A complete guide to your next club launch using digital marketing

Having launched over 60 separate health clubs, Neil Haughin of Impact Fitness is regarded as one of the UK’s leading experts in gym and health club pre-sales, with huge experience in everything from sales systems and offline media to SEO and email marketing. Impact Fitness create a full digital strategy for new site launches, including artwork, banners, landing pages, as well as ultimately demonstrating serious ROI.

We met with Neil to discuss how clubs can use digital media to design the perfect launch strategy.


How have club launches changed in the last 5 years?

Five years ago, having an impact sales person outside in a portakabin would make sense, and in some cases it still does, but with the rise of affordable fitness gyms are placing far more emphasis on their digital activity. Not only is it generally more impactful but far easier to track and analyse.


Is there a particular process a club should follow to launching a new club?

Every club launch is of course unique but there are certain universal rules and principles. Here is an example of the kind of sequence we would follow for a new club launch:


Step 1 – Build anticipation and capture data:

Before the club launches, you need to begin pushing data towards your website which should be optimised for capturing user data. The sales portal is not open at this point. It’s all about generating information.

The traffic should be sent from a variety of channels relevant to your audience. To maximise conversion rate you need to minimise barriers, so ideally this will mean:
– No contract option
– No joining fee
– Under £20 a month (of course this won’t apply if you’re not a budget gym)

Above all, you need to make it clear that the offer has limited availability (be specific) and people need to register in order to guarantee their place, although they can still change their mind later if they wish. That way you are making it an absolute no brainer. There is no downside or risk to registering their data.

We then need to be in regular contact with the list via email and SMS, letting them know that the sales portal will soon be open. It’s all about building anticipation and keeping the list as warm as possible.


Step 2 – Create your perfect target profile for Facebook

The primary goal of capturing the list is so that you can then sell directly to it once the sales portal opens. However, there is another really important benefit…

For several years Facebook has offered the most granular demographic targeting online, but in recent months it has stepped that up even further. By taking the data we’ve captured in the first few weeks and feeding it into Facebook’s advertising platform, we can identify the 1% of the UK population that most closely mirror those people. We can then manually make adjustments (based on location, age, etc) until we are happy that this is our perfect target audience.

For example, if I have data for 5,000 people and import it into Facebook’s ad platform, Facebook will then return the 400,000 people or so in the UK that most closely match this data in terms of age, gender, page likes, whether they’re an online buyer, their connections, interests, etc. This is so much more powerful than just selecting it all manually. In fact if you’re just going to target people of a certain age group within a two mile radius of your new club then you may as well take your money down the casino. As the market becomes increasingly saturated you have to be smarter than that.


Step 3 – Open up the sales portal

We now want to switch the sales portal open. All that hype we have built up will lead to our first wave of customers.

The portal will be open for a short period and then we close it again.


Step 4 – Rinse and repeat

We can now update the Facebook ad platform with the profile data of customers that have actually bought, which is typically far more valuable than the data from the original list. We can then use this, along with our other marketing channels, to drive the next round of data capture. Again, we are giving all the same messaging – no joining fee or contract and a special price for the first xxx people.

At the end of this we will then open the sales portal a second time, again for a short period.


Step 5 – The launch

The last month involves repeating the whole process again. You need to further refine your audience and also ensure you are using a range of different content, from video to carousels and web links to test which is achieving the highest engagement and which is driving the most leads.

Before the club launches we will hit people across varies channels, letting them know that this is their last chance to get this special offer before the big day arrives. When the doors finally open there should be an army of people eager to experience your club for the first time.


Step 6 – Retention and referral

Once the club is open the focus then shifts on to retention and referral. We will encouraging people to sign up for their free induction. We ask them if they’ve tried out a class. We also encourage them to refer their friends in return for a referral reward.

The most important thing is that we get members into the club in those first few weeks. It’s been proven time and time again that anyone who doesn’t attend the gym soon after joining is far more likely to cancel than those who do. Early engagement is everything.


Posted in Digital Marketing, Gyms & Clubs, Interviews, The Fitness Network.