Utilizing Segmentation and Automation Workflows to Create Recurring Revenue for Your Gym

As the industry continues to grow at a projected rate of 13% this year, an increasing number of owners and general managers are developing their climbing gym marketing strategy.  That is not only to differentiate from the competition, but also to reach an audience that is mostly unaware of climbing. At one time, core climbers would provide the revenue needed to sustain a profitable operation.  However, as the industry becomes more saturated and gyms grow into larger, full-service facilities, gym owners will feel the pressure to find solutions that generate new business, maintain relationships with core climbers, and maximize potential share-of-wallet from each customer.

So how does a gym owner with limited resources accomplish what the big brands are doing with their marketing? The full answer is beyond the scope of this article, but we will break down some of the high-level strategies to help maximize potential revenue from each guest.


The most important climbing gym marketing strategy you must understand is knowing your audience in order to have a more personalized conversation. As our culture continues to push toward customer-centricity, we can no longer simply push promotions about products and services to a mass audience. That simply does not work. The sales process has changed and customers are using powerful resources to find and evaluate options for spending their expendable income. If you fail to have conversations at the individual level based on a customer’s unique needs, then you will fail to capture that customer’s interest.

Consider this, only around 20% of a gym’s revenue comes from core climbers, the guests that have experience and would find a place to climb whether or not your gym was in business. The remaining 80% consists of varying personality types and interests, but our research has shown that most of these individuals fit into two categories: fitness-minded adults and youth guests.

Fitness-minded Adults – in many cases these are individuals that already hold a gym membership to a traditional gym, CrossFit gym, yoga studio, or other specialized training such as Pilates. They tend to be relatively affluent, educated, and resourceful. They also have a decent size social circle with which they share opinions and give referrals. For them, climbing presents an option to either supplement or replace more traditional (boring) workouts.

In the video below, we spoke with a great example of this type of guest. They love climbing and consider themselves to be somewhat “outdoorsy” people that like to hike. They also take their fitness seriously ,so they work out at traditional gyms regularly. They like climbing because it “does not feel like working out.” They are able to hang out, socialize, and get a workout over a couple of hours without ever feeling the boredom that comes with activities such as running on a treadmill.

Youth Guests – in many cases these kids already have multiple activities that they participate in. Often they find climbing because of hearing about it from friends. These kids are frequently not inclined to participate in more traditional team sports (or “ball sports” such as football, basketball, etc.) and find that climbing presents them with the opportunity to set and accomplish individual goals, build confidence and character, and to socialize with a team if they are part of a gym’s youth programs.

Your gym’s guest may vary based on your location. For instance, if you live in a mountain town the percentage of core climbers may be higher. In most cases, these ratios represent the average (even in the UK).

Once you understand these customer types, or personas, you are able to create content that speaks to their needs better than if you simply email your whole list with the same information about promotions and events. You should speak to individuals as people rather than yelling at your whole list through a megaphone. How do you do that in a way that is efficient in regard to both budget and time? The answer: marketing automation workflows.  Once you have properly segmented your customers this is the secret sauce that powers your climbing gym marketing strategy.

Automated Workflows

Let’s start with a quick primer on marketing automation. Automation is a great way to engage customers and future customers individually based on their exhibiting a series of behaviors. For instance, if someone came to our website and checked out our Inbound Marketing page multiple times, then we know that that person is likely interested in learning more. If that person has already subscribed to our list by providing their email in exchange for a piece of content, then we can automatically cater the information we send to them to focus on inbound marketing. Our system is designed to automatically segment customers into workflows that pertain to their exhibited interests.

As referenced above, a workflow is a series of events that take place based on if/then logic. For example,“If a customer visits the inbound page three times, then enter them into the inbound marketing workflow.” That workflow would include a series of emails that makes them aware of what inbound marketing entails, educates them on various facets of the methodology, and finally describes what makes us different from other marketing agencies. That process nurtures a relationship with a visitor being a stranger to an educated potential customer. Remember that “educated” part; it will be important later.

So after establishing your gym’s segments, you can create workflows that walk a customer through to a goal that you establish. A good example would be helping a day pass buyer to become a member. When you consider that most sales require three to five touch points before a future customer takes action, then you should design your workflow accordingly.

Establish Goals

Imagine you want to send all of the 50 North American classics in Steck and Ropers book in one year. You would need to establish short-term and long-term goals in order to accomplish this. Even the logistics of getting to each location would require some goal setting and prioritizing. Successful marketing automation is no different in this regard.

You must first establish what you want your user to accomplish through your workflow. Do you want them to sign up for a membership or enroll in your classes? Are you hoping to fill out your yoga classes with more guests? Would you like more members to attend your upcoming events? All of these present concrete goals that are possible to accomplish with automation.

Thus, you have first established your customer segments above and then set goals for each segment. Now you can move on to doing the work of creating the content and designing the emails.

Educating Guests

Like it or not, you are in the business of education. Guests will look to you to be an authority on climbing and present resources that will help them to dive into their newly acquired climbing hobby/lifestyle. Workflows present an excellent opportunity to establish yourself as a resource, build relationships, and maintain trust with guests.

While the ultimate goal of your workflow may be to get day pass buyers to become members, your focus should be on educating them about the sport and helping them to learn the basics of climbing. That way, next time they come to the gym they won’t pump out by pulling themselves up the wall gorilla-style. If climbing is more enjoyable, they are more likely to stick with it. Simple right?

We have had a lot of success by using videos in our emails. Immediately after someone comes in on a day pass, we send them a video that demonstrates how to climb with straight arms in order to avoid getting pumped and having sore forearms for days. A few days later we send them a video on the basics of footwork. After waiting for a few days, the workflow sends them a membership offer. If they reach our goal of buying a membership, they are removed from the workflow. If not, we continue with more emails focused on climbing tips and follow up with another offer. Typically we see around 10-13% click-through rates on these emails, while the industry average click-through rate is around 1-2%.

Keeping Your Lists Up to Date

Getting your list into your automation software can prove difficult unless you have an API in place that syncs customer information from your point of sale system with your email platform. If you are using Rock Gym Pro, you will need to manually export and upload your list to your automation software on a regular interval (weekly is ideal). That is done in order to reach customers at a time when the information is still relevant. If a guest climbed with a day pass a month ago and had not visited your gym again since, they are not likely to care about your climbing tips. Wouldn’t it be better to reach them just days after they climbed at your gym and your brand is still fresh in their mind?

Measuring Success

Recently, Rock Gym Pro made it possible to track conversions using Google Analytics. That is an excellent addition to the software and is critical to your digital marketing efforts. This will also be important to measuring the success of your workflows. By using UTM codes, it is possible to track the source of traffic from each email. Later, you can trace the path of those visitors through your site to conversion (using the conversion event available from Rock Gym Pro) with your analytics software.

Further, you should pay close attention to the open rate and click-through rates of each email in your workflow. If some of your emails are experiencing low click-throughs then it is likely that you need to either update your copy or another aspect of the content. This may require some experimentation to optimize each email to have the biggest impact on sales – that is part of the fun though!

Bring it Together For a Complete Climbing Gym Marketing Strategy

Although the overall strategy is somewhat straightforward, the implementation process takes some time to set up. The good news? It only needs to be set up once. It can be tweaked from there.

So start by understanding your customer segments. Next, establish a single goal for your workflow. Then you create the content that will be promoted with your workflow. Finally, pay close attention to your metrics in order to determine the success of each campaign.

Would you like more information on marketing your climbing gym? To see more posts in our series click on the button below.