Thought Leadership
  • Strategic consulting

Digital innovation drives loyalty and retention in the sports & leisure industry

Roger Barr
29th May 2015

Everyone Active’s Steph Hibbert shares her insight.

Steph Hibbert is the group marketing manager at Everyone Active, one of the UK’s most forward thinking sports and leisure brands, especially when it comes to digital innovation. With a love of psychology and marketing, Steph has found the perfect role to combine her passions.

In recent months, Mediablaze has worked with Steph and the management team at Everyone Active to design and build their new responsive website and personalised Activity Hub. Today she’s been kind enough to share some insight into working with the content, creative and digital teams at Mediablaze, plus share her passion for working in the highly competitive sports and leisure industry.

1. So Steph, how long have you worked in the Sports and Leisure industry?

About four and a half years now… I studied psychology and marketing together and have always been really passionate about using marketing to make a positive impact on behavior change.

I’ve always been physically active and realised the benefits of it – with family, colleagues, friends – not just physical benefits, but mental well being too and health.

Before I worked in the sports and leisure industry I did a bit of travelling and worked developing kids activities. When I moved to London I looked at various opportunities but wanted to focus on using physical activity to do good, so started out at Fit For Sport, which provides healthy activities for children and families. I worked a bit with Everyone Active while there, and made the move three years later.

2. What attracted you to working at Everyone Active?

Throughout my career I’ve worked with a host of leisure operators and my experience with Everyone Active has been nothing but positive. They have a can-do, forward thinking attitude and I believe they are the best in the industry. It was a no brainer for me to join them – it’s a fantastic company, the brand is very strong, it’s highly regarded and the facilities they have in place rival that of private health clubs – without the price tag.

Moreover there’s a tremendously supportive, collaborative company culture that is very much ‘lead by example’. When we have our regional and group meetings everyone works together – we play team games and do sport together -there are no barriers in terms of seniority.

For me personally it’s been a great opportunity to get my teeth into a new service, range of products and to really modernise the Everyone Active brand – to revisit their existing more traditional marketing methods and to take a fresh approach, centred around digital marketing practices.

3. Everyone Active recently launched an online community platform - what have been the real benefits to date?

Over 50% of members visit our website via mobile so having a responsive platform was critical so success, plus providing them with a quick, seamless, hassle-free solution to access information, book classes and alike.

There is no other leisure operator that has an activity hub like ours and we’ve seen vast benefits to date – primarily around loyalty and retention.

Designed and built by Mediablaze, our new platform enables us to meet our mission - to get people to do 30 minutes of exercise five times a week – and we’ve received recognition industry wide for our recent digital innovations, most recently from David Stalkers, CEO of ukactive.

Parts of the physical activity industry can almost be considered analogue in the current digital age. Operators that fail to embrace digital technology risk falling behind those that continue to grow and expand to meet the expectations of their facility users. Technology has to be a major driver of growth for our sector, not a risk to be managed. It should be as easy to book exercise classes and other services, as-it-is to book a train ticket or hotel room. These developments from Everyone Active have gone further than this minimum level and are now supporting their communities using technology both inside and outside of their facilities.

David Stalkers, CEO of UKActive

One thing our regional directors were definitely not expecting to receive on launch was a call from one of our main competitors to congratulate us on the work we’ve done online.

In addition to significantly increased web traffic – new visitors, unique visitors and page views (an increase of over 1,250,000 page views in April 2015 versus April 2014), the recently launched Everyone Active App, available on iOS and Android, has been downloaded over 10,000 times.

4. Everyone Active recently launched an online community platform - what have been the real benefits to date?

Plan – track - reward

The next phase is to launch our online rewards system – this will form a major part of our online community platform and will integrate with all main fitness ‘wearable technology’ applications such as Fitbit, Jawbone, Strava and Garmin. In essence it will reward members for being active inside and outside the centre.

So in a nutshell we will have a great platform that enables and encourages members to plan and track activity – plus rewards and incentivises them with range of goodies from cinema vouchers to personal training (PT) sessions. This way members are much more likely to lead an active, healthy lifestyle.

We also plan to launch a bolt on nutrition product will be an extension of our platform. We recognise that good health is not solely driven by activity – nutrition and diet is equally important – so this is an exciting new development.

Mediablaze will continue to play a pivotal role in helping us develop our content and digital strategy as we move into phase two and beyond.

5. And from a marketing perspective, what’s your overall vision for the brand?

Our overall vision for Everyone Active is to get everyone to participate in 30 minutes of exercise five times a week - with our new digital platforms launched we’re well on track to achieve this.

We need to maintain our position – we want to be the no.1 activity brand and the no.1 choice for people when choosing to get active. It’s not about being the best runner or cyclist – we offer a platform that allows people of all abilities to meet their specific goals and that’s a big thing. It’s about encouraging everyone in the community to be active, irrespective of age, background or ethnicity.

6. You have a passion for working in the third sector - can you tell us more about Yellowball Foundation? And your ongoing involvement?

I’m extremely passionate about being involved in the third sector and I have a huge passion for encouraging children and young people to participate in activity - I always have throughout my life. I believe that people should be able to have the best start in life regardless of their background and income level.

It’s quite common that the people who have the poorest wealth also have the poorest health and I think there’s lots of ways we can try to improve that.

Physical activity and being active from a young age plays a big role, to children and young people especially, not only because of the physical and psychological benefits but because of the life skills obtained too.

I’ve been involved in the Yellowball Foundation now for two years. It’s a charity that’s aimed at giving young disadvantaged people an opportunity to take part in activity. It’s not elitist but we can give parents who’s lost a job or who are doing a low income job, some support – be that sponsoring their child to participate and attend in after school activities, breakfast clubs and summer camps.

I also volunteer and work in a homeless shelter in North London which is for young people (18-24 yrs olds) who are down on their luck and have no where to live. I do anything from covering a dinner or breakfast shift to helping people with their C.V. Sometimes it’s just simply taking the time to chat to the young people, see what makes them tick, and see if I can use my industry contacts to find them any apprenticeship opportunities.

Working and supporting the third sector is something that’s close to my heart – it’s part of my DNA.

7. What’s the most inspiring sports marketing campaign you’ve come across in the past 12 months? And why?

This is not from the last 12 months but I love NIKE campaigns. There was a great campaign called ‘Five extra years’ – it focused on children from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life talking about what they’d do if they have five more years. The core message was about obesity and how our children will have five less years to live because of it.

For 2015 – the most impressive sports marketing campaign has to be ThisGirlCan. There are many reason I like this campaign so much. From the outset they adopted a very inclusive approach. They contacted a host of sports and leisure operators, including Everyone Active, and showed us how they arrived at the campaign before they launched it - the research behind it, the psychological and scientific work they did - it’s a perfect example of a behavioral change marketing campaign.

Based on real research and real people, it’s a celebration of psychology and marketing coming together for good.

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