Anytime Fitness Email Teardown
On April 3, I downloaded a pass from Anytime Fitness. Since then, they have emailed me once and called me not twice, but thrice.
After my last teardown, 24 Hour Fitness, I’d intended to tackle Crunch Fitness as my next act of FREE advice.
But, Anytime Fitness has been throwing elbows to make it to the top of my pile. And by throwing elbows, I mean blowing up my cell.
Serves me right. I gave them my real cell number. But, I did NOT call them. Ever.
Something tells me I will go to my grave belaboring this point: online leads are sending clear messages about how they prefer to communicate.
Hint: It’s not on the phone.
If I had to use my imagination, when pressed about why gyms call leads generated through online portals, they would tell me that those calls lead to sales.
At a glance, this argument holds water. Here’s a similar strategy…
Stand at the end of the bar around closing time. Ask every prospect if they would like to join you for a nightcap back at your place. You will eventually get a taker.
Conclusion: Asking every drunk who's walking out of the bar is the best way to find company.
I have another theory...
The #1 reason folks join one gym over another? Location. Actually, it’s not a theory. It’s a fact. It’s all about what’s easiest, even if it’s painful.
They join the gym that is closest to home, no matter how they’re treated. This might not be true 100% of the time, but like hanging onto the end of the bar with a smile, it works often enough.
When I was in the industry the feedback we were receiving at the time was that, in the long run, new members were happy to have their memberships, even if they didn’t appreciate what they had to go through to get them.
It’s been roughly five years and six months since I’ve sat in the captain’s seat of a 65,000 square foot facility with a P&L in one hand, and a grossing pen in the other… but it doesn’t seem much has changed.
In fairness to fitness — a young industry, not as venerable as coal or steel — it’s run by considerably conservative folks who don’t swerve much.
Hey, I can dig conservative.
Making changes for the sake of making changes is silly… but email has been around since the invention of the internet.
In fact, it’s not much older than the fitness industry, but it’s definitely been around longer than Anytime Fitness.
The Anytime model
Worthy of mention before I dig in: I like Anytime Fitness.
It’s a great business, grown quickly on affordable, small franchises, covering acres of real estate in a short period of time.
Anytime keeps their spend low by running super lean on payroll, with little more than a operator on site. They may staff a couple of sales people and an instructor or two at most.
In some locations, a contracted cleaning crew may blow through from time to time.
That’s about it.
Here’s what else I like about Anytime…
Except where local laws or landlords prevent it, locations are accessible 24/7 with a key card or fob of some sort.
Thus, the brand: Any-time.
The great thing about this is there’s no one to hassle you for ancillary sales every time you workout. The facilities are usually clean and full of newer, well-maintained equipment.
For someone who knows what he is doing in the gym, this is a great place to workout in peace.
If there are any issues, you can usually find a manager on duty during normal business hours. There is an email you can use too. Brilliant.
Response times via these channels are notoriously fast.
Because Anytime locations are often owner-operated, there is an intimate and personal value for customer service.
This culture of leave me alone until I need something is why the blowing up my phone strategy comes as such a surprise.
What I did… and what happened next
Just like with 24 Hour Fitness, I found my local Anytime Fitness’s online portal and signed up for a pass.
The temporary enrollment process asked for the usual info, my first and last name, my contact number, and my email.
I spent a little time on the site too.
The starting point is a corporate entry point. You get to your local gym by performing a search. The location page has more information on the specific amenities, hours, staffing and other critical info.
But there was no online enrollment option for Anytime Fitness. ZERO.
What I had intended to do was to load a cart with a membership, abandon it, and then see what abandoned cart emails I would receive.
Hey, I’m an email nerd. Don’t judge me.
You can even tour the club in a virtual view, which is pretty innovative. My location was just pictures, but I imagine the clubs can spring for the fully interactive walking tour if that’s in their budget.
But, and I assume because Anytime wants to meet you to give you a card or fob for entry, you cannot give them money via the internet.
Now, I’m only an email strategist, but this seems like a HUGE missed opportunity.
The only way for me to give Anytime money is to submit to a call from the club.
Man. I loathe phone calls. If I wanted to chat, I would have knocked on their door. This turns my stomach.
So, I signed up for a pass. And they emailed it to me right away.
The email was pretty utilitarian, text-only, no images, no offers, just what I needed to try out the gym. It was fine, but it was their whole email effort.
That was the last email I received from Anytime Fitness. But it wasn’t the last I heard from them.
Since that day, including one this morning, I’ve received three attempts to reach me via phone. Each message is polite, friendly, and IMO a sincere attempt to help me get into the gym.
In our the end of the bar scenario, these folks are not... Taking. A. Hint.
What they could have done differently
That is a screen shot of my email records from Anytime Fitness. Not to be too short, but they could have emailed me more.
It’s doubtful I’ll ever convince any CEO of Big Fitness or any proprietor of Little Fitness to stop calling those toasty warm leads coming through their online portal. Not anytime soon.
The school of leads is that you have mere minutes to catch people in the heat of their emotions. Call too late, and they’ve moved on.
This is the wind blowing the sails of sales-ships everywhere, fitness included.
There is a smarter way they could approach those leads. It starts with wiser and more robust email efforts and has much less to do with Ma Bell.
︎edit: I’m not saying, “don’t call online leads,” I’m saying call them a whole lot less. Email them more.
The one and only email I received from Anytime was my pass. It’s the only email I have to grade for this teardown.
As an email, it was nothing fancy. Up front, the preview text failed to leverage key real estate.
“trial at Anytime Fitness. To arrange a visit during staffed hours, ple... “ and then nothing.
It hardly mattered. I’d only asked for a pass at that point. There was a strong chance I’d open that email, but going on what I have... they could write more persuasive copy.
What came next was a call, but it could have been a short series of emails nurturing my introduction to the facility.
Here’s some FREE swipe copy for the folks at Anytime Fitness to use in a hypothetical second email.
I’d send it the day after the pass at the latest. It could also come on the heels of the pass since time is of the essence.
This is [name], the owner of Port Orange Anytime Fitness.
First, please allow me to thank you from the bottom of my heart for even considering us. This facility is locally owned and staffed so we take every consideration personally.
You should know that we will make at least one attempt to call you via the number you gave us, probably in the next few minutes if not by the end of the day depending on what time it is.
Our outreach efforts are to help get you situated so you feel comfortable and confident, but we understand if you’re not the chatty sort. If you don’t answer or call us back, we’ll take that as a hint you’d prefer not to speak on the phone.
No matter what, I want to make sure you have everything you need to make the right next move for you.
You can call us at [telephone] if you want to shortcut the process or you can stop by during normal business hours. I would be happy to give you a tour and answer any questions you have.
Also, I’ll send you a few emails after this one with helpful information about the club, about Anytime Fitness in general, your enrollment options, and even some fitness tips.
As always, you can unsubscribe to our emails at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of any email.
Being such a small business, I like to stay close to my members so you can also email me [︎link] directly.
Again, thank you for considering our humble Anytime Fitness location, Damon.
I look forward to meeting you soon.
[name] | Owner of Port Orange Anytime Fitness
︎Note: This email could be easily automated, personalized, and duplicated across many locations with most any email service provider (like Mailchimp).
As far as what emails come next, most of that is indicated in the above copy, but I have some other ideas.
At the top of my list? An offer.
Making an offer specific to email leads would serve multiple purposes. It makes a nice way to segment new members depending on the offer, but it would also function as a FOMO lever you could pull later by making the offer time-bound.
Online leads may be somewhat different than referrals and walk-ins, but EVERYONE likes a deal.
Different markets, customers, and needs
With a brand like Anytime Fitness, I get a little more excited than national and regional fitness chains. Club-by-club, there is greater opportunity to dig deep into the unique desires of the market.
I’m talking Voice of Customer (VoC) research.
The Sawzall in my marketing toolbox is getting in touch with the actual customers of a given gym.
Why do I want to talk to your customers so badly? Because only they can tell us everything, darn near everything, we need to know to sell to them.
We could ask them questions like this:
What was the biggest factor in your decision to join a gym?
What was #2 on that list?
How many calls did you receive from the club?
How did those calls impact your decision to enroll or not?
- Other than price, what would have made your decision easier?
Of course, we can ask them whatever we want to get to the bottom of the matter, but I’m dead curious to know how folks feel about these calls and if they REALLY help close the deal.
The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) maintains that the number one consideration when joining a gym is the location.
Monthly dues ride shotgun, and equipment crams into the back seat, but the location takes the steering wheel of new member decision making almost every time.
Which really begs the question: where do calls from the club fit in?
Only the recipients of those calls can enlighten us best.
Like our hero standing at the edge of the bar believes, the data supports that calling leads gets them to enroll.
But, perhaps they would have enrolled anyway?
Perhaps… and this is only perhaps… they would have enrolled at a greater rate of return if better nurtured into the brand. They might have become stronger members, less likely to churn later.
According to online marketing expert, Hubspot, you’ll “see more qualified leads, shorter sales cycles, and larger purchase amounts made by nurtured leads when compared with non-nurtured leads.”
What can Anytime Fitness do?
Without dipping into the specific needs of their market, a few emails come to mind that would be on my shortlist for this business.
1) Tell the owner backstory.
Since these are usually more intimate facilities, tell me about yourself. Have you always been in fitness? Why did you open a gym? When are you there? What matters to you?
2) Network me.
What sort of community is this? If the club does any local outreach, it would be cool to know about it. Do groups exist within the club who get together for charity events, childcare support, addiction or other communal reasons? This would be some HUGE information for the right recipient.
3) Introduce me.
This is huge. Are there any other team members I can meet? Tell me that person’s story. Share an image of them.
4) Socialize me.
If your facility is on social media, an email inviting me to join your favorite platform is good for both of us.
5) Segment me.
An email geared at identifying my goals and needs would make future emails specific to those needs much easier to send with laser-point efficiency. That might keep me from churning later. That would save you from replacing my monthly dues in the future.
6) Give me ideas.
Send me a basic workout outline. Reference equipment in your club. Include links to instructional videos. Cut down my fear of looking dumb.
I could go on, but these ideas are all speculative. The gold they’re missing: VoC research, which digs into answering the unasked question:
What do these prospetive members need most to get started?
Here are a three more questions that might come to mind for a small gym owner:
What will keep my prospective members engaged over the long haul?
What will help me as a business owner from having to constantly replace members who churn?
What would reducing churn by 5% do for my monthly dues tap? What about 10%? 20%?
Now I’m talking crazy, I know, but what’s crazier? Spending your time and energy getting new customers or keeping the ones you have?
Is holding up the end of the bar until someone finally caves an argument that it’s a successful strategy?
Call me conservative, but I’d like to get to know you beforehand.
You don’t have to take me to a fancy restaurant, but abate my insecurities. Tell me your name. Tell me what you’re into. Tell me where you come from.
Let’s start with a few simple things.
Then we can get all crazy.