The fitness industry has been using the same strategies of free trials and discounts for a long time, and this is because they work! Free trials for new members and discounted rates are tried-and-tested ways for both attracting and retaining members. But which one is right for you?
Gyms usually opt to offer free trials for new members or create ‘limited time only’ promotional offers. The larger the gym, the more cash flow available to absorb short-term losses from having ongoing free trials. This is seen as an investment to get new members in who will eventually become paying members.
Smaller gyms may choose to offer promotional free trials on a regular basis, but only for a limited time. This can give them a selling point for their marketing and create a sense of FOMO for potential new members. However, it risks damaging the perceived value of the gym if potential members keep seeing promotions for free trials, so be strategic in when/how you market them.
As a core marketing strategy within the fitness industry, free trials have proven their value. Some of the pros for running free trials for your gym are:
The most important thing to remember when trying to convert free-trial memberships is to follow up. This includes both a human touch and automatic messaging. Consider implementing the following strategies once a person reaches the end of their free trial:
You might opt to go for a one-off discount membership price as an ongoing strategy for attracting members. Couple this with a tiered membership platform, where long-term members are rewarded for their membership, and you can use this to communicate value to your customers. A 2021 survey by Upswell Marketing found that 70% of respondents were most interested in ‘value’ when choosing a gym, above things like amenities and convenience (location).
Discount rates are an easy way to create perceived value in your gym. Some of the most important pros of a discount rate are:
Free trial memberships and discounted memberships can work equally as well. They can both create a sense of urgency and FOMO in potential members and are great ways for getting people into your gym so you can then convert them by providing a great experience.
Cost will be the leading factor that decides it between a free trial or discount. As we’ve said, if you’re a larger gym or you have smaller overheads for whatever reason, you might have the flexibility to offer ongoing free trials for all new members.
Smaller gyms or those that have tighter margins might opt for a range of discounts on memberships, with greater discounts offered for a larger initial investment in a membership.
Whichever you choose, free trials or discounts, as a gym owner – make sure you apply them strategically and don’t risk devaluing your perceived brand value in the market. Use cloud-based software to track memberships and measure the value of your promotional programs, and make sure you have a strategy for turning ‘trial’ memberships into long-term customers.