Virgin Active is a chain of health clubs, gyms and spas operating in 8 countries across 4 continents. The group has 233 clubs with a membership of 1.2 million. The health and fitness experience is designed entirely around each member. Revolutionary equipment and cutting-edge classes curated by expert teams and qualified instructors ensure a quality member experience.
In recent years, there has been a rise in ‘no frills’ health club brands, such as easyGym and PureGym, offering lower membership fees due to their no bells and whistles approach. With strong competition in this competitive market, Virgin Active had to respond by providing their members with something more. They wanted to provide more value for money.
Virgin Active recognised that one of their key USPs was their connection and leverage to other Virgin brands. This opened up the discussion around membership not being limited to the health club brand.
Working alongside the team, who had already been working with Virgin Active for a couple of years prior on other digital projects, we were asked to build the new member portal for their customers.
This included personalised content, articles and a new guest pass offer to introduce potential new members to its clubs through its current membership.
The new portal was developed on Sitecore, their platform of choice. Key to the portal was the ability for customers to login with their existing member details.
This meant that we needed to develop and integrate a new API which connected to their three different backed member management systems (consolidation in the industry means many clubs still run different member systems despite being under the same brand).
We worked with the marketing team at Virgin Active to develop a new, responsive design for the portal that would reflect both the standard gym brand, as well as the upmarket ‘Collection’, with its more refined colour palette and visuals.
The content was designed to be displayed on small devices, as well as being available for a mobile app, and was delivered as discrete web components using React.
In addition to this, we developed the portal further with content around offers, competitions, discounts and guest passes, and this is where the real value in a Virgin Active membership lay.
Each customer that visited the portal was immediately offered free guest passes to allow them to take their friends with them to a health club for the day, or to allow them to sample health clubs in different locations or that were part of their exclusive collection.
Virgin Active also used the portal to provide additional gym-fit content to their members. Their Grid Active campaign and articles designed around how to use new techniques and equipment in-club to boost their workout provided helpful guidance to those needing to change their routines.
With their ability to partner with other companies in the Virgin Portfolio, as well as brands that want to take advantage of the Virgin ‘effect’, it means that they can continue to create compelling discounts and one-off promotions – such as free entry into the Prudential Ride100 or the London Triathlon.
Ensuring that customers saw the content that was relevant to them and their goals was an important part of the brief. For example, we wanted to highlight offers such as the Ride100 to those gym users that had a particular focus on cycling.
We therefore ensured that as part of the onboarding experience we gathered data from customers on their goals so that we could build profiles on their preferences. We then used this to display offers to them that matched their needs.
We ensure that analytics is implemented as standard as part of any solution that we deliver as we know from experience that using data to understand behaviour leads to better outcomes.
For this project, we tracked overall user journeys in the portal, capturing information about which offers customers viewed and took advantage of (or not), feeding this data back into their profile in Sitecore to help us further refine the content we surfaced to them.
In addition to this, we reported monthly to the marketing team around the number of unique visitors to the portal, and how effective it was.
Churn rates reduced and engagement with the offers and guest pass content increased monthly. In addition to this, it had a secondary effect in moving existing customer traffic away from the main website.
This meant that instead of needing to provide content for both members and non-members, the main site could be developed primarily as an acquisition channel without the need for retention content.
“For brands that are seeking to offer customers more than their standard service, member or content portals are often a great investment. The ability to engage customers with additional content that non-members cannot access can increase your stickiness, reduce churn and increase revenue”
Filter Digital, CTO