How Health Clubs Can Solve Their ‘Infobesity’ Problem

Health clubs have become so good at collecting data that we have more than we can handle. Here’s your lifeline.

Recently, The Economist proclaimed that data is now the most valuable resource in the world, taking the No. 1 spot from oil. While some may quibble with that bold claim, it’s clear that data is the juice that runs the new economy.

It’s an apt analogy. Oil and data have much in common. Oil, in its pure form, has a lot of intrinsic worth but little practical value. It has to be refined before it becomes the gasoline that runs our automobiles and creates the manufacturing materials that produce the enormous range of petroleum-based products.

Similar to oil, data has to be filtered and processed before it has any true worth to your day-to-day business. Information collected and stored by your club management software and other resources has to be organized, analyzed, and put into context before it can serve your strategic objectives.

That’s easier said than done, of course. We’ve become so good at collecting data that we have more than we can handle. This has led to a new condition in modern business culture: infobesity.

Infobesity is a type of information overload that overwhelms business owners and their employees. Instead of being enlightened by data, you end up wasting time, or worse, making strategic errors because you misinterpreted the information or just gave up due to its complexity. Infobesity has been called “the enemy of good decisions” and a major cause of “analysis paralysis.”

“Infobesity is a type of information overload that overwhelms business owners and their employees.”

Beyond being overwhelmed with data, you can also make the mistake of cherry-picking information that fits your preconceived notions. Or as British Economist Ronald Coase once put it: "Torture the data, and it will confess to anything."

As automation increases, the problem is only going to get worse. Artificial Intelligence (AI), chatbots, smart machines, biometric devices—all of these tools increase the unfiltered data points that you collect internally and externally.

And not only do you have a lot more data, it’s never been more important to your customer service, operational efficiency, and sales success. This has caused some business experts to update an old adage to, “Garbage in, garbage out, with higher levels of risk.”

You need a data strategy that eliminates the noise and gives you what you need.

Data Mining for Today’s Health Club

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The first step in organizing your data is to eliminate redundancies and conflicting information. Your CRM and other digital resources need to be integrated, and data reports should be configured to your needs. If you have different silos collecting data, then mashing them together, you’ll waste time hitting the delete key to harmonize it all into one report.

When dealing with infobesity, you need to understand what data points are valuable to your goals. Some technologies are geared toward one piece of a member’s lifecycle instead of its entirety. As an example, while selling and onboarding new members is key to your business, you should not put all of your focus there. To deliver a superior customer experience, your data should provide you with ways to engage and service your prospects and members throughout the club lifecycle.

A new IHRSA e-book, How to Maximize Your Gym’s Data Strategy for Sales & Retention, discusses how psychographics can help achieve those ends. Psychographics is “the study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria, especially in market research.” Some marketing experts put it this way: “Demographics explain who your buyer is, while psychographics explain why they buy.”

This is where psychology meets consumer behavioral patterns, and it’s a perfect fit for the fitness industry. Understanding motivations and incentives is important in convincing people to change unhealthy habits. And it delivers more targeted incentives. Psychographic data is essential in today’s marketplace where consumers are more loyal to experiences than to brands.

Your psychographics can be collected from your website, wearables, surveys, smart machine check-ins, automated messaging systems, third-party resources (e.g., Facebook), purchase histories, class attendance records—all of it tells a story. What’s important is who is writing the story for you?

You need to partner with a technology supplier who will address your infobesity head-on.

Making Data Aggregation & Analysis More Actionable for Clubs

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InTouch Technology has long specialized in helping club’s curate their data to avoid information overload. Integrating systems to produce focused, practical data has been an important part of InTouch’s mission since the company’s founding in 2005.

“The question a lot of clubs have now is, ‘How do we pull these data points from all these communication funnels and use it in the most constructive way possible?’” says Dana Milkie, president and CEO of InTouch. “You need technology that can pull the right data to help clubs create the ultimate brand experience and engagement.”

Milkie says that he speaks with club operators who question what purpose data serves if it doesn’t move the needle. “It’s one thing to say, ‘Look at all this information, and all these reports,’ but unless you can bring it down to a practical level, it’s not going to serve a useful function.”

InTouch designs their software products to help eliminate the noise. The InSights reporting dashboard utilizes filters to drill down to the KPIs that are critical to your operation. The system’s intuitive analytic tools can sift data from macro to micro across staff, multiple clubs, and different geographic areas.

SmartGoals makes your sales data more actionable by utilizing InTouch’s suite of lead-capturing technology to optimize communication with prospects. You’ll be able to leverage your data into branded, personalized presentations to member and personal training leads.

Keep in mind that your members are also experiencing their own infobesity issues with notifications, text messages, and emails. As micro-targeting and predictive analytics become more important tools, you’ll need a system that has the perfect blend of automation and human touchpoints. The InTouch Converse+ messaging system takes into account the need for human connection while leveraging digital delivery capabilities.

To learn how InTouch Technology can bring clarity to you data services, visit InTouch’s website, or email them at sales@intouchtechnology.com.

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Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org