The Missing Link to Converting Customers into Subscription

Companies who offer both a subscription and non-subscription models would prefer their customers to be on subscription. Try as they might to email the crap out of them, have employees nag them, customers just won’t budge. It’s not just frustrating, it’s bewildering to many companies.


Well be-wildered no more.


Great Examples in Plain Site

Amazon Prime Loyalty Program. Amazon Prime is $119/year and what do we get: faster shipping and (now) access to their streaming channels and much more value than $119. They have more than 100 million subscribers. We paid this before they included streaming services. We don’t often NEED next day shipping on vintage Maverick coffee mugs, but dang it we WANT it. So much that we’ll pay for it because that shipping perk saves us time. It’s not just convenient, it’s considerate. It’s what we (the customer) wants.


Starbucks Loyalty Program. Why do I need a subscription to Starbucks? Starbucks has integrated their app as part of their loyalty program, Starbucks Rewards. Provide your email and credit card, and you too can connect with a local store. And ONLY through this app can you pre-order drinks and food, have it waiting for you when you arrive, and here’s the kicker: your name is always spelled correctly. Yes, who would have thought they could turn their reputation as bad name-spellers into a perk.


Starbucks Rewards is something all companies can learn from who are trying to recruit customers into a subscription: what is the value to the customer from signing up? For Starbucks, you get to skip lines and have a more efficient ordering experience (saving you time, being considerate), and hear your name pronounced correctly (it’s the little things).

For most subscriptions? Slightly better pricing month-to-month, at least on its face.


Health & Fitness Club Mistakes

There are many fitness models, (think Bally Total Fitness), that will make you sign your life away for a year and won’t let you out of it. They saw an angle and they took it. Those are dying breeds (see their multiple bankruptcy filings for proof) and certainly don’t address modern customers. Yet, most gyms or studios want that dependable recurring revenue that Bally can drive, just without driving everyone away.


Many wellness companies offer per-class packages as well as no-long term commitment subscriptions to lure people in the door, then all of their marketing and in-person sales efforts unmask that they really, really need you to opt-in to the subscription. Corporate says so. They will give customers what they want, but then try at every turn to talk them out of it.

And the main difference between per-class packages and subscriptions? Slight cost differences and potential breakage for the customer. Those are hardly selling points for any savvy consumer. Definitely not considerate.


Give Them What You Haven’t Been: Exclusivity

Here are two things that are likely to increase your subscription conversions from current per-class students.


1.      Save Them Time & Create Some Exclusivity. This might be classes that are just for subscription clients. Maybe subscription clients are always prioritized during heavy-use times of day. You know your studio or gym best and how to create some great benefits for your subscribers that don’t have to do with class costs. Create some exclusivity that is actually appealing to your customers, not your business. It will save them time from trying to book classes that are full or attending classes that are more full than they want.

2.      Let Classes Roll. The most popular subscription right now at Club Pilates is 8 classes/month for $160. But if you miss a class, then you miss. Where studios can really set customers at ease is, for example, to let missed classes roll to the next month. For a while. Sometimes people have busy months and can’t make it. If you are considerate and allow classes to roll into the next month (or even for three months), you remove their fear of paying for something they don’t use, which is one of the great barriers to subscription adoption.


You don’t need to do this indefinitely. Allow for some wiggle room, but create some walls. Our data shows that companies don’t lose their precious breakage. (psst, someone with an 8 class/month package is unlikely to attend 16 classes after they skip a month.)



Remember. The per-class option is supposed to get people into the building without the friction of commitment, and then your superior product will win them over. If they are still coming to class after a few months, your fitness product is a good one. It’s your payment structure that is out of shape.