Step One in the Health Club Member Journey: Your Website

While social channels and other digital marketing matters, your website is likely the first place prospective health club members encounter your brand and experience. Make it count.

For the past few years, we’ve discussed the importance of omnichannel marketing. We defined it in several ways, but it always seems to boil down to connecting with the customers that drive your business wherever they are. But how do you most effectively tap into the omnichannel experience?

“Channel priorities and engagement levels depend on a variety of factors and include websites, mobile apps, social media, print media, broadcast media, email, events, messengers, location branding, and more,” explains Tony Stehn, vice president of digital marketing sales at, a full-service digital agency.

“There is rarely a single solution that works across varying businesses and markets. Our experience with fitness clubs across several categories, sizes, and regions provides an educated starting point with new clients. Our discovery process is geared to efficiently customize an omnichannel engagement strategy that best serves each unique client and maximizes ROMI, or return on marketing investment.”

Website as the Focal Point

While it seems that there are an endless number of social channels and platforms—and they seem to grow every month—the one consistent point of contact and start of any member journey is most often your website.

Member Journey AE Column Width Listing Image

This generation of shoppers is the most informed in our world’s history. People are busy and typically have short attention spans, therefore, your website has to do an exceptional job of showcasing the best of your club and make it easy for users to find the information they need to make a decision,” Tony says. “Prospects are reading reviews, they’re comparing your club amenities to others and judging your photos and virtual tours as part of that decision making process.

“Is your current website currently doing an excellent job of showing the best of your club, amenities, and vibrant membership community? As opposed to social media channels, which have certain limitations for story size and scope, your website is the one sort of clearing house where you can make the biggest visual and informational impact.”

The User Journey and Your Site

Just as we’ve covered the omnichannel experience, we’ve also discussed the user, or member journey, in terms of joining a club and renewing when the time is right. For many prospects, their decision to join your club has been made before they actually walked through your door. The digital touchpoints that affirm their confidence in membership selection—the points of contact you make between when they first reach out and they make a final decision—are more important than ever before.

Those digital touchpoints, Tony says, should be intelligently maximized by website optimization, local search improvements, social media planning, curated email list management, and persona-informed campaigns.

To his first point, it again starts with your website.

“So, how can clubs gear their websites to the optimal user journey?” he asks.

“It’s all about showing them what they get. Websites should always prioritize first impressions. What do people see when they arrive at your site? Investment in photography and branding is an investment in your user journey.”

“Prospects and members alike should build familiarity and comfort with the look of your brand and the look of your club. It should be congruent. It should be consistent. The best examples look so good throughout the membership journey that memberships become aspirational purchases.”

When considering what goes into the journey for your website, it’s specific to your needs and goals.

“The good news is that each club’s solution does not need to be all or nothing,” Tony asserts. “Developing the right content, the right messaging, photography, and virtual tours can be an iterative process—and should be as those can all change as your business evolves.

“Prioritize a wish list. Commit to excellence within your club’s highest priorities. Then, target the next. Sound a bit like a fitness coach? What is most important to your overall wellness? Let’s start with nutrition and exercise routines that target that. But that’s how you should think about it.”

Getting it Wrong…and Right

The one marketing mistake Tony sees operators make most often is not making the best use of their core resources.

“Some club leaders focus so much on prospects that they lose sight of their club’s most important marketers and ambassadors: their members,” he says. “Are there opportunities for your members to grow stronger affinity for, and connection with, your club’s brand? Are there fitness achievements that can be celebrated via social media? Might there be popular apparel items you could offer members that happen to include your logo? Could you develop a member email that includes calendars, fitness advice, and links to resources on your website? Be creative with opportunities to build brand awareness, alignment, and affinity with club members.”

As for getting it right, Tony points to the example of Fitness World, a 15-club Canadian chain that went through a complete rebrand in 2020. They were challenged with a technologically outdated website, difficulty being found in online searches, low ROMI on advertising, and more. created programming designed to reimagine and reshape Fitness World’s entire digital presence on every level, resulting in much higher levels of overall profitability, including a 45% increase in revenue and a 36% increase in ecommerce conversion rates.

“Here’s how we work,” he says. “The essential steps in all our client relationships include a thorough discovery, strategy, implementation, and measurement. It can really progress quite quickly and starts with an introductory phone call that can inform that first discovery step.

“I love it when my phone rings. I welcome a call from any IHRSA member. is here to help your club grow and promote wellness in the communities you serve.”

To learn more about’s digital marketing solutions, visit their website.

Related Articles & Publications

Jon Feld

Jon Feld is a contributor to Club Business International.