Adding Email Marketing to What Works


Life Time Fitness, a national chain of fitness centers with over 80 club locations throughout the United States was looking for a new marketing channel to drive membership acquisition. For many years, Life Time Fitness had been utilizing a number of direct marketing methods including advertising in vertical publications, producing an in-house magazine, radio spots, and television advertising in select markets, and their primary focus - direct mail.

Life Time Fitness maintains a very large prospect database, defined by proximity to club location, estimated household income, age, and other specific demographic data.  Their typical direct mailings reach anywhere from 100,000 to 2 million people on a monthly basis.

“We were looking for an additional way to produce more traffic and gain new members, while reducing costs.” states David Chamberlain, Marketing Specialist at Life Time Fitness.  “We have a database of over 4 million prospects with all types of data. We came to Lorton Data to help us find the best way to get a targeted message out to specific audiences.”

The challenge for Lorton Data was to find a marketing channel with the ability to reach a very selective prospect profile, deliver specific offers, allow for testing of the offers, and to be produced at a low cost.  Lorton Data’s proposed answer – email marketing.

Because of the targeted nature of the email campaigns, Lorton Data identified specific selection criteria. An email address file containing carrier route codes around each club location was chosen, and Life Time Fitness’ current file of over 650,000 members was suppressed to avoid mailing to this group. To target the list even further, other selection criteria included specific estimated household income and age, and only one e-mail address per location was used.  A database with a total universe of just over 930,000 unique prospects was produced for the email campaign.

“Lorton Data was great to work with and their turnaround time was spot on,” continued Chamberlain.  “We gave them the creative one day, and even with a number of changes they were able to deploy 2 variations of the initial email message within 12 hours. We then added another message variation and a second email was deployed the very next day.  Finally, we made another round of message changes and a third email went out within two more days!”

Life Time Fitness received better results than they could have imagined.  This variable email campaign was sent on three separate days to over 900,000 prospects each day.  Each email push achieved a click through rate of over 5%, and more than 1900 new members joined as a result of the whole campaign.  With an estimated value between $800 and $1,000 for each new member, and the total cost for the three email deployments of $83,000, the ROI for this campaign reached over $1,700,000. 

“Our members will benefit from this email campaign” says Chamberlain. “The revenue generated from new memberships can be applied to maintaining and upgrading our facilities and equipment. Lowering costs for member acquisition using Lorton Data for these email campaigns made it a win-win for everyone.”  And a valuable marketing channel was added to the mix!