Contacting gym members through text messaging is a great idea. Your health club is a vital part of their lives, and by keeping in touch with them, you express interest in their fitness and health while staying mindful of communication trends. So what could go wrong?
Well, let’s talk about that.
Text Messaging Is Communication; Every Word Represents Your Brand
Studies suggest most people open their text messages. Estimates are as high as 98 percent. We love the ease and simplicity, and, in large part, prefer texting to receiving a phone call. Yet, the act itself is infused with a spontaneity that is fraught with minefields: incorrectly auto-corrected words, unintentional tones, misspellings, unfamiliar slang, abrupt sentence structure.
Before you leave text messaging to a Gen. Z front desk staff member, consider that this simple 165-character statement says as much about your business, its professionalism, and its practices as any paid advertisement.
Fitness Center Texting Etiquette
Mobile messaging has been around long enough to be judged through social norms. Ignore these standards and you’ve irritated, not helped, a customer. Members and prospects view your business best when treated with respect. Basic protocol includes:
- Keep it brief
- Remain professional
- Be careful with abbreviations
- Attempt to use full sentences to avoid sounding abrupt
- Limit or eliminate emojis and unnecessary slang
- Spellcheck and edit content
- Don’t over-text
Follow Federal Laws
Text messaging by businesses is subject to oversight by multiple agencies and associations. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Associations (CTIA) ensures personal information accumulated through text marketing is handled ethically. Other organizations such as the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also monitor, regulate, or enforce compliancy as it applies to SMS marketing. Mishandled SMS communications can result in penalties and fines.
SMS Marketing Rules – Here’s Where We Get Serious
- Businesses cannot send texts without a customer’s specific written consent. This rule is regulated through the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) created under the FCC. Written consent refers to consent that is documented and saved, not necessarily written on paper.
- Companies must disclose their text message program in a clear, transparent way that describes what messages the client can expect to receive and within what specific period of time.
- Customers must agree to receive messages via their mobile devices.
- Firms must offer customers Instructions on opting out (STOP instructions) and how they can get information (HELP). Links can be used to provide the full information.
- Texts sent by an autodialer are banned unless consent is given or it’s sent for emergency purposes. According to JDSupra, TCPA defines an autodialer as “equipment which has the capacity—(A) to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and (B) to dial such numbers.” 47 U.S.C. § 227(a)(1).
Common ways gym clients can join your marketing database are through keyword texting, paper form, or with an online form. In each case, the form must specifically state that the customer agrees to receive texts from your business through their telephone number. So remember, no matter how long that client’s hung around your gym, or if they told the front desk texting was ok, it’s not legal until they opt-in via some form of written consent.
Like any marketing tool, communicating through text requires a plan and a strategy for its use. Gym Insight’s SMS feature makes it simple to incorporate text messaging into both your club management and promotional plans. Developed in-house by Gym Insight, this feature is fully integrated into its club management software, creating a seamless point of entry effortlessly adapted by any user.
Want to run a special for former clients? Notify specific members through an easily managed tagging system.
Need to communicate with just one client or an entire club? Confirm personal training appointments, announce class changes, schedule password distribution for online events, or direct-contact all members for emergency updates – the immediacy and expediency of texting straight through your club management software produces a harmonious rhythm to running your gym.
Even keeping up with delinquent accounts becomes a method to manage customers. Color-coded accounts are automatically notified via customized text statements of declined credit cards or over due accounts. For a gym or studio text messaging really is a business’s best friend. Handled correctly, and implemented through a platform that makes it easy to follow the law, texting keeps your customer on top of their fitness goals and ensures your business reaches people where they are now — at their mobiles.