The link between data and marketing

  • Andy Hall
  • Oct 19, 2020
  • 11 Min Read

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The fitness sector is an exciting place to be. Globally, it’s worth approximately $100 billion, with over 210,000 fitness and health clubs. Since 2013, we’ve also seen a 121% rise in consumers signing up and using boutique gym and fitness facilities.   However, with the growth of the market comes increased competition and where previously location was one of the most influential factors when deciding which gym to join, consumers are far more fickle today. Experience, price and community are all key influencers on where consumers spend their healthy pounds and dollars.    

As fitness operators, you would have seen the market change considerably over the past ten years. Roadside banners have been replaced by digital banners, good old-fashioned PR has been buffered by influencer marketing and leaflets are never to be seen in the modern marketeer’s armoury. There’s much more to consider when developing your marketing plan in 2020 and beyond, and that’s without even taking Covid-19 into consideration.  

Big data has been around for years. It’s not new. 

Big data analytics involves examining large amounts of data, which is done to uncover the hidden patterns, correlations and also to give business insights enabling you to make more informed business decisions. In short, forward-thinking and trailblazing organisations have realised the need for evolving from a “knowing” organisation to a “learning and growing” organisation. There is a burgeoning trend for the most successful businesses to become more objective and data-driven, and the only way they can achieve this is by harnessing the power of data and technology. 

This blog looks to explore the tremendous impact data can have on your marketing and sales strategy.  

Leads, leads, leads! 

Did you know that in the region of 26% of all marketing budgets are wasted on ineffective strategies? Wow, imagine what you could do with that 26% if you were given it back today. But, there is a way that you can ensure your marketing strategies are firing on all cylinders and that 26% can be put to great use. The answer is data and forensically evaluating the insights, to learn which actions enable you to reduce waste and achieve better performing campaigns that increase membership sales, revenue and profit.  

First thing to note here is that you don’t need any type of special qualification to do this, in fact, all of this insight could be available at the touch of a button (or two), thanks to advances in technology and sophisticated capabilities of the right data system and partner.  

Customer acquisition and data 

The customer is the most important asset that any business depends on. There is no single business that can claim success without first having to establish a solid customer base. However, even with a good customer base, a business cannot afford to disregard changes within the market, increased competition and other influencing external factors. If a business is slow to adapt and even slower to learn what customers are looking for, it’s very easy to offer poor-quality products and services. In the end, a loss of members and customers will be the result, and this creates an adverse overall effect on business success.

Your current data holds so much insight that can shape, form and influence your marketing spend and activity. By analysing your data on a regular basis, you can generate profound insights into customer preferences and trends over time.

By using data analytics and forensics to measure and monitor your marketing activity, it can help you track important metrics and you’ll learn how to optimise your campaigns for the best ROI. For example, with better and more efficient data management and tracking, we can look to monitor and measure the following, all in one place.  

  • Website traffic –  Quickly and simply you learn the source of the traffic, page views generated, and actions taken on your website.
  • Lead conversion rate – Data can determine the lead conversion rate for your campaigns.
  • Trends – Data analytics can help better understand what audiences in your market are searching for in real-time, thus creating a better understanding of  trends that you can capitalise on.
  • Channel performance – Data can demonstrate the performance of every marketing channel you use. 

Customer Segments 

Developing a well-versed understanding of your customers’ behavior is central to developing high performance marketing strategies. With better use and analysis of your data, you can quickly and effectively build a bespoke, 360-degree view of your customers, including their geographic location, average lifetime value, interests, hobbies, behaviours and much more. This information can inform your marketing strategy for the best return on investment. And if you realise a key customer demographic is converting poorly, you can look to evaluate your campaigns and messaging to better address their needs.

It’s time to get personal

We talk a lot about personalisation but nailing this is key to get more leads and closing more sales. It’s believed that some 90 percent of retailers now use personalisation in their marketing efforts and further reports quoting an ROI of 20 to 1 when personalisation is used.  

Personalised marketing isn’t new. Who remembers the Coca-Cola campaign where names were printed on bottles? Who brought a bottle with their name on? Or brought a bottle with a friend’s name on? Simple, personalised marketing which saw Coca-Cola boost their sales in the US for the first time in over ten years.   

Data analytics can help you build a customer persona, which you can leverage through various strategies to drive more sales.

Implementing a more targeted and personalised campaign means that businesses can save money and ensure efficiency. In turn, you might not generate as many leads but the leads you do receive are likely to be high-converting and better quality, and this is because you’ve been able to target the right people, in the right way, with the right message, at the right time.  

Where to start? 

Sometimes, the job of analysing data can be overwhelming, especially if you’re working in a business with multiple sites. There’s good news though, your data can be analysed computationally and with very simple dashboard management. Your dashboard and data management solution can reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions with your brand.   

This can help determine your blueprint or road map to better understand who your prospects are, what their preferences, interests, goals, lifestyles, challenges, and even personal stories are too. By understanding this, you can develop your strategy and, in turn, match this to marketing tactics that can help you develop stronger, more qualified leads.  

You might be surprised at the historical information and data you currently have on your customers, not to mention prospects and even those who didn’t join. This can also tell you a great deal and influence your marketing strategy.   

The right data partner can help you develop algorithms to create granular data sets for your prospects and identify what factors will result in a conversion.  

It’s a journey….

Once you’ve used data to better solidify your sales funnel, it’s vital that data usage and analysis doesn’t stop here. Further analysis of data can generate further and ongoing insight into member and customer behaviour and, in turn, how to optimise lifetime value.  

The power of referral marketing 

Let’s face it, it can be expensive to gain and convert a new lead into a sale. It’s therefore critical we don’t stop interacting and engaging with customers and members and learning from the day-to-day data they give us. This can inform and influence our ongoing sales marketing.  

Member referrals can be a fitness club’s best-converting channel. But only if they are delivered to the right members, at the right time and with the right reward. 

Happy, motivated members refer more people organically. In fact, a study by Saasquatch revealed that an average of 2.68 friends are referred by engaged customers (of course, this figure could be much higher if you nail your member experience and turn everyone into raving fans of your business!) 

Reducing attrition 

There’s no point in generating an improved sales strategy, with better performing leads and a better quality of sale if they are only to leave four months later.  Therefore, it’s important sales and marketing teams look at how the member or customer is interacting with the gym and what services they are using (this can also help feed into future sales campaigns and messaging). This links heavily into member engagement and your ability to deliver a hyper-personalized experience that creates a deep, long-lasting relationship with members inside and outside the four walls of your facility. The key to achieving this is, of course… data! And more information about this can be found in our member engagement playbook.  Here we detail how you can harness the power of virtual engagement to deliver the ultimate hybrid gym model (used by the likes of Anytime Fitness) that’s proven to boost member engagement, secondary spend, and lifetime value.

On the flip side, we can use data to understand the behaviour and triggers of leavers, understanding why they stopped using. Once we start to understand trends, we can set up flags – and automated actions – to reduce this happening and indeed look to alter our operation to improve the member experience. 

Once you understand who your high risk members are, you can look to implement an at-site strategy in a bid to move high-risk members into the safe zone, and this is often by encouraging people into assisted programmes.  

Did you know that only 9.6% of the UK population takes part in group exercise weekly and 30.0% annually, according to YouGov, yet, the risk of a member cancelling their gym membership is 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers? This is an unbelievable statistic and begs the question why more operators aren’t ploughing more resources into driving people into more assisted fitness programmes and products. Do you know what your risk factors are?   

If we look at the gym only members and how they experience the facility, they come to work out on the gym floor (or take a swim) 2-3 times (maybe more) a week.  Do you know how often they are spoken to? Maybe the odd “hello” from someone on reception? Do you know what their goals are? How exercise savvy are they? Do they understand how to effectively train to get the results they want? Has any of the fitness team ever spoken to them? If most of the answers to these questions are no, is it any wonder their motivation dwindles from time to time and they soon cancel their membership? Whereas, on the flipside, you have a member who trains with a PT once a week and attends group exercise classes on three other days. They are constantly engaging with experts, with people who are inspiring. They are engaging with other members who have similar goals and characteristics and feel part of a community. They are on a performance improvement plan and have help, support, encouragement and motivation. Happy days. What impact would it have on your business if just 5% of the “at risk,” gym only members started to engage more? Maybe brought some PT services or simply stayed longer and referred another member? This could take you a while to manually run those numbers. With the right data partner you could have the answer in a matter of minutes. Pretty powerful right?   


Data analytics is vital for any business looking for growth and better commercial return. By using and analysing data on a regular basis – part of your business as usual strategy – your business can achieve competitive advantage, reduce the cost of operation, drive membership and customer retention; leading to increased revenue and profit.  .

Becoming a data-driven business doesn’t require huge amounts of change or investment as all the data you need is already at your fingertips; instead, it’s about partnering with the right provider that knows your sector and can implement the appropriate, real-time data analysis systems to handle your data in a way that maximises your marketing efficiency and outputs to increase leads and sales. Data, it’s really quite cool when you get to know it!