Icon Fitness, the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of fitness equipment is the parent company to brands such as NordicTrack and ProForm (Freemotion). As an organization that has been around for more than 40 years, the brand has historically relied on media buying on traditional channels, such as television, but was looking for new ways to reach their sales goals, freshen up their look, and attract new audiences.
That is when Tanner Simmons, the company’s Social Media Director, turned to influencer marketing as a solution. The online fitness community is highly engaged, and influencers act as tastemakers in their space to share new routines and equipment with their audiences. Tanner knew by tapping into this community, Icon Fitness would not only be able to reach new audiences and drive conversions, but they could leverage these relationships to source authentic, contextual content to repurpose across marketing channels, such a social media, paid ads, email, and their website.
Icon Fitness’ influencer marketing goals are to source high-quality content to repurpose across marketing channels as well as drive online engagement. Influencer-generated content helps the brand resonate with their customers in a way that highly-produced content, like commercials, oftentimes cannot because it is created by real people from diverse backgrounds. It is nearly impossible, and very expensive to create studio-shot images with diverse models and backgrounds in the volume necessary to represent all of the brand’s various audience demographics.
Tanner initially attempted to build an influencer network by reaching out to micro-influencers and managing relationships using emails, Google Sheets, and other manual methods of organization. But after hours of time spent and little success, he quickly realized he would need a tool to help his team streamline the process if they wanted to see tangible results.
Identifying Key Influencers
Icon Fitness’ target marketing is generally females ages 25 to 45. Using Aspire, the team can quickly filter through millions of content creators to identify the exact type of people they want to work with. The Aspire recommendation engine also recommends other influencers who the brand might be interested in each day, ensuring their community of influencers is always diverse. Since the quality of content is the most important factor to the Icon Fitness team, they have the ability to quickly assess if content is high-quality and on-brand.
Managing Long-Term Relationships
Aspire automatically moves influencers through each step of the collaboration process from contract terms, content review, and payment. Tanner can now onboard new influencers they choose to work within just a few minutes, whereas it used to take days of back and forth communications to agree to collaboration terms.
Because the team is dealing with exchanges involving very high-value products, it’s crucial that they have tools in place to keep track of contracts with influencers. Aspire makes it easy for the team to manage hundreds of relationships and contract signatures without leaving the platform. The Hellosign integration allows them to stay on top of FTC regulations regarding weight loss claims and automatically track contracts and W9 forms.
Scaling Content Creation
One of the biggest benefits to Aspire has been streamlining Tanner’s content review process. Tanner is able to get pictures of influencer’s in-home gym setups beforehand to provide feedback and quickly review content before it is posted. Plus, additional images from influencers’ shoots are automatically added to the Aspire’s content library backed by Google Drive, giving his entire team a centralized hub for content.
Before Aspire, Tanner was only working with 2-3 influencers per quarter, now his team is working with more than 5x this amount each month and in much less time. Icon Fitness’ community of influencers has been crucial to the brand’s top-of-funnel pipeline and brand identity. Tanner does just stop at social media promotion, Icon Fitness’ community of influencers produce the content that is featured on their website and some influencers have even been featured in the organization’s TV commercials in an effort to have a strong identity across all marketing channels. Since scaling their community, NordicTrack has seen a growth of 230K followers on Instagram in a year and a half. The marketing team also works closely with their direct response team to track when an influx in sales correlates to a campaign they are running. For example, they saw a spike in sales during their holiday campaign, “12 Days of Fitness”.
Icon Fitness is able to source hundreds of pieces of content on a monthly basis from their always-on community of influencers. Not only is the content diverse in models and homes, but it comes at massive savings. It typically costs the brand around $10,000 to produce professional videos and $4000 for photoshoots. Now, they can produce content in exchange for free products.
At any given time, the Icon Fitness team has anywhere from 50-200 paid ads running on social media. Since scaling their influencer network, Tanner knows that he has the volume and variety of content that he needs to fuel all of his digital marketing. Some of the best influencer content is performing at an 8-to-1 ratio, with an average performance of 3:1 – 5:1.