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Win Back or Acquire? The Secret to Deciding

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Christy Brown, the director of enterprise marketing for Daxko’s Club Division, shares strategies to help you choose to win back or acquire members.

It’s a tale as old as time. You want to increase your club membership, but you’ve got to answer one key question first: Where should you start? Should you focus on winning back lost members? Or should you set your sights on the attracting new members from the many without a fitness facility to call home?

As our industry segues from surviving through the turbulence of 2020 to thriving in a season of increased opportunity, it’s important to evaluate the pros and cons of each strategy to determine which will best support your club’s goals.

Acquiring New Members

As our country increases its vaccination rates and states ease restrictions on fitness businesses, a huge opportunity for reaching a newly hungry and largely expanded audience presents itself. The pool of those looking for fitness memberships has expanded to include:

  • Members of studios and gyms who cancelled during COVID-19 shutdowns.
  • People who want to start a fitness routine post-pandemic.
  • People seeking community after a period of isolation.

When you consider these groups alongside the pre-pandemic statistics that only 20% of Americans are members of health clubs and 67% of Americans know they should exercise regularly but don’t because they haven’t found a form they like, opportunity abounds.  

Despite the benefits, having a large audience also poses its own set of limitations. For one, with an expansive and diverse audience, it can be difficult to pinpoint who to target and with what messaging. Additionally, studies show that acquiring a new member requires a higher cost of acquisition than winning back an old member. Acquiring new members requires more time from staff members, who will spend additional hours giving tours, following up, and familiarizing prospects with club offerings. 

Securing Win Backs

Similarly, choosing to go the route of winning back old members comes with several inherent benefits and challenges. One of the major pros of going after lost members is that you already know them. You have data on what types of programs they’re interested in, how often they visited your club and you may even know why they left. When it comes time to craft a message to win them back, you know exactly what will pique their interest. Additionally, from a cost of acquisition standpoint, it costs five times less to win back a member than it does to acquire a new one, and clubs are 13 times more likely to sell to a past customer than a new one.

On the other hand, if you’re going after a lost member, there’s a chance that their reason for leaving can’t be reconciled. In that case, you may be barking up the wrong tree, wasting time and resources that could be better spent on finding new members.

Why Not Both?

In an ideal world, you won’t have to choose between winning back old members and acquiring new ones. With the right technology tool to help with digital marketing, communications, and prospect and member management, it’s entirely possible to do both — giving your club a leg-up when it comes to continuously growing your member base.

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Christy Brown

Christy Brown is the Director of Enterprise Marketing for Daxko’s Club Division. She can be reached at cbrown@daxko.com or visit clubautomation.com.    

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