How to Profitably Thaw Frozen Memberships

October 4, 2021

When clients ask us about what our other club clients are doing to tackle a universal challenge, we often “put it out to the group”. The latest example is when we were asked what campaigns our active clients are successfully executing to increase the return of members who froze or cancelled during pandemic shutdowns.

We received volumes of information on this timely topic and as is our way, we’ve compiled the responses and are sharing them here so that more club owners and operators can benefit from the variety of tactics being successfully executed right now.

For context, all responders share the same heritage (health club) but fall somewhere between slightly-to-vastly different on the family tree, and thus the array of strategies.

Safe, Professional and Trustworthy

All messaging to this group (Freeze and Cancelled) is about our brand; safe, professional and trustworthy.

  1. Sharing stats of "Still zero COVID Cases” contracted, spread, or traced to the club.
  2. Science and data – using quantified information from various fitness industry sources.
  3. Member testimonials.
  4. Address the “Why’s” - depression, mental health, socialization, in addition to physical benefits of regular exercise.
  5. Include content that can be used at home. Virtual classes, SGT, Personal Training, Health Coaching and Nutrition Coaching are examples of ways folks can engage your brand remotely, until they’re ready to participate in person.

“People are in pain – they're starting to realize that the reward of healthy living is far better than the slight risk of contracting COVID-19.”

Top of mind is the coveted spot, and it can be achieved by creating consistent brand messaging that deploys regularly to frozen and former members. Content that is useful at home, educates them on what’s happening in the club, and by citing reliable sources with the reasons that getting and staying healthy in a gym is more important than ever.

Connected Directly

During the shutdown we tried to connect with all our members directly with phone calls. Over time we shifted to email communication to maintain the relationship more easily, and to begin sharing our efforts at keeping members safe when the club could reopen. This turned out to be a very positive PR move.

Today we are putting the final touches on a plan to reach out with an offer by end of April 2021 to give all frozen members three options:

  1. Automatic reactivation of the frozen membership and resume billing on June 1st unless one of the below options is chosen.
  2. Request an extension of the freeze status, where there will be a reduced monthly fee charged.
  3. Cancel the membership.

All those that cancel will be moved into our Alumni pool and we’ll market to them over the next year. For those who cancelled at the outset of the pandemic, we’ve kept them informed on what is occurring at the club and will continue to do so as a matter of practice.

Successful Freeze Conversion

We had a massively successful organic freeze drive in October 2020 where we targeted members who actively used the club in January and February 2020, and who accepted our offer to freeze during COVID. In September we decided to force that group to decide on:

  1. Rejoining
  2. Remaining on Freeze, but now requiring a monthly fee to do so.
  3. Cancel by end of October.

Our goal was to convert 5% of them to reactivate and we reactivated 40%—including their sub-member activations. We contacted the 1,000+ members on freeze by email to introduce the process and followed up with many by phone to answer questions and address concerns.

Key Takeaways for the Instinctive Insights team are that organized, goal-oriented strategies are critical, as is keeping all team members informed of their role. Email and social media are great ways to reach the masses and that the personal touch, the one-on-one calls and in-person visits go a very long way to earning trust and those membership dollars back.

During the early days of reopening, we advised against investing budgets into converting Freeze and Alumni members as they were quite “dug in”, and it seemed that only mass vaccinations will give them the comfort they need. Given the varying policies at state-level, we’re recommending an analysis of the membership populations and the local market to understand what, if any monetary investment will prove profitable at this time.

Get in touch to have a data-centric discussion about marketing investments in today's disrupted business environment.

Get Started

Contact Us

Partner with us to determine where to invest next. We'd love to hear from you.

Contact Us