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Why studio fitness brands should offer friend referrals and gift cards: the benefits

Corey Loehr
November 28, 2022
Why studio fitness brands should offer friend referrals and gift cards

Nowadays, without proper gym marketing, fitness studios find it difficult to stay ahead of their competition, but depending on the chosen efforts, marketing campaigns and strategies can also put a great strain on your budget. Having said that, gift cards and friend referrals represent a great way for you to improve brand awareness without actually involving yourself.

Word-of-mouth is very powerful, which is why members should be given the possibility to promote your brand to the people they trust and the people that trust them. Refer a friend program just serves that purpose.

With the right incentives, refer a friend programme and gift cards can make things easier not only for your clients but also for your brand. So, take advantage of referral marketing and kick off customer referral programs where customers can refer friends to your business and might as well earn referral bonus.

Benefits of friend referral programs

There are a range of benefits to giving your fitness studio members the ability to refer a friend.

1. You identify loyal customers

Referral programs allow you to find and track the customers that are loyal to your business. Members that have a good experience with your fitness studio will likely stay, but they also need to be nurtured so that they can recommend a friend. Apps such as Hapana make refer a friend marketing very easy. The app can let you see who referred the most friends or interacted with your content the most. Once you have that information, you can create personalized ads and referral code for them to further increase their experience with your brand. Friends of your members will love them as well for your refer-a-friend program. You stop your members from thinking, "I have 0 friends" with your ideas for referral programs.

2. Customer referral programs keep you ahead of the competition

The health and fitness industry has become a very competitive one. New communities and businesses are showing up at every corner, especially in the online world. By giving your members the ability to refer someone, you are securing your gym business before it can go to your competition, keeping you one step ahead in your industry.

3. Friend to friend referral program can increase sales and customer retention

People are more likely to buy a product (in this case, your fitness studio membership) if it was referred to them by a friend. By offering your members the ability to refer friends through the app, you can also give your incremental revenue a boost; the more your clients recommend your program, the higher your sales revenue will be. You can also implement the idea of discount offers. Allow your members to send a friend discount code, which will double your gym sales revenue. 

This can also increase your customer retention; happy clients will be more likely to stay, and clients who are welcomed into your studio by their friends are more likely to be happy. As a gym owner, you can get ideas from different referral program template and come up with the best referral program.

4. They expand market reach

When you are doing your own marketing (i.e., ads or email marketing), you have a specific market reach. The problem is that you are limited to your contacts. You may receive some extra referrals from your friends, but you may need more. By giving your clients the ability to refer their friends, you tap into a market that you may have not reached before. 

Given the right incentive, your customer becomes your brand ambassador and can significantly improve your brand awareness.

5. They foster brand reputation and trust

Many businesses are brought up in conversations by people wanting to share their findings. People find it easier to trust a business if its services were recommended by someone they know and already trust. 

If your members get the ability to refer a friend through apps such as Hapana, new clients will already have some level of trust in you. This will significantly improve your brand reputation.

6. Fewer marketing costs

Perhaps one of the best reasons for setting up a referral program is the low associated cost. You would have to make an initial investment to get the platform, then allow your customers to do the work on that platform for you. 

Many of these apps come at average-to-low costs. White-label apps such as Hapana enable you to create customized platforms that will draw clients in the long run.

How gift cards work

Gift cards are also a very good marketing option in a similar vein to friend referral programs. Members can give their friends a gift card, which may be purchased at a discount or given for free once a member makes a specific purchase.

Overall, here is how a gift card can help:

1. It encourages members to spend more

Gift cards may be “free money” to some degree, but they still encourage people to spend. For instance, let’s say that you have a certain fitness program lined up. With this alone, people may not be likely to join. However, if they get a gift card for their purchase, they may be more willing to spend as they see a good deal with more value.

2. Easier to control compared to discounts

Discounts are offered to a wider audience and usually work on a passive scale, bringing in only those who are already somewhat interested in your services. Gift cards are more targeted and active, so they often lead to buying customers, which is good for your bottom line.

3. Flexible forms

Gift cards come in many forms; they can be branded gift cards, partner company gift cards, or visa gift cards. They may also be physical or digital gift cards. 

You can choose the kind you want to use based on the values to your clients. For example, digital or visa gift cards may be more appropriate for clients that make their purchases through the app. You might now be wondering, "do gift cards expire?" The short answer is, yes, gift cards do expire. However, it depends on the type of gift card you buy and from where you are purchasing it from. The expiry date tends to vary.

The bottom line

Offering your fitness studio members the ability to refer friends and send gift cards can significantly improve your business. Your customers will practically do your marketing for you while receiving benefits, making it a win-win situation.

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