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CMO50 2020 #26-50: Mike Scott

  • Name Mike Scott
  • Title Chief brand and marketing officer
  • Company Sweat
  • Commenced role February 2019 - August 2019
  • Reporting Line Chief executive officer
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function Not disclosed
  • Industry Sector Health and fitness
  • 2019 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    Loyalty and customer evangelism is driven through a deep understanding and focus upon every step of their journey, regardless of channel or level of relationship. Which is why Sweat’s marketing chief, Mike Scott, was so determined to foster customer journey building as a skill across his team at the Australian-born online health and wellbeing app.  

    “Exceeding the expectations of consumers on a consistent basis creates advocacy and drives business growth through more efficient acquisition of new customers and higher levels of frequency with existing ones,” he says. “This belief drove a relentless focus on the requirement at Sweat to build capability in the area of journey mapping.”  

    Sweat’s purpose is ‘to empower women through fitness’. It is a personal training app for females, founded in Adelaide eight years ago, that has been described by Forbes Magazine as the ‘Netflix of fitness’. The digital, content and data-based publishing machine has over 54 million followers on social media, more than over 40 million app downloads, 500,000 premium members and sits in the top five highest grossing sport and fitness apps in the world.  

    Sweat has grown from 30 employees in 2018 to 100 full-time staff today and has a digital presence in 160 countries globally with content localised into seven languages.  

    During FY19/20, Sweat’s team delivered innumerable ‘outputs’ internally and externally, but Scott cites four core ‘outcomes’ fundamental to the organisation’s fiscal performance which saw gross revenue increase by 18 per cent. These were a 47 per cent improvement in Sweat brand awareness; 52 per cent increase paying member growth; 17 per cent reduction in member acquisition cost; and 37 per cent increase of workouts completed by members.  

    So just how did Scott and his team achieve these sorts of results?  

    Innovative marketing  

    One problem – or rather, one opportunity, as Scott puts it – is Sweat has historically seen a decline in member acquisition and engagement from July to September each year. However with 90 per cent of the target market, and 70 per cent of members, living and enjoying summer in the northern hemisphere the confluence of season, geography and the ‘mood and mood’ of consumers highlighted a major opportunity to arrest the negative trendline.  

    What’s more, consumer insights show it takes 21 days for the average person to develop a habit, but people often break them within the first seven days due to lack of motivation or guided support.  

    Enter Sweat Nation, a 30-day challenged designed for women from all over the world to come together and start building a regular exercise routine and healthy habits.  

    To help, the team introduced full-funnel attribution, creative idea and campaign identity, CX journey mapping, messaging architecture, integrated channel and media planning, A/B testing and campaign integration within the Sweat app and Google and Apple stores for the initiative.  

    Data and targeting was key, with the use of lookalikes during the prospecting phase, engagement behaviours to inform dynamic content and new data points harnessed to inform content relating to trainer/program preferences and workout completion.  

    Then there was the content. A total of 54 video assets were produced to enable bespoke search and geo-based targeting with YouTube directors mix, and 81 unique emails, of which 7.2m sent, were designed to support targeted efforts in concert with paid media.  

    “A genuine sense of togetherness and community for members throughout Sweat Nation was established with a dedicated online forum, and more than 50 event-based push notifications were designed to deliver workout reminders, send daily encouragement and inspiration to participants throughout the challenge,” Scott says.  

    Primary acquisition and engagement goals were well and truly exceeded. There were 112,000 challenge participants versus a target of 66,000, with 78 per cent challenge completion. Record low monthly churn of 12.5 per cent and the highest revenue day of the FY on the first day of Sweat Nation were also highlight results.  

    Additionally, Scott says the initiative delivered a step change for Sweat and the digital fitness industry more broadly by applying advanced marketing practices beyond the industry status quo.  

    Business smarts  

    Another one of Scott’s big wins at Sweat was developing its five-year brand and business strategic framework.  

    “While Sweat has experienced rapid success among its 320,000 competitive fitness apps globally, it was originally set up as a product led business with minimal consciousness or discipline applied to the fundamental areas of enterprise strategy, brand management, planning, system, process or performance measurement,” he comments.  

    “We did, however, have a highly intelligent founder/CEO who led his team with a good dose of energy, hard work and intuition - with everything stored in his sizable brain. Not surprisingly, the symptoms driven by this style were magnified with a cocktail of existing employees, an influx of experienced new talent and the high expectations of previous growth.”  

    In partnership with the executive and direct reports, Scott was empowered to create the five-year brand and business strategic framework. This included the definition and articulation of the following critical components: Vision, purpose, pillars of excellence, executional principles, total addressable market, values, brand personality and tone of voice, metrics that matter and strategic objectives.  

    “This work was completed with a particular focus on ensuring high levels of awareness, understanding and involvement of team members at all levels of the organisation,” Scott says. “Its delivery also catalysed the development of an enterprise-wide annual planning cycle which included our capital investment program, performance reviews, short and long-term incentives, content and product roadmaps and a single reference point for all functions.  

    “The resulting integration of brand, consumer and holistic business operations is a legacy I am incredibly proud to have led with the support of my executive peers, brand and marketing team and agency partners.”  


    The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented global health challenge and Scott says Sweat’s employees knew people and organisations everywhere wanted to help.  

    “However, we wanted to ensure that our efforts made an impact and genuinely contributed to those in need. Importantly, our reference point for all actions during this time were our purpose and values,” Scott says.  

    Sweat reached out to the United Nations and collectively agreed on a course of action resulting in partnership in the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The fund was created by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation to support the World Health Organization and enabled individuals, organisations and institutions globally to contribute directly to the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.  

    Sweat offered free app access for those impacted and included the option for consumers to donate directly to COVID-19 relief efforts. It made a US$100,000 donation to the cause and encouraged its highly engaged global community to donate through an omni-channel campaign that was planned and executed within 10 working days.  

    In addition to the UN initiative, the entire organisation ‘downed tools’ and focused exclusively on producing, promoting and distributing 11 new ‘at home’ and ‘zero equipment’ programs for members trapped at home. A free weekly one-hour workout series titled ‘Monday Night Meet Ups’ was hosted by Sweat personal trainer, Kayla Itsines, and streamed in local time via the group’s Facebook page.  

    The ‘Monday Night Meet Ups’ were promoted exclusively with owned media assets and reached 15.5m users and enjoyed 5.5m total video views.  

    Customer-led thinking  

    As has been already noted, Scott harbours a strong belief loyalty is driven through a deep understanding and focus upon every step of a customers' journey, regardless of channel or level of relationship.  

    “Exceeding the expectations of consumers on a consistent basis creates advocacy - and drives business growth through more efficient acquisition of new customers and higher levels of frequency with existing customers,” he comments.  

    This belief drove a relentless focus on building capability in journey mapping and its use within Sweat. Over a series of workshops, supported by TBWA, cross-functional staffers acknowledged the customer journey begins the moment that she becomes aware of the brand.  

    “From this point the journey never really ends, even when she leaves you,” Scott says. “We facilitated intensive sessions that required our teams to walk in our customer's trainers through that entire journey encompassing the three main phases - the presale [awareness, consideration, acquisition], sale [monetisation] and being a member [engagement, retention].  

    “Understanding the journey required our teams to shift their perspective to outside-in. This shift in mindset allowed us to immediately find simple ways to improve the member experience by both uncovering areas of friction for customers and removing areas of waste and duplication for the organisation.”

    Once the existing customer experience was articulated, the team started to map out the ideal journey, based upon insight-based feedback from members. This drove innovation and resultant business performance.  

    “The first 12 months of our journey have been preparatory in nature and we are currently moving into an accelerated phase that will take another 18 months to mature into an advanced state,” says Scott.  

    Commercial acumen  

    While all these initiatives have been key to driving business returns, Scott says the single most important contribution to enabling marketing’s commercial performance has been the establishment and implementation of a company-wide performance measurement framework. This is titled ‘Metrics That Matter’ and encompasses brand, commercial, people and members.  

    “As we have all experienced, success means different things to different people, functions and teams. Without alignment companies and their cultures can unravel very quickly with diverse agendas and functional territories emerging - and Sweat was no different to this at the beginning of 2019,” Scott says.  

    “As part of our program of work to establish a five-year strategic framework, I partnered with the executive, finance, commercial and data teams to

    establish a set of metrics which ensured we are all radically aligned and working towards the same quantitative outcomes that are ultimately commercial in nature.”  

    The Metrics that Matter include 10 core KPIs which are measured, scrutinised and reported on at an agreed cadence throughout the organisation. These 10 KPIs each cascade into a range of secondary KPIs, and those again cascade into other indicators. Importantly, each of the 10 core KPIs are owned by a member of the Sweat executive and management team.  

    The goals fit into Sweat’s success framework, each a key stage in the member engagement funnel. “By winning at each of these stages, we win as a whole,” Scott says.  

    “As a result, all Sweat employees regardless of function, are now set up with position descriptions, development plans, incentive programs and operational plans that are choreographed to contribute to the success of this funnel.”

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