Email Owns the Member Lifecycle Like no Other Platform
While nobody's worried about a beast like Facebook or one of its ancillary platforms going belly up anytime soon... At the end of the day, and no matter what, you're always going to have to play by their rules when you're on their platform.
Before this starts to sound like a rag session on social media, I use social media. I use it personally. I use it professionally. You've probably found this video via some social media channel.
This is the thing that you have to keep in mind about social media. You own nothing, but the content that you have share there. Those social media platforms will only ever tell you what information you need in order to set up your campaigns.
But you'll never own the most important data. You'll never be able to personalize messaging the way that you can with email marketing.
The best thing about email marketing is that it is everything you think it is, but not certainly in the way that you tend to think about such things. Email marketing is not only a (1) sales machine, it's a (2) sales culture machine, which in turn makes it your ideal (3) digital retention machine.
It is everything you think it is, but it's so much more.
Before email marketing can become your digital retention machine. You have to earn that right to ask, to keep that business.
We talked about three machines, a sales machine sales culture machine, and then that digital retention. Let's dive into those a little bit and talk about why those should matter to you as a gym owner.
As a sales machine...
I'm not talking about promotional emails, the sort of emails you send to promote an event, or maybe a promotion you have going on inside of your club.
I'm talking about the sort of emails that build up to a purchase of the most important thing that you sell, which is access. I'm talking about those lead nurture students.
I talk about lead nurturing sequences all the time. So if you haven't watched one of those videos, I strongly recommend you check it out.
Here's the quick version, a lead nurture sequence is where you move a digital prospect down the funnel, from their pain point to an enrollment
You might ask, “What's a digital prospect?”
That's anyone who won't enroll by more traditional means. We're talking about people that won't just walk into your club meandering in just to check things out. They won't get on the phone with you. They probably even ignore your texts.
So now you're thinking, “Well, can't I just get those leads via social media? I mean, they're on Facebook, everybody's on Facebook, they're on the ‘Gram. I shouldn't be able to just find those leads on social media. (right?)”
There's three problems with that...
1) Social media will inevitably scare away a certain percentage of your prospects. Either because they simply don't like the structure of social media tracked, or maybe they feel like it's a little judgy.
2) You can't track customer journeys in social media. The people who own those platforms probably could, but good luck getting that data.
3) Social media will never establish a culture of sales. Not in the way that you can do it with email on social media.
With social media, you can promote something that you're selling like a service or a product to your existing customers. But, we’re talking about when you're trying to reach out to prospects, especially the ones that won't even get on that platform.
It's not going to happen, not the way that it can so beautifully with email marketing. On email, your messaging will be more personal and as you bring data into your CRM.
That personalization only increases as a sales culture machine. A culture of sales is not the same as a high pressure sales environment.
Quick story: When I used to work in corporate fitness, we used to have close outs. If you've been in fitness for any length of time, you've heard of closeout. The idea is that buying leads to more buying. And for the most part, it was actually pretty true. We would do huge numbers on those days, but at the expense of what?
It was a pretty high pressure sales environment. That's not what I'm talking about.
Culture of Sales Machine
A culture of sales is different. Whereas a high pressure sales environment is one where your members start to dread going to the gym. They imagine that they're going to be presented with another sales pitch for another product or another service that they just “have to have.” Every single time. It starts to feel oppressive.
A culture of sales, on the other hand, is one where your members feel comfortable with your suggestions for ancillary products and services. It’s because they like you and trust you. You offer those purchases as real solutions to their problems because you know what those problems are and you know, what will solve them.
So, where does email come into this? We were talking about leads, these prospects; people have no idea about you or your business. Now we're talking about this culture of sales, where people trust you and like you.
Email bridges the gap. Email is the thing that reaches into a person's inbox, a very private space for people. It’s the place where they're open, if you say the right things, to hearing what you have to say.
That's where we start to build to our retention machine. But before we can get there, there are a few logistics that have to be settled. There's a little bit of work that has to go into play before you can just suddenly put on that hero cape and save members.
Two things come to mind as the most important with a few caveats and identify which I'll get into.
1) Your ESP and your CRM should communicate as robustly as possible.
That means you're collecting good data. That means everybody on your team is invested in and understands the value of collecting good data.
2) You should have the appropriate emails set up to ship based on an event triggers.
An event trigger is an action captured digitally. So it could be actually something done online, through a person's inbox, something they do on social media. It could also be something that they do in clubs that's captured digitally.
And when that event happens, it triggers an email or a series of emails.
Let's talk about some examples that might come to mind. Let’s say a member stops coming to the gym for a predetermined period of time. You'd have an email ready to go personalized with their name and the date of their last visit.
Maybe you invite them to meet for free with a trainer. At the end of the email, there's a call to action with a link that takes them to a walking site where they can just book that session with that trainer in order for that email to ship the way you want it to ship.
This is why triggers matter. There would have to be the appropriate event triggers set up captured by your CRM, communicated to your ESP.
How about another example? Let's say a member shops, your online store, but they abandoned while they're browsing. Now, you know who they are... Well, your CRM and your ESP know who they are... They're being cookied and tracked online. They were interested in that product, but they just bounced for some reason or another.
Your ESP can send them an email, urging them to revisit their consideration and possibly make that purchase. That all happens automatically without you doing anything.
Doing this requires that you have everything set up in advance. Data captured, which triggers your CRM and your ESP, and an email ships.
Starting to sound like a high pressure sales environment, and not this fancy culture of sales thing I keep talking about?
If you started the relationship with this person via email, via a lead nurture sequence that was warm and simple, they won't wonder why you're suddenly shipping these sort of email. As long as they like and trust you, they’ll go along with your suggestions. If you done the right work up front, they certainly won’t feel pressured.
Skipping steps in this could absolutely make this circumstance feel out of the blue. If I'm a member of yours and I've never received anything more than a, maybe a single welcome email or purchase receipt, and now you're watching my online behavior? And you’re sending me emails?
This all brings us to the retention.
Nobody wants to get to the point of having to save a member. I mean, sure. It feels great. And it beats losing them for more than one reason. Number one, your trying to be that place for your members and for your prospects. And number two, it may cost more to replace them from a revenue standpoint, depending on your marketing plan and your budget.
If you don't have that culture of sales via email marketing in place, there'll be little or nothing you can do with emails to save a member at risk of churning. But if you have a culture of sales in place, especially via email, then it will be much easier to have a retention machine.
Members who are used to hearing from you via email, because they've been hearing from you via email since before they were members will not be shocked when you send them an email, inviting them to meet you with a trainer.
In fact, if it gets to that point, it may be the only move that you have, especially if they just stopped showing up to the gym.
Maybe they've changed their cell phone number or they're ignoring your texts and your calls because they knew who you are. They know why you're calling.
The only way to do this is to start at the beginning. In fact, start before the beginning. Start before they become members.
Start teaching people early that you'll communicate with them via email so that when you get to that place, where you have to do that crazy thing to try to save them, you have at least one more way to reach out to them.
All because you set up three very simple machine.
There's no reason that you can't do this work. There's no reason that you can't set this up. And frankly, there's no reason that you shouldn't set this up.
At the end of the day, this is what you're doing: Getting people involved with fitness. And you're trying to keep them involved with fitness.
If you feel like you need some help with that, if you feel like you have questions, shoot me a DM. Send me an email. I want to talk to you.