Member Experience

How to build a trial program that leads to more conversions

This article goes over how to create, launch and run a free trial program in order for your business to get more conversions. It talks about the three main components of effective online marketing strategies.

Stacy Kim
November 15, 2021
How to build a trial program that leads to more conversions
Learn how to create, launch and run a free trial program for your business to get more conversions. Learn the parts of effective online marketing strategies
Trial Program
Photographer: Inspired Horizons Digital Marketing | Source: Unsplash

Having a great onboarding experience is paramount at a gym. Do you offer a free trial, paid trial, no sweat intro? And how long is the trial program, and how much should it be.

There are so many variables to consider when building the best possible experience for new leads. This article will share how to build a killer trial program that leads to more conversions and better retention.

Here's a quick overview of how we will build a trial program:

  • Decide if your trial is free or paid
  • Choosing a duration for your trial program
  • Determine when you enroll new leads
  • Set up your trial in PushPress
  • Create a system for your trial
  • Convert your leads to new members

Decide if your trial program is free or paid

You can ask ten different gyms and probably get ten different opinions on how much to charge for your trial program. It's going to be up to you, your business, and your location. There is no right answer, but here are some things to consider.

Free Trial Pros

  • Super low barrier
  • The fastest way to get the most people in the door

Free Trial Cons

  • It doesn't show the value of your program
  • Requires no commitment (or investment)
  • Too many new leads at the same time

Paid Trial Pros

  • Increase your front-end revenue
  • It appears as a more valuable experience
  • Strategically weed out unqualified leads
  • Committed leads will most likely show up

Paid Trial Cons

  • Higher barrier to signing up
  • It takes longer to get enrollments

I recommend going with paid trials in all cases. You can adjust the pricing to find the sweet spot for your services and your location. I would consider creating a price point that indicates your member's level of financial commitment moving forward.

Here's an example. If your average membership is $100 and your 1-week trial is just $20 that will feel like a big jump. Your member will do the math and think your membership should be $80 based on the cost for their first week.

Instead, make your 1-week trial $30 (or $29). When you show your member pricing, $100 will feel like a no-brainer!

Choosing a duration for your trial program

How long do new people need to experience your program before being sold? In my experience, for most people, one day isn't enough time to know whether or not they want to continue.

Consider creating a more extended trial with a system that orients and introduces your lead to everything they need to know to fall in love with your gym!

Set a duration that ends before the honeymoon phase ends. You want your leads to complete their trial feeling like they can't imagine stopping.

Determine when you enroll new leads

Allowing new people to drop into any class can be an easy solution, but it may also change the experience for both your lead and your existing members.

For experienced athletes, jumping into a regular class might not be an issue, but if you're trying to enroll people new to fitness, this won't be easy.

I recommend creating an experience that is exclusive to new members. Here are some benefits of this trial model:

  • New people enroll at the same time, which ensures your staff are ready to help them
  • You can use scarcity tactics to sell spots — "only 4 spots left!"
  • It will be less intimidating for new people to start in a class with only other new people
  • Allows you to control the first time experience fully
  • You can pick your best coaches to do the job

The biggest downside to this model is that you are limited to how many new members you can enroll, and if it doesn't work with their schedule, you will need an alternative solution.

However, this exclusive experience has a better conversion rate since your leads are more qualified.

Set up your trial in PushPress

Your PushPress system will make it simple to enroll new leads in your trial program. Create a non-recurring plan to get started. Here are a few things to make sure you have in your plan setup:

  • Utilize class restrictions to limit their check-ins to just your exclusive trial classes
  • Turn the trial off from view in the Member App. Remember, only people with an active plan can access the app.
  • On completion, redirect to book their first class

Once you have your plan set up, you can share your new trial on your website using the plan landing page link.

Create a system for your trial

It doesn't matter what your trial program is if you don't have a solid system in place.

Write down all steps for your new trial to create a written SOP (standard operating procedure). Include everything from the time they first contact you until the time they convert to a member. Then, share that with all staff members.

Create a series of communications that you will use to follow up with your lead during their trial.

  • Confirmation that you have received their request
  • Send them a text message to introduce yourself and start the conversation
  • Email before their first class to let them know what to expect and what to bring for their first class
  • Follow up text to see how their first class was
  • Email follow-up to educate your lead on what any next steps might be. This is a good time to offer membership.
  • Continue with your communications throughout the duration of the trial
  • Once the trial ends, remind them of their next steps to continue training
  • If they don't sign up, create a series of follow-ups until they sign up or say "no"

Keeping up with this series of messages can be time-consuming! You can use PushPress Grow to automate all of these messages and even staff reminders and tasks to stay on top of your trial system and save time.

You can also use something as simple as Mailchimp or templates in Gmail if you're just getting started.

Convert your trials into new members

Offering a trial is your chance at a good first impression. Whichever method you choose, make sure you have a system in place and that your whole team is on board. Communicate with your leads early and often and make the path to membership clear.

More leads are not better. You want your gym to have more qualified leads to increase your conversion rate. Set up your trial to show your value and then overdeliver with a fantastic experience at your gym.

Stacy Kim

Stacy Kim, founder of KUMA Fit (a women’s kickboxing & fitness studio) has dedicated her life to teaching. She has taught over 10,000 classes and has trained in martial arts for over 15 years. Today, her mission is to redefine what women’s fitness means, to stop objectifying the body, and focus on movement to feel strong and empowered in our lives.

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