Free trials are an incredible way to turn website visitors, blog readers, video viewers etc... In to online personal training clients. They are a brilliant middle step that turns an interested viewer in to a paying client.
It's very hard to sell a product from a web page these days. The novelty of buying online has been replaced by skepticism and mistrust.
While producing a lot of great content goes a very long way to helping prospective clients to get over these feelings you will almost always need a mid point to meet them at before asking them to give you money.
Three methods work well for this;
1) Getting them on the phone to have a chat.
This shows them that you are a real person and gives you the opportunity to alleviate their fears, bond a little and ask for the sale. Free phone calls will always have their place and this is still the most effective way to sell very high end online personal training packages to low numbers of people.
The downsides are that;
- people don't like sales calls however you dress them up.
- It can be hard to arrange times to chat with clients who live in different time zones.
- A lot of trainers are simply not comfortable selling on the phone
- It can be very time consuming and is only a good use of your time if you sell at quite a high price.
2) Offering something of huge value for free in return for an email address, then using emails to build the relationship and ultimately sell your online coaching and programs.
This can be a great method but requires consistency with emails and a very good free gift. I'm afraid ebooks have been done to death and people don't like giving their email address away easily.
It can work but be prepared to give away something truly useful to your target market for free, then ensure that you write great emails on a regular basis. All of this takes a lot of time and is where I see huge numbers of trainers procrastinate for months and never really get started.
3) Offer a free trial and use this to convert in to your paid memberships.
People coming to your site or watching your videos generally want to see what you have on offer. If somebody is interested in ever buying your products then it stands to reason that the thing they would like to do the most is try it out.
Think about when you buy a car, you want to test drive the car before you buy it right? If you went to a car yard and asked about a particular car how would you feel if they simply handed you a brochure and asked for your email address!?..
As a bonus, when signing up for a free trial online, prospective clients expect to give you their email address. You can now employ email marketing to go alongside your free trial.
Free trials also give you the opportunity to ask for phone numbers and even credit card details. A person that gives you all of this information is around 80% likely to continue in to your paid programs compared to a 3-10% chance when they just give you an email address.
Free trials are also very quick and easy to set up.
I see free trials completely eclipsing any other form of optin as a means of getting online personal training clients in the next 1-5 years.
The three main drawbacks for many personal trainers are;
1) You don't know how to offer a free trial and not give everything away.
2) You fear the time and cost involved in giving free trials.
3) Your not sure how to convert a free trialist in to a paying client.
So lets get in to solving these three problems to make free trials an amazing way for you to get new online clients.
1) The key with offering a free trial and not giving it all away is putting in what clients need right now and then scheduling the rest.
Put in their initial forms (PARQ and Informed Consent Form), their first assessment, their first training program and a coaching video then schedule the delivery of the rest in to your clients account over the period of their free trial and their paid membership.
You can do all of this by using a PTD group. If they decide to cancel their membership then you just take them out off the group and put them offline (this can be automated as well if you like!).
Schedule emails alongside this to welcome them, to point out the new programs and coaching, give a little extra guidance and support, then get people excited about your paid programs via the art of storytelling (more about this later).
By putting lots of great content in to your free trials you show how good you are, how much your programs can help and the quality of the service you offer.
Scheduling new stuff to go in to your clients accounts each day and making this obvious with emails makes it very clear to clients that you have a lot more to offer them and you can help them to get long term results.
This is a great way to illustrate that by continuing as a paid member they will be getting lots more great coaching, lots more training programs and regular assessments to keep them on track.
2) You Fear The Time and cost of giving away free trials
This is one of the main reasons free trials don't work for very high cost programs. If all you do is high end online coaching that requires a large amount of personal time with each client, trials are not as effective a method as offering a free coaching phone call.
Free trials work amazingly if you offer 2-3 packages. One is low cost and mostly automated, the others offer a higher level of personalisation and support for an extra cost.
Your free trial should be mostly an example of your lowest price option with a small glimpse of what's on offer with your higher priced packages.
With this in mind your free trial should be a pretty automated process and shouldn't take much time from you unless you wish to invest more time (I.e phone calls, Skype Assessments and bespoke programs) for an even greater chance of getting long term clients in to your higher priced packages.
The huge bonus of automating much of your free trial is that clients can sign up and get started straight away. This is when they are most excited and at their keenest to get started.
Research shows that 34-50% of sales go to the vendor that responded first!
3) How to convert a free trialist in to a paying client.
This one is a huge stumbling block for many but is actually really simple.
- Offer great stuff in your trial, don't hold back your best coaching because you fear this will stop them needing your paid stuff....
Wow them with your best stuff, get them excited to be working with you and make it clear that there is lots more to come when they continue to work with you.
A simple assessment, great training programs, nutrition coaching videos, lifestyle video tips, recipes etc.... could all be included to wow your clients. Just make sure you don't overload them.
So, a body stat assessment at the beginning and end of the trial, one program on each of their training days and one coaching/ tips video per day max. Give them exactly what they need to get great results, make it simple, make it to the best of your ability and that's it.
- Tell stories in your email autoresponder series.
On your clients off days from training the emails should tell a story of yourself or of one of your clients. This story should tell of the pain when you/ they started out and how they looked and felt about themselves, it should then talk of their journey and of their progress over the coaching period, then finish with them now and how great they look and feel.
If you haven't taken credit card details to activate the free trial (more on this below) It should state which package they have done and have a call to action at the bottom where readers can sign up to your paid program or book a free phone call with you to talk about how they can get results like these and feel amazing.
Should you ask for card details to activate your free trial or not?
We tested this extensively with PT Distinction and the undoubted conclusion we came to was YES!!
It may not be the same for every business but here are the pros and cons of taking card details to activate a free trial.
- It makes instant delivery of your trial very easy to set up – Merchants send a thing called an Instant purchase order (IPO). If your trial delivery system (i.e PT Distinction) is set up to receive and respond is to this then they will get the IPO and send your clients details to sign up and login instantly, they can also send your welcome email and get your autoresponder sequence going with no delay.
- Your conversion rate from trial to paid programs will be much, much higher. Essentially when someone enters card details for a free trial they make the subconscious decision to sign up to your programs and continue on to your paid programs. At the end of the trial they simply have to re affirm that decision and remain consistent to do so.
If they haven't entered card details for the trial they have to make a new decision to do so in order to sign up to your paid packages. Its is also less effort to only have to sign up once.
- Entering card details and having your trial roll in to a paid membership put a time limit on the trial and creates a real sense of urgency for trialists to actually look at what you have on offer, read your emails and actively participate in the trial. It is unbelievable how many people will sign up for a trial that doesn't continue in to a paid membership and never log in once to actually participate.
- You won't get an overwhelming number of emails, messages and phone calls. When we tried offering a free trial with no need for card details I spent 6-9 hours a day answering emails from trialists, none of these people were paying us a penny and it was prohibitive to me helping our members, creating a better software and moving the business forward. This is fine if you have a team of people working for you that can take on this burden but most online businesses start off with just you and you need to focus on your clients and giving them the very best possible service.
You will get less people trialing your program.
No doubt about it, less people will sign up to your free trial if you ask for credit card details to activate it than if you ask for email alone.
This means your email list will not grow as quickly and less people will see your great work. With that said the conversion rate is much higher if you do take card details so you will be very unlikely to end up with less paying clients and you will have much more engaged trialists.
The smaller email list can be solved somewhat by having a two step sign up process Step 1 enter name and email address, step 2 enter card details.
As you know at PT Distinction we do everything we can to help you become and stay a successful online coach. When researching the absolute importance of offering free trials to get clients I realised that we had to put our money where our mouth is and take away any financial risk from you.
From now on every client you add to PT Distinction will not cost you a penny for their first month on the system (of course you can still charge them if you wish to!). This means that no matter what package you are on you can offer unlimited clients a free trial for up to one month and we will cover the cost for you.
You can also automate the sign up and delivery of every part of your trial to ensure you maximize its effectiveness.
No other personal trainer software
would ever offer you that...... Because no other software is built around your success in the way that PT Distinction is...... If your not already a member you can sign up for our free trial here!!!