Increase Fitness Club Membership Retention with Data Analytics

By Aaron Eisberg

Tired of throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks when it comes to your fitness member retention strategies? Not only is this an unreliable approach, but it’s also incredibly ineffective. After all, why waste your time trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not when the answers are right in front of you? We’re talking about data analytics. And if you’re not using them, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to formulate and enact a successful retention program. 

Here’s a closer look at why every fitness business should be using data analytics. 

Understanding your members is one of the best retention strategies around. 

By the Numbers

On the surface, member retention rates are a simple concept. Says ClubSolutions

“Your retention rate equals the number of members enrolled in the club, divided by the number of memberships who left your club that month, and multiply that number by 12. This formula does not account for reasons such as moves out of market, sickness or other reasons why a member is no longer paying membership dues to your club.” 

The takeaway? There’s no arguing that your retention rate matters. After all, keeping your members is what keeps the lights on in your gym. 

However, making sense of the reasons why people are leaving can help you stop them before they go. Proposes ClubSolutions, “If a club manager wants to explain that number more fully and better understand their retention rate, they can provide a narrative that explains the retention rate. Explanations and understanding the factors affecting a club’s retention level are important, but they do not get deposited into the bank.”

Enter Data Analytics

Identifying the members of your club who are at risk of leaving is only one part of the equation. Also critical? Responding to this data with targeted intervention strategies. This is exactly what data analytics are about. Even without trying, your health club has likely already amassed a breadth and depth of information about your members, including everything from age and marital status to payment methods and average time spent at the gym. When viewed together, patterns begin to emerge which yield actionable insights into which members may have the propensity to leave.

Explains Fitness Life Marketing

“To explain it a slightly different way, we are: 

1) consolidating historical data about behaviors that we think may be correlated to an individual churning from historical members 

2) we are letting software examine that data for patterns and how they relate to how a member churned or did not 

3) that relationship is frozen in a ‘predictive model’, and, finally 

4) the model is applied to unseen members to statistically predict their behavior (vis a vis churning or not).”

It can also help you avoid squandering your efforts on members who aren’t at risk. Continues Fitness Life Marketing

“Like all businesses health clubs have limited resources, and it is absolutely pointless for a club to invest resources to try and retain each and every member, when a good deal of them are not at risk in the first place. If a member is identified as ‘at risk’ there is a strong business case to be built around investing resources in trying to retain that specific member (theoretically you could afford to invest up to $1 less than the cost of acquiring a new member, and still be ahead of the game), conversely if they are not ‘at risk’ and are going to re-sign anyway, you may just as well burn the money as hand it over to that specific individual in the form of an incentive or time invested.”

Data analytics also offer another benefit which not only trims waste but maximizes resources through segmenting. Some of your members share common motivations; some of your members do not. By identifying segments of your members whose behaviors -- and therefore motivations -- overlap, you can amplify end results without amplifying the effort you’re investing. 

More interactions with your fitness facility amount to better retention rates.  

Still not convinced that data analytics can have that big of an impact on your member retention rates? Consider statistics shared by Retention Guru founder, Dr. Paul Bedford, revealing the profound impact of intervention planning: Just a single intervention action increases the likelihood that a member will visit again by 20 percent. With two to three interactions this number climbs to 50 percent, while four or more interactions means members are a staggering 80 percent more likely to return to your gym. 

Many health clubs get so tripped up on the business of getting new members in the front door that they forget to watch the members slipping out the back. Fitness center analytics can help you not only spot them before they go, but also take proactive steps to keep them engaged and enrolled in your gym.  Which begs the question: Which interventions work best? Learn more about the Accurofit System today.