Getting members engaged

  • Andy Hall
  • Sep 07, 2020
  • 9 Min Read

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What do Amazon, Netflix and Cadburys all have in common? They are nailing personalised marketing and the key to doing this is data. Data rules in all modern businesses but if you want yours to deliver genuine commercial results, it’s about collecting data, personalising it, tracking it and learning from it.  

Netflix is in over a third of U.S. households and, in the UK, has over 13 million subscribers. The success of Netflix comes from its intuitive data platform and expansive range of content, but what it has done better than any other brand on the market, is turn “customer engagement” into an exact science. The platform has prioritised learning who its customers are and how to reach them. It takes our viewing data and serves up personalised recommendations based on our habits and likes. To learn from this global zeitgeist, we must adopt more sophisticated data strategies and view member engagement as part of our daily operational systems.  

Personalisation isn’t new, but to succeed, your service, your marketing and your communications need to be tailored to your audience/membership – understanding their likes, dislikes, motivations, and goals.  

We are at the epicentre of some of the biggest shifts in society and this in itself presents its own challenges and considerations. Today, we are more aware than ever before of our health and wellbeing, and we expect brands, businesses we buy from, and even companies we work for, to recognise the part they play and take ownership of these issues in partnership with us. 

51% of consumers expect that companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they make contact. 88% of U.S. marketers reported seeing measurable improvements due to personalisation, with more than half reporting a lift greater than 10%. In fact, 81% of consumers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them and when not to.

Engaging with members is more than an email on their birthday or offering them a couple of guest passes each year. Effective member engagement goes deeper and is often about understanding their needs, wants, issues and even worries and concerns, and creating solutions to help and support them.   

For clubs and operators with thousands of members, this can sound quite a task but with data-tracking, member engagement is far simpler than ever before. At the touch of a button – using a virtual hub – you can view trends, opportunities, issues and instantly capture the mood of your membership.  

Member engagement starts from the moment someone becomes a member; from the first needs analysis, you should begin to build up a profile of what makes this person tick. Creating a simple questionnaire about their lifestyle, habits, family life, work, current health, and more can provide the data and insight required to start your data-driven member engagement strategy. By plugging in the right data-application, you can start to create bespoke and personalised tactics that drive usage, engagement and outcomes that can all be tracked and monitored.  

The right data partner will enable and encourage you to use your current and future data in a more intuitive way in a bid to serve up recommendations and different products to support members achieve more; as Netflix and Amazon do so well. The simplest way we know how to do this in the first instance is to encourage and promote your assisted products such as group exercise classes or PT. We know that this leads to increased retention. Research by IHRSA showed that “the risk of cancelling is 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers.” whilst another study found that members who take part in just one group exercise class per week are “20% more likely to be loyal members than those who visit three times per week and only workout on the gym floor”. 

Your superstar team 

We’ve all been to a fitness class with a standout instructor; one who blows your mind and makes you want to return time after time. You’re probably thinking about members of your team right now. Perhaps you have a PT who has a waiting list of six months? How can you bottle up this magic and spread it amongst more members in a bid to inspire, motivate and ultimately drive more revenue? It’s pretty simple really, you can use data and digital strategies to stream and host these classes and sessions 24/7. We aren’t suggesting you change your model of operation to become the next Les Mills On Demand, but you should be capturing these magic moments and using them to engage and galvanize your current and future membership base.

A data-driven virtual hub gives your members access to the superstar coaches and trainers with opportunities to increase member-trainer touchpoints and interaction through online training, coaching, classes, and support. This can significantly boost engagement and retention rates not to mention giving you rich-data information to learn from.  

Virtual hubs show which classes, PTs, and even equipment have the highest and lowest attendance and usage levels. From there, you can swap low performing classes with more high performing classes (online and offline) and see the direct effect this has on club attendance and lifetime value of members.  

You’ll also be able to learn who is attending your clubs, classes, PTs, and more importantly, who isn’t attending. Finding out what is, and isn’t, working for your members is valuable insight that can help you to adapt your strategies and act early to retain and acquire members. 

Leverage your facility through ‘fitfluencers’

Alongside being able to maximise the potential of your ‘superstar team,’ a virtual hub gives you the ability to stream live or recorded classes from any instructor, anywhere in the world to complement your in-house staff. No longer are you restricted to just your community of coaches. You could potentially team up with fitness influencers or other commercial brands to create even more inspiring content to reach and engage new audiences.

Why not have an amazing, Insta-famous Yoga teacher stream one class a week to all of your members across all of your facilities nationwide? Not only could this ‘sprinkling of stardust’ elevate your business locally, but you may even attract people from other countries around the world that want to take out a ‘digital membership’ with your club just because of the ‘fitfluencers’ on your books. The opportunities are endless…

Driving secondary spend 

Linked closely to effective member engagement is the increase of secondary spend and when executed in the right way, engaged members can drive your auxiliary revenue. The reason for this is pretty simple; trust. People buy from brands they trust. Therefore, if you recommend brands and services to your members, the data tells you that they are more likely to buy as they trust you know them.  

And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that all this activity drives the lifetime value of a member.   

Case study of effective member engagement through the effective use of data – Anytime Fitness 

Working with Anytime Fitness, we’ve been able to deliver data-driven member engagement strategies to secure the operational stability of 100+ clubs across the Philippines.  

The challenge:

One of the largest fitness centre chains in the Philippines, Anytime Fitness tasked Volution with an urgent challenge to deliver a technical solution bespoke to their needs that would keep them operational during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Following the news that all Anytime Fitness locations in the Philippines would be temporarily shut down due to Covid-19, Anytime Fitness quickly realised that their membership base wouldn’t be able to engage with their services as normal – and that apprehension to do so may remain for some time. 

Any remote-focused solution would need to be driven by digital expertise and bespoke to their needs as a business. They couldn’t have an “off the shelf” product that didn’t quite fit the bill.  

The process 

It was clear Anytime Fitness needed a virtual platform and mobile application that allowed its team to continue to deliver personal training sessions from any location.

Developed within a matter of days, members were able to log in to a personalised portal, which had all the Anytime Fitness branding. They were able to book Virtual PT sessions, join live or pre-recorded classes and create their own at-home workouts, all within just a few clicks.

The outcomes

  • 14.2% increase in PT revenue 
  • All staff remain employed during the lockdown period
  • Increase of $1M in revenue through data analytics and digitisation 
  • 50% of members who have signed up to the virtual hub so far are using assisted services for the first time, enhancing their engagement with the brand

The launch of this virtual hub was critical to operational stability. It kept revenue flowing and helped to minimise financial disruption and allowed senior management to maintain their budget with ease. Member engagement was high, even when members couldn’t physically visit their local gym.  

The beauty of launching a virtual hub was that it integrated perfectly into the current operating systems and, from the moment it was launched, the team had the ability to generate proprietary data insights.  

Anytime Fitness was able to monitor data visualisations of each of their selected KPIs in real-time from a central dashboard. Senior managers were able to track key trends in user engagement, how many PT sessions had been sold, where penetration rates were high, which classes were proving more popular, and how much revenue had been generated.

Shift managers also benefited directly by giving them a clear view of staff availability, which has since led to fewer complications in scheduling and far less risk of double-bookings.

Anytime Fitness’ decision to integrate a remote module has ultimately allowed them to stay operational and sustain revenue throughout the most challenging crisis of our time – though the impact of this project goes much further than that.

By taking this opportunity now, the brand has opened a new revenue stream that will continue to support the growth of their business for years to come.


What’s clear is that without a decent data strategy, you can kiss personalisation goodbye. The key to personalisation is data. And as personalisation is the key to winning the retention battle, data should be your focus. So, what will you do to become more data-driven? Perhaps it’s time to create a bespoke virtual hub for your business…