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Online Join: Why It’s a Must-Have

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Two industry experts share how having an online join option can easily boost profits and improve your customer experience.

In today’s fast-paced and mobile world, consumers expect the purchases they make to be one thing: convenient.  

“The easier it is for them to get needed information and complete a purchase with you, the happier they’ll be,” said Stephanie Burns, a contributor to Forbes. “In the long run, convenience may just decide your ability to grow your business.”

For gyms, an important factor in convenience is the ability for members to buy a membership online — something more and more clubs are beginning to offer. 

This includes Gold’s Gym SoCal, which has had an online join feature for years. However, the process was recently improved through a technology ecosystem encompassing:  

  • GymSales, a lead management system.
  • ABC Financial, a management software through which members can join online and manage their accounts.
  • SWETI Marketing, which has a robust chatbot feature integrated with Facebook Messenger.

According to Brian Morris, the senior vice president of Gold’s Gym SoCal, this online join ecosystem has resulted in an additional 30 to 35% of online sales. “Prior to that, it was around 1% or lower,” he said.

As a result, Morris views online join features as an absolute must for gyms due to their profit-generating potential and changing consumer expectations. 

“It’s a must-have for sure,” said Morris. “More and more, we’re in a world where people want things automated and to have very easy access. You want to get that volume of people who don’t necessarily want to speak to other humans.” 

In addition, Morris explained online join is beneficial for knowing exactly where prospects are coming from across varied marketing channels and automating the sales process as a whole. 

“You want to be able to track how people are actually joining,” said Morris. “Plus if you have a prospect that’s looking to join and they start the process, but then fall out of the process — also known as cart abandonment — you can then reach out by phone call or an automated text and say, ‘Hey, I saw you’re trying to join online. Is there any reason why you stopped, and can I help you finish the process?’ That’s been highly helpful because it helps increase the closing percentages when people drop out.” 

Texas Family Fitness, which has 11 locations in Texas, has also had an online join feature for years — with customer convenience being the main reason for its addition. 

“We wanted to make this available as an increasing amount of online traffic prefers the availability of purchasing online,” said Alex Rehmert, the marketing director of Texas Family Fitness. 

In fact, Rehmert has found members who join online end up staying members for longer. 

“The online option allows members to join from the comfort of their own homes,” said Rehmert. “We want to accurately depict what our members can expect through the online imagery and experience, therefore making that purchasing option easier. We see members who join online are members for longer because they familiarize themselves with our gyms prior to entering.”

Now that you know the benefits of having an online join option, what are the keys to success? 

According to Rehmert, it’s important to keep the following in mind: 

  • Make the memberships enticing. People are reading a lot of information and if they don’t feel they are getting an adequate membership then they won’t take advantage of it. Offer things competitors do not.
  • Make the flow seamless and collect lead information up-front in case the prospect backs out of a purchase.
  • Create education around the brand and why it is different than others.
  • Use enticing imagery.
  • Make sure pricing tables are easy to comprehend. Make it flow well between membership options. 

For Morris, it’s also vital to drive almost all of your marketing assets to your online join page. Don’t just make it available on your homepage and expect great results. 

“The main part is driving as many marketing assets to your join online page as you can,” said Morris. “From an email or social media campaign to a pay per click or Google My Business campaign, we’ve tied the majority of our marketing assets toward join online, and we’ve seen a higher increase in volume of members joining online. Don’t be afraid to actually put almost all of your marketing assets toward a join online offer.” 

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Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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