Best Text Message Marketing Strategies for Gyms + Gym Promotion Examples for Fitness Professionals
Sending gym promotions and marketing fitness events and programs can be a challenge.
Email and other forms of digital advertisement can help you get member signups. But how can you build true engagement and actually drive gym attendance?
Consider text messaging for gyms.
In this article, I cover:
- What SMS marketing is and what gym SMS marketing is
- Why texting works for gym promotions and driving member engagement
- How to get started with a gym text message marketing platform
- 12 gym promotion strategies using text message marketing
- Free text marketing templates for gyms and fitness professionals
By the end, you'll have all the necessary techniques and tools to build awareness, drive engagement, and attract gym members.
Read on for more.
🤫 Pssst: you can even use gym texting solutions like MessageDesk to communicate with staff and fitness trainers internally. Texting works just as well for employee engagement.
Why Texting Works for Gym Promotions and Driving Member Engagement
Attracting new members is just as important as attendance and retention for most gym owners and fitness instructors.
People often go to gyms to become better versions of themselves and/or to join a fitness community.
But people need reminders, goals need encouragement, and communities require consistent engagement.
So it makes sense to build a gym member promotion and engagement strategy around the immediacy, speed, and directness of SMS.
Below are specific reasons why texting works for building and maintaining gym member engagement and retention.
Texting makes it easy to directly connect with gym members
Nothing can get your messages into the hands and heads of your members faster than a text message. In fact, 74% of people report having zero unread text messages.
This makes sense since mobile devices are always within reach and people check texts instantly.
This isn’t the case for email. Email inboxes are overflowing; messages can sit in inboxes for days. Most emails go unread and get lost in spam folders. Email has a 53% spam rate compared to 3% for texts.
Texts are almost universally accessible by all gym members
Some 77% of Americans own a smartphone and 5.1 billion people use text-enabled mobile devices globally.
Some gyms and fitness centers use fitness WhatsApp groups and other social messaging apps to keep connected.
Members have to download an app, join the community, and onboard into a whole gym software ecosystem.
But, texting is universal.
There’s no need to sign up or log in. Everyone can send, receive and respond to messages with no added friction.
Texts have great open, click-through, and engagement rates
Texts have up to a 98% open rate. Compare that to email's average 20% open rate.
SMS response rates are also impressive. Texts can get up to a 45% response rate vs. just 6% for email.
Looking to include links to content and product or service pages in your promotional texts? You'll find that text messages with links get up to 36% click-through rate (impressive, compared to 2% for email).
Text marketing for gyms vs. email marketing for gyms
Text messages have some clear advantages over email. There’s debate over text vs. email, and which tool is better marketing for gyms. But text and email shouldn’t be an “either-or” in your gym promotion strategy.
The best fitness marketing campaigns utilize multiple engagement mediums including email and SMS. Combining both email and text with other marketing channels (like social media) can maximize your reach and produce more engagement.
Email is better suited for longer-form messages with multiple links, added media, and richer content. Email works great for monthly newsletters, sending workout instructions, and sharing downloadable content (e.g., fitness challenge calendars, etc.).
But text messages are superior for updates, alerts, reminders, immediate promotions, and quick personalized messages.
Some gym members will prefer email. Others will prefer text for notifications and communication.
I suggest you advertise and utilize both. Give your members the chance to opt in to their preferred form of communication.
How to Get Started with SMS Marketing for Gym Promotion and Member Engagement
I’ve interviewed several gym owners in the past and asked what tools they’ve tried for texting.
Several told me they’ve used Community––others tried Zipwhip. But in both cases, the texting software had limited features and integrations.
This highlights the importance of selecting the right tool to fit your needs.
And leads us to the first step in text-enabling your gym.
1. Research and vet various gym SMS software
You’ve got dozens of text message marketing services to choose from. But what’s the best texting service for fitness gyms like yours?
Your answer to this question will depend on factors like:
- How many fitness trainers or staff need to send text messages
- How frequently do you need to send texts to gym members
- The number of gym members you need to reach
- The other software you need to integrate with
Based on those factors, you’ll want to look for several features in a gym text messaging solution, like:
- A shared team SMS inbox for routing, organizing, and managing texts as a team
- Mass text message broadcasts for reaching hundreds of contacts at once
- Support for A2P 10DLC (carrier-verified delivery for bulk SMS messaging)
- Text message automation with autoresponders for time-savings and efficiency
- Integrations with other third-party software like Mindbody to close the loop
Note: MessageDesk supports all of the above features and more.
2. Create a free account and/or start a free trial
You’ve done your research and vetted various SMS marketing software available to the fitness industry. Next, I suggest you get started with several free accounts.
Trial periods give you time to get answers to questions and test the platform's capabilities.
3. Choose a phone number or text-enable your existing gym phone system
Some platforms, like MessageDesk, allow you to select various types of SMS phone numbers.
Note: It will likely take from 1-7 days to successfully text-enable your business number once you submit your request. At the time of writing, you can’t port or host a mobile phone number’s texting capabilities.
4. Import your gym member contact information and add custom fields
You’ve got your gym’s SMS phone number configured. Next, you’ll want to upload member contact lists or sync with whatever tool you use to store contact info. MessageDesk makes this easy with built-in CSV upload, custom fields, and Zapier integrations.
Keep in mind, TCPA compliance requires contacts to opt-in to receive promotional messages (more on this below in the FAQ section).
This is where SMS subscriber systems, like those built into MessageDesk can help. MessageDesk makes it easy to track who has and hasn’t consented to receive promotional gym messages.
5. Pre-save messages with templates, tags, links, and media
Once you upload your contacts to your SMS marketing service, you can now compose your messages.
Templates ultimately allow you to create more personalized texts. This allows you to optimize your messages for deeper engagement with your audience.
It’s also possible to pre-save templates. You can use these for different types of workout reminders, weight loss text alerts, and fitness campaign ideas like the ones I list below.
6. Schedule mass text broadcasts
It also helps ensure that your message gets in front of gym members when they're most likely to be receptive. This can be after they’ve made a purchase or when they first join your new member text subscriber list.
Need to send a message on a certain day at a specific time? With platforms like MessageDesk, you can schedule SMS messages to send at a later time. You can also schedule messages at specific intervals as part of automated text message campaigns.
7. Set up keyword-based autoresponder automation
Autoresponder texts are a keyword-based type of text message automation.
An autoresponder sends an automatic text when someone texts your organization’s phone number with a keyword.
Here’s an example:
8. Use Zapier to integrate your gym’s SMS with the other tools you use
Zapier makes it easy to integrate texting services like MessageDesk with other third-party marketing software. You can sync and text contacts from your HubSpot CRM, ConstantContact, Shopify, or even Mailchimp.
For example, you could automatically send a text and a welcome email to new gym members. All it takes is setting up a MessageDesk and Zapier integration with your email marketing service.
12 Text Message Marketing Gym Promotion Strategies + Free Text and Email Templates
I covered why gym text messages work and how to use them with other promotional looks like email.
You also know what to look for when getting started with gym SMS software.
Now it’s time to share some of the best gym marketing campaigns and fitness advertising ideas.
Below I’ve included specific text message templates you can use today. You can also check out my list of 100+ business text message templates. I also have a list of 50+ text message advertising ideas for more gym membership promotion ideas.
1. Keep members informed about upcoming events and programs
Your gym and fitness instructors need to keep classes filled with members. With text message marketing blasts, you can advertise upcoming classes and promote new programs or events.
New fitness class announcement
Special guest trainer session
Seasonal program alert
2. Send gym promotional messages and deals on products, services, and referral programs
SMS makes gym promotion easy. Consider sending special offers, or “bring a friend” referral program incentives. You can also send out an offer or discount promo for gym merchandise, supplements, and other products.
Personal training promo
Gym retail sale example
Gym “bring a friend” referral promotion
Special offer on new program
3. Send text alerts for holiday closures and fill in last-minute class openings
You can proactively use text alerts to notify gym members about holiday closures and cancellations. Got an open spot for your most popular class? Fill it fast by letting the people on your waitlist know with a text.
Gym closed announcement
Holiday closure update
Inclement weather update
Last-minute fitness class opening
4. Generate leads and book appointments with "click-to-text us" on your website
Consider adding a click-to-text button to your website. This allows visitors to ask questions, schedule consultations, and tours, and sign up for events using their mobile phones.
You can also use text to join or text to subscribe with autoresponders to automatically grow your text list. Gym members can instantly sign up and opt-in to receive promotions and updates from you.
Prompt to schedule a gym tour
Class availability inquiry
Quick answers to your questions
Opt-in confirmation for deals and offers
5. Nurture leads and follow-up for consultations, sales, and support
Sometimes, potential clients get inspired to hit the gym but need a little nudge to get started. Give these potential customers a nudge by sending text message follow-ups that prompt sales or provide customer support.
You can also use texting to reach out to members and confirm their contract renewals. Not only do they get a reminder, but they’ll feel better about having a choice in the process.
Additionally, automated text responses can help save you time. Especially when it comes to frequently asked questions regarding membership rates or business hours. Use a keyword to trigger an instant response with the answers.
Gym membership inquiry
Follow up with prospects
Answer pricing questions
Send gym membership renewals
6. Onboard and encourage new gym members
Keep your newest clients or members engaged with a simple welcome message to your gym or studio. Include a link to your class schedule, blog or anything else that can help them get started.
Some 66% of consumers say they prefer to receive words of encouragement via text. Celebrate achievements and cheer on your members with a personalized message.
New gym member welcome message
Check-in after first visit
Encourage fitness goals
Weight loss text message template
7. Schedule appointments, reminders, and follow-ups to reduce no-shows and cancellations
Ever had a new or existing member set an appointment for training or consultation, but cancel at the last minute? Or worse, be a no-show, no-call? You're not alone.
Last-minute cancellations and no-shows aren't just annoying; they cost fitness instructors time and money. You can prevent this by integrating SMS with your appointment scheduling software and sending reminder texts.
Fitness instructor class reminder
Gym event reminder
8. Provide customer support and manage expectations
What if someone texts your gym beyond business hours? Consider creating an out-of-office style autoresponder to let them know you’ve received their message. This message can set expectations by letting them know when you’ll get back to them.
Gym after business-hours response
Addressing facility issues
Locker/lost and found support
Equipment malfunction alert
9. Follow up on late payments or notify of missed charges
When membership fees are due, sometimes you have to chase down members to pay up. Playing bill collector isn’t a productive or enticing way to spend your day.
Text message payment reminders are a better way to notify gym members about overdue payments and prompt them to pay.
Ideally, you’ll want to send payment reminders in advance so members don't forget. Then once their bill becomes past due, you can automate gym text messages notifying them of their late payments.
You can schedule billing reminder texts to inform clients about upcoming payments so they’re not surprised by a charge. Plus, two-way texting gives them the chance to ask questions.
Upcoming payment reminder
Initial late payment reminder
Late fee warning
Payment received gratitude
10. Collect feedback and get more Google reviews
Social proof continues to be a valuable asset for gyms and fitness studios that want to grow and scale their business.
Texting polls and surveys to members can help you gather feedback and identify who’s likely to leave you a positive review. I recommend you genuinely ask for feedback, not just a positive review.
And when it comes to gym reviews, the first place where most people look is Google. So asking people for Google reviews with text messages makes sense. Reviews also have an impact on how well local businesses appear in local search results.
Feedback after session
Requesting Google Business reviews
11. Run contests, giveaways, and fitness challenges
Tap into the competitive spirit of your members. You can engage your members by creating SMS contests and giveaways or advertising fitness challenges.
Prize giveaway contest
Announcement of collaboration giveaway
Announcement of fitness challenge
Fitness challenge leaderboard update
12. Manage staff scheduling and internal communication
Business texting isn’t just for customers. You can also leverage SMS for internal communications to help schedule shifts and manage fitness instructors.
You can also use texting for gym announcements, coordinating between locations, and communicating with franchisees.
Class substitution request
Staff training webinar reminder
Staff meeting announcement
Frequently Asked Gym Text Messaging Questions
Below is a list of several frequently asked gym text messaging questions.
Have a different gym SMS question that needs an answer? You’re always free to meet with one of MessageDesk’s messaging experts.
Are there any free gym SMS services?
No, there aren’t any free gym text messaging services available. However, many business texting and text marketing platforms like MessageDesk do offer limited free trials of their texting software.
How much does gym text messaging cost?
The cost of gym text messaging hinges on several factors. These include text volume, the service provider's pricing model, desired features, per-message rates, and the type of phone number used.
Basic text message marketing for fitness centers might cost a few cents per text. Business-focused monthly subscriptions could range from $25 to $200 or more. Specialized options can incur significant costs, potentially reaching $1,000 monthly.
Are there any legal considerations or regulations to be aware of when using SMS marketing for gyms?
Yes, there are a few legal considerations and regulations to keep in mind when using SMS advertising for gyms. Here are some important ones:
- Consent: Ensure you have proper consent from your members before texting them. Use opt-ins on your website or signup forms to get and record consent.
- TCPA Compliance: Familiarize yourself with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) regulations, which govern SMS marketing in the United States. Comply with requirements such as providing opt-out options and honoring member preferences. It’s also worth looking into A2P 10DLC registration, which is possible using a business text messaging service like MessageDesk.
How do gym members opt-in or opt out of receiving text messages?
Gym members can opt into receiving text messages through various methods. These include signing a consent form, texting a keyword to a specific number, registering online, or via your gym's mobile app. Texting "STOP" to your gym’s number should opt members out of receiving additional text messages.
How can gyms measure the success of their SMS marketing campaigns?
SMS marketing tools make it easy to measure the success of your promotional campaigns.
Your gym can track important metrics like conversion rate, click-through rate, response rate, and opt-out rate. These metrics can help you understand how effective your messaging is and how engaged your audience is.
Final thoughts and next steps
SMS is a powerful channel. It’s one of the best gym promotion ideas for fitness professionals looking to grow and sustain their businesses.
With MessageDesk, you can simplify and speed up your SMS marketing efforts by automating message creation and delivery. Its templates, scheduling, and mass text broadcasts turn your marketing strategy into an easy-to-execute, automated workflow.
Ready to start attracting new customers?
Schedule a meeting with a messaging expert to begin exercising your SMS marketing muscles.