The YMCA of Greater Des Moines upgraded from a 55-year-old building to a new state-of-the-art facility to better serve its members and community. Even with the upgrades, this YMCA faced declining membership due to increased competition.

Register Media, parent company to the Des Moines Register and part of the USA Today Network, used data insights and engaging creative to develop a three-month targeted marketing campaign that result in a US$1.26 million return on investment (ROI) and an increase in new memberships.

While the new facility was under construction, Register Media surveyed its readers and examined insights from a local Scarborough study.

The results showed 63% of Des Moines Register readers exercise or plan to, but don’t currently belong to a gym. Research also uncovered the opportunity to gain at least 10,500 new members within a 10-mile radius of all YMCA locations in the Des Moines area.

The integrated marketing campaign included weekly native content updates on DesMoinesRegister.com and e-mail blasts with compelling offers for local non-members.
The integrated marketing campaign included weekly native content updates on DesMoinesRegister.com and e-mail blasts with compelling offers for local non-members.

To heavily engage the YMCA’s target audience — and to reduce the number of members lost to a new, country-club style fitness facility opening nearby — Register Media created an expansive integrated marketing campaign.

The campaign used engaging creative and multiple platforms to target adults in the Des Moines metro interested in achieving a healthy lifestyle.  The media mix included:

  • Weekly native content on DesMoinesRegister.com to showcase the YMCA’s expertise in fitness to increase engagement with their brand.

  • Print ads in The Des Moines Register and digital display ads on DesMoinesRegister.com with varying offers to drive action from consumers.

  • E-mail blasts sent to local non-members encouraging them to download various offers to test out the nearest facility.

  • High-impact gravity ads on the home page of DesMoinesRegister.com.

  • Video pre-roll ads that ran on DesMoinesRegsiter.com and various ad networks.

A key component of this campaign’s success was the engaging creative.

The YMCA of Greater Des Moines’ marketing staff challeged Register Media to develop messaging and designs that were non-traditional, compared to how a standard YMCA ad would look and feel.

The messaging strategy for this campaign focused on an individual’s lifestyle. Using simple messages such as, “My Downtown, My Noon,” the campaign targeted local business professionals to increase traffic to the new YMCA location in downtown Des Moines.

The performance of the initial online and print ads was highly favourable. Building on that messaging strategy, Register Media developed more than 20 sets of online messages targeting various lifestyles, from a family lifestyle, to youth camps, to wellness coaching and beyond.

The design concept for all creative was based on the angle of the Y in the YMCA’s logo and the different colour pallets associated with the logo. Using strong black-and-white images with colour overlays resulted in an online and print programme that turned out to be greatly effective in reaching the YMCA’s goals.

Engaging, non-traditional creative focusing on an individual's lifestyle targeted local business professionals.
Engaging, non-traditional creative focusing on an individual's lifestyle targeted local business professionals.

To measure the success of the campaign, a unique landing page was implemented to track the various offer downloads. Register Media was able to show it exceeded the growth and retention goals set by YMCA at the beginning of the campaign. Heat mapping was used throughout the campaign to continually optimise the creative and media plan.

The three-month integrated marketing campaign resulted in exceeding its membership growth goal by 40% and increasing the retention rate by 15%.