Digital revolution reshapes Les Mills

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Les Mills International’s immediate goal is to make the most of its advertising spend to help support its growth into the consumer market globally – and to deliver the right marketing message to the right customer segments at the right time. Bradley Moore, the company’s Auckland-based chief digital officer, talked about the transformation to M+AD …

Les Mills has been growing strongly since 1968. How has the company’s approach to marketing changed over that time?

BM: Our marketing strategy has continually evolved as the company has grown. For 48 years we have operated a B2B business model which involves licensing our exercise-to-music programmes to gyms around the world. Our programmes are currently used by 130,000 instructors in more than 17,500 gyms across 100 countries.

We have used traditional above-the-line marketing campaigns including magazine and in-gym advertising, email campaigns and direct marketing. We also run regular seminars for new instructors to introduce them to our programmes.

Agency partners
In terms of digital media planning/buying, our agency partner is iProspect. We have been working with iProspect since March ’16 on all our brand, acquisition and retention activity across web, social and mobile.

“In terms of creative strategy and production, the majority of our work is carried out by our internal global marketing team based in Auckland.”

You joined the firm early this year. What new marketing initiatives have you implemented?

One of the biggest initiatives has come as a result of a newly created arm of the company. We are now offering a B2C product, called Les Mills on Demand, which allows individuals to access our workouts over the internet.

For a monthly fee, they can stream our videos and music to their choice of device – television, a tablet or mobile phone – and exercise when and where they choose.

To support this new initiative, we have teamed with Oracle Marketing Cloud to create a sophisticated martech and adtech integrated approach supporting our growth. The first of our campaigns will go live very soon and we expect to see results in the short term.

Why is digital marketing in particular so important to a company like Les Mills?

BM: Digital marketing allows us to get the maximum value of our marketing efforts and advertising spend. However, we are also able to gain a much deeper understanding of both our B2B and B2C customers to then unlock the full value of this data. We’re now able to target and tailor communication to all type of audiences whether they are known customers or prospects we are trying to convert.

The goal is to remove messaging fragmentation and create consistent customer experience across all customer touch points. We can quickly ascertain the impact of a particular campaign and make adjustments as required.

It’s part of an overall digital transformation process that is shaping the entire company.

What are the key digital strategies that you use?

Customer profiles
We have what I would describe as an evolving mix. Our marketing automation solution is Oracle Eloqua which will allow us to create powerful automated personalised experiences for all our customers. It is integrated into our data management platform, Oracle DMP Bluekai, within which we will combine our data with Bluekai DMP third-party data to run audience analytics and understand more about our customers and prospects.

We will then be able to create lookalike models based on our most valuable customer profiles and activate them through our paid search, display and social campaigns for more efficient bidding; it will also help us tailor our creative message (dynamic creative optimisation).

The overall goal is to make the most of our advertising spend to help support our growth into the consumer market globally but also deliver the right marketing message to the right customer segments at the right time.

Finally, we’re also adopting the testing and personalisation technology, Oracle Maxymiser. By integrating this last piece of the puzzle into our marketing ecosystem we are closing the loop.

Our website content will be tested and personalised against the different types of audiences built within Oracle DMP Bluekai targeted on the advertising ecosystem or nurtured by email.

How would you describe the way you work with ad agencies?

BM: It’s fair to say that these relationships are changing as a result of our use of digital technologies such as the data management platforms. We have moved beyond the point where it’s just about trying to get people to visit a website.

It is now more about growth hacking and going beyond paid acquisition. This is a critical evolution for sustained long-term growth.

We have been able to work with our agency to consolidate our data and use it as the basis for planned campaigns. The value that agencies provide has shifted from being just about buying and placing media to one involving them analysing data and turning it into measurable actions.

What advice would you give to other marketers keen to follow a similar path?

People power
It’s easy to get carried away with the technology but I would advise other marketers to remember that their people are their most valuable resource.

Selecting partners who can provide support and training is crucial. You need to give your teams the ability to leverage these powerful tools to their fullest capabilities, and give them more time to focus on strategic work rather than on just executing campaigns.

The key is to invest, say, 10% of your available spend on your tools and platforms and the remaining 90% on the people who can take advantage of them.

Finally, when it comes to undertaking a digital transformation, everyone in an organisation has to be a part of it. You need to communicate exactly what it is that you are trying to achieve and ensure that everyone is on board. If you do that, you are far more likely to succeed.

Thank you.


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