Kickass Surveying (Project X)

Kickass Surveying (Project X)

I’m in the middle of a deep, data-driven dive into the inner workings of CrossFit X.

And I’ve got a simple plan — we’ll use what I learn to inform the gym’s digital marketing strategy, identify and leverage opportunities to upgrade members to higher tiers of service, and create a bulletproof way to get our members to refer their friends to the gym.

The stated goal: 350 members.

(Of course, that’s 350 highly-profitable, totally engaged, routinely attending, ARCM-raising members.)

So far, we’ve leveraged CrossFit X’s member management software and Excel to pull a bunch of data into a single spreadsheet (and created a few data points of our own, like “Dedication Factor”).

Now, we’re adding a 31-question survey, with the goal of adding qualitative data to the mix. While our last dive was entirely quantitative (with metrics like membership by gender, membership by tier, history of attendance, commitment to the gym, city of origin, etcetera), this dive is all about attitudes, feelings, and receptiveness to new products.

The big questions to be answered:

  • How do members perceive their personal fitness, nutrition, and overall health?

  • How do members feel about the gym?

  • How would they describe the gym?

  • How did they discover the gym?

  • How often do they THINK they come to the gym?

  • How open are they to utilizing additional services (whether a higher tier of membership or other add-ons, such as seminars, personal training, and specialty programs)?

  • Have they referred friends to the gym before?

  • How would they like the NUX (new user experience) to go for their friends?

We’ll take their answers and add them to our quantitative data, and then we’ll start the actual analysis.

No Analysis (So Far)

This is worth noting — we’ve done NO analysis so far. We’re simply in the process of gathering and aggregating important data, to be analyzed once the data set is complete. We’re getting everything together in a format that will allow us to run Pivot Tables against questions like these:

  • Is member perception of personal health or overall fitness positively correlated with attendance? If so, can we use this statistic to boost attendance internally?

  • What channels did members use to discover the gym? Referral? Search Engine? Social? We’ll preferentially target our marketing tactics to the most common channels.

  • Which members (in the non-unlimited membership tiers) would like to come to the gym more often? Is there a discrepancy between how often they think they come to the gym and how often they actually come? Could we use this information to give them the opportunity to upgrade?

  • What new product offering is most enticing to the membership? Can we layer it into a new premium offering or as a source of recurring revenue?

  • What emotional and physical benefits do members ascribe to the gym? Is there a pattern that will inform our advertising copy and imagery?

Of course, there are a thousand variants on these questions — all answerable with a good data set (or at least indicative of the need for further investigation). We’ll pursue the actual questions (and how I arrive at them) more fully in an upcoming post.

Running the Survey

I use/love Google Forms. It allow the user to compose dozens of question types, from simple paragraph answers to Likert scales to IFTTT (if this, then that) questions and sections.

Heavily leveraging the lessons I learned supervising “discovery” at my last gig (shoutout to my friends at Studio Simpatico for the stellar guidance on surveying 50,000+ people), I assembled my questions in Google Forms. A few of the benefits of the platform:

  1. I was able to send an email to all active members of CrossFit X with a link to the survey (pro tip: use the URL shortening checkbox Google provides).

  2. Member answers are recorded instantly as “responses” — which are automatically turned into charts by Google AND fully downloadable as a master .csv file (critical to making this whole thing work).

  3. I’m able to read and share the non-standardized qualitative data (long-form paragraph answers to questions like “Anything you’d like to share about how you learned about the gym?”) with the staff/ownership of CrossFit X.

When you’re running your own survey, a few things to keep in mind:

  • This is not about your coaches, your facility, or your programming. We’re asking membership to describe the emotional experience of being at the gym. To rate their perceptions of personal outcomes like fitness and overall health. To show us how likely they are to tell a friend about the gym. To tell us how they’d like that friend introduced to the gym. To “vote” on which offerings the gym is not giving them that they’d like to have.

  • Bias your question-making toward discovery of feelings and attitudes (i.e. tell me your thoughts in one word, now in a paragraph, tell me something I don’t know about the gym) and confirmation (do they live where my membership software says they live? do they come as often as they think they do?). This will enable you to genuinely derive insight from your data later on (data + stories = power).

  • Set your Google Form to collect the email address of the respondent (it’s in Settings). We’re going to use the email address to perform a VLOOKUP, giving us the ability to add the survey data to our earlier “membership software” data dive, creating an essential single spreadsheet with ALL our data.

Following Up for More Data

This survey data is gold (trust me).

You’re going to want to put tons of time and effort into making sure you collect as much of it as possible. This means you’ll:

  1. Email 100% of the active membership with a request to fill out the survey, couched in intention. Rather than a simple “We’re running a survey, please do it”, instead tell them “We’re running a survey to make the gym better (and it’s unlike any survey we’re run before). We want to know how you think and feel about the gym, and we need your expertise to help us truly understand how we can best serve our members. Thank you for taking the time — we’re forever grateful.”

  2. Give the survey two weeks to run (and follow up with non-respondents after one week). During this period, announce the survey in EVERY class, enroll gym staff in these announcements, and use alternative channels (like Facebook Groups) to provide a link to the Google Form. After a week, download the “responses” .csv from Google Forms as well as a list of current membership from your member management software, and run a VLOOKUP (and sort) to determine which members haven’t answered the survey. Send them a reminder — again couched in intention.

  3. Check out the early returns. As soon as you launch the survey via email, someone will answer it (usually within 15 minutes). Take a look at the “Responses” tab in Google Forms at that time to make sure (a) the data is coming in, (b) the responses are in the general format you expected, and (c) there are no obvious problems with your questions. If there are any issues, now is the time to resolve.



Getting it Done: The Most Profitable Thing You’ll Do Today

If you haven’t already, review the previous post on pulling data out of your membership management software using the “Download to .csv” function.

Then, do this:

  • Assemble a single spreadsheet with the following tabs and then get all the data aggregated on a single tab using VLOOKUP:

    • Client Demographic Data: First, Last, Email, Gender, Phone, Birthday, Address, Join Date

    • Client Purchasing Data: First, Last, Email, Membership Tier, Rate ($) Per Month, Lifetime Value over Timeframe

    • Client Attendance Data: First, Last, Email, Attendance Total by Month, Monthly Attendance Average over Timeframe

  • Run a few “test” Pivot Tables against your aggregated data. This is not strictly necessary right now, but if you’re in this to learn, I recommend spending a half-hour messing around (if you need a tutorial, links to great materials from ExcelJet are in the previous post).

  • Compose your survey (and send it out to your membership). Rely on my list of “Big questions to be answered” (earlier in the post) to draft your questions, and use your creativity to get at those questions from a few different angles.

  • A few of my favorites from the CrossFit X Survey that you might consider:

    • How would you rank your current level of fitness? (1 = not fit, 4 = as fit as I can be)

    • Have you referred others to CrossFit X? Why or why not?

    • How many times did you come to the gym last month?

    • Do you come to the gym as much as you'd like to?

    • If we have further questions about your answers, would it be okay to contact you directly for more info?



Next Steps (and the KPI Dashboard)

I’ll be letting the CrossFit X survey run for another 12 days. In the meantime, my next post will be a “break” from the hardcore aspects of data aggregation and analysis, as we’ll explore the utility of Key Performance Indicators (“KPIs”) — the numbers your business should be tracking in order to run efficiently and determine if your growth efforts are bearing fruit.

BTW, special shoutout to reader Pim Kokos of CrossFit Twente in Netherlands, who emailed me earlier this week with a request for me to cover the topic. KPIs are super important to determining if you have a growth engine (or if you’re just wasting your time), and I appreciate Pim’s ask for me to assemble a sample KPI dashboard as well as a procedure for creating one. I’m also going to dork out on why KPIs matter and how to use them like a pro. Coming next week…

As always, if you’ve got questions, feel free to shoot me an email at or post in comments below.

And if you’d like help with your own data aggregation and analysis efforts (or anything else in the “grow your business intelligently” space), I’m happy to meet with you. We’ll take the time to see what you’re working on, what questions need answering, and how I can help. You can book a free introductory call here.

The KPI Cheatsheet: Measuring What Matters (Project X)

The KPI Cheatsheet: Measuring What Matters (Project X)

Why You Need to Pull Your Data OUT of your Membership Management Software (Project X)

Why You Need to Pull Your Data OUT of your Membership Management Software (Project X)