The Balance of Mobile Apps and Mobile Responsive Websites

mobile responsive websites

A critical marketing tactic for health clubs is the creation and maintenance of mobile apps and mobile responsive websites. Each have different functions that serve the same overall goal of getting people through the doors, so it’s important to understand the benefits of each.

Club Solutions spoke with Adam Zeitsiff, the chief information officer and senior vice president of brand information for Gold’s Gym, about the importance and respective roles of mobile apps and mobile responsive websites.

CS: What’s the difference between having a mobile responsive website versus a mobile app? Do you need both?

AZ: In this day and age, people are so accustomed to having their smartphone in their hand, and the responsiveness that a native mobile app gives them. They are so used to being able to click on a mobile app, for Gold’s Gym, for example, or whatever product or service they have, and get information and engage with that brand. I think that’s a key thing. A mobile website is great, and certainly a mobile responsive website that’s deployed and done correctly is great, especially when it comes to marketing. I think we look at it as, “We have a mobile responsive website. It’s great to introduce people to Gold’s Gym, who we are, where the locations [are], how can we help you achieve your fitness goals along your fitness journey, and give you some information.”And that’s how we use mobile responsive websites — it’s great. I’m sure the research shows that three-quarters of the population views websites on their mobile phones, so that’s critical when you’re trying to attract new people into your clubs.

I think once they’re in your club and they become a member, the way you keep them engaged is with the mobile app. Really, it’s the differentiator. If I start a workout, and my workout’s over, eventually the data will sync over through the cloud to my mobile app or directly to my mobile app, and now I can see my workout history. So I believe [you need them both], because they’re two different animals.

CS: Why is it important to have a well-designed website?

AZ: In this day and age a poorly designed app is going to try [consumers’] patience; it’s not going to give them [the information now]. That’s unfortunate, but that’s the world we live in, so a well-designed website needs to be clear, it needs to be concise, it needs to get your message across, right from the becoming, so they can understand why you’re different. It has to say that quickly and in a well-designed fashion, or they’re going to get frustrated.

CS: What features should you have on your site?

AZ: Certainly in the health club industry, you should list all of your clubs, it should really talk about the amenities there. Testimonials, whether it’s quotes — video is the second-largest search engine, I believe. Video is a huge piece, so embedding video in there of a customer testimonial not only will get you additional search results from YouTube, but also, people like to see that. They like to see that Joe or Sally who was just like them, who had some health issues, who had problems sticking with their fitness journey, went to your club, found your people easy to work with and caring, and they can hear it from the horse’s mouth. That’s powerful, so certainly video should be on there in some cases to help attract people, get them engaged, and get them to decide they need to pop in and learn more about your club.

CS: How can you ensure it’s user-friendly? Same with the app?

AZ: The biggest way to do it is some research on the latest trends in website design, mobile responsive design, and also just talking to people — people that are sometimes afraid to go out there and show people what they’ve done in a test format and get feedback. We do get feedback from our members — we’ve gone in front of our members for days on end in the club and showed them new designs for mobile apps, services and products, and asked them to try them out. We’ve asked them to fill out a short survey afterward, and ease of use is one of those things.

I think in the health club world, very few people can afford to just build their own app. Right now, we partner with the Netpulses of the world, things of that nature. So I think the best thing I could say is talk to those people and get their advice, because it’s what they do for a living. As health club operators, we’re good at interacting, engaging, making people healthy and getting them fit, and focusing on their overall health and wellness — we’re probably not the world’s most renowned experts in mobile app development. It’s not what we do, it’s not our Kool Aid. Talk to those partners, especially like Netpulse. Ask, “How can I make this a simple and effective tool for my members, to keep them engaged?”

CS: Any other advice?

AZ: The only other thing I could say is look at what other industries are doing. Just because we’re in the health club industry doesn’t mean that we’re doing something so completely different than the rest of the world that you just can’t compare it. Go out there, look at hospitality — hotels are a good one. Look at what they do, look at Starbucks, look and see what they do. How do they communicate? How often?

We think we live in this little box — and yes, what we do is unique and exciting, and we help people and change their lives, but just because it’s not what people do in other companies doesn’t mean we can’t use some of the models they’ve found to be effective for engagement and for supporting their members through the mobile relationship.

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