8 reasons why your intro offer isn’t converting into long-term memberships

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8 reasons why your intro offer isn’t converting into long-term memberships

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Most studio owners agree that attracting new leads who will purchase a long-term package is a top priority. Studios spend much of their budget on advertising, but capturing the right client with engaging, effective marketing is only half the challenge. Conversion rates-the percentage of clients who buy a package after their introductory special- are often below 20 percent industry-wide. We know it's less expensive to keep a client than to market and attract a new one, so what is the secret formula for clients who stick? Our coaches repeatedly see the same pitfalls that studio owners fall into when designing their pricing, so here are the reasons why your introductory pass might not be converting into a committed member.

1. You don't consistently communicate how you can solve their problem.

Let's start with one of the most important factors. Your new client had a specific reason for searching you out. Maybe their doctor lectured them about high blood pressure, or they tried on a favorite pair of jeans that didn't fit right. There are hundreds of reasons to drive a person to Google "studios near me," and it will be impossible to save the sale if you overlook their individual expectations. When that new prospect is standing in your studio for the first time, it's essential to ask, "what brought you in today?" (or a variation of that idea that matches your business's culture) to discover their "why" for entering your studio. It's your job to show them that you can solve their problems and fit their needs, but you can't do that if you don't know what they're searching for. One way to make sure you’re meeting your clients needs is to make sure your packages are built for a competitive edge which we discussed in our last blog article here.  

2. The experience doesn't match their expectation.

Similar to the previous problem, this conversion disrupter is about meeting a client's preconceived idea of what your studio should offer. Suppose your leads regularly expect a feature or experience you do not currently provide. In that case, you'll either need to (A) update your website and social media presence to be more clear, (B) chance or clarify your marketing material and audience when you're advertising, or (C) make updates to your studio to match consumer expectations. That may look like:

  • Disappointed clients because they expected hot yoga, but the class was 70 degrees.
  • A new client looking for a similar format that you don't offer (i.e., cardio barre instead of isometric barre).
  • A novice client requesting beginner-only classes or privates before entering your group classes.
  • A mom discontinuing her trial because she needs childcare for her small children to make it to class.
  • A cardio-loving client stating that shower access is a non-negotiable for her, but you don't intend to install them.

You do not need to re-design your studio to provide the service or offering that anyone requests. However, if you're regularly running into disappearing introductory clients due to complaints from consumers who expected something different, you'll want to be crystal clear on your website or consider workarounds to keep new clients in the future.

3. The introductory offer is too long.

Let's return to the client's "why" discussed above. That cause, whether it be ill-fitting clothing, a breaking point in their stress level, or a doctor's recommendation is the catalyst, and the farther you get from that trigger, the less important it will feel to your client. That also means that, in most cases, your clients' motivation will decrease as your intro offer drags on. Although 30-day unlimited specials are everywhere in our industry, they tend to convert less consistently than shorter introductory passes because it's too long for someone to remember their original reason for joining when committing to another package 30 days later.

If you love your lengthy intro offer, there are improvements that can be made. The following adjustments can help a longer timeline succeed by engaging the client throughout the trial:

  • Frequent contact points throughout the intro special
  • An engaging email sequence
  • A welcome meeting and halfway check-in 
  • Asking the new client's goals at the beginning and reiterating them regularly during their intro
  • Facilitating relationship building between the prospects and current members
  • Pre-scheduling classes that are selected individually based on the client's goals

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4. The offer is too short.

There's a sweet spot for membership conversions, and much of it lies in getting the timing right. If the introductory offer is too long, they forget their purpose for joining, and if it's too short, they haven't had a chance to see themselves as a member of your studio before you ask them to purchase again. When building your intro offer, aim for between 10 and 21 days, with 14 days as a crowd favorite for most modalities. Single class drop-ins rarely convert because the client doesn't have an opportunity to get out of the anxiety-inducing "new kid" phase and into the swing of their new fitness routine. A three-class package that expires in 14 days, a ten-day offer, or a two-week unlimited pass, are all tried-and-true packages with the ideal timeline for most studios. 

5. The offer is too cheap.

You want your intro offer to be a great deal, but if it's too inexpensive, the client is unlikely to purchase a regularly priced membership option. There are a few additional problems with this approach as well: 

  • It can be perceived as a bait-and-switch deal where a business attracts clients with rock-bottom prices and then switches to a higher-priced offer. Potential clients are often frustrated and may even feel like they wasted their time because there's nothing that fits their budget. 
  •  Extremely low intros can attract "studio-hoppers"- deal seekers who float from business to business, purchasing each studio's discounted packages. 
  • Intro offers and marketing should speak directly to the business's target client. If the trial price and the memberships are vastly different, the promotions won't attract clients who can and will purchase regular packages.

Ideally, your intro offer should be between 60-70 percent of the package you want to sell. This will vary by modality, but if you're trying to recruit clients for your twice-a-week membership at $149, your intro would be around $89.

6. Your marketing doesn't attract quality leads.

You've probably seen or tried a free class or guest pass. All of the same considerations are true as with the discounted package, but free has the added issue of attracting numerous leads who have no skin in the game whatsoever. Free intro offers will likely result in more prospects than a paid trial, but those clients are even less likely to convert into a package than the inexpensive intros. Plus, if your classes are flooded with free drop-ins, your attention will be diverted to clients who have no intention of buying, leaving less bandwidth for quality leads. This type of marketing can be successful, but you need a well-planned strategy for free classes.

7. There's no follow-up.

Most sellers don't follow up at all, which is unfortunate because only two percent of sales are made with the first contact. Even an automated follow-up will help your conversion slightly, but you'll want to reach out five times or more during a new client's trial period to be truly effective. This may feel unattainable if you're uncomfortable putting yourself out there or are uncomfortable on the phone. Still, you don't need to be salesy to contact a client. In fact, you should aim for connection over conversion in these contact points. Here are a few touches that make a significant impact:

  • A short 'welcome to the studio' phone call.
  • A personalized email inviting them to schedule their classes with you.
  • A Handwritten thank you note partway through their introductory offer.
  • Organic contacts such as a "how was class?" text demonstrating that you have been paying attention to their progress.
  • Schedule a one-on-one consultation either in person or over zoom to learn about the client's goals and ideal schedule

Adding each of these points to your client's experience just once would increase your conversion rate by up to 80 percent. You've done all the work of marketing and finding the client; make sure you don't trip at the finish line by following up throughout their intro. 

8. You don't have a clear and rehearsed sales process.

Even if your intro offer is perfectly timed, priced, and executed, you will struggle with conversions if you don't have a sales process that your studio uses every time you pitch your sale. If your client has made it this far, they most likely want to stay but do not know how to take the next step. Don't leave their purchase up to chance. You didn't build your fitness business because you love making sales and tracking leads, but challenge yourself to close out each client's intro offer by asking for the sale

As consultants in the industry, we often see the "cross your fingers" approach where studios teach amazing classes and have vibrant, welcoming communities, but their sales tactic is to hope that clients fall in love and take it upon themselves to buy. If this sounds like you, you're missing out on members who want to join but haven't been asked. Most consumers simply need someone to say, "I noticed that you've attended six classes during your intro offer. Based on your goals and usage, our twice-a-week membership would be ideal for you. Let me tell you all about it so we can help you choose the perfect package moving forward." 

Where do you go next?

If you’ve found yourself thinking "I do that" on any (or most) of the pitfalls listed, don't panic. Set a goal to make one change each month and focus on consistent improvement instead of drastic overhaul. Remember to train your staff and track your progress so that you can measure improvement and if you need help creating a sales flow, reach out to one of fitDEGREE's preferred industry expert coaches. 

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About the author:

Niki Riga
Industry Expert
Limitless Studio

Niki has been a client, a studio owner, and a coach in boutique fitness for over a decade, and she can’t think of an industry she'd rather be in. Her favorite part about coaching and studio ownership are the same: she loves supporting clients as they push past their limits and achieve their goals. Niki became a coach because she was regularly asked, “how did you do that!?” by other studio owners who were drowning in the day-to-day responsibilities of business ownership but didn’t have the support to grow their studio to its potential. She created Limitless Studio to partner with owners who have a vision for their business and are ready to implement systems to build the studio of their dreams.