June 10, 2014
Case Study

Email Marketing: Zumba Fitness uses personalized video to drive a 50% click-to-open rate

SUMMARY: With Zumba Fitness' annual Instructor's Convention approaching, the marketing team decided it was the perfect opportunity to grab their email audience's attention.

Inserting a personalized video into a launch email emerged as a way to accomplish this, and by gathering footage from previous years and building subscribers' names into the creative element, Zumba was able to drive its highest click-to-open rate ever.
by Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content


Primarily a health and dance-fitness brand, Zumba Fitness offers live classes consumers can take in more than 200,000 locations, as well as a consumer products vertical with DVDs, CDs and video games.

"Then we also have the B2B side of the business, which is actually licensing and facilitating the careers of the instructors who teach the program," said Wayne Miller, Senior Manager of Email and Marketing Automation, Zumba Fitness.

Instructors commonly pay to take an eight-hour class to become licensed to teach the Zumba fitness program, he added, and the brand has a membership program that instructors can join, providing them access to marketing materials, a website builder and adds them to a class locator online, among other tools and perks.

"Everyone in the marketing department has to wear both hats, the B2B marketing and B2C marketing. That can be tough to balance between the two," Miller said.

With the company's annual Instructor Convention coming up, the marketing team decided to take some B2C flair and apply it to the B2B sphere by inserting a custom video into the convention's email launch. However, the team wanted to be careful about implementing the technology.

"I thought it was really cool, but it was kind of untested and really requires the right opportunity to use the technology like that, with the right payoff and right assets," he said.


To debut the personalized video within Zumba's email program, the launch email of the annual Instructor Convention was chosen.

"This was the actual launch of the convention registration being open," Miller said, adding that only a few save-the-date type emails had gone out prior to previous years' registrants and certain segments.

This message was sent the morning that registration went live, and led off the event marketing. The video was comprised of footage of previous years at the event, and personally invited the recipient to attend.

Step #1. Utilize content assets in the email

When the team started discussing strategy, and what the marketing concept of the Instructor Convention would be, the idea of personalized video came up as a way to grab the attention of instructors to the event.

"It really presented itself as the perfect opportunity, because this year, we brought the convention theme back to the fact that this is the event you have to be a part of to take your Zumba career to the next level," he said.

Personalized video was a way the team could quickly convey in the email that the event was on that next level, Miller said, as well as "in all of the marketing, we wanted to immerse people in that experience before they even get there."

Zuma had a lot of compelling video assets from prior years, Miller added, and coincidentally, the team had already started working on a promo reel that was going to be used to advertise the event on the landing page and registration page.

This process showed them how valuable the video content they already had was.

"As we were going through, and I was taking a look at records and what [had been] done previously. It was a great opportunity for where we can take video, which is always super engaging with our users," Miller said.

After deciding that the event launch email could be a good opportunity to run a test with the technology to see how people responded to the video, Miller had the video team send over the footage they had. The team then went over some of the elements that could be personalized and walked through what the video could look like.

"I already had some ideas of how it might work and where we might introduce some personalized elements," he said, adding that it was important to start "with a bang so that people really get the idea that this was personalized just for them."

Miller spoke with the creative team that designed the badges and collateral elements that coordinate with the event.

"We thought it would be really cool to take the artwork and make a mock-up of what this year's badge would look like, and do a personalized theme where it has the name already printed on the badge as if that's their badge and it's there waiting for them," he said.

It was less organized than the typical process, Miller said, since the team was working on an abridged timeline, but the team put together a quick compilation of all the scenes and achieved basic approvals to use the footage.

He added it was a personalized moment for the recipients where they could picture themselves already at the convention, and "it kind of worked out as the perfect opportunity."

Two days after starting the project, they had the final cut of the video ready for the personalized elements to be added in.

"It came together much more quickly than a lot of the other initiatives that we worked on, but it was the kind of thing where everybody was really excited to be a part of it because it was something new and something most of us hadn't seen or worked with before. So it was easy to get everybody on board in a hurry," he said.

Step #2. Develop an email template around the video

Once the video was compiled, the team had already developed some templates for what the actual email communication was going to look like.

The initial subject line the team had created was lengthier, Miller said, and read "2014 Orlando Convention registration is open." However, the team wanted to try something different for this send, and went with an "almost uncomfortably short" subject line: [Recipient name], your Convention video."

Zumba has a large mobile open rate, so all of its sends are responsive, he added, and the team has nearly 15 different models they can utilize.

"We tweak it a little bit when it's centered around big events to brand it more with the event look and feel than our typical brand look and feel. It wasn't drastically different, just templated for a big hero space at the top, which we used to load in the video," he said.

The Convention launch email had a banner at the top with the Instructor's Convention logo, and also included quick links to the schedule and sessions. Directly below that was the video, where the recipient could see their name displayed in a still image.

Clicking to watch the video led the recipient to the Convention landing page, where the video automatically started playing. Below the video was the price, and how much longer they had to take advantage of that pricing.

A letter in the email greeted the instructor, reiterated the pricing information, and encouraged people to "Customize your schedule before sessions fill up!" and led people to the registration page.

Step #3. Test the email's elements

The team ran a multivariate test to see if the personalized video and message would achieve a lift against a control email.

The list was split with 90% receiving the personalized message and 10% receiving the control. The test was a multivariate because the subject line had to be altered slightly since the control didn't feature the personalized video, Miller said.

The results the test was able to achieve, to verify the team's move into personalized video for the Conference, were:

Personalized message
  • Open rate: 40%

  • Clickthrough rate: 21%

Control message
  • Open rate: 31%

  • Clickthrough rate: 5.4%

"It was pretty drastic," Miller said about the results, adding that "one of the big things was our click-to-open for the personalized video was over 50%. In terms of promotional messaging, that’s the best click-to-open rate we've ever had."


"I think we really found a good opportunity to utilize the technology. I think it's still the kind of thing that you have to be smart and use it in the right way," Miller said.

He believes that personalization can become "kind of hokey if you're overusing it. But if you have the right event or the right product, and you can kind of combine great video footage with that personalized aspect, I think it's an awesome opportunity."

The metrics the campaign was able to achieve include:
  • The highest click-to-open rate for any Zumba Fitness promotional email at 50%

  • An average of more than nine minutes on the video landing page

  • Users with more than 700 views of their video

The sharing element that the videos created was unexpected, but welcomed, with "some users that had … 700 to 800 views of their video. Obviously, it wasn't them watching it over and over again, but it shows how well it was received, that [users] were sharing it so much that they were getting nearly 1,000 views," he said.

The anecdotal results were just as stunning to Miller, with people posting screenshots of their videos to social media and discussing the conference.

One instructor posted the link to Facebook with the caption, "Was not planning to attend the Zumba Instructor Convention this year (just not in the budget). However, when they email out a personalized video … geez, how to resist?"

"That was fun to see, people that were posting it online and talking about it, changing their mind about whether they wanted to go to this event. There's no better feedback for the work you do," Miller said.

Other fans posted portions of the video to Instagram with comments such as, "Just … I mean JUST as I was laying here debating & thinking I WASN'T going to go to the convention this year, I got an email with my name in it! Lol. #SmartMarketing #Zumba #2014ZINConvention #MightGo."

"People were so excited about it that they were taking to social media with it," Miller said, adding that some of the social media even spilled over and was seen by the control group.

"Fortunately and unfortunately, it spilled over into the control group and they see what other people received. It's rare that you're ever upset that you didn't get to see some marketing message from a company. I think it means we were doing something right," he concluded.

Creative Samples

  1. Convention launch email

  2. Facebook post

  3. Instagram post


Zumba Fitness

RUKUS — Personalized video provider

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