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An image taken during covid-19 restrictions which was used in our digital marketing campaign
An image taken during covid-19 restrictions which was used in our digital marketing campaign

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How our digital marketing expertise has taken huge strides forward in 2020

London Sport's Digital Marketing Lead Chris Norfield takes you behind the scenes of our recent Digital Marketing work as he reflects on a busy few months supporting specific audiences on taking that first step towards a more active lifestyle.

While the covid-19 pandemic has brought many issues for our sector, it has also presented opportunities for us to further develop our expertise in running targeted digital campaigns.

As my colleague Alex recently wrote, the digital revolution (still) continues, and it’s been the same at London Sport as we test using Facebook advertising to reach less active audiences.

We know from previous work how cost-effective Facebook adverts can be compared to traditional leaflets but our knowledge has taken a big step forward again in 2020.

Back in April, it quickly became clear that the covid-19 lockdown was disproportionately impacting those from ethnically diverse backgrounds and lower-socio economic groups.

Something needed to be done quickly and cost effectively to try and support these audiences to be active during the Spring and Summer for their short and long-term mental and physical health.

Commissioned by Sport England, and based on our experience with Facebook advertising, we were able to run targeted promotions to reach specific postcode sectors and age groups.

Sport England identified the Couch to 5k app as a suitable offer; it works for beginners, there’s no ongoing data access required, and promotion would coincide with PHE and BBC campaigns.

By using insight to focus on areas with high levels of ethnic diversity as well as deprivation we could be confident our promotional materials would be seen by our target audience.

But targeted promotion would only work if the message was right. That’s why we listened to concerns about users’ ability to complete 5k and framed our messaging towards beginners.

We cast real Londoners to feature in the imagery, filming people on doorsteps pre-run to fit in with covid-19 restrictions and acknowledge the big step just leaving the house can be.

The campaign was a team effort. In addition to utilising our skilled insight and marketing teams, our operations team ran workshops with local partners to explore community activation.

We soon saw the positive results.

And while we were delighted to see our campaign make an immediate impact, we knew there was more to do – the Couch to 5k offer would not work for everyone.

Again, we worked closely with colleagues at Sport England to review the products and the range of live streaming and on-demand video options but couldn’t find a suitable offer for the audience.

That’s where long-running partners at Our Parks came in, a collaboration supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England’s £20m Tackling Inequalities Fund.

The work Our Parks did to create Couch to Fitness (shooting 27 episodes in a single weekend) was incredible and allowed us to promote a progressive nine-week programme very quickly.

Once again, we were delighted to see our adverts perform well, they resonated with our audience and led to a new collaboration between Our Parks and Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign.

It’s been quite a journey. We’ve enjoyed a lot of success and learned a huge amount about the easy wins and the potential pitfalls of digital marketing campaigns.

My main learning though has been the power of collaboration and the impact of a close and constructive working relationship with our partners, particularly Sport England and then Our Parks.

In difficult times, and few have been more difficult than this covid-19 pandemic, teamwork across our sector has never been more important. 

For more information on our Digital Marketing work, visit our website or contact Chris Norfield directly.

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London Sport aims to ensure Londoners live happier, healthier lives through sport and physical activity

About London Sport

London Sport aims to ensure more Londoners live happier, healthier lives through sport and physical activity. Supported by the Mayor of London and Sport England, our target is to get Londoners more physically active.

For more information on London Sport, visit www.londonsport.org

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