Leveraging the Health Club Member Journey

A good platform accounts for the right contact at the right time and gives members the tools they need to help manage their own memberships.

For many years, the term "customer journey” has been used to refer to the path or interactions a consumer has with your brand, product, and/or services. The consumer could be a referral, a current customer or member, someone potentially looking at your services, or even the internal staff that manage your business.

The journey itself encompasses all touchpoints—both online and offline—between a consumer and a brand, product, or service. It includes not only the direct points of interaction between customers and companies—ads, commercials, websites, etc.—but also the indirect contact points where the opinion of third parties about a brand, product, or service is obtained—review portals, user forum, blog, etc.

Typically, the customer journey model includes stages like awareness or discovery, when someone discovers your products or services, and conversion, where potential customers have turned into actual customers, having purchased your products or services.

A Different Kind of Journey

In the health club industry, the customer journey is specific to its own, unique audience, hence the term “member journey.” While some of the terminology and steps in the journey are similar, the logistics and pathways differ when creating an overall experience.

Nick Thornton, vice president of sales at Club Automation, outlines the member journey through what he calls “The Experience.”

It goes as follows:

  1. Engage Prospects

  2. Increase Conversions

  3. Activate Members

  4. Customize Experiences

  5. Automate Admin

Club Automation The Experience Column Width

1. Engage Prospects

“This stage is really about showing a prospect some way, somehow that you exist,” he says. “It might happen through a Facebook ad, Instagram, maybe they drove by your storefront, or [it’s] as simple as talking to their phone saying, ‘Hey, Siri, find a club near me.’”

2. Increase Conversions

“Once you've grabbed the attention of a prospective member looking at your club, converting that person to a member can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Nick. “We know that if you respond to a prospect’s interest in less than a minute, your chances of conversion increase by 230%. You will close the member. When a prospect is looking for a club, they’ll likely fill out three or four web forms before making a decision. If you make the process seamless, you’ll get increased conversions.”

Having a simple-to-use form on your website prospects can easily fill out for more information is essential. Even giving prospects the option to try out a guest pass or start a free trial are easy options to increase your conversions.

3. Activate Members

With 89% of all traffic going to mobile devices, Nick notes you need to make sure your member journey is optimized for mobile. The bottom line is you want people to be able to become members in as few clicks as possible.

“Once prospects convert, how quickly can they interact with your club?” he asks. “How quickly can they reserve a class, court, swimming lane, or other activity? Make sure your website and mobile app empower new members to begin their journey as soon as they join. They need to feel they can manage their own experience online as soon as possible.”

4. Customize Experiences

In 2022, everyone wants to feel like their individual needs are being met. That isn’t different in the fitness industry. Every member you serve wants their own unique, personalized experience. That includes everything from greeting the member by name every time your mobile app is used and even acknowledging the time of day—e.g., “Good morning, Jon”—to proactively and automatically serve up messages from a particular trainer the member follows or extend additional opportunities based on the member’s previous activities or classes booked.

“People now expect that personalized experience,” says Nick. “It’s a great way to lead members into new experiences, while moving the needle on your overall revenue.”

5. Automate Admin

With such a focus on the member experience, having a focus on your staff experience is equally as important. Your staff provide that in-person experience your members are looking for. By providing automated processes, taking all the manual tasks and paperwork associated with creating the member experience out of someone’s hands and making sure that each step in the journey links to the others, you can create a better experience for all.

Leveraging the Club Member Journey Experience Column Width

“The Experience”

To serve and optimize the member experience, Club Automation, Motionsoft, VFPnext, and CSI have collaborated to create The Experience, a purpose-built prospect, member, and staff journey.

“The five steps discussed above are included in one core system—The Experience—so your member experience never lags,” notes Nick. “All of those stages are seamlessly tied together through the use of automation tools, making it easier to immediately get members into each stage.”

In looking at your member journey, Nick recommends taking some initial steps to set yourself up for success. First, assess your outreach tools, such as MailChimp, Facebook ads, and SEO management. Don't just look at what these tools do, look at the outcome. What did you get out of it? It’s part of creating a mindset around having your member journey create the outcome you want to achieve.

“Number two, evaluate your member signup and member acquisition strategy,” he says. “Practice it. When was the last time you actually clicked from a Facebook ad and signed yourself up to be a member of your own club? These steps give you the insight you need to understand the member journey from the viewpoint of a prospect. One key thing you’ll learn—and what The Experience covers—is that members want to control their own journeys.”

Number three, create a mobile experience that keeps your members engaged, and tailor the member’s journey to their needs and wants. Simply put, give your members a personalized and seamless experience, he adds.

“And lastly,” Nick says, “automate your processes to improve staff efficiency. A happy team makes for happy members.”

To learn more about The Experience, visit Club Automation’s website. In addition, Nick and Daron Allen, founder of VFPnext and co-host of The Experience podcast, designed this podcast to give the health and wellness industry a resource for learning and sharing strategies for member experience. Find it on the Club Automation website, YouTube, Spotify, and the Apple Podcasts.

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Jon Feld

Jon Feld is a contributor to Club Business International.