sweat the small stuff

Research & Resources

Lead Generation, Part 2: What Kind of Intro Special Works Best?

The customer base for boutique fitness classes has exploded in recent years. There’s no shortage of men and women leaving their corner gyms to try out new exercise formats, from rowing and spin to pilates and barre. With this boost in interest, the challenge facing studio owners has shifted from “how do I get visitors in the door,” to “how do I convert new visitors into long-term customers who prioritize my studio over others?”

Most studios have an introductory offer that is cheap enough to compel people to give the studio a try. These intro offers come in different forms: first class free, half-priced first class, buy one get one, first week free, discounted monthly unlimited… the list goes on.

Measuring both the volume and the retention of each intro special, particularly if you are running two at the same time, is crucial. Certain types may have the highest engagement of those customers who choose them- like a monthly intro- but a limited pool of customers. Others- like a free week - will have a high volume of customer but low retention. Understanding the needs of your studio will help you find the balance.

At the end of the day, you want to understand how effectively your intro specials are creating customers, not just visitors. There are a few ways to approach this- one is fast, and one is more in-depth. In this article we’re going to explain how to get an “At a Glance” snapshot of retention by entrance category. For the deeper dive, see our article on measuring long-term retention and spend by entrance category.

At a Glance

The “quick” way to get a high-level understanding of your different entrance categories is to pull the First Visit Report through MindBody (illustrated below). We recommend this step if you are comparing single - visit entrance categories (ClassPass, First Class Free, etc). If you want to measure what happens to customers after completing an intro special that includes more than one visit, we need to do a deeper dive.

First, you’ll pull the report for the timer period you are interested in, making sure to include all locations.



The report will export data similar to the spreadsheet below (some columns have been removed for clarity, and the data anonymized).



What we need to do first is record the unique entrance categories we are interested in comparing (shown here in column G). It’s really important that the text is an EXACT MATCH to the text in the “Pricing Option” column, because our calculation is based on that. Then, we’ll count the number of customers who used that booking category. We use a “Countifs” formula for this. The formula looks like this:


Explained in English, that formula is saying “Count every single customer in this entire column [ in this case, we are looking at the Pricing Options Column ] where the pricing option matches this highlighted cell [ and we’ve selected the unique booking category, in this case BOGO ].



Cool. Now we want to know how many of these customers came back for another visit after their first visit. We aren’t measuring how many times they came back - we can do that later, in the deeper dive- we just want to see whether they came back at all.

This formula is going to be similar to the formula we just wrote, but expanded a bit.

In English: “Count how many customers entered through this category [BOGO], and have a value greater than 0 in the “# of visits since first visit” column.”

In Excel: “=COUNTIFS(D:D, G4, E:E, “>”&0).

*One thing to note here- categories like BOGO or “one week free” will have an artificially high “conversion rate,” because it’s not really a fair comparison. That customer’s second or third booing may still be covered by the first purchase they made- they didn’t convert to another purchase yet. Our deeper dive, described later in this article, does a better job of accounting for that type of category.



Okay- so now we know how many people entered through each category, and of that group, how many returned for at least one more visit. Let’s just turn that into a percentage by dividing column I by column H.



The data will tell a different story for every studio. In the case of the (fake) spreadsheet above, we can see that about the same number of people entered through each category over this time period. The BOGO option has a much higher retention rate than the other two, but that makes sense, because the BOGO option includes two classes (learn how to adjust for that here).

What to Look For

We don’t love the phrase “the right kind of customer,” because devoted customers can come in all shapes and sizes from different entrance points. That being said, this analysis can be a really helpful way to understand the kind of behavior that follows each introductory method (especially when the options you are analyzing include the same number of visits, so you are making an apples to apples comparison). If you’ve offered different options over the course of the year, like a free class and a half-priced class, it is definitely worth checking in to see the relative retention of each.

We’d be happy to help out with the process described above. If you’d like us to measure the first class conversion for you, we can sign a non-disclosure agreement, analyze your data, and regroup with you in a 20 minute call (at no cost to you). Just click the link below to get started.


This is the second post in a three-part series on lead generation. To read the first post, click here