Converting Website Leads From Email Addresses to Paying Members


Over the past four years I, along with my team at 97 Display, have helped thousands of martial arts businesses grow their member count through their websites and online presence. I’ve seen it all, from terrible websites that still magically rank highly to websites that generated 100+ leads per month but the owners couldn’t convert any of them.

Ultimately I’ve found that leads are useless unless you’re able to convert them into members. Unless you’re actually going to make money off of them, they’re not doing you any good. Bottom line is that 10 website leads per month with a 100% conversion rate is better than 100 leads per month with a zero conversion rate. Improve your conversion and see actual growth!

So before reading any further I need you to gather the following information:

  1. How many leads does your website generate each month?
  2. How many of those leads convert into members, on average, each month?
  3. Do you have a lead follow-up plan in place? If so, what is it?

Now that you’re armed with your statistics, let’s dive into my three simple but essential tips for converting leads into members.

1. Follow Up Already!

Website leads in particular are quick to lose focus. With so many distractions going on online they are quick to lose the initial interest that drew them to complete your form. There’s a study by Harvard Business Review that compared two businesses and the speeds at which they followed up on their leads.

Business #1: Followed up on website leads via telephone in 1-2 hours.
Business #2: Followed up on website leads via telephone in 0-5 minutes.

Guess which business converted more? Business #2 with the faster response time had an 80% higher conversion rate. That’s incredible!

Think about it. Once someone submits their information on your website, what is their next step? Probably going to social media or worse–your competitor’s site. What happens if they play the field and also take action on your competition’s website? You certainly wouldn’t want to wait an hour or more to follow up and let your competitor beat you to the punch.

Follow Up With Urgency

One of the contributing factors that leads to some business owners not following up with website leads with urgency is a misunderstanding of the type of lead that it is. People just don’t take website leads as seriously as other kinds of leads.

If someone called your business right now requesting information, would you not get excited and want to call them back right away? People interpret phone leads as active interest and website leads as passive interest, but that’s not the case anymore.

Cultural shifts are moving society towards digital and automated forms of contact, making website forms just as indicative of active interest as if they picked up the phone and called.

97 Display websites come with an automated tool called “Instant Connect” that can automate the lead follow up process and connect you with your website leads via telephone in 60 seconds or less.

2. E-mail Only Leads (for Martial Arts businesses) are Dead

Ever since I got into the website business, I’ve been debating whether we should be accepting phone numbers on website lead forms. While there’s accuracy to both sides of the argument I’m going to lay out why I think that for brick and mortar martial arts businesses a lead form with the phone number is essential.

  • We’re not talking about e-book downloads here. We’re talking about your main website lead form. You need to understand the difference between the two. Let’s take a step back and remember what the point of e-book downloads are:E-book downloads: A “B-offer” or passive form of lead capture that attempts to give away information on your the benefits of your business in exchange for an e-mail address. Once you’ve captured the e-mail address, you then follow up via e-mail until the lead becomes interested in your specific business. E-book downloads are useful for nationwide broad campaigns or outbound marketing campaigns. E-book downloads get in the way of Inbound marketing (people actively searching for your kind of business online) and water down lead quality.
  • Bottom Line:
  • Use E-books for: Outbound marketing, landing pages, community education.
    DON’T use e-books for: Inbound marketing, your main website form.

Here’s the catch. If you use a phone number field in your e-book offer form, you will lose 70%+ of your e-book downloads (Thanks for the stats!).

So please realize that when I say including a phone number in your lead form is essential, I’m not referring to B-offers!

Why should you ask for their phone number?

  1. Cell phones aren’t novelties anymore. In the past, giving out your phone number meant telemarketers were going to call your home while you are eating dinner with your family. Not anymore. Cell phone numbers are common. I tend to believe people are becoming more protective of their e-mail address nowadays.
  2. It qualifies your lead. Remember that a lead form submission is just as valuable as a phone call to your business and if a lead calls your business they are willing to give you their phone number.
  3. If someone is unwilling to give you their phone number, they really aren’t a lead. A lead is someone who is interested in your business and wants to talk to you about it. How can they talk to you if they don’t share their number?
  4. When was the last time you didn’t take action on a lead form because it asked for your phone number?

Finally, following up on point #1. If you don’t get their phone number, how can you follow up?

3. A little $ Goes A Long Way

How many of you used Groupon in the past? How many of you hate using Groupon?

The Good: People paid money, which means they showed up.
The Bad: People who subscribe to Groupon are deal-seekers and rarely would convert to full-time members of your gym or service.

Accepting some kind of monetary commitment ensures they will actually show up for their trial or consultation. 97 Display websites include a feature called “online offers” which allow martial arts business owners to accept credit card payments for any amount in exchange for a consultation or trial.

Here’s the difference between Groupon & online trials:
With Groupon, the recipient was exposed to your business because Groupon e-mailed them about your business. They were subscribed to Groupon because they were looking for deals.
With website online offers, they are already exposed to your business because they were actively searching for your services. Selling a trial from your website is significantly better than selling one from Groupon and it will skyrocket your conversion.

I’ve also found that phrases like “book your free consultation” or “free trial offer” are so common that they’ve lost their appeal. There’s nothing special about a “free consultation” anymore. Compare those phrases to:

“First consultation – only $5!” or “first time consultations – 90% discount”

Now suddenly your consultation has value and letting them purchase for a ridiculously low price makes them feel a sense of urgency and commitment. Plus now they’ve dropped a few dollars which means they won’t blow off your appointment!

Can you accept payments from your website? If not, you should request information at and learn how we can set up online offers for you!


Website leads are super valuable if you know how to convert them into members! Improve your conversion by responding to them via telephone within five minutes, accepting their phone number on your website forms and selling online trial offers from your website!

Timothy Sarazen manages 97 Display, a website company dedicated to lead generation and SEO for martial arts businesses around the world. 97 Display is the global website provider for Dojo Nation, Strength Matters & Revgear.

Request information at to learn more about generating website leads for your martial arts business.

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Timothy Sarazen is the director of 97 Display and, along with his team, manages hundreds of websites & Internet marketing campaigns for fitness businesses. 97 Display fitness websites are a collaboration of web traffic data & global A/B testing to help fitness professionals stay relevant and generate new leads for their businesses online.


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