Nuts & Bolts - Case Study: Iron Tribe Fitness Automates Success
Like the arc of a kettlebell swing, Internet prospects were once at the bottom of the lead bucket for Iron Tribe Fitness. This year, that channel managed to swing to the top for the Birmingham, Ala.-based business.
In February 2010, when its first gym opened, prospects used to call or walk in the front door in order to become members, says Jim Cavale, Iron Tribe's vice president of operations. "We never expected it to be literally flipped around in an opposite manner."
Cavale and Forrest Walden, Iron Tribe's founder and CEO, credit much of the change—and the increase in leads and customer retention—to their use of marketing automation software. Specifically, in May 2011, Iron Tribe started using software from Gilbert, Ariz.-based Infusionsoft.
"The process interprets what we do, even if it's offline," Walden says.
For instance, every bit of marketing to prospects—including radio, television, billboards, print ads and direct mail—routes them to IronTribe101.com.There they'll find education about fitness and the gym, as well as a form asking, "Want to know more?" that requests the visitor's first and last name and email address. Prospects also can call a phone number on the site to set up a consultation at the gym, but Cavale says they're opting for the form instead.
"We've had 940 people fill out forms this year, so far," says Cavale. "And out of those 940, 497 have sat down for a consultation. And out of those 497, 490 have signed a [membership] contract."
After filling out this first Web form, prospects can fill out a second form requesting a 40-page report about Iron Tribe be mailed to them, along with a thumb drive of an informational video (bit.ly/MQ6mK1). Or they can wait for more information to come through what Cavale calls "an 11-step email follow-up sequence."
Walden adds that this automated email sequence, which is linked through the software to the appropriate facility among the four, is "really pushing them to call the location manager and set up a consultation, which is where the sales process occurs." On-location during the consultation with the prospective member, the gym managers continue the "education process."
In May 2012, 27 percent of prospects who filled out just the first Web form signed up to become members. Among those who filled out the second form, the percentage climbed.
In addition to signing up 490 of the 940 prospects this year, Iron Tribe increased its net profit by more than 300 percent from May 2010 to May 2011 and reached 97 percent monthly member retention.
"We have pre-written template emails that are automated to coincide with where the client is in the program," Walden says. "It serves as accountability, product control and motivation. We also have campaigns built once they sign up that start to sell them on some of our additional profit centers that can help them get results."
Results like these mean Iron Tribe was able to expand from one gym to four in less than two years, as well as franchise the concept during that same timeframe.
But that doesn't mean Iron Tribe is going to get fat and lazy about its marketing efforts.
"We're actually figuring out ways to take the human error element out of the picture," says Cavale, "as far as applying the wrong tags or putting them on the wrong follow-up sequence or making the wrong phone call at the wrong time—whatever it is. Even offline things. And so what we're trying to do now is continue to take as much of the human error element out of it and take the prospect through milestones and echelons based on their interest. And it's all automated."