CMO50 2020 #16: Matt Fletcher

  • Name Matt Fletcher
  • Title Head of marketing
  • Company Fitness First Australia
  • Commenced role March 2019
  • Reporting Line General manager
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 8 staff, 3 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Health and wellbeing
  • 2019 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    Since taking up the marketing chief’s reins at Fitness First Australia 18 months ago, Matt Fletcher has worked hard to break down business silos.

    “This is driven by the dual evolution of customer experience increasingly becoming the remit of marketing, and the ability to deliver personalisation at scale,” he says. “We are in a competitive business and our customers are - rightly - more discerning than ever. Our aim is to optimise every moment of truth we have with the customer. And where we identify gaps or customer problems we haven't solved for, we create new touchpoints.”

    To achieve that, it’s clear marketing can’t operate within a pre-defined silo. “Customer lifetime value is now a core part of the modern marketing leader's dashboard,” Fletcher continues.

    “How can we grow CLV if we believe our role ends at the point of conversion? As such, I’ve really focused on how we leverage data and martech to create personalised journeys that blend the offline and online brand experience. This is where cross-function collaboration has become critical, as delivering a seamless and consistent customer journey involves whole business lean in.”

    Customer-led thinking

    One of Fletcher’s big programs of work to date to embrace a more holistic approach to customers is aptly titled ‘Be the reason someone smiles today’. By integrating customer experience with the marketing team, Fitness First sought to align internal processes and performance KPIs, creating a unified customer journey right through digital acquisition to physical experience in the gyms.

    The marketing-led program involved multiple departments in a cross-function rollout. CX training was produced by marketing and delivered by the people and culture team, and new team KPIs for customer-facing teams were adopted. Previously, primary KPIs had been sales and operational focused.

    In addition, club managers are building customer experience into their management flows, supported by coaching, shared measurement and monthly goals. To do this, Fletcher’s team created templates managers use to create staff buy-in and shared visions.

    It’s a program of work Fletcher admits was fraught with difficulty in a service business. But his perseverance has paid off.

    “It has aligned the whole business with a unified customer service strategy, a common language for customer experience and shared customer satisfaction goals that go from general manger to part-time gym receptionist,” Fletcher says. “All teams are singing from the sale hymn sheet.

    “This isn’t ‘sexy’ high profile marketing, but it is about putting customer experience in the heart of our business - laddering back to our core marketing strategy of driving CLV.”

    Marketing has therefore played a key role in CSAT projects in the past 12 months. An example project Fletcher points to is around NPS journeys.

    Partnering with a new agency, AskNicely, his team created an always-on campaign to send customer feedback surveys collecting qualitative and quantitative data. These are sent to members in the second month of their membership, and every quarter thereafter via email.

    Based on the data, two separate journeys were created. For detractors, a notification is sent to the club manager, who personally emails the member to address their concerns.

    “For promoters, we trigger a communication asking for a referral. If the members referral joins Fitness First, they both get two weeks of their subscription for free,” Fletcher says.  

    The results include NPS score improvements, as well as hefty increases in referral leads year-on-year. Phase two of this project soon to launch will see an in-app survey triggered as a member exits the gym, thereby providing more timely and accurate insights.

    Data-driven approach

    On the acquisition front, meanwhile, Fletcher has worked to rebuild Fitness First’s marketing customer view (MCV) to provide a source of accurate data for segmentation and activation in its DMP. The initiative was initially born from a data integrity project, however insights gained allowed Fletcher’s team to build a fresh customer acquisition strategy as a spin off.

    Worked started with a cross-functional project to rebuild the data dictionary and MCV. The purpose was to enable personalised journeys to be fed off a common data model, utilising an agile ID. Fletcher says uniting data within a MCV framework allowed his team to augment its first-party data, including consumers events within cloud pages in the lead generation journey and its CRM and gym visitation data, with third-party data.

    From this, multiple new audience segments were created within the DMP based around three macro segments: Trial intent, potential value and previous triallists. Segmentation was activated via a range of DSPs to new audiences with a suite of creative executions.

    The outcome is a more efficient performance marketing engine. “At a time when the complexity of technology can seem to trump traditional marketing strategy, it’s reassuring to know despite changes in platform and channels that ‘old fashioned’ segmentation and targeting remains the core to effective marketing,” Fletcher comments.

    Another example of data in action further along the customer lifecycle has been leveraging gym visitation data to create personalised customer communications aimed at reducing churn. Through a churn modelling project he led, Fletcher says a link between gym visitation patterns and membership cancellation was identified.

    The tipping point is when a member’s visitation drops off to between 2 - 3 visits per fortnight. At this moment in time, they are 87 per cent more likely to cancel in the next three months. Surprisingly, the cancellation rate from this cohort is even higher than people who visit less than once per month.

    “We overlaid this data with qualitative research and found ‘motivation drop off’ was the driving force behind cancellations,” Fletcher says. “Members were satisfied with the service offering but initial excitement and drive in their fitness journey started to wane, improvements in their fitness progress dropped, motivation dropped further... and a negative cycle perpetuated.”

    Fletcher’s team worked to build a retention campaign with personalised comms based on these visitation patterns, triggered via an automated engagement journey. This sees the member receive a series of personalised communications to incentivise and motivate them back into their training routine.

    Members are also rewarded for increasing their training frequency back over the appropriate threshold with a voucher for either fitness apparel or health juices.

    “The reward program is augmented with branded content to encourage members to try new free classes or new workouts to help add variety to their experience and increase their motivation,” Fletcher says.

    The results included a double-digit rise in retention, leading to revenue dividends, he says.


    There’s no doubt however that the biggest challenge Fletcher has had to navigate in his tenure to date, is the COVID-19 pandemic. On 23 March 2020 when Australia closed, so did all Fitness First gyms.

    “I didn’t sleep well that night in March when all gyms in Australia were closed down,” Fletcher says. “I was trying to solve how we could be there for our customers and how we could find work for our team, who had been stood down. Although it was a business necessity, replicated across the country, the standing down of team members had a profound impact on me.”

    After a restless night, Fletcher connected with the group’s head of product, and the pair discussed a vision for a new product that would become Fitness First at Home.

    After a day remotely working on the plans, Fletcher drafted a business case focused on the customer proposition, channel plan, content strategy and proposed retention ROI numbers. The product chief worked on staffing requirements and how many personal trainers would be needed along with proposed product content. Fletcher also looped in executive team colleagues and called around the marketing team to provide reassurance and seek their views.

    “The next day we obtained signed off for a small scope of staff to deliver the project,” he explains. “The project itself was a case of trial and error, with plenty of mistakes along the way as this new cross-functional team built the new product.”

    The first challenge was how to scale the at home workout content. “We quickly created a Facebook Live training process so we could have personal trainers around the country hosting live workouts on our Facebook channel,” Fletcher says.

    Another challenge was the variety of workout content. Fitness First staffers realised it was harder to teach normal exercises without equipment. The solution was to hire out equipment sitting idle in its gyms.

    “This was highly engaging for our members and opened up a new revenue stream,” Fletcher adds.

    It took a week to launch Fitness First at Home. “Amongst all the chaos, we created a new content hub on a new CMS, new sub-brand and new content strategy,” Fletcher says. “I’m proud of the speed and innovation that we achieved. But I’m even more proud of the way we showed up in a time of crisis.

    “Very quickly, we decided to not take short-term profit by putting any of the content behind a paywall or even limiting it to Fitness First members. Our long-term strategy of CLV growth guided the activity and saw us showing empathy to the people whose fitness and wellbeing routine had been stopped overnight. We were supporting them to continue their training at home while supporting Fitness First trainers.”

    Of those who took advantage of the online workout offering, 80 per cent surveyed stated they improved their health and wellbeing.

    “Fitness First at Home allowed us to keep our audience connected to the brand during the closedown, demonstrated we care by delivering our core service of fitness expertise and built an audience of non-members to engage with once the gyms reopened in June,” Fletcher says.

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