Supercharge Your Pilates Studio: The Epic Quest for Five-Star Google Reviews ft. Adam Tuttle – Senior Director of Business Activation, ActiveCampaign

Supercharge Your Pilates Studio: The Epic Quest for Five-Star Google Reviews ft. Adam Tuttle – Senior Director of Business Activation, ActiveCampaign

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This episode of the Pilates Business Podcast focuses on the significance of Google reviews for clinical Pilates studios, and discusses a new systemised approach to automate the process of gathering five-star reviews to enhance business visibility and ranking on Google.

The competition in the Pilates industry is highlighted, underscoring the importance of standing out in a crowded market. The podcast introduces Adam Tuttle, Senior Director of Business Activation at ActiveCampaign, who, alongside Pilates Can Sales & Marketing Manager Tara Smith, shares insights on marketing automation tools that can support Pilates studios in efficiently collecting 5 star Google reviews.

Strategies such as adjusting triggers for automation, opting between email and SMS for requests, and the timing of review requests are explored. The discussion also emphasises the role of personal touch in encouraging reviews and mentions using data for future business strategies, including AI applications.

The episode concludes, hinting at a more detailed exploration of automation strategies with ActiveCampaign in the coming episodes.

Show notes

  • [00:00:00] Boost Your Clinical Pilates Studio with Google Reviews
  • [00:00:26] Navigating the Competitive Pilates Marketplace
  • [00:02:21] The Power of Google Reviews for Pilates Studios
  • [00:03:17] Introducing ActiveCampaign for Pilates Studios
  • [00:06:20] Deep Dive into Marketing Automation with ActiveCampaign
  • [00:10:54] Leveraging Client Feedback for Continuous Improvement
  • [00:21:51] The Future of Pilates Studios: Data and AI
  • [00:24:39] Summarising Key Takeaways and Looking Ahead

"Every single interaction that a customer has with you, whether it be through the NPS, through a SurveyMonkey form, through a human interaction, through anything… That is information that's collected today can be used to help you fuel decisions for tomorrow."                                                    Adam Tuttle - Senior Director of Business Activation ActiveCampaign

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Episode Resources

Episode Transcript

DAVID GUNTHER: Getting more Google reviews will get more clients for your clinical Pilates studio.

We share a new systemised approach that automates maximum results with minimum effort.

Learn how you can help your clients click on those five stars, so that your business can stand out and rank higher on Google.

Today on our podcast, we're going to explore a big problem in the clinical Pilates world, and that is how to stand out with your word Pilates in your business name. There are many organisations, businesses now claiming Pilates as part of their name, as part of what they do.

For clinical Pilates studios, we've always found that was our territory over the years, but that's no longer the case. There's many other organisations, quite rightfully using the word Pilates. That means the marketplace for clinical Pilates studios is a little bit confused for our possible clientele.

Who did I go with? Why did they go with one Pilates organisation compared to another? So, you need to make your organisation stand out. You need to do that smartly, and you need to do that the way that your audience, your potential clients, will be trying to search for you.

Essentially, that's through Google. That's such a big avenue for our potential clientele to find us, and hopefully do the research to then get to the point where they come to our studio , see what we're about. How we provide a personalised service to help them with their mobility, and a very high level of service to help them achieve an excellent Pilates exercise habit, so that they can do all the things that they want to in their life, with their mobility, that they perhaps wouldn't have been able to do previously.

That's a big problem for our industry. It's something that perhaps we're not so good at because we've rested on the fact previously that we were the only people in the marketplace, the only businesses that had the word Pilates in our name, and other organisations weren't on to that. But now they are, and the marketplace is really quite busy and competitive.

How are we going to do that? How are we going to look at lifting up our profile in that Google marketplace, so that the same type of clients that you have, that you're already looking after, that love your services, that really would like other people to come along so that your business can do well and keep providing the service that it's providing, can find you? One of the big answers is our Google reviews and everyone probably out there listening has Google reviews, but do you have a process that is working for you to accumulate a good number of Google reviews?

How do you do that? How do you have a process that really works well for you to accumulate Google reviews, five star Google reviews ongoing, so that you will actually get a good review from Google in terms of where you are standing on the list of other businesses also trying to get attention.

That's what we're exploring today. We're going to share with you exactly what the process is that we've just revised for Pilates Can. We're going to go into a deep dive using ActiveCampaign and we have Tara, our marketing manager at Pilates Can, and Adam Tuttle with us.

 Adam is a senior director of business activation at the intelligent marketing automation provider, ActiveCampaign. Adam was the ninth employee at ActiveCampaign. There are now hundreds of employees there, doing great work.

He has worked in customer support, sales, and global operations, primarily helping small teams power big businesses in more than 170 countries that ActiveCampaign now covers. Adam is a CRM enthusiast, marketing automation implementer, and e-commerce marketing aficionado.

Outside of ActiveCampaign, Adam is father of four boys, and husband to his wife, Stephanie. He and his family live in the Northwestern suburbs of Chicago, where he's coming to us from now, but did spend a few years in Australia as ActiveCampaign's manager for the Australasian region.

Welcome, Adam.

ADAM TUTTLE: Hey, thank you, David.

DAVID: And welcome Tara.

TARA SMITH: Hi, David. It's great to be here.

DAVID: And thank you, Adam, for really helping out our industry, because this is a big problem. It is something that we're not that good at in many instances and we need to be better. We know ActiveCampaign can really help us in that process, so the first thing that we've actually done in addressing this issue is to work out how we can get some funding to make this happen better.

The first place we looked was dropping some other expenses. We've stopped our Facebook advertising for the moment, to take that spend and use it actually for bonuses for our instructors and our admin staff. So we'll talk a little bit about where that comes in later, but that's the first port of call because with all of these things, there's a cost. There's a cost for your focus, your time, you need to get it right. You need to make it work, you can't just pay lip service to it. We're going to stop doing things that we shouldn't be doing and do the things that we need to do to help us.

Tara's also got the Google review automations, that we have at the moment. We already did have some automations that we've decided are old hat. Now we need to.

Upgrade what we have and make sure that the process works better for us. The number of Google reviews that we have is great. They're all five star reviews. That's terrific, but we need more of them coming in continuously ongoing and we need a standard operating process for that.

We've got a list of things here that we're working from, to let you in on exactly what our processes are. Step four is actually getting into the automation, so I'll just throw over to Adam now to talk a little bit about the process of creating and reviewing an automation. If you've already got automations there that perhaps are working for you in part, or perhaps aren't working for you as well as you'd like them to. What can you tell us, Adam?

ADAM: I think that there's a couple of really core pieces. It doesn't matter the software that you're using, I think that's important to say right away. Whether it's ActiveCampaign or another tool, the first thing that you want to look at is what's going to start your automation.

Specifically in the context of automations, there are often many different ways to kick things off and get them going. What I would encourage everyone to do, especially when you're really tackling this, maybe for the first time, is to make sure that the triggers that you've selected are exactly what you need for today.

Now, as you evolve, as your business grows, as you experiment with different things, you might change those triggers. Even as you said, in your own business you've modified some things, you've learned some lessons, you've made adjustments. That's important to mention.

So, the first piece is deciding, based on the provider that you're using, what are the triggers that you have available and what is the best trigger? Now, let's give an example because people hear the word trigger, that might not mean a lot if they haven't really been into a marketing automation software. It could be, for example you have a data field somewhere that indicates that someone attended a class. That would be a really good place to potentially have a trigger. It could be that someone attended 5 classes, right? And that's something that the studio needs to figure out. Do you want to do it right away with the end client and ask for that review after the first time they've met with you? Do you want to do it after the fifth time? When is the best time?

And It might be even worth experimenting with that a little bit and finding what drives the best results for you. Once you've decided on the trigger, the thing that's going to start off the whole automated sequence, then I would say that you need to identify what is going to be your method for the request.

 Typically you're going to see this in one of two ways. It's either going to be an email, or it's going to be an SMS message. Depending on the part of the world that you are in, it could even go as far as to be a WhatsApp message, so that's another thing to think about, but it's determining the means of how you're going to make this request, and how do you want it to feel personal?

Do you want it to feel that it's just between me and you. We've now met, we're friends. I'm asking you for this as a favor. Do you want it to come from a little bit more of a corporate standpoint, where it's the studio itself asking for this?

Hey, thank you for attending our studio. This is really important for our business. This is how we grow it. If you could take two minutes, that would be great. The last piece, that I think goes to what I just said, is I would set the expectation of how long this is going to take. In a world that is really time sensitive and people's attention span is very short, anything that you can do to set an expectation up front with the person that you're making a request of is going to help them put it into their box, if you would, of can I fit this into my day or not?

I find for myself that, when I get survey requests or things like that, if they just ask for it, I'm like, 'Oh, this is going to take 10 or 15 minutes. I have a meeting in five minutes. I don't have time for this'. And, I might even want to do it, but I dismiss it because I, just don't know what I'm getting into.

Whereas if you can say, typically this takes less than two minutes, we would really appreciate you do this. I think that's a really good place to start .

DAVID: Thanks, Adam. That's terrific and we really appreciate your insights here because this is an incredibly important question for us. We're very lucky that we've been doing what we've been doing with Pilates Can for more than 20 years, and there would be others out there listening to us now that have been certainly more than 10 years in their business, so we know we have a good business. We know that people love our services. We know they like to say good things about us to us, and also to other people. We get referrals, and that's all good, but it's about accelerating that.

We have, in many cases, an older generation of clients coming to us at our studio. We do have people in their teens and twenties, and daughters and sons of clientele coming along. We also have people that bring their mothers along, and even their grandfathers. It's very eclectic group, but we do have people that have been with us for a long time as well.

One of the things that we started many years ago now, which has helped us with this side of things, is that we use a tool called SurveyMonkey and we've collected literally hundreds of positive responses from our clients, and they say terrific things about the instructors and about the admin staff and about the whole culture of our organisation. That's great they're telling us that, but Google needs to know these things, because Google is what other people are using out there to actually decide, 'do I pay any attention to that business, or do I look at one of the other ten businesses that are perhaps listed above, or one of the other 10 businesses that have three times as many reviews'.

What we know is that they are going to look at the business listed higher up than your business on Google, and they're going to look at the businesses and give credence to those businesses with more reviews and with a higher score of reviews.

We've got all five star reviews. That's great, but we need to have more of them. That's probably a reflection of what's happening in our industry as well. We're going to use those survey responses to come back to our clientele, to ask, ' hey, thank you very much for that terrific review from SurveyMonkey. We would now like you to please help us with a review for Google, so that other people can find us'.

At the moment, there's clinical Pilates businesses around the world that are at risk of going out of business because they're being taken over. Their marketplace is being confused with these other Pilates businesses. Which is fine. That's the world we live in. We have to work with that.

You also mentioned expectations, and setting the expectation with the client there that they will provide a Google review. We've settled on, for this new process, that we're going to do that a little bit more personally. We will use emails and SMS, but we'll also make sure that the Instructor is aware that their clients are about to receive these emails and SMS, and this message of really a request for assistance, a request for help, to give us these Google reviews.

Our clientele will be expectant of that email, having had a conversation with the instructor, and then they receive the emails and the communications, which they may never open. They may never look at or read, or if they do, they may not pay attention to it. They will be followed up, not only by follow up automation from ActiveCampaign.

Adam, we've gone with ActiveCampaign because it was the best value for money at the time that we changed. We were actually with MailChimp over seven years ago, and the reason we changed was, at that time, they were giving lip service to automation.

It wasn't a really good fit for us, but we were using it for email newsletters. I explained to Casey the other week, I had the MailChimp T shirt with the monkey on it, which was terrific, but we weren't getting what we needed in terms of automation. So ActiveCampaign is a real essential piece of the puzzle, but personal input also to help create that expectation , so that they are going to want to help us with Google reviews.

The other thing I'll just touch on in response to what you said there, Adam is about the texts, the SMSs. This is an area we haven't been so good of recent times. We thought we were good because years ago we made the decision, text messages, SMSs, we don't like getting those. They're interrupting us in our day to day. That's the way we see it. We'll just use them for time dependent type communications with our clientele. To remind them that they've got a session on in 24 hours, a late cancel, or a no show, so that they do get that message in a timely way.

But, what we haven't used it effectively for, is this more proactive outreach to our clientele to ask for the actions that we like them to take so that, in the end, they'll benefit from us doing better with our Google reviews, because it means that we'll be looking after our clientele. We'll be looking after our instructors. We'll be growing the business. It'll be more profitable.

This is what everyone out there in Pilates business world needs to understand, that by creating a better business, you're actually doing a better job for your clientele. It's not just what you deliver in the sessions. That's very important, but if you cannot deliver those sessions because no one's coming to your studio and you're going out of business, that's obviously not the way you want to go. Any thoughts on that, Adam?

ADAM: Yeah, there's a couple interesting things that you sparked in my mind. I think it's always worth testing. I think that's really important is to always be testing because the market changes pretty rapidly. How people interact with us can change rapidly, so it's always good to just keep trying new things and not assume that we're the best version of ourselves today.

What I was thinking about was where I've seen customers when they'll actually send out an email, and they'll ask for the review in the email itself. 'They'll say, how would you rate us for a Google survey, or something like that'? If it's 1 through 4 stars, depending on where they click, it will actually then take them to a landing page, and then that might actually even trigger than something inside of ActiveCampaign for somebody to pick up the phone and call them. Let's make this interaction really human on the flip side. Hey, we're sorry that you didn't have the best experience possible with us. We're going to follow up with you, and see what we can do to make it better.

If they hit that 5 star, it takes them right to the Google review page, because they're ready to go. It's gaming the system really, but what it's also doing is allowing, to automate the process when things are going well. When things are less than optimal, let's put a human involved here and let's figure out what we could do.

That might actually get you to a five star review because you've now heard that something wasn't ideal for the client. This is a personal business. It is a one to one human interaction going on here. Let's contact them and be human. See what they have to say, and then we might be able to get that five star review down the road.

TARA: We actually do have something like this that we already use. It's what the trigger is for putting people into the Google review automation that we currently have. Look at that, I love that we're already doing that. So we call it our NPS survey, which is the net promoter score -


TARA: - survey.

We ask people to rank us out of 10. And I think it's the people who give us nine or 10 become promoters, then we have the neutral section, and we also have the detractors. When we get any detractors, David and myself get an email to let us know that someone has ranked us in that low area, and then we can do that personalised follow up that you were talking about. Find out what's going on with them. David said we have a lot of five star reviews, so when someone gives us a less than five star review, we're like, 'what's going on with this person? How can we fix this interaction with them?'

I think you're right Adam. It makes them feel really heard, and can lead to that better review in the future because they don't just think that we're throwing their response in the bin. They can see that we're listening, we're trying to be better, and we're always about that David. Trying to improve all the time and not thinking that we've already mastered anything.

DAVID: It is very much about continuous improvement and we do have a lot of things correct. We do get a lot of things right. We've been doing this for a long time, and I'm assuming that's going to be the same for many of our listeners, our business owners out there, because if they've come through COVID and they're in business and still doing what they were doing before that, then they have done a lot of things right.

But, one of the main things to do right is to have that continuous improvement mindset. There's always something that we can do better. Maybe we can't do it right away. Maybe it'll take some time, and maybe it has to go on a list of things that will eventually get done, but this is 1 thing that you should definitely have on your list because it will move the needle.

I love that we're having this conversation ,as you were saying, Tara. It's just terrific to be able to deliver this great information to the industry about how to do this. There'd be many people out there, many business owners, that aren't using a net promoter score. There's a bit of technical aspect about how you load that up into, ActiveCampaign.

We've got those two different avenues we've got SurveyMonkey where we're getting great responses, and then we've got net promoter score where we're getting, usually nines and tens. But, as you say Tara, we need to know about something that's going wrong.

To come back to your point too Adam, about having that personalised involvement there, we had a response recently where one of our clients, terrific client, loves what we do, moving away. It's an exit survey, so that's another survey that we do. We do a one thing survey. Curly from City Slickers says, 'what's that one thing?' So we asked that question, what is the one thing that will make a difference for you? Usually they say nothing, but this person said, 'I'm going away. What we've missed after COVID is not so much personal interaction with the admin staff'.

That was one thing that they'd noticed because many things have gone online. We've gotten better with what we do with our automations, and that's terrific. We've got things on zoom and all of that, but . Hey, there's not so much personal interaction there, that we used to have, that we actually enjoyed. That's one of the reasons we come along, for that social aspect, and the admin staff are important in that regard.

This is an area where we can actually improve that now, where we can take that feedback and say, okay we'll do this, but we're doing it in a proactive way that is going to benefit the instructors. The instructors are going to get bonuses, if they're the person that's actually triggered that review.

We'll be asking the clients, 'who would you like to attribute this review to? We'll give them a bonus'. That's fair for everybody. The instructor's highly motivated to provide the service. Not that they're not motivated anyway. They're so caring. They're so dedicated that sometimes they miss out. I think instructors generally in our industry, not just at Pilates Can, they're so selfless, and that selflessness can lead to unfortunately a selflessness for the business, which doesn't translate into benefits for everybody involved. So, Google reviews will provide benefits for everybody involved. Any other thoughts on that?

ADAM: 1 thing that I think that I would really encourage your listeners to think about after this is remember that there's also value in this beyond the review. What I mean by that, in 2024 and in the future without a doubt, is that data is currency.

Every single interaction that a customer has with you, whether it be through the NPS, through a SurveyMonkey form, through a human interaction, through anything that you can do to collect that information. That is information that's collected today can be used to help you fuel decisions for tomorrow.

It's a really valuable thing to remember. That is, it goes beyond just getting that 5 star review (which intrinsically has its own huge value for the business). You can use that data in multiple ways. It is not limited to only being used on just a 1 time, 'oh, great, we got the review done'.

If you know who has left you those reviews. You can follow up with them in a year and maybe say, 'hey you've left us a five star review in the past. Would you like to refer us someone for a free class and you and your friend can come together', right? There's probably ways that you can piggyback off of that.

I just think, especially in the way that like, AI is being introduced into softwares like ActiveCampaign. AI is 100 percent driven off of data, so the more data that you can be collecting, even if you don't have a use for it in the immediate moment, it definitely can help your business down the road.

I think people need to be thinking about, what data could I be pulling in today to fuel 2025, 2026, down the road. Because, like you said, David, these are businesses that have been established for a long time in many cases, but the world is evolving and we should be evolving with it, and this can then fuel, as I said, the business.

DAVID: The future is the data, and particularly with AI, we're experiencing another global change there. We mentioned the pandemic a little bit earlier, and that integration into all of these different softwares and the way they interact in your stack of software that you might use to assist your business.

It's very confusing, because there's so many choices, but it's a world of opportunity as well. If you're a little bit confused about that opportunity, you need to find someone who can help unconfuse that for your business, because it's just integral.

You also mentioned there, Adam, about being able to go straight to the Google review page, and that goes to the heart of the actual automation and the little strategies that you use in there.

In the next episode, we are going to go into that, really in a lot of detail. What we'll do now is, we'll just try to summarise the points that we've come up with that are really important for the Pilates business studio owners out there. I've got a bit of a list here of what I think are the main points. One is, it's very important to get this Google review thing sorted out for your business, for your clientele, for your staff. It's just so important, so pay attention to that.

Another thing was the triggers. So think about the triggers of how you're going to get this working just generally before the next episode. We're going to go into a real deep dive, into exactly what we're doing and how we've changed our automations.

Texts. If you're not using texts, you're possibly leaving a lot of money on the table. We should be taking advantage of being proactive with text, in a way that works, is not annoying and still allows people to opt out. We'll get on to that as well.

We'll talk more about the continuous improvement. That's what this podcast is about. The businesses that will be listening, we know that's what they're about as well, and so that association with you guys asking us some questions. If there's some things that we miss here that you'd like to find out about, please do interact with us.

We'll have show notes. We've got links. You'll be able to find out about ActiveCampaign, about SurveyMonkey, and about all of these other different things that we're doing. We're going to learn from this process as well, and we're so lucky to have Adam with us to go through this process.

Already, we've learned so much in this episode. We're looking forward to the next episode where we'll talk about the real integral, itsy bitsy bits of our automation, and how we do that.

Thank you very much, Tara, and thank you very much, Adam. Would you like to add anything now before we finish off

this episode?

ADAM: I just would encourage people to really look at the fact that automation tools, like ActiveCampaign can really make this a very simple process. I think like you said, especially for the type of businesses that these studios are I think the Google reviews is something that cannot be ignored. It's a really important part.

It doesn't have to be painful. You can go through the initial setup and basically have it 100 percent automated, except for those moments when you want to interject a human. That's the beautiful part about this, and so I would just encourage them that it doesn't have to be overwhelming or something that is incredibly time consuming.

DAVID: Thanks very much, Adam. Thanks very much, Tara. We look forward to that further deep dive next week on The Pilates Business Podcast. Until then, stay awesome.

"With all of these things, there's a cost. There's a cost for your focus, your time, you need to get it right. You need to make it work, you can't just pay lip service to it. We're going to stop doing things that we shouldn't be doing and do the things that we need to do to help us."                                                 David Gunther - The Pilates Business Podcast, and Co-owner & Instructor Pilates Can, Canberra

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