Total Gym Fitness: A Case of Strengthening Engagements

Article ImageCompany: Total Gym Fitness, LLC

Total Gym Fitness, LLC sells workout equipment to home fitness enthusiasts. The Exton, Pa.-based company is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Telecast Products, a direct marketing firm. Total Gym's long-running infomercials feature actor Chuck Norris and actress/model Christie Brinkley. Customers can buy the fitness equipment directly through various channels, including a 1-800 number and the ecommerce site.

Business Challenge

Although traffic to Total Gym's mobile site is rising, the conversion rate from smartphones is significantly lower than from desktops and tablets. "As mobile is getting to be a bigger piece of traffic, it leads to the challenge of, ‘How do we get that traffic to be as productive as possible for us, and how do we convert more of that traffic to orders?'" says Joe Crowley, American Telecast Products' VP of marketing. Total Gym launched a live chat option in 2013, but months later, the company wondered if another resource would help increase engagement and, ultimately, conversion rates.

Vendor of Choice: TouchCommerce

TouchCommerce, which is based in Agoura Hills, Calif., sells omnichannel engagement tools that enhance customer experience, increase revenue, and reduce support costs while using real-time customer data analytics. Its products include TouchChat (a tool that connects visitors to live agents) and TouchGuides (which are automated guides that visitors can use to find answers to common questions).

The Problem In-Depth

An increasing number of visitors to Total Gym's website are coming from smartphones. Traffic rose 66% from the third quarter of 2013 to the same quarter in 2014, and it continues to grow. However, as is common among many online merchants, Total Gym's conversion rate on smartphones trails that of other devices. For instance, during the third quarter of 2014, the conversion rate for desktops and tablets was about seven to eight times higher than it was for smartphones.

"We think there's more of a casual browsing mentality for that smartphone visitor because they were in the midst of whatever they were doing," Crowley says. "They may have been relaxing on the sofa, and they saw the infomercial and thought, ‘This is pretty compelling, and I want to check it out.'"

Many smartphone users may be in other early research phases, and then there's the small screen, which might serve as a checkout obstacle. In the end, many smartphone visitors to Total Gym's site may decide to purchase on a desktop or tablet or even through the 1-800 number. 

But regardless of where the buying journey ends, it probably requires multiple touchpoints along the way. After all, Total Gym's models are often considered purchases. The company wants to make those customer interactions as productive as possible. "We're looking to start that dialogue with the customer," says Crowley. "And if we can get people interacting with us, then we figure out a way of getting them converting better."

Total Gym launched live chat on its mobile site in August 2013; the tool is a product of TouchCommerce. And yet, months later, the company wondered if visitors with a casual browsing mentality want to chat with a live agent. Crowley says smartphone users might be "looking for less of a commitment," while still seeking answers about products. Would another kind of feature help bump the interaction rate and, in turn, contribute to a higher conversion rate?

The Solution

In July 2014, the fitness company began experimenting with placements of an automated guide powered by TouchCommerce-one that was identical to the TouchGuide that Total Gym was already using on its desktop site. The guide, in fact, is still being used on Total Gym's sites. It opens when visitors click on a button titled, "Which gym is best for you?" The tool features five multiple-choice questions that include, "What is your primary fitness goal?" "What is your gender?" and "What features are important to you in a Total Gym?"

Three elements are displayed at the end of the process: a product recommendation with an overview of features, a button to see additional product details, and a button to chat with a specialist. If the visitor opts for a chat, the agent can access his or her answers to the guide to offer more efficient service. The client and vendor were curious about how live chat and the guide would fare in a head-to-head test, if mobile visitors could choose one of the options when visiting a product page. For 21 days in October 2014, they ran an A/B test in which about half the time visitors were served a click-to-chat button, and the rest of the time, visitors saw a button for the guide. 

 The Outcome

Crowley describes the results of the test as a "eureka moment" when he saw more mobile users interacting with the guide than the live chat. In fact, visitors were five times more likely to opt for the guide instead of the chat. There were 22,000 buttons for a live chat or a guide that popped up during the test. The buttons were clicked 657 times; of those, 100 linked to chat, and 557 linked to the guide. "Consumers are telling us at that point in their shopping journey, they're not looking for a live agent interaction," Crowley says.

TouchCommerce's CMO, George Skaff, says the test echoed the preferences of many mobile users. "They prefer to text versus call, and they prefer to select answers versus typing text [to a chat agent] because that's quicker and faster," he says. That's not to say chat doesn't have a place on mobile sites. Skaff says it's not about one tool instead of another. "Whichever works for the customers, we're very flexible with that," he says. "At the end of the day, what we care about is [customers] getting the answers they're looking for in the best way possible."

Notably, chat plays a dominant role in Total Gym's overall engagement program across desktop, tablet, and mobile. During the fourth quarter of 2014, nearly 40% of the company's online orders came from interactions with TouchCommerce tools-even though only about 5% of the company's online visitors engaged with the solutions. Roughly 70% of those interactions involved live chat, and that outcome has remained consistent.

Crowley says Total Gym is working on ways to improve the conversion of visitors interacting with the mobile guide. Currently, for instance, agents can present an offer to users who opt to chat with a specialist after completing the guide. Still, there are challenges to connecting dots in an omnichannel world. TouchCommerce and Total Gym are exploring ways to better track cross-device conversion. Among them, pushing targeted offers (to mobile users via email) that have a unique ID that can tie together interactions.

Other benefits from the mobile guides are easier to trace. Total Gym is learning more about its target audience through participants' answers. For instance, the retailer can discover what visitors think is important in a product, and it can incorporate that knowledge into general offers and marketing messages. It can also collect some non-personal information about visitors, such as their device types and operating systems.

The guides offer cost-savings too. Total Gym has a performance-based model with TouchCommerce, and it is less expensive when the consumer interacts with a guide than with a live agent. Crowley says cost-savings weren't a big consideration in using the guide. More significant is that the self-service tool helps Total Gym interact with more customers simultaneously.

Crowley says he is "thrilled" that the guide has helped the company meet its first objective of getting more smartphone customers to engage. "We think we have the opportunity to have an interaction, and we want to make it as productive and informative and positive an experience for the consumer as possible," he says. "We think that will only lead to better things down the road."