What is marketing automation—and how can you use it to save time and make money?
Without taking up any of your time, marketing automation can turn cold leads into sales appointments, new and existing customers into lifelong fans, and ex-customers into repeat buyers. It does this by:
- Nurturing leads with text messages and emails
- Handling appointment booking.
- Building value and educating clients about additional services.
- Alerting staff of at-risk customers.
- Re-engaging departed clients.
These systems are essential in today’s hyper-competitive fitness market. Gone are the days of calling leads whenever you get around to it. Your prospects demand speed, and if you don’t give it to them, your competitors will.
The majority of consumers are now inseparably connected to their mobile devices. They’re using social media, messaging apps, text messaging, integrated calendars and email, and they want a response in minutes, not hours or days.
You can certainly pay a person to sit at a desk and handle all your communications, or you can rely on technology to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. A great site with built-in marketing automation saves you time and staffing costs, and it nurtures your prospects based on which part of the buying cycle they’re in.
Below, we’ll tell you exactly what you need on your site to be competitive in the fitness industry now.
Be warned: It’s a lot of stuff, and you have to be ready to do some work. You can take this information and DIY or you can save money and hundreds of hours of headaches by having us set it up for you.
DIGITS AND DETAILS
Marketing automations rely on one thing above anything else: contact information.
As we explained in our essential elements of a great website post, a call to action is the most important element of your site. The home run: A visitor books an appointment for a consultation using an integrated booking system that logs the appointment, delivers confirmation and issues reminders.
The next best thing: A visitor enters contact information on your site, triggering automations that will warm the lead and encourage him or her to book an appointment sometime in the future.
Without contact info, your rocket ship has no fuel. But as soon as you acquire contact info—email addresses and phone numbers—you can unleash preloaded marketing sequences designed to educate, impress and encourage clients to book an appointment with your expert staff.
In the marketing world, a “prospect” is anyone who might become a client. In most cases, it’s a huge pool, and it includes hosts of people who haven’t heard of you—yet.
For our purposes, we’ll define a “lead” as any prospect who has become interested in your business in some way. This pool includes people who have visited your site, read your blog, seen your posts on social media and so on. They’re interested to a degree but are probably a long way from making a purchase.
The warmest leads are those who have engaged with you in some way and entered into a conversation with your brand. They’ve taken some step to get closer to you, and they’ve opened lines of communication—or at least consented to listen to you. You’re going to use automation to work with those leads.
But first, here’s what you need to obtain all-important contact info:
- Call-to-action buttons—You need an always visible call-to-action (CTA) button on your site, with the best being variations of “book an appointment” or “book a No Sweat Intro.” Before the client gets to the actual booking screen, he or she should be required to enter contact info. By setting things up this way, you get what you need immediately and aren’t left empty handed if a prospective client gets cold feet when the appointment calendar pops up. We’ll describe the sequences that are triggered in this path below.
- Appointment booking systems—Whenever a client books an appointment, your integrated calendar must capture the info and supply confirmations and reminders. This system must also be able to alert staff and re-engage people who cancel or miss appointments. Appointment confirmation must be immediate, and reminders should be scheduled at intervals. We’ll go over cancellation campaigns below.
- Secondary calls to action—Sometimes “book an appointment” is too much for a client, so you need a bribe to get him or her to take action. On a good gym website, contact info is traded for either information or a downloadable asset. For example, a gym might hide its prices and supply them to clients if they enter contact info—automations are triggered to do this, of course. Or a gym might offer “15 Free At-Home Workouts!” or something similar. Interested clients enter their info in exchange for a guide that’s automatically delivered, and then they’re fed into the nurturing sequences detailed below.
- Other forms and pages—We recommend your main pages give visitors limited options, not a dozen choices that prevent action. But in some cases, you might run marketing campaigns that direct people to specific pages on your site. These landing pages might showcase a promotion or service, or perhaps they contain a special bribe like recipe guide, a collection of stretching tips, and so on. These forms must all be set up to funnel contact info into your automated systems.
Tracking Your Leads, Customers and Alumni
With all these intake options available, a good gym website must track contacts so you know exactly who signed up where.
If a person entered a landing page via a Facebook ad and entered contact info in exchange for a recipe book, you need to know that. If a person entered contact info in exchange for a collection of at-home workouts on your main page, you need to know that. If a person thought about booking an appointment but didn’t follow through, you need to know that.
This info allows you to get the lead into the right sequence and ensure he or she sees the things that will give you the best chances to warm the lead and acquire the client.
No matter what, your site must be set up to easily acquire contact info—then use it. You simply can’t rely on people to “email for more info” or “contact us.” That’s not how the game is played anymore. Now it’s about clicks and contacts, so ensure your site is set up for success.
Different Nurture Sequences for Different Steps in Your Funnel
You’re going to look bad if a contact who books an appointment receives an email asking him or her to book an appointment.
Same deal if someone cancels but receives a bunch of emails that say, “Thanks for meeting with us!”
Contact info must be fed into the appropriate sequences, and your site needs to make it easy for people to be moved from sequence to sequence as actions are taken or sequences run their course.
When John Smith buys a membership, he needs to go into a new-member sequence. When Jane Jones misses her consultation, she needs to go into a cancellation sequence, and then a long-term nurture sequence if she doesn’t rebook after a short series of re-engagement communications.
We recommend you prioritize text and email.
Here are the essential sequences you need, as well as examples.
The simplest sequence, this is also one of the most important. A person who booked an appointment should be considered a very warm lead, and you want to do everything you can to ensure he or she shows up. Missed appointments cost you money.
In this sequence, a client should get an immediate “thank you for booking!” and confirmation of the date, time and location of the appointment. Including your contact info is also a good idea.
After that, the client should get a reminder—at least one, likely sent a day before the appointment.
What’s more important than this exact sequence is what happens when it’s complete: The lead goes into the new-client welcome sequence, the post-appointment nurture sequence or the cancellation/missed-appointment sequence. In all cases, this only the beginning of the trail of automations.
Example: Hey [NAME]! It’s [OWNER] from [GYM]. Thanks for booking an appointment!
You’re confirmed with [COACH] at [TIME AND DATE] at [LOCATION].
If you need anything right now, I’m happy to answer your questions. If not, we can’t wait to see you soon!
Cancellation and No-Show
People cancel or miss appointments all the time. It’s infuriating and can cost you money—but you should not give up on the lead. He or she was almost ready to come see you, so you need to do something to stoke the fire.
Cancellation and no-show are two separate sequences, but they’re so similar that we’ll cover them together. The correct sequence should be triggered as soon as the client cancels or whenever a client misses an appointment. The goal: motivate him or her to rebook and show up.
These are short, punchy sequences designed to prompt one action: booking a new appointment. After several attempts to reconnect are made, the client should be shuttled into the active lead or long-term nurture sequences, depending on how you’ve set them up.
Hey [NAME]! Sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk to you about your fitness goals! We’d still love to meet you.
When would you like to come see us?
You can book an appointment here: [INSERT LINK].
You won’t be able to close everyone, so this sequence is triggered when a prospective client books an appointment and shows up but doesn’t buy.
He or she was interested enough to come see you but didn’t make a purchase and needs to see more in order to do so. Sometimes it only takes a few reminders to get a person off “maybe.”
This is generally a longer but more intense sequence—say, 10 contacts in 14 days, with several contacts clustered in the days and hours immediately after the appointment.
[NAME]! Your goals have me fired up right now!
I’m sure [GYM] is the perfect place to make them happen!
I’m not the kind of person to spin my tires, and I don’t think you are, either. It’s time to move!
Let’s talk today so I can get you started right away.
Can you shoot me a reply here or fire off a text to [NUMBER] so we can get you going?
As mentioned above, you want to collect contact info before people have a chance to book appointments. Those who supply their info but don’t book are active leads, as are people who click on secondary CTAs, fill out other forms on your site, or supply an email address at a seminar, trade show or other in-person event.
Remember that you want to know where a lead came from so you can always target with engaging info about products and services that might interest him or her.
That said, you need a general active lead campaign that assumes a person was interested enough to supply contact info but isn’t ready to take another step—yet.
The purpose of this campaign is to get the person to book an appointment. With that in mind, the campaign should be front loaded to hit the lead several times in quick succession when your services are still fresh in his or her mind.
After the first three or four days of regular communication, you can space contacts out, but the active-lead campaign should be slightly more aggressive in nature. This person almost booked an appointment, and you must find a way to push him or her to pull the trigger.
Thanks again for your interest in [GYM].
I just wanted to make sure you know you can get hold of me at any time.
Our gym isn’t one of those giant facilities where you wander aimlessly without a clue what to do. I’m passionate about helping people, so my staff and I prioritize you at all times!
You can hit me up at this email address anytime. I WILL respond! If you prefer text or phone, I’m at [NUMBER]. And if you’re a face-to-face person—like me!—you can book an appointment right now [HERE-LINK].
If the active lead campaign is the battle, the long-term nurture campaign is the war. You might have failed to move the client to book an appointment, but he or she isn’t lost. It’s certainly less likely that the person will book now, but a good system simply fires up an automation, and any appointment it produces is a huge win that took no effort after the initial set-up.
Long-term nurture contacts are designed to inform, educate and counter common objections. These emails are usually longer, less urgent in tone and more detailed.
You might use these emails to show off your expertise and establish authority. You might use them to give away gifts like guides or other resources. Or you might use them to deal with frequently asked questions.
The first win is simply getting a person to see your name in his or her in-box. An open represents a second win. A click is a third win. A fourth un-trackable win is if the client raises his or her opinion of your business. A fifth win comes if a client replies. A jackpot comes when a person books an appointment.
This campaign can run for many months to a year before you abandon the lead completely.
I had to check in with you today.
A few new people started with us this week, and they prompted me to reach out to you. They said they had been thinking about joining a gym for a long time, and they were confused because they had so many questions.
So I’ll quickly answer two super common questions for you!
- Will lifting weights make me bulky?
No! It’s actually quite tough to pack on lean muscle. It’s doable, and we can help you do it if that’s your goal. But no one comes to the gym and suddenly looks like a bodybuilder with bulging muscles. That just doesn’t happen! No one in here looks “bulky.” We’ve got strong people for sure, but if you watch a class, you’ll just see normal fit people. Come on by and see what I mean!
- I’m over 30 and have never worked out. Will I be able to improve my physique?
YES! You can make changes at 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and even 100! The body responds to exercise positively at any age. We have clients at all ages, and they’re all improving their fitness. Every single one. No matter how old you are, exercise will produce positive changes! It’s NEVER too late to start a fitness program.
Did that help? Do you have any other questions? Hit “REPLY”!
P.S. You can ask me ANYTHING!
P.P.S I mean ANYTHING!
Once you successfully acquire a client, you immediately start work on retaining that client by establishing value and acclimating him or her.
A new client sequence can run for about 100 days, and you should never go more than five days without contacting a new client. You want the new member to feel like your best friend, so regular, enthusiastic contact is key.
These emails should obviously warmly welcome the client, but they’re also a great spot to communicate key info so the client isn’t lost. This is a good place for procedures, policies, info on your culture, stories and other things that help to communicate your mission and vision.
Along the way, you want to provide lots of opportunities for feedback so you can solve problems before you lose the member. The client must know he or she can contact you at any time, which will give you a chance to retain him or her if there’s an issue.
New clients can also be introduced to additional services they might not know about. Related to that, you can use this sequence to push clients to book three-month goal review sessions at which you can solve problems, review bright spots, set new goals and optimize training through additional services.
Finally, you can use this sequence to generate Facebook, Google and Yelp reviews from new satisfied clients.
A solid new client sequence will have a significant effect on retention and average revenue per member.
I have a confession to make: Every once in a while, I don’t feel like working out. Most of the time I am beyond fired up, but sometimes it’s really hard to find motivation.
Little things add up for everyone—poor sleep, a really stressful day, subpar nutrition, a case of the blues, and so on. I’m not immune, either.
At some point, life will interrupt and tell you to stay on the couch. I’ll tell you a little secret that gets me off the couch every time:
We don’t HAVE to work out. We GET to work out!
It’s true. Think about how cool it is just to be able to move and laugh in a positive space, to try something new, to set a new record, to do something you’ve never done. It’s amazing!
Sure, on some days you have to push a little harder to get to the gym, but I promise that we will make it worth the effort.
Here’s the deal: If you’re ever feeling unmotivated, email or text me. I’m here for you!
Once the new client sequence ends, the person is moved to the established client sequence. This is the longest of them all, and it might run for two years. Contacts can be less frequent but must be consistent—perhaps one per month.
In this sequence, you are building a long-term relationship. You can assume you have the client’s ear, and you want to fill it with all the things that help him or her trust your business and stay on track. It’s key to regularly ask for feedback and promote goal review sessions every 90 days.
Again, this is a great place to ask for reviews. Long-term clients often want to support a business, and they can do so by writing a recommendation online.
Beyond that, it’s a good idea to offer more detailed knowledge that will establish your expertise. A very new client might want to know what shoes to wear to the gym. A client of 12 months might want to know what supplements to take or if the keto diet is a good idea. You’re the trusted expert, and your info will be soaked up by the client, who will come to trust you more and more. Show off your expertise and regularly restate your values, vision and mission so the client knows you’re a consistent, rock-solid business.
Because fitness can be full of fickle people who lose momentum, you want to remind clients about all their successes and help them set new goals. To help them reach those goals, you have other services to offer.
[NAME], it’s that time again: Bright Spots!
We love working with you, and I’m just thrilled every time you tell me about the stuff you’ve accomplished.
Do you know why we focus so much on Bright Spots? It’s because doing so will literally change the way you think. It’s true. Life can be stressful, and you have lots of chances to fall into negative thinking. Car breaks down, you catch a cold, you have a tough day at work. It can be really easy to focus on the bad things.
But the secret is that “happy people” still have stressful days, and bad things still happen to them. They just choose to focus on the good things and let gratitude and positivity overwhelm any negative thoughts.
If you do that for long enough, tough days don’t seem so tough, and you’ll find yourself smiling. It’s all in the way you look at things.
For example, when your car breaks down, it’s easy to say, “Stuff like this always happens to me!” But positive people say, “I’m not thrilled about this breakdown, but at least I have a vehicle, and I’m fit enough to jump on my bike and get to work on time.”
Can you see how that attitude can change your whole outlook on life?
I bet you’ve noticed changes yourself as you focus on all the stuff you’ve accomplished in the gym.
So let’s continue with that pattern. Think of the last thing you did in the gym that filled you with pride. When you have it and you’ve got a smile on your face, hit “REPLY” and tell me what it is. I can’t wait. Then let’s set a date and time to set a new goal.
So, [NAME], what’s your Bright Spot?
P.S. MY Bright Spot will be getting a reply to this email!
Current Client Cancellation
Members cancel memberships. It’s a reality. Your sequences are designed to prevent that, but when it happens, you need to be ready.
First, a cancellation form should trigger an alert to a staff member who can reach out right away and try to save the client. Second, the client should receive a cancellation confirmation that reminds of all the things he or she is giving up.
The tone here should be very friendly: You are keeping the door open for a return. A former client is likely to return because of all the good experiences at your gym. Let the person know you’re sorry to see him or her go but will stay in touch.
Clients who receive the cancellation email should immediately be moved to the reacquisition sequence.
We’ve received your cancellation request, and we’re so sorry to see you go after everything you’ve accomplished!
When you cancel your membership, you’ll lose access to our:
– Dedicated coaches.
– Constant accountability.
– Goal-setting meetings.
– Workout tracking.
– Private Facebook group.
But you won’t lose access to me!
We’re friends, and I’m invested in you and your health, so I’ll stay in touch and send you workouts, nutrition tips and helpful advice. More than anything else, I want you to stay fit and healthy.
You can also reconnect with me at any time by replying to this email, texting or calling at [NUMBER] or booking an in-person appointment [HERE-LINK]. If you have any feedback for me right now, I’d love to hear it.
And I’m always available to help you get back on track whenever you’re ready.
Don’t be a stranger!
Former Client Reactivation
Departed clients aren’t cold leads. They were actually inside your business. They know you, and you know them, so you have a great shot at getting them back.
The reactivation sequence is a series of short, punchy messages designed to open up the lines of communication. In fact, the most successful reactivation message used by the experts at Two-Brain Business is just 10 words (see below). Time and again, gym owners have sent this message to departed members and reacquired a number of them.
Other messages should be similar. You want the client to see your name and know you haven’t forgotten about him or her. Reach out and ask questions, and if you get a response, you have a golden opportunity to bring someone back into the fold.
This sequence can run for about a year, with monthly contacts. As time goes on, the emails can become slightly longer as you attempt to re-engage.
Would you still like to improve your fitness this year?
You can absolutely create your own automations, but be warned that doing so requires a lot of work.
For example, the sequences described above will need about 90 pages of writing, or about 23,000 words. That’s a significant amount, and it can be daunting if you aren’t a writer or don’t have the time to generate all the copy.
Once you have all the copy for your sequences, you’ll need the systems.
At minimum, you’ll need external landing pages supplied by a third party or the ability to create them yourself on your website. These pages need to be able to funnel contact info into your tracking and communications systems. That usually requires another third-party program like Zapier or something similar.
From there, you’ll need an integrated calendar system—another third-party provider.
Finally, you’ll need a communication platform that can handle incoming contact info and trigger the correct sequences. You’ll also need SMS capability unless you want to type with your thumbs on your phone for five hours a day.
Once those systems are in place, you’ll have to build your automations and get the copy into the right places. This can take well over 100 hours—and you should test everything several times so contacts don’t fall through the cracks or get the wrong sequences.
All in, you’re looking at about four or five systems you’ll have to link together. Costs can add up fast. Web managers will charge for customization and site alterations, and some simply can’t get everything in place using existing architecture. Rebuilding a custom site with everything you need can cost $5,000 or more.
THE DONE-FOR-YOU SOLUTION
Everything listed above is doable with skill, time and money.
But if you’d rather get back to helping clients in your gym, consider a done-for-you solution.
Gym Lead Machine websites do everything you need right from the start without third-party software. Our average client saves $4,878 per year in service and software fees because our sites are designed with automations and sequences in mind from the start.
We’re not creating a cluster of apps and platforms you have to manage. With our service, you get everything you need on your website, along with professionally written sequences that will connect with leads and clients. Some of these key sequences are also available in the Two-Brain Business Incubator.
We know that marketing automations are essential now, but we also know creating them is beyond most people. We hope the guide above is helpful.
If you’d prefer to avoid the hassle with a professional website with all the systems you need to generate more revenue, we can help. For a demo of a Gym Lead Machine site that contains all the marketing automations essential for a gym business, click here.