How SportPursuit boosted sales by 50% in 2020

Two people hiking near mountains.
How SportPursuit boosted sales by 50% in 2020
Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

SportPursuit is an online retailer of sporting products operating in the UK and across Europe. It offers a broad range of sporting goods and outdoor brands, including apparel, footwear, equipment and nutrition — for cycling, hiking, running, skiing, snow sports, swimming and tennis.


“Our big thing is personalisation,” reports Andrew Bell, SportPursuit’s head of CRM. “We send a lot of emails because we have so much new merchandise on-site on a daily basis, and we have a lot to talk about.”

SportPursuit offers exclusive sale events for members each day, where they can get up to 80% off premium sporting brands. Most deals only last one week and at the end of the sale period, SportPursuit purchases inventory from its suppliers and ships it to customers. This model enables the online retailer to deliver unbeatable value to customers. Plus, while the pandemic significantly impacted brick-and-mortar retailers, SportPursuit was well-positioned to support the increased demand for outdoor activities.

Email communication is the key way SportPursuit connects with customers to inform them of deals. Bell says: “We don’t want people to miss out on the best deals because the best offers sell out fast. We have a savvy customer base who knows a good deal when they see one — and snap stuff up quickly.”

To regularly be in touch with the latest offers, the typical customer receives at least one email per day, while some customers can receive up to two. “With that sort of frequency, if you’re not staying relevant, you’re going to suffer,” Bell explains.


To achieve its goals, SportPursuit has been using Acoustic Campaign, which enables it to build, run and measure the results of highly targeted campaigns without inefficient manual processes.

Bell comments: “We’re constantly testing, from a macro-level to the subject line. Everything we’ve seen points to increased personalisation leading to better conversion. Our emails are highly personalised based on user behaviour. We want to present members with products relevant to them, in their size and following their sport interests. Our browse abandon retargeting emails are some of our highest performing sends. We base them on the products customers have viewed in the last week — that we think they’re most likely to convert on — and build out an email campaign for that user with related products.”

SportPursuit uses the Programs features of Campaign to help with lifecycle management and run automated campaigns that are triggered by customer actions. “The way it’s set up allows us to use machine learning models and complex algorithms to build out personalised customer content,” adds Bell.

“We utilise the relation table and child relation table features in Campaign to do this — which enables us to very efficiently deliver as much personalisation as we need, from basic segmentation to true one-to-one personalisation where you’re building all of the content within that email for the individual.” Daily one size fits all emails would soon be blocked; truly personalised emails are engaging and generate sales.

Challenges involved with implementation and how these were overcome:

As its personalisation has become more precise, SportPursuit sees even more opportunities to improve Campaign and has sent that feedback to Acoustic.

Bell says: “We’ve seen developments for Campaign come through, things we’ve asked for that help personalisation efforts like the child relation tables. Campaign can deliver high-level personalised campaigns for us in a reliable way, which we really like. We can plug in complex automation and algorithms, and it utilises that data. We find it really consistent for getting personalised campaigns built and in front of the customers quickly and efficiently.”

And that means delivering 45 million emails per month, across over 150 distinct campaigns, built and sent by a team of just three people.

Campaign not only helps with more precise targeting, but also with the efficient delivery of those messages. “The relation tables are fantastic, enabling us to do the personalisation efficiently,” notes Bell. “We have been automating some of the more repetitive tasks to allow us to focus on other things. You can build a relatively complex, segmented email, and deliver it to customers in minutes in some cases. The way we use Campaign enables us to operate really efficiently.”


While sales are made through the SportPursuit website, 85% of revenue comes from members who have subscribed to its marketing emails.

Sales were up 50% in 2020, due both to the pandemic demand and the increasingly personalised email campaigns. Bell explains: “We’ve been increasing revenue from long-time members in the past year, which goes against the grain for what you normally see, but we’ve been able to grow long-term engagement from our members. We lean on Campaign a lot for that.”

SportPursuit also has remarkably high retention metrics among key customer groups, showing that customers appreciate the offers and personalisation. Even with a high volume of email, people want to stay on the distribution list.

“Being able to send A/B tests enables us to optimise our strategy for whatever we’re looking for, whether that’s reducing unsubscribes or getting clicks,” says Bell. “The ability to test in the platform is super easy for us.”

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