Hi, I'm Tyler Willis and I've been helping businesses optimize their digital marketing and web development efforts for over 10 years. I excel at teaching and helping companies understand complex digital solutions, and applying them to their businesses.
In this case study, I'm going to look at the Health Club of Concord in Concord, New Hampshire, and how I'd approach growing their business via website optimization and digital marketing.
Note: As of this writing, I have not talked with the Health Club of Concord so I don't have a complete understanding of their existing digital growth strategy. I may make certain assumptions but will do so by leaning toward typical scenarios.
Some basic meta data improvements
The first thing I noticed was the absence of title and meta tags on the website. When I first searched for "health club of concord" I noticed what looked to be an auto-generated description from Google on their search result:
While Google usually does an okay job at auto-generating search result titles and descriptions, this could be an opportunity for the Health Club of Concord to add a more relevant or complete description. Maybe something like this:
I think that provides a bit more information for the person conducting the search query and including the square footage is definitely more impressive.
Home page web design
When I first visited the home page on the website, I really appreciated seeing the pictures of the various rooms of the Health Club. Before going, I would definitely like have a quick preview of what I was about to walk into.
So I wouldn't entirely do away with the idea of an image grid, but I'd probably think about adding some sort of text description either underneath or in front of the images - maybe sharing some of those impressive statistics again about how large the club is, how many elliptical machines it has, tennis courts, etc.
Also, ideally this images or "blocks" would be links to sub-pages containing more information. The home page should be treated as sort of a landing page or starting point that allows the user to navigate to the more meaty content - like what they're specifically looking for.
For example, if I really want to join a fitness club that has a tennis court, the image of someone playing tennis would catch my eye and the headline featuring "Tennis Courts". Then I could click on that link and go to a page where I see more information about how many courts the Health Club has, what clinics are offered, etc.
Why would we not just put this on the home page? Well, if someone else is more interested in just weight lifting, we'd want them to be able to navigate quickly to more information about weight lifting without having to sift through all of the content we have about our tennis courts. If a site visitor can't find what they're looking for quickly, they will leave the website entirely and look for alternatives.
I also noticed a couple of icon links to the Health Club of Concord's Instagram and Facebook pages. I wouldn't worry about including those in prominent places. The point of social media accounts is to attract the attention of users where they are and direct them to the website. We don't want to send them back to social media where they could get distracted and forget all about your website.
It's fine to include social links in the footer, for example. It is good to try to build out these communities, but we just don't want anything to distract from what we're trying to accomplish on the website.
Empowering the user to act
While trying to approach the website from the perspective of a user, I found it pretty difficult to weigh the pros and cons of membership, and even sign up. Unfortunately, this is a big problem because that should be the #1 priority of the website - to sell a subscription.
However, if interested in a health club subscription, it appears that you have to start the process by calling a generic phone number or filling out a contact form to request more information.
That wouldn't be so bad if I could at least compare plans beforehand and be allowed time to consider before calling. Unfortunately, there is no pricing listed on the website.
This is a clear roadblock for the user. Since there is no way for the user to be transformed from site visitor to paying Health Club member, the website is essentially acting only as a hub of information, not a sales and revenue-generating machine that it could be.
If the Health Club of Concord was my client when the website was built, or I was the developer I would have suggested that they pass on paying for a new website at the time and instead work with simple Google Business and Facebook pages.
General content feedback
It looks like there are a lot of different events and classes that members can participate in, and a fair amount of information, so that's great. The interior pages could probably be redesigned a bit to include images and text breaks - that would probably improve the user's experience as they scan the website.
I think service offerings that remove barriers to membership, such as how the Health Club offers childcare to its members, should be a bit more prominent. Many fitness centers don't offer this service.
The website design itself could use some updating and modernizing, but that's secondary to the content edits that have been suggested.
Above and beyond: Full-service membership functionality
If we wanted to take the Health Club of Concord's website to a new level, we'd want to transform it from being a "hub of information" to a tool that not only simplifies and automates memberships, but also boosts operational processes.
Now, I haven't talked with the Health Club about the in-house membership management processes, but I do know that it has nothing to do with the website and requires manual entry of information since it can't be done by the user on the site.
What I would propose would be to allow users to manage their own memberships from sign ups, to payments, cancellations, and event signups and upsells. This wouldn't require an enormous amount of work. Simply, a sign up form, a payment processor that would work with ongoing subscriptions, invoices and one-time payments, and membership details.
As a user, this would be my preferred way to handle membership with the Health Club. This way I could sign up on my own, walk right in to the fitness center with my active membership and sign up for classes when I'd like without needing to call and talk with anyone or work with anyone else's schedule.
And from the Health Club's point of view, they would most definitely experience an increase in membership as well as a simplified way of managing those memberships which I'm sure is a big part of their daily operation.
In summary ...
The Health Club of Concord does a good job of showing pictures of their facilities which really help the user to get a sense of what they'd be walking into upon visiting.
A few things that could be improved are some basic search engine optimization components (meta tags), and the design and layout to filter users to becoming members.