Customer engagement automation powers personalized messaging for ClassPass users

Gary Flood Profile picture for user gflood August 16, 2023
Braze Audience Sync and Connected Content at heart of new approach to marketing and online advertising for wellness brand, ClassPass

An image of people exercising in a gym class
(Image sourced via ClassPass)

Fitness brand ClassPass says a recent move to improve customer engagement with tools from Braze means it is starting to - as they say in the business - ‘see results.’

The brand says the use of automation has led to direct savings of two hours of team time a month per social media channel.

ClassPass also says that its new automation features are enabling it to drive greater return on investment (ROI) and customer engagement - culminating in a (so far) 2% boost in EMEA-wide CVR (conversation rate, i.e., conversion to a sale from in-app advertising) on TikTok.

Key to that success has been a service called Audience Sync, which allows marketing teams to reduce paid media waste and boost advertising ROI by dynamically including or excluding designated audiences from paid ad campaigns.

Another tool ClassPass is finding highly useful is Connected Content, which allows a brand to insert information accessible via API directly into messages it sends out to users - either directly from a web server or from publicly accessible APIs.

Commenting on this success of this tech-centric approach to communicating with customers, the firm’s VP Global Growth, Ivy Wu, says:

Marketing has become more and more of a performance game, so an ability to marry both the creative and psychological aspects of marketing with analytics is now of paramount importance.

Changing the game for wellness

A subsidiary of wellness industry experience technology platform Mindbody and in operation since 2013, California-based ClassPass is the world’s largest health club aggregator by number of club partnerships. ClassPass also offers corporate wellness benefits to organizations.

It works by connecting people pursuing their health goals with wellness experiences across thousands of gyms, studios, salons, spas, and wellness providers in over 30 countries. So far, over 100 million reservations have been made through the service, with 80% of ClassPass service users doing so via their cell phones.

Wu explains that operators of a gym, or a chain of gyms, have their loyal customers who they work on nurturing and ensuring they want to work out in their space.

Where ClassPass comes in is to connect operators with new users who are trying to find what they're interested in - often because of moving to a new city or a new part of the country - and are looking for new classes or fitness challenges.

This is a departure for the sector, she says, as the traditional wellness center tends to prefer commitment to long membership. But with ClassPass, the idea is to make it super accessible and efficient and easy for users to book a class or two at more than one facility to see what works for them right now.

She says:

From the partnership side, what we allow you to do is fill, say, 70% of the spots in your room for a particular studio or class, and then we can also come in and we help you optimize your remaining inventory as well as keep getting new folks to try you out. A lot of what my team does is hyper-focused on getting new users through the door.

Activity has been intense since spaces opened up in the Vaccine Economy, she says, as a lot of gym users who hadn't been able to be exercising in gyms or visiting spas for months were very excited to try new things and get out of their comfort zones.

As a result, users were (and remain) very open to new choices - but also want to be sure a new environment they check out is clean, safe, and will offer them a good experience.

That’s why the service stresses both very good imagery - it has 1.25m digital assets in its repository - but also a highly responsive and personalized approach that puts the member very much in charge.

To work, that needs to center, she says, on an ability to build “pretty sophisticated, multi-channel user journeys.”

She adds:

What marketing is about is being able to service the most relevant message to the right user at the right time, through the best channels. Therefore, we needed to be able constantly grow our relationship with our consumers and make their experience with our product continuously better.

Wu and her team turned to her chosen partner in 2020 to do just that - with Braze soon being identified as an option because of it having an easy to use interface, the right capabilities, but also because it was easy for its engineers to build with in terms of APIs.

Wu also liked the way the Braze suite is very app-focused, as well as one non-specialists could use.

She says:

We need people who are not living and breathing email service platforms to be able to run experiments and campaigns on their own and pull the data that they need to do that when they want it.

In ClassPass’s case, multiple teams across its strategy, pricing inventory, and product teams, all the way up to regional marketing leads, can use the platform to devise and conduct market-specific campaigns that capitalize on local holidays and trends.

That would not have been possible in the past without having to “engage a ton of the IT team” to set them up, she points out.

Another rapid win was the way internal data can easily be made available for us in the targeted paid ads the business relies on and feed them into its main advertising platforms of Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Wu explains why this is so useful:

You never want to retarget users and send them ads if they're already on the platform; you also want to best use the data you have.

Now, our marketers can use our internal data to create suppression lists, so we don't target existing users and find the best new set of people that looks like the audience we already have

Prior to customer engagement software, she says, every week, someone would have to go into the database, write a SQL query, then upload information - a very tedious process which could take hours, but which is now done automatically.

She says:

That’s time that really adds up, but now the team is freed up to be able to do much more interesting tasks instead of this kind of low-level, operational work.

Fitness in 2023

Next steps for use of customer engagement at ClassPass include experimenting to see what CVR boost can be gained on other channels than TikTok.

A project has also commenced to use customer data to send targeted reminders to folks who have been busy gym users but who have slacked off - offering new local options that might tempt them back in, she says.

Beyond that, tech is expected to continue to play a big part in what ClassPass sees as the next wave of fitness:

The future of fitness and wellness is flexibility. With COVID, a lot of folks have moved out of the big cities and sometimes want a quick online class, or to do something when they’re travelling, or find somewhere where they now live. 

We're excited to offer digital programs for anyone who wants to do any of that: our goal is to make all that accessible to you in one app.



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