5 Tips For Using Mobile Apps to Drive New Member Sales

Reading the IHRSA web site this morning I came across This Week in Fitness : Increase Foot Traffic with an iPhone App. I also read the @theladylunches article in Retailigence 5 Tips To Drive People Into Your Store Using Mobile Apps (this article borrows a lot of her ideas and content so thanks to Meagan for that). The intro by IHRSA to the USA Today article said this:

An iPhone App doesn't bring paying members at a health club, but it can help get more people through your doors. LA Fitness, for example, lets their members make personal training appointments or reserve a spot in a group exercise class over their smartphones.

Since mobile apps are a new technology, there is much confusion about what they can and cannot do. You see mobile apps CAN bring new potentially paying members to a club (I share 5 tips on exactly how below and extend my thanks to Retailigence again and their article 5 Tips To Drive People to Your Store Using Mobile Apps.) Please check it out.

Whether you’re a large health club with many locations, or a local, small gym, the goal is the same: drive potential members into your place to join. With the help of smartphones and location-based applications, this is becoming more possible. Trends point to the fact that retailers and health clubs will continue to see improvements with the help of location based services. Consider these points:

●      the use of smartphones by moms has increased by 64% over the past two years, and
●      on average, 42% of in-store sales is generated through online shopping searches

Here are five ways mobile apps can help your health club generate more member sales:

1. Integrating with Location Based Search

Helping your potential members find what they are looking for when they are looking is critical. People connect with health clubs for this reason. The more potential customer members you find, the better.

According to a recent study by iModerate Research Technologies, more than 70% of iPhone users use apps or web browsers to assist them with their purchase before stepping into a store. 38% of all smartphone users check availability of a product through an app. “Smartphones are a major part of the shopping experience for more than half of online Americans now, particularly Generation Y and even Gen Xers,” said Chris Neil, VP of technology and telecom at CMB, Boston. “They are using their smartphones to search for you before they even step in the store—that’s how they find you." Believe me, this trend is extending into the health club market and consumer buying and shopping behaviors.

Layar is an augmented reality app - check it out the video here as I've written about before. The app uses the real world and adds a digital layer on top to find relevant products. A simple search will reveal the nearest locations with the products in camera view (AR View). Users are able to switch to a map view or a distance ordered list.

2. QR Codes (also known as Quick Response Codes)

QR codes are one of the most effective and simple strategies for engaging your memebrs with your product or health club. Using a code similar to a bar code, smartphone users scan the code with their phone’s camera.

With a simple advertisement in the local newspaper, on a web site, or anywhere, a QR code can provide a lot of information unlocked by a simple scan. Making sure that the QR code is simple to use, engaging and relevant is critical. Give directions to your gym, offer a promotion, the possibilities are endless. As an example, just for unlocking the code, present a prospect with a discount.

3. Drive Member Loyalty

An important tip is to make sure your business is listed with FourSquare, Facebook Places, Yelp and on Google. By giving an incentive that the more often they visit your club, check-in with you and mention you, the more discounts and rewards they will receive appeals to customers. They want to be part of an exclusive club. What type of incentives you offer is up to you, but bringing new customers through the door is what it’s about.

4. Special Events

Adding events to an app like AppCityLife can drive visitors straight to your door. If you’re having a promotion, or a launch party for a new Les Mills group exercise release use an app for instant push notifications, giveaways or pay a little bit more to be featured.

Nordstrom uses this type of technology, and as a retail operator has done some things the health club business we can learn from. According to Mobile Commerce Daily, as of last February, Nordstrom “holds 900+ events and promotions in its 112 stores across the country each month. The retailer uses Point Inside to pinpoint specific events for each mall, in addition to advertising company-wide sales.”

5. Location-based Games

Location-based games engage the user to hunt for your products, creating a level of awareness that can not only drive potential members to your door, but includes a unique aspect of fun.

The retailer Jimmy Choo is a great example of this. They took a $600 pair of sneakers around London and posted Twitter hints, Facebook updates and Foursquare check-ins to let fans know where the shoes would be. Fans had a brief amount of time to search and find the locations. After a month, and with 4,000 online participants, Jimmy Choo reported an increase of 33% revenue for sneaker sales.

Watch this great video on how Mini Cooper got users to participate in a game of competition.

So tell me, Bryan O'Rourke, are you planning on using any of these 5 tips in adopting mobile marketing strategies that can drive business for your health clubs ? Let me know your thoughts !