How O2 Fitness Started Its Customer Loyalty Program

Can exercise be fun and games? O2 Fitness thinks so. The North Carolina-based health club chain in January introduced a loyalty program that encourages members to visit the gym regularly to score points for rewards.

Since then, more than 16,000 of the chain’s 25,000 members have joined the loyalty program, says Shanna Kane, vice president of marketing for O2 Fitness. Customers rack up points each time they work out, complete a personal training session, endure a boot camp class, and engage in other activities. Once they’ve accumulated a few hundred points, they can start exchanging them for rewards, which range from a one-month membership for a friend to a free massage.

O2 Fitness set up its loyalty program through Perkville, a startup in San Francisco that offers a subscription-based model. Kane says the chain explored various options (competitors include FiveStars, Belly, and SpotOn) before picking Perkville. Perkville won them over, she says, because it was able to integrate its loyalty program into the software that O2 Fitness was already using to manage its members, so it was easy to automate.

The Intuit Small Business Blog recently asked Kane to share a few more details about why O2 Fitness started its customer loyalty program and how it was implemented.

ISBB: Why did 02 Fitness decide to introduce a customer loyalty program?

Kane: We were looking for a way to build excitement around coming to work out, which can be a hard thing to accomplish. We thought that, by making a game out of it, members would attend more, be able to really track how often they were coming to work out, and earn rewards for doing it. In addition, we were looking for a good member retention tool — something to keep our members engaged with O2 Fitness.

What advice would you give other businesses that are considering loyalty programs?

Make sure it’s a flexible product that can easily integrate into your brand and provide you and your customers with exactly what you are looking for. Also, be sure that you really get behind the rewards program. It won’t be successful unless you are actively incorporating it into promotions and marketing it to your customers.

Also, keep it simple. Don’t complicate it. That will throw your customers off and make them less likely to participate.

How did you design your rewards system?

We decided to design it based on day-to-day activities that our members were already doing. There are some things that we added in as a bonus to earn points, such as visiting the club 10 times in one month. You can also earn points each time you check in to the club, for taking a boot camp or a personal training session, [or] referring a friend. We don’t want them to have to go out of their way to earn points. We want them to get rewarded for just coming to work out.

Have you seen an improvement in business because of your loyalty program?

Definitely. We have a lot of member interaction that we didn’t see [before]. The great thing about Perkville is that members can tweet directly from the Perkville platform and get points for it, so we see a ton of social media love from that. Members can also send friends a free trial pass through Perkville, and we have had hundreds of members take advantage of that.

How much time do you spend on the loyalty program?

It was really easy to get it up and running. Perkville took care of most of it and worked directly with our membership software to automate the program, so we were very hands-off there. What we spent our time on was building the marketing pieces [and] promoting on social media, in the club, and through email blasts to our members. We also took our time coming up with how you earn points and what you can redeem them for.

Your rewards include a free spray tan from Sun Tan City, a week of meals from Custom Fit Meals, and a massage from Massage Envy. How did you set those up?

I had some existing partnerships with local businesses. I just contacted them and asked if they wanted to provide a reward for our members. It was free advertising for them to our membership base and an extra feature to our rewards program to keep our members excited. These businesses were very willing to participate, and our members are really excited to have these options for rewards. Those who have reached point values for them are definitely taking advantage.

About Ellen Lee

Ellen Lee is a business and technology freelance writer in San Francisco. Reach out to her at ellenleeonline@gmail.com.
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