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Winning back old customers with email and outbound calling - how to reignite a dormant segment of customers

Corey Loehr
March 17, 2022

The best thing about having a ‘dormant’ segment of customers is that they are still your customers, and using email and outbound calling is a great way to reignite their interest. Just because they haven’t engaged and been to the fitness center in a while, doesn’t mean they aren’t still interested in what you have to offer. All you need to do is re-ignite their passion to feel fitter and healthier.

There could be several reasons why these members ended up in the dormant segment of your list. Part of the re-engagement process is finding out why they stopped coming to the gym and helping them to rediscover their motivation to return and restart their fitness routine through gym marketing.

They were a customer, it’s time to win them back with email and outbound calling

It costs a lot more to gain a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. That is why working on reigniting dormant members is going to create more value for you.

Dormant customers already have a relationship with your team. They know you and how your facility works and, depending on how engaged they were before they stopped attending, they are likely to have already developed a relationship with one or more PTs or Instructors at your gym.

The approach to reengage a member is not that different to setting out to gain a new member. Re-engagement is all about striking a chord with that member through a narrative that gets them inspired.

Storytelling via email and outbound calling is the best way to do that. It allows you to talk about scenarios that could reflect the situation your dormant member finds themselves in.  For example, in winter the whole idea of getting up early and going to the gym in the cold and dark isn’t as appealing as it is in the summer. It’s warm in bed and you don’t want to leave it, yet there is still part of you wanting to feel your muscles stretching and moving in different ways.

Why the client may have dropped off

Start by thinking about the different reasons a member may have stopped engaging with your center. Write down a list, which may include some of the following:

  • The time of year and change of light may have dampened their enthusiasm.
  • Work picked up and they are too busy
  • Their family situation may have changed
  • They experienced pain after a particular set of exercises
  • They took up another hobby to fill their time
  • They wanted to try something different (such as yoga) and didn’t realize you have classes.

Once you have the list of reasons, it’s time to think about how to appeal to the person in them that began going to the gym in the first place. Your aim in working up a re-engagement strategy is to understand why they left and to reignite the part of them that still wants to get into the gym and stay in shape.

Write up a list of benefits they would experience if they started coming back to the gym. At this time, it is valuable to talk about how fitness and being at the gym can help to improve their mental health.

Draft some messages for delivery via email and outbound calling, or even video messages based on at least three of the reasons you identified for their disengagement. Develop relatable material for each scenario that reminds them of the benefits of participation and re-engages them.

Ways to engage

Once you have your ideas as to how to talk to them both about why they left and the reasons for coming back, the next thing is to decide how you might engage with this dormant member group.

Whilst it may not hold true for every person, it is worthwhile considering different age groups and how they may prefer to be contacted:

  • Baby Boomers 1946 – 1965
  • Gen X 1965 – 1976
  • Gen Y/Millennials 1977 – 1995
  • Gen Z/iGen/Centennials 1995 - 2010

Millennials are the smartphone generation. They will likely prefer a text and video message rather than an email, for example. Gen X may prefer an email or a phone call. When looking at your list of dormant members consider splitting the list generationally rather than any other way.

Approaching the groups based on age range may work better than a single blast out to all dormant members.

The conversation via text

You may want to consider an approach where you don’t send a broadcast text to each dormant member, but rather have the instructor they were working with reach out via a text message. This is a far more personalized approach and works on reigniting the relationship that existed.

This more personalized approach might prove valuable as the conversation could easily become personal. One key thing if you decide to use this method is to prepare your team by discussing scenarios with them. 

If the team shares ideas of what to say to these members to re-engage them, it will help them to grow, as well as support the members' reengagement experience. 

You may decide that you don’t want your instructors or team members to reach out and may choose to do that yourself. 

The conversation via video message

Video has become a very popular way to engage people. Consider producing a video message. Make the message personal and engaging. Explain the struggle that you and your family have been through during this pandemic. Talk about your own experience of stopping doing things that you used to love. The whole aim of the message is to connect emotionally with the person watching.

Walk through the list of reasons or struggles they may have had and then remind them of the benefits of coming back. 

The Conversation via email

Email messages let you have a conversation in the way that you would if you were writing a letter to someone. One trick to writing effective emails is to write short sentences, leaving space between them. This makes the message easier to read.

Again, your approach is to connect emotionally with the reader. Think about the specific issues that the age group you are talking to may have. You may use the list of reasons you created and present them differently based on their age. 

In this way, whilst the core message may be the same as for other age groups, your language could be different. You wouldn’t have a conversation with a Millennial in the same way you would have a discussion with a Baby Boomer, would you?

The Conversation on a call

Phone calls are always the most personal approach. When considering how to re-engage your member you may decide to use one of the other methods already discussed and follow up with a call. This could work to capture the emotional moment with the dormant member by making the call only a day or so after delivering the other method. 

Your approach would naturally be very personal. If you could speak to some experience the member had while attending your fitness center, all the better. For example, “Hi Sarah, this is Alex from Sure Fit. We noticed you haven’t been into the Spin classes recently. How did you enjoy the sessions with Tara, last time you were here?”

Whatever method you choose to re-engage your old customers with, the key to success is the personal approach. Connecting with members, sharing stories of experience, and asking the question “What would inspire and motivate you to come back into the gym?” are your ultimate aims in any reengagement strategy.

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