and make your own:
Subject Line: [First name], thanks for checking out [Gym name]
“Hi [First name],
This is [Gym owner name], owner of [Gym name]. I just wanted to reach out and say thanks for signing up for a free 3-day trial membership at [Gym name].
We hope to see you in here a couple of times during your trial membership!
Please introduce yourself to the gym manager, [Name], and let us know if you have any questions!
We are committed to going above and beyond to help you reach your fitness goals.
As an added bonus, we’ve included our gym schedule and specialty classes!
Feel to attend any of these classes for free during your trial period!
To make sure that you’re getting emails from us, please add this email address to your address book OR if you’re using Gmail drag this email to your primary inbox.
[Gym owner name]
PS. Let us know, what’s the one fitness goal you have? (ex. lose 20 lbs, put on 10lbs of muscle) What’s your biggest roadblock from reaching your fitness goals? Reply back. I read everything.
The purpose of these emails is to remind your prospect about the gym, educate them on what sort of classes you offer there, and to reach your prospect when they have time to make a decision.
Great, informative emails that you can send could be:
- Introducing the coaches and staff at your gym and their backgrounds
- Showing a few success stories of previous gym members (gained muscle, lost weight)
- Video demos on how to use certain pieces of equipment
At the very least, we recommend sending an email on the last day of the free trial membership as well with a strong call-to-action for your prospect to sign-up for a membership.
Use this quick email to push your trial members to sign-up for a full-time gym membership.
Here’s a template that you can copy/paste/use and make your own:
Subject line: Reminder: Free 3-day trial at [Gym name] ending today
Hi [First name],
[Gym owner name] here, I wanted to remind you that today is the last day in your free trial membership at [Gym name].
We hope that you’ve enjoyed your free trial and are want to join us at [Gym name]!
If you’re ready to take the next step, stop in and talk to the front desk staff to get set-up.
If you’re still on the fence, feel free to give me a call at [number]
All the best,
2. Use email marketing to re-convert previous gym members
Sometimes people will come to your gym for a free trial and decide it isn’t a good fit for them right now.
The key word there… Right now.
Or they came to the gym for a few months, got off track, and stopped coming in.
These people are great prospects for an email marketing campaign to get back in the door.
You don’t know if these people were just in the area for work for a few days, decided to go to another fitness studio or gym, or are just sitting on their butts thinking “I should really get back to the gym.”
So three to six months after they fall off, we recommend sending a “We’d love for you to visit us again” email.
This is a low-pressure way to open up a conversation with a long-ago visitor to your gym and see if you can get them to come back in.
Here’s a template that you can copy/paste/use and make your own:
Hi [first name],
This is [Gym owner name] from [Gym name] in [location].
I’m reaching out because you signed up for a free trial a few months ago but we haven’t seen you since then.
We know that joining a gym can be a big decision and a lot of times life gets in the way.
We have another week long trial period coming up in a few weeks. Are you interested in trying out [Gym name] again?
[Gym owner name]
You can also use this technique to get people through the door for the New Years.
New Years is about the time when people in your community are waking up from their food coma that’s lasted since Thanksgiving and start to look at their credit card bill in horror.. Thinking “I need to get my shit together”
This is a perfect time to send them a few emails to get in the door with an “early bird” special gym membership for the New Year.
3. Use email marketing to communicate with your current gym members
If you’re a gym owner, have you ever run into one of these problems?
- You’re closed the day of a major holiday. You’ve posted it on your Facebook page, on your website, and told people that came into the gym. Even with all that effort. Members didn’t get the message, showed up and were complaining.
- Months … or even years after a new member joins they say things like, “I had no idea you guys did nutrition coaching/tanning/Zumba, etc. here!”
Because do you know what that equals? Lost revenue, a lot of it.
- You were hosting a local event. Maybe a 5K run or obstacle course. You made flyers, talked about it with people in classes, made Facebook posts about it but you weren’t seeing the number of sign-ups or interest that you want! Then, on the day of the event, you have members saying “OH, that was today??” or similarly the week afterward, “OH, that was this past weekend?”
You hate these people. I hate these people.
But when something isn’t working we have to look at why it isn’t working.
Not just drown in our own frustration. (P.S. Keep reading to see what that root cause ACTUALLY is.)
If only there was a way to consistently and clearly communicate with your members to get the message across!
I think you know what I’m getting to here…
Your members are tied to their inboxes so using email marketing can improve your communication with them!
Here is a basic welcome email that you can use when you first switch over to email marketing.
Here’s a template that you can copy/paste/use and make your own:
This is [Gym owner] from [Gym name] touching base with you.
I wanted to take a second and thank you for being part of the [Gym name] team.
We’re going to start using email as our primary form of communication with members to let you know about any new changes at the gym.
This could be:
– new staff, so you can put a name to those friendly faces
– any new classes that we’re offering
– if any classes are canceled
– whenever the gym has different hours for holiday schedules
On occasion we’ll also be emailing you special offers – just for the [Gym name] community!
To make sure that you keep receiving messages from us, please add us to your address book.
See you in the gym!
There are several ways to use email marketing to communicate internally with your members:
By communicating with your members, you can get them more engaged and invested in your gym.
Here are a few ideas for ways you can communicate with your members:
Keep your community informed on changes at the gym
Your members are interested in your gym, they want to know what’s going on.
Keep them engaged by keeping them in the loop.
Are there any new pieces of equipment at the gym?
Any new trainers or gym staff?
Any changes in gym policy?
This is a perfect way to let your members know and keep them invested in the gym.
Keep community informed of new classes at the gym
Are you holding new classes at the gym? Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Spin, TRX?
Your members are interested in new things. Even if this information is plastered all over your front desk, there’s a strong chance that half the people haven’t paid any attention to it.
Emailing your gym members and letting them know the interesting features of the new class, how it can benefit them, and the class schedule will push them over the edge to sign-up!
Send out holiday schedules
Everyone knows that businesses shift around their schedules during the holidays.
But even when your members ask you about the different schedule and you tell them, that doesn’t mean they wrote it down and there’s a strong chance of them forgetting.
Happens allll the time.
If it’s in their email inbox and they forget, they can just go check the email again. Easy-peasy.
Promote gym events or events that are happening in the community
This is another common scenario for gym owners.
We talked about it before but it frustrates me so much that I’m bringing it up again.
You want to run a fun community-engaging event – but even though you tell everyone about it during classes or when they check-in you aren’t getting ANY of the traction or response you thought you would get.
Even worse, the day before the event people are saying, “OH, it’s this weekend?! I wish I had known.”
So what’s going on here?
The problem is that you were reaching your gym members while they were about to go to the gym.
This is the “GYM MODE” that we talked about.
They can’t make a decision right now.
They didn’t write down the date to look at their calendars or talk to their spouses.
Now, let’s look at this if we had email marketing.
You can send multiple emails leading up to the event to encourage your members to join.
You are hitting their inboxes when they’re at work, dreaming about what they’re going to do on the weekend.
Your members, in turn, can look at their calendar, text their spouse, and MAKE ACTUAL PLANS!
As the late Leonard Cohen might say… Hallelujah.
Using email marketing to upsell gym members for more expensive services or products:
Aside from just communicating with your gym members, you can use email marketing to upsell them on other services and products that you offer in your gym.
By upselling your members you can bring in thousands more in revenue every month.
Here are many of the potential services that you could sell:
- Personal Training
- Nutrition Coaching
- Gym swag
- Referrals from partnering with local services gym members might use (physical therapist/massage therapist)
I can already hear you thinking, “I do sell these things but no one buys them” or “I talk to all my members, all the time”.
But remember what we talked about before, when your members come to the gym they’re in “GYM MODE.”
They want to workout, not to be sold on something – even if they KNOW it will help them.
Plus, be honest, are you REALLY talking to everyone?
Chances are you’re only hitting 50% – AT BEST.
By sending an email you can reach your entire membership and reach them at a time when they can make a decision.
Use email marketing to help sell supplements:
Most gym-goers use protein powder, fish oil, pre-workout, and a whole mix of other supplements.
The only difference is if they are buying it from you or from GNC.
You can use email marketing to let your members know what supplements you have at the gym.
This is also a great opportunity to educate your members on the how, when, and why to take supplements.
If they’re just starting going to the gym and their fitness journey then they probably don’t know much about different supplements (everything looks the same to them) and when to take them (pre-workout, post-workout, in the morning, before bed?) or how they will help them reach their goals faster.
You can be the expert and help show them exactly what they should be taking.
In return, they will trust your expert opinion and buy the supplements that you stock and suggest.
Use email marketing to upsell for personal training:
One place that gyms can make A LOT more money is through personal training.
Personal training commands a much higher price than group classes because, well, it’s 1-on-1 training.
You can email your members and let them know that you offer personal training at the gym, how personal training will help them reach their fitness goals faster, and you can add an element of scarcity to get them in the door.
Use email marketing to promote nutrition coaching:
Once someone is coming to the gym regularly, they will probably start to pay more attention to what they’re eating.
Because you’ve given them such great advice on supplements and personal training. They’ll probably start asking you – “What should I be eating?”
The flip side of this is that it’s also your job to educate them on what they should be eating!
Health is at minimum 50% fitness and 50% nutrition.
Maybe even more. It’s always said – you can’t out train a bad diet.
So in your monthly newsletters, talk about nutrition with them!
Use email marketing to sell gym swag:
How many sad t-shirts do you have hanging behind your front desk that have been there for months?
If you’re like many gyms I would guess a whole lot!
Many of your members probably look right past them.
Hoodies, pull-overs, wrist wraps, shorts.
In your emails, highlight deals and promotions to get these things moving off the shelf!
With a simple survey email to gauge member interest, you can even pre-sell gym swag BEFORE you buy it!
Use email marketing to promote other aspects of the gym or partnerships:
Don’t let us limit your imagination. You can use email marketing to promote almost anything to your members.
Do you have tanning beds at your gym that too often go unused?
Okay, offer deals for tanning.
Do you have a massage therapist/physical therapist/nutritionist/acupuncture in the local area that you could partner with to provide discounts to members?
Let your members know. Refer them to the best in the area. Get them a discount for being part of your gym.
First steps to set-up your very first email marketing list:
If you’ve gotten this far then you’ve probably jumped ahead and tried to Google email service providers for your gym.
As you can probably already tell, there are more options than you could possibly comb through.
It will be even more futile than this.
This is where most people get sidetracked and derailed.
There are SO many options and SO many different platforms that you spend a week trying to figure out which one to use and weighing all the options. Ultimately you might give up on it and decide to go back to a type of marketing you know better.
The psychological term for this is analysis-paralysis.
When you have too many choices, you end up not making any choice.
To help you get around this, here is the hard truth that we’ve learned and what we stress to our clients.
There is no “right” choice, there are pros and cons to every email service provider so don’t get caught up in the small details.
The most important thing you can do is JUST TO START.
Imagine that someone walked into your gym and said: “I want to lose 30 lbs.”
Would you immediately barrage them with nutrition tips and exact workout programming to follow for the next 6 months?
Or would you start small? And get them to build the habit of coming to the gym regularly first then get more and more complex.
This is a similar choice.
If your gym is under 1,000 members, then the email marketing platform you use doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that you start!
We’ve gone over several ways you can use email marketing to help grow your business.
Ultimately though, your business is your business so YOU need to decide what is worth your time.
Here are the top three things we suggest you implement:
- There should be a “Member’s Newsletter” that goes out at minimum once per month to your membership with some sort of offer or deal
- When someone signs up for a free trial, they should get a welcome email and several automated follow-up emails
- When someone begins an account, they should receive a welcome email and several automated follow-up emails
Tackle one of these improvements per week for the next three weeks and you’ll be 80% of the way to having your email marketing figured out!
Join Our Community
Need some help figuring out your email marketing?
Jumpstart your knowledge and learn from experts who have been sending emails for 10+ years.
Click here to learn about our private community for small businesses learning email marketing.
With the community, you not only get access to experts that will guide you step-by-step along the way but you’ll also get access to 4+ hours worth of videos and content to help you improve your email marketing.