David Fish is CEO of IMN, a content-driven e-communications company based in Waltham, MA. Fish has more than 20 years of leadership experience in electronic publishing, online marketing, data management, direct response and database marketing. More information about IMN can be found at www.imninc.com or by calling 866-964-6397.

Routinely assessing marketing strategies for retaining and engaging current members can serve as a worthwhile exercise to determine if you are effectively communicating with your customers.

As part of your marketing evaluation, a critical aspect to consider is brand engagement. Are your customers loyal to your brand? Do they wear your merchandise, participate in your sponsored events and bond as members of an exclusive club?

Since consumers are bombarded daily with thousands of marketing messages, reaching this level of customer engagement is more difficult than it seems. Just as they tune in to messages they like, they ignore those that are irrelevant to their interests, needs and buying habits.

Although it has become increasingly common for owners of health and fitness centers to communicate with members and prospects through e-mail, merely sending e-mail blasts with special offers and promotions only disengages consumers. However, using a strategy of recurring communications, rich with interesting and informative content, has been shown to generate greater engagement as compared to generic e-mail blasts.

Relevant Content Is the Key
A targeted e-communication program that contains relevant content engages consumers and increases the opportunity for customer retention. Moreover, these consumers are likely to spend more money at their health clubs for add-on services or products. When used effectively, content-driven e-communications can help fitness center owners grow their businesses with unprecedented speed and results.

Likewise, professionally written content that is relevant to your customers’ interests and that maintains a soft-sell editorial balance cuts through the clutter of e-mail promotions. Examples of useful content might include reviews of restaurants that serve health-conscious meals, profiles of celebrities and their fitness routines, or where to find local jogging paths and nature trails that wind through scenic areas. As your audience becomes conditioned to expect this type of valuable information, they will anticipate receiving each issue of your e-newsletter.

Opportunity for Incremental Sales
By supplementing timely promotions, coupons and lively video presentations with a communication strategy that is educational and informative, you will have greater response and consumer engagement. With this approach, health clubs can market personal training sessions to their members, club retail shops can promote new product launches and nutritionists can offer meal programs to their club members.

Be a Part of the Community
Astute club owners know that they can brand their business as an integral part of the communities they serve. Their e-newsletter campaigns can be tailored to include articles about local events, news and leisure activities. These types of articles grab interest and showcase community involvement.

Analytics Are Invaluable
A well-developed e-communication strategy includes detailed analytics and reporting, which can provide club owners with valuable data about their members. Reports on open rates, click-throughs and page views help club owners gain insight into their members’ interests.

Most important, analytics help you track and refine campaigns to maximize the return on investment. Without them, club owners would not have the right data needed to determine the content that drives their customers’ behavior.

A comprehensive, content-driven e-communication strategy can provide long-lasting benefits for club owners. Proven to retain and engage recipients, e-newsletters build consumer loyalty and create incremental sales opportunities. It is one of the most effective ways for club owners to strengthen their brands and secure life-long customers.