Outside the Box: Digital Marketing for Health Clubs

New digital marketing tools and shifting consumer habits have changed the game. Learn how The Claremont Club is playing to win.

  • August 12, 2019

Marketing new initiatives to club members or corralling prospects to increase membership isn’t what it used to be. With email, messaging services, social media, and the enormous amount of online clutter, today’s marketing departments are hard-pressed to create reliable campaigns that result in deep penetration and a productive response rate.

Even well-established clubs can get lost in the noise. Shannon Malooly, sales and marketing director for The Claremont Club, said she believes you need “marketing with a twist.”

Moving from Reactive to Proactive Marketing

“A lot of marketing is reactive, and communication is multidirectional,” Malooly said during her IHRSA 2019 session. “Customers have a larger voice now. They want results.”

In some ways, consumers run the show. Think about when you’re choosing a restaurant to dine at for the evening. You go to Yelp or a similar site and see what other consumers are saying. This is the space where a lot of buying decisions are made, and marketers have to be able to engage and react accordingly.

“Reactive marketing is the polar opposite of proactive marketing, because instead of working to anticipate changes in consumer markets, it usually takes place because of unforeseen or unplanned competition,” she said.

Marketing used to be more long range in its planning and execution. Now, with today’s trackable content management systems (CMS), it’s more spontaneous and responsive to events and messages that appear on multiple platforms. As a result, communications with consumers are instantaneous and public.

Another way marketing has changed, according to Malooly, is in the language you use when speaking to customers. Emails, social media, text messages—these communications have to sound genuine and direct.

“You have to think of it as a personal response. You have to use phrases, slogans, hashtags, and texts in the same way the audience speaks.”

Marketing 2.0: Optimizing Your Outreach with Digital Tools

Another aspect of marketing that’s changed is the availability of the club when communicating. Your members expect you to react quickly to their requests and feedback, particularly if it’s negative. These demands require that more people in your organization be involved in communications.

“Almost every employee has to be involved in social media,” Malooly explained. “Your entire marketing team really is the entire community at the club. Your voice has to be everywhere. You can’t just be in one place.”

The growing capabilities of your CMS provide a number of tools that eliminate redundancies and wasted effort. Technology innovations such as AI (artificial intelligence), TDA/RTDA (topical data analysis/regional topical data analysis), and geofencing provide a more targeted approach to consumer habits and spending patterns. This means your outreach should be optimized for maximum impact.

“You have to think of it as a personal response. You have to use phrases, slogans, hashtags, and texts in the same way the audience speaks.”

Shannon Malooly, Sales and Marketing Director

The Claremont Club - Claremont, CA

This has led to unique approaches to increasing market penetration, including:

  • campaign differentiation;
  • impression-based marketing;
  • forced engagement;
  • traceable analytics.

These tools take into account everything from device usage to political views. This is a long way from the days when marketers relied on ZIP code, gender, and age data to create saturation-based initiatives.

Acting on Digital Marketing Data

While these digital advances increase the learning curve for marketing professionals, it also leads to a more complete and successful tabulation of your results.

“In traditional marketing, it was really hard to track and quantify where somebody came from, how they heard about the ad. Maybe they saw a billboard, or perhaps a friend told him joining was a good idea,” said Malooly. “With digital marketing, everything’s trackable. You can develop your marketing campaign based on true behaviors.”

As an example, the ability to track usage from clicks to time spent on a webpage helped Malooly and her team learn that their videos were too long. And they could tabulate how many people were opening their emails, and adjust their messaging accordingly. All of this data helped create more effective campaigns for The Claremont Club.

When using these tools, it’s important that you know where you’re starting from, said Malooly. You need to have a plan.

“Manage your resources to maximize impressions,” she said. “Track attrition with engagement rates, and determine your goals before you measure your outcomes.”

In the end, you should have relevant and measurable KPIs (key performance indicators) that help eliminate waste and create even more qualified sales leads.

Remaining Innovative and Bold

Technology is a fast-growing trend, and today’s Marketing 2.0 approach is sure to evolve as digital tools improve and consumer habits change. You have to remain innovative and bold in your approach.

“Content management systems are going to get bigger,” she said. “Automation is going to increase. You have to be ready for any change that’s coming your way.”

But while you need to stay head of the tech curve, Malooly stressed that consumers still need the human touch.

“You have to know when technology has its limits,” she said. “Nothing can replace an actual person or a handshake.”

“You have to know when technology has its limits. Nothing can replace an actual person or a handshake.”

Shannon Malooly, Sales and Marketing Director

The Claremont Club - Claremont, CA

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