Whether you run a dance school, yoga studio, karate center or after school enrichment program, you’ve probably spent precious time brainstorming ways to increase your enrollment. You’ve advertised in the local paper, become more active on social media, and offered promotional pricing and special discounts. Perhaps you’ve stood outside your building twirling a comically large arrow. Point is, you’ve done everything you can think of to attract more business. Well, if you’re not providing a way for customers to buy and register for classes online, you’re overlooking what should be the most important part of your growth strategy.
Providing an online registration and sales portal has historically been tough to implement and therefore easy to ignore. After all, successful studios 20 years ago didn’t use online reg and they turned out just fine, right? Well, the landscape has changed. More than ever, in this age of technology, customers clamor for the convenience associated with online registration and sales. As someone who’s worked in this space for some time, I estimate that simply providing an easy online registration option should increase your sales 10% or more the first year. That’s at least $20k additional revenue for a business that normally pulls in $200k.
But how? Here are the top 3 ways providing online class sales and registration will increase your revenue:
1) You’ll convert casual website visitors into paid customers:
Ok, let’s say on any given week, you have 10 visitors to your website who know little or nothing about your business. Perhaps they found you on a Google search, or perhaps they drove by your storefront and decided to check you out. These 10 people are represented in the image below:
For simplicity’s sake, we’ve placed these 10 people into 3 categories:
1- strong interest in your product (green)
2 - mild interest in your product (blue)
3 - no interest (grey)
The grey folks probably click on one or two things and quickly get distracted and check their email and end up on Facebook…. and never return to your site, sadly. Happens to the best of us.
The green folks will not be deterred. They love your website and what you have to offer. They instantly connect with your product, click on lots of pages, read all of the registration info, and pick up the phone and call you right on the spot to inquire about signing up. Whew! This is a converted customer! We love these people, but they are rare.
The blue people are the most intriguing. They have varying degrees of interest, but none of them are ready to follow through with the typical reg process. The blue people represent most of your website’s visitors. They have good intentions, but many of them will never return to your site or your store (what’s that old saying about good intentions??).
Common things the blue people tell themselves…
I’m busy now. I’ll check it out another time.
I like this place, but I should talk to my spouse before making a call.
Looks good, but I want to shop around.
Looks good. Hey… Facebook!
I’m intrigued… but the studio wants me to call them, then download a reg form and print it and fill it out and fax it back and wait in line for an hour at the space?? I’ll get around to it later.
And on and on and on. There are always a million reasons not to do something, and the blue folks are experts at referencing most of them.
Here’s the thing: people respond to convenience. The smartphone age has ushered in some amazing advances in information sharing, but it has also shortened our attention spans. Folks around the world are buried in their phones and tablets and most want to be presented with easy, quick solutions. Allowing your website visitors to register online in 5 minutes will absolutely convert some of those blue folks to paid customers.
Suddenly, your 10 person sample looks like this:
Look! Two greens!!
Providing an easy online registration option should increase your sales 10% or more the first year.
2) Happier customers, better word of mouth
Your customers will appreciate the convenience of online reg, and it will pay big dividends for your biz. We’ve found that 80% of potential customers prefer online registration over conventional methods. It’s a pretty simple formula, really:
Happier customers = better word of mouth = more sales
Clearly, word of mouth is a powerful marketing asset. The greatest businesses always have happy customers and strong word of mouth. Let’s focus in on an example of how your registration process impacts WOM:
Mom #2: “We like our studio. They have a nice facility and the instructors are great. The registration process, however, is brutal! We download forms from their website, print them, fill them out, drive to the space, then wait in line an hour or two on the first day of registration. I have to take time off of work just to enroll my daughter.”
Mom #3: “ We love our studio! They have a nice facility and the instructors are great. They have online registration. Took me 5 minutes to enroll my daughter sitting in my pajamas.”
All else being equal… which studio do you suppose Mom #1 will choose?
3) Compounds your other marketing efforts
You’ve invested in other marketing channels. You’re motivated to find ways to increase enrollment. You will do whatever it takes to make your business as successful as possible. You are inspired, and actively looking for solutions.
Advertising in a local parenting magazine, for example, can be a great tactic to increase your studio’s visibility. The question, though, is what happens when a reader sees your ad? Do they pick up the phone right there? Will they drive to your space and sign up? Not typically. Most times they’ll go to your website first.
The takeaway here is that any marketing is successful these days if it increases visitors to your website. And since the goal (whether you’ve considered it or not) is to drive traffic to your site, you will then compound your marketing efforts by providing a great online experience for your web visitors. Part of that, as we discussed, is allowing them to register and pay online without much friction.