If you’ve read any of our previous blogs, you probably already know that the most successful fitness and wellness business out there use automated email campaigns to nurture leads, keep members engaged, and encourage cancelled members to come back. When coupled with Facebook ads and landing pages, email marketing can be one of the most effective ways to build rapport with both leads and current members.

But what you may not know is that those same businesses have started to replace email marketing with a new tool — one that can take your customer service to new levels of greatness.   

We’re talking about Messenger Chatbots.

Messenger is Facebook’s version of the decades-old instant messenger concept (remember AIM?). It’s been around for about 7 years now, which is long enough to cement its place as a cultural norm. And like most Facebook properties, its usership is growing by leaps and bounds.

facebook messenger users

But with the introduction of chatbots a couple of years ago, businesses have a whole new world of possibilities open to them on the platform. Here are the top reasons you should be using chatbots for your fitness studio:

1. Chatbots are the new frontier.

Let’s face it: Email is oversaturated.

Nearly every business now knows how important email marketing is, and as a result, your target audience is bombarded from all sides by messages that may never see the light of day. In fact, Workfront found that the average U.S. worker has about 199 unopened emails in their inbox.

So if someone on your list has hundreds (or thousands) of unread messages in their inbox and you send them the perfectly crafted email … do you think they’re going to get it?

Probably not. What’s worse: They’re probably going to delete it without even opening it.

Not surprisingly, the typical open rate for email marketing was only about 34% in 2016, with click-through rate (CTR) of about 3%. Now, though, those numbers trend even lower — in the fitness industry alone, the average open rate is 21.93% and the average CTR is only 2.57%.

That means only about 80% of the people on your mailing list are getting your message, and less than 3% are taking action once they do. And that’s hardly a good return on your time investment.

But Facebook opened Messenger up to marketers only about 2 years ago, which means it’s far from being saturated the way email is. And because of that, chatbots see dramatically better results than traditional email marketing — about a 93% open rate and 76% click-through rate, on average.

email vs chatbots

Chatbots are the wild wild west, and there’s never been a better time to stake your claim.

2. Chatbots are what your members want.

Fun fact: The average response time for a brand to reply to someone’s message on social media is 10 hours, while the average user will only wait about 4 hours before moving on to a competitor. Consumers in the buying stage want information immediately, and your members are no different.

But chatbots are instant in their delivery. Your leads can have a conversation with you — or something that looks and sounds an awful lot like you — in real time, which makes them much happier and moves them further down your sales funnel.

And let’s not forget that as more and more people choose their smartphones as their primary browsing device, you have to be able to serve them in a way that’s convenient for them in that moment. 90% of Facebook’s users use the mobile version at least part of the time, and 47% use the mobile version exclusively.

Messenger chatbots are extremely easy for your leads to use on the go. In most cases, your users don’t even need to use the keyboard — they can simply tap an option to be taken to the next step in their journey.

If that’s not reason enough, 53% of people are more likely to shop with a business that they can message directly, and 56% of people would rather message than call customer service. On top of that, 69% of people say they already interact with a chatbot at least once a month.

chatbots-stats

People want to be able to handle their problems independently, and chatbots let them do just that while still giving them the personal attention that’s so important in sales.

3. There are endless ways to use chatbots.

One of the best things about Messenger chatbots is that your lead doesn’t have to be on Facebook at that very moment to have a conversation with you. You can incorporate these bots nearly every aspect of your marketing strategy so that your members always have a way to connect with you.

Here are just a few ways to use chatbots:

  • Advertising: Use your chatbot as the call to action in your Facebook and Instagram ads. Instead of taking them to a landing page where they read about your program, this takes them to a Messenger window where they can chat with you in real time to learn more.
facebook messenger ad
  • Email marketing: Link to a chatbot instead of a landing page in your email blasts.
  • Website chat boxes: Embed your chatbot on your website for members who have questions. It’s free, unlike the fancy helpdesk tools you might have seen.

Using chatbots instead of a standard form means that every time someone messages you, you gain access to all of the information they’ve already give Facebook, like their age, gender, employment status, hometown, and more. This means that when you do have a conversation with them, you’ve already learned more about them than you would have had they simply filled out a form with their name and email address.

Incorporating chatbots into your marketing strategy doesn’t mean you have to change the systems you already have in place. It simply makes them more effective.

Have you used chatbots yet for your fitness studio? How have they worked for you? Let us know in the comments!

Mike Arce

Mike Arce is the CEO and founder of Loud Rumor, a lead generation company for fitness studios and independent gyms that supports their customers with sales training and techniques to grow and scale.

Mike has spoken for companies like Infusionsoft, the Better Business Bureau, ASBA, and Local First – all on the topic of Local Business Internet Marketing. He has a passion for local businesses and helping them grow. You can get fresh, updated tips from Mike here.