How Reshaping the CrossFit Open Registration for a Remote Audience Fueled the Fitness Brand’s Comeback.

Key Takeaways 

  • CrossFit, a fitness brand with millions of members worldwide, needed help increasing participation in its flagship competition, the CrossFit Games Open.
  • The early days of the pandemic posed new challenges around engaging members, but held potential to increase the brand’s reach.
  • CrossFit partnered with MAVAN on a plan that optimized paid acquisition, email, and conversion rates.
  • The project resulted in achieving its acquisition goal by 125%, with a Customer Lifetime Value to Customer Acquisition Cost over 3.0.
  • To build on the success of the 2020 CrossFit Games campaign, the company retained MAVAN to explore long-term growth opportunities.

Galvanizing an Exercise-conscious Audience During Lockdown

Where some see adversity, others create opportunities. What separates difficulty from success can come down to not only recognizing the moment, but also taking swift action. For the top fitness brand CrossFit, the start of the pandemic required a rethinking of how it was promoting its flagship event. But it ended up jumpstarting a long-term growth strategy.

Lockdown was generally thought to have brought a heightened interest in fitness to a population looking to make the most of unprecedented free time. But, registering active participation for a competition like the 2020 CrossFit Games Open would prove challenging. Since fewer CrossFit gyms were open due to mandated and precautionary health measures, members were less engaged than previous years. Member registrations to compete for the “Fittest on Earth” were well below targets.

The company’s leadership found itself in a pivotal situation. With interest in exercise on the rise, the potential for expanding membership was too great to be left alone. CrossFit needed to scale its performance marketing efforts. Yet with so many locations closed, it needed to execute with the utmost efficiency. A few false steps, and the registration campaign could become too costly to make business sense. The brand built on a proven formula for improving health and performance needed to find a new accelerated formula for its 2020 CrossFit Games campaign.

CrossFit partnered with MAVAN, a provider of turnkey strategies and execution for rapid growth, to create a record-breaking formula. The partnership launched in a compressed fashion. MAVAN’s engagements usually begin with a rigorous qualitative and quantitative analysis, followed by a 90-day tactical execution sprint. But the 2020 CrossFit Games were approaching fast, giving a shorter runway to the project team. There was no time for a full-growth audit. Speed of execution around increasing event registrations became the entire focus.

This Fitness Revolution Must Be Optimized

In the first two weeks, MAVAN assembled a launch plan based around optimization of CrossFit’s lead-capture strategies. First, MAVAN developed an automated email series, purpose-built to convert past registrants and activate new ones. MAVAN segmented audiences to help personalize communications. Heavy reengagement activated prior CrossFit Games attendees. If not receptive to emails, MAVAN retargeted past registrants via optimized paid media campaigns across social and search.

Monitoring performance in these channels, MAVAN quickly double downed on the Facebook campaign, which was far outperforming Google spend. In fact, worldwide Facebook targeting delivered cost-effective acquisition across a diverse set of countries. The MAVAN team also fine-tuned conversion, A/B testing user paths, and landing pages over a six week period to optimize the conversion funnel. Through such tactics as increasing the prominence of lead information and revising calls to action, the campaign surpassed its goal.

Through the combination of these efforts, CrossFit shifted its event registration growth from a flat line into a hockey-stick curve. Coming from behind, it blew past the acquisition goal – generating a record number of registrations for the 2021 CrossFit games. By continually refining its methods, MAVAN also helped CrossFit achieve this success under budget, managing to reduce cost per registration (CPR) to well under target. MAVAN presented CrossFit with an action plan for how it could further measure conversion rates for the next year and still reduce cost.

Unlocking Long-term Growth

Impressed by the rapid turnaround and positive outcome, CrossFit retained MAVAN to lead its broader strategic planning cycle for the following year. Rather than basing planning on marketing funnels, MAVAN analyzed growth loops that created value to reinvest in the loops’ input. Through this approach, MAVAN helped CrossFit capture more quick wins. These included improving CrossFit’s existing social viral loop, adding a referral loop, and establishing a sales loop to ease affiliate conversion.

MAVAN and CrossFit’s plans capture fast growth opportunities and analyze the results and the impact on their business objectives. CrossFit is no longer engaged in mere growth marketing campaigns. Rather, the company has a system for growth that fortifies its brand – and the fitness of its bottom line.

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