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Best Practices for Effective Gym SMS Marketing

Better member communication with IGNITE Sales

One of the benefits of IGNITE Sales is the ease in which you can communicate with your members and prospective members via Short Message Service (SMS) text messaging. In 2020 over 2.7 trillion SMS messages were sent to consumers, including marketing promotion, customer support and transactional messages. SMS is becoming a popular communication platform because it’s quick and effective. While keeping your club and services front of mind is important, it doesn’t mean you should send a SMS message for every bit of club information. Not only is this information overload but it inevitably leads to recipients opting-out or unsubscribing to all messages. Below are best practices to abide by that will ensure fewer opt-outs and compliance.

Consent is King

Prior to sending the first SMS message, you must obtain agreement from the message recipient to communicate with them – this is referred to as “consent”. It must be made clear to the prospect or member that they are agreeing to receive messages from your club. You will need to keep a record of consent, such as a copy of the document or form the message recipient signed or a date and timestamp of when the consumer completed a sign-up flow.

The initial message must be sent to the prospect or member within a reasonable period of time after receiving consent, or as set forth by local regulations. If the initial message is not sent then consent may be voided, and the message recipient must reconfirm consent. Consent applies only to your club and to the campaign or specific use case that the prospect or member has consented. There are three messaging use cases: Conversational, Informational, and Promotional.

Conversational

  • Consumer initiated for the business to respond
  • Consent is limited only to this exchange

Informational

  • Consumer or business initiated and may be a one- or two-way conversation
  • Consent must be express, informed, and specific to this exchange

Promotional

  • Business initiated and is intended to be a one-way conversation
  • Consent must be express, informed, specific, and in writing

Once you have consent, be sure to send a confirmation message containing information about what they have subscribed to:

  • Confirmation of a successful subscription with your campaign’s purpose
  • Clearly identifying your club and an approximate frequency of messages
  • Instructions on how to opt-out
  • Information about data required by text messages and any charges that may be applicable
  • Terms and conditions as well as your club’s privacy policy; these can be included as links to not overwhelm the recipient with information
  • A keyword the recipient can text if they need more information regarding the campaign.

It’s a good practice to reconfirm consent every 18 months.

What’s in a message?

When creating your messages be sure to include certain content to ensure the recipient doesn’t consider it spam and quickly opt-out.

  • Clearly identify your club as the sender – Every message should show you as the sender except in follow-up messages of an ongoing conversation. IGNITE Sales will automatically include the name of the club in the message to clearly identify the sender.
  • Focus on the user’s experience – Make sure the message is relevant to the recipient. For example, don’t include members in messages you would send to a prospective member. This may increase your opt-outs or your messages being reported as spam.
  • Be intentional with the language in your links – Avoid language that looks like spam in your links. Recipients are cautious unless they trust the sender so if sending a link in your first message, don’t risk losing potential members by using language that makes the recipient suspicious.
  • Include opt-out language – Provide instructions on how the recipient can opt-out of your messages using STOP, Unsubscribe, or the equivalent. IGNITE Sales will automatically include opt-out language in messages.

The industry standard for SMS segments is 160 characters. This includes your club name, message content, links, and opt-out language. If a message exceeds this limit, it is segmented into multiple messages and additional carrier rates will apply.

Texting Compliance

Hopefully at this point, you feel confident with these best practices and can create impactful SMS marketing campaigns for your members and prospective members. However, it’s important to be mindful of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) laws used to regulate SMS marketing and the consequences.

First is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991. TCPA regulates telemarketing by restricting businesses from contacting consumers without prior consent. Updated in 2013, this now includes SMS marketing. Businesses must ask consumers for permission, in writing, to send them commercial text messages, inform how often the consumers will receive text messages including potential carrier costs and fees, and provide consumers an option to opt-out of SMS communications.

The second law is Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) of 2003. This act is a supplement to the TCPA to regulate email spam and bans false or misleading header information and prohibits deceptive subject lines. The focus of this act is on email, but it can apply to SMS sent via internet-to-phone SMS technology.

Violations can result in fines of $500 -$1500 per unsolicited text message. In addition to the FCC, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) monitor SMS marketing for violations and help businesses adhere to best practices.

Best Practices Lead to Low Opt-Outs

Reaching out to your members and prospective members has its challenges but following the best practices outlined here can result in successful messaging campaigns with few opt-outs.