To kick off our new Marketer Spotlight Series, PebblePost’s Sydney Russell chatted with Ellen Bartolino, Growth Marketing Manager at Equinox Media, which provides access to a collective of fitness brands like Equinox, SoulCycle, [solidcore], and more through Equinox+. Ellen is an experienced marketer and, prior to Equinox Media, worked at The Kepler Group and HubSpot. She studied advertising at Boston University.
Continue reading to learn more about Ellen, her marketing career and experience, how Equinox Media has adapted over the last year, and how they decided to incorporate Programmatic Direct Mail® into their marketing mix.
Tell Us About Your Career Path. How Did You End Up at Equinox Media?
I started on the agency side in programmatic advertising, and over time, I shifted into more of a marketing strategy role. I worked across a handful of different brands ranging from Sling TV to PayPal and The New York Times. I was really interested in the strategic projects I was working on but was ready to shift my focus to one brand of my choice that aligned with my personal passions.
As a foodie and health and wellness enthusiast, I was extremely excited about how Equinox Media was shaping the fitness industry of the future with its Equinox+ brand. I used the product and believed in it, and applied for an open growth role the first day I saw it.
What Are Your Goals in Your Career, and What Keeps You Up at Night?
I’m still trying to nail down my lifelong career goals, but I know for certain that I want to be able to look back and feel like I made an impact — on a brand, a product, a team, or an entire industry.
As far as what keeps me up at night — truthfully not much as I’m a great sleeper (humble brag). But I do often feel as though there are simply not enough hours in the day. There is always more to do on a small growth team at a high-octane company that’s working to truly shape the future of the fitness industry. The more creative we develop, audiences we target, strategic tests we run, the faster we can learn and continue to improve.
Let’s Talk About Equinox Media. Who is Your Target Audience, and What's the Unique Value Your Brand Provides?
Equinox Media was formed with the aim of developing transformative technologies, media, and experiences that power your pursuit — wherever you are, whenever you’re ready. In March 2020, Equinox Media —in partnership with Equinox, the high-performance lifestyle leader — debuted Equinox+, a first-of-its-kind platform powering two products: the Equinox+ mobile app and the SoulCycle at-home bike.
- Where digital meets physical: Equinox+ is the world’s first-ever truly digital-meets-physical experience — meeting you wherever you are — at home, in Equinox clubs, at partner studios, and beyond.
- The unrivaled collective powering your pursuit: Equinox+ is the only app that gives you unlimited access to the unrivaled collective: Equinox, SoulCycle, Precision Run, PURE Yoga, HeadStrong, Rumble, TB12—and now, [solidcore].
- An experience that moves you: With immersive live and on-demand classes and enhanced community features, Equinox+ transports you to the front row of the studio—or brings the community to you—wherever you are. Equinox+ combines the magnetic energy of instructors with cinematic production, live class interactions—and delivers an entirely new experience that’s redefining the pursuit of well-being.
What Marketing Channels Have Worked Well for Equinox Media and What Are Some that Need Improving?
As a developing company, we are still learning what works and what doesn’t as it relates to paid marketing efforts. We have advertised on various channels and are constantly iterating our creative to see what sticks and is resonating best with our target audience. We anticipate continuing to do this in our quest to meet consumers where they are with highly engaging content.
How Has Your Industry, Brand, Or Marketing Mix Adjusted to the New Normal?
At Equinox Media, we’ve always believed that the future of fitness is a hybrid of digital and in-person experiences. We know from listening to our communities that Equinox+ is something our members and consumers have been wanting and asking for.
The pandemic has created a forced trial of digital fitness and expedited a shift in consumer behavior. Yet, we know that our consumers still crave in-real-life experiences, so the Equinox+ membership is grounded in the understanding that members want the flexibility to pursue fitness on their own terms, and it is uniquely positioned to deliver this hybrid of digital and in-person experiences.
Since launching Equinox+ in March 2020, Equinox members who visit both the Equinox Club and use the Equinox+ app are engaging 70% more than those using the club or app alone (Source: Equinox Media + Equinox member data, February 2021).
What Are Your Thoughts on the Traditional Direct Mail Channel? How Has it Evolved?
Speaking as a consumer rather than a marketer, I look through every single piece of mail I get. I love physically opening the envelopes and flipping through the magazines and mail advertisements—maybe it’s the marketer in me or maybe it’s the same way some people prefer to read the Sunday paper in print rather than convert to the digital version.
As a marketer, I think there’s something unique about being able to reach people in their homes as they’re going through their mail, which is very personal. And while direct mail advertising is definitely less trackable than its digital counterparts, companies like PebblePost have really paved the way to allow brands to measure success in an otherwise offline channel. We’re able to segment audiences, run A/B creative tests, and get granular with our reporting to understand what’s working and what’s not.
How Did You First Hear About PebblePost?
Our Director of Growth had worked with PebblePost before and had a positive experience. He felt PebblePost was a nimble and tech-forward provider in the Digital To Direct Mail space.
What Prompted You and Your Team to First Test Programmatic Direct Mail?
There are a few reasons that contributed to our decision to launch direct mail in November 2020. As a nascent brand, we feel it’s essential that we test various channels that allow us to expand our reach and fuel awareness.
Direct mail is one medium that provides a unique touchpoint where different information and imagery can be presented to a user to aid in their consideration phase, which is largely why we were attracted to it.
Thank you to Ellen for taking the time to answer these questions! If you have any other questions about Programmatic Direct Mail or how you can add it to your marketing mix, reach out to us at email@example.com or submit this contact form.