Friday, 15 August 2014

Does online joining increase membership sales?

Part of the GGFaqs series.
This is one of the most frequently asked questions at the moment, with many clubs offering on-line joining, often trying to keep up with the competition. Here's how to beat them!

The quick and easy answer is “Yes, having an online joining option will increase sales.”
How much by? “Well, that depends…  Read our 4 step process below, or check out the abandoned shopping trolley graphic from dotMailer below. 

There are many factors that will affect how successful your online join process is; demographics, options, and ease of joining, but let's turn the question around to talk about follow-up processes. There is an important distinction between those who join and those who don't.
When a member starts to join your club, whether in house or online, we all hope that they'll sign-up and be a member for life (or at least as long as the contract). However, when they don't join, we like to collect their contact details to follow-up and re-engage them at a later date. Although online joining can be less personal, it's easier to collect contact details such as email and phone number, and follow-up can be automated.

#1 Collect Contact Details

It's important to request contact details at the start of the join process, as a prospect can drop-out at any point, for example, when choosing membership type, or entering payment details. Ask for name, email and mobile number and other critical fields you use for segmentation (gender, date of birth) on page one, then you have this information to use for future prospecting if the prospect doesn't join today.

#2 Analytics

In terms of analysis, you should know the percentage success rate of your joining process – what proportion of prospects complete the join process successfully. Then you should find out where in the process the majority of failures happen; is it at the payment screen, induction booking, membership options, or page one where you're asking for details (in which case, consider re-wording the first page, or including more detailed marketing opt-out information)?

#3 Follow-up

Next, consider how you can affect the prospects that failed to sign-up. At some clubs, we've set-up a triggered email that is sent shortly (say, one hour) after the event; “We were really excited that you were about to join, but something seems to have gone wrong. Please let us know if there's anything we can do to help you start your journey to a fitter you, call us on …, email us at …, or come in and visit us… etc”

This can be followed-up by other timely communications, say the next day or 1 week later around the same time of day, with or without a short term offer code. Phone calls are best, of course, but a well worded message can pre-empt the call. Analyse and measure the success of these messages from clicks to codes used, and adapt them accordingly. This is not spam – the person showed an interest in your club, you're trying to help them to get fit, and they can opt-out at any time.

Another follow-up you can consider is to ask members what they liked or would improve about your online joining process. Ask members who've joined online, and failures (if you can) what was good about the process with a simple survey, and offer a small reward in return. This will provide vital feedback and allow you to tweak the process to make it more effective.

This post talks about the online process, but there's no reason you shouldn't apply it to your in-house process too – e.g. ask for contact details at the start of the tour, not the end!

Please add your comments, thoughts, or practices on online joining below, or submit your own GGFaq here or by email to

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