Where do Triathletes, thrill seekers and endurance athletes go when they need an understanding ear?
It all started with a simple need. One day back in 2007, Coaches Rich Strauss and Patrick McCrann realized there was no real online community to support the unique niche of people they trained – endurance athletes. That’s right – endurance athletes – those superhumans we all wish we could be; challenge-driven powerhouses who train for marathons, Ironman® triathlons, cyclocross races and any epic adventure they can dream up
As dedicated as their clients, Rich and Patrick delivered for their niche above and beyond the call, and their mission has remained the same for 10 years – to support, educate, and advise their members to be the best self-coached athletes they can be given the time constraints of life, work and family.
The Challenge: Keeping Up With People Who Move
“Vanilla Forums are much more intuitive for our members. The way you can connect and how people can check into the forum; it’s great for us. Life before Vanilla meant waiting for forum activity in the early morning and late evening, or on the weekends, but now we have a much broader distribution because people are accessing our community, throughout the entire day.”
– Patrick McCrann, Founder of Endurance Nation
When Rich and Patrick got started in 2007, the online playing field was different. Everyone accessed websites and forums through their desktops. Now over 70% of online viewing happens via mobile making it an indispensable channel – particularly when marketing to an audience that doesn’t like to sit still.
Unfortunately, the company quickly began to realize that their older platform didn’t provide great user experience on mobile devices. The interface was lacking, and not only that; it even lacked simple functionality such as supporting videos. The platform itself (DNN with Active Forums) required a lot of time and resources to maintain. This distraction took their focus off building their business and more importantly, building relationships with their membership. What’s more, when things broke in their platform, they were left to fix it themselves.
“ Vanilla Forums allows us to focus on building relationships with our members instead of fighting fires. This has helped us increase our customer retention and reduce churn. We now keep our customers’ attention on our site and brand. ”
Patrick McCrann, Founder of Endurance Nation
Exacerbating the poor experience of both the Team and their community members, they found that many members left their forum altogether, choosing to interact with each other on Facebook and other social media channels instead, damaging their brand value. Frustrated, the team at Endurance Nation knew they must find ways to modernize their forum platform, and provide a better user experience for members on the go.
The Hunt For A Forum That Would Outrun Them All
In their search for the right forum vendor, the Endurance Nation team had three main criteria:
- Great customer service and lightning-fast responsiveness
- Modern forum platform that is always on the cutting edge
- Intuitive, streamlined interface that provides great user experience for their energetic members
They also had a few fires to put out. Endurance Nation’s old forum had 10 years of data that needed to be moved. Talk about heavy lifting!
Vanilla Forums answered the call, and then some..
Using Vanilla’s Hosted platform, Endurance Nation eliminated the need for a part-time developer focused solely on fixing things, replacing that variable “monthly surprise” with the predictable fixed cost of Vanilla’s monthly subscription. And thanks to Vanilla’s solid experience with large migrations, Endurance Nation staff was able to move forward without being held back, having the last 10 years migrated easily without any loss of data.
Together, Vanilla and Endurance Nation Win the Prize Purse
Not only was Patrick McCrann able to refocus his energy on nurturing the growth of Endurance Nation, but he could now spend his day building relationships instead of putting out fires. As a result, he identified the top 20% of his membership: his most passionate and engaged fans. Any community manager will tell you, knowing your brand champions is worth its weight in Olympic gold.
The stats speak for themselves:
- Community participation rates increased by 15%
- Time on site increased to 20 minutes per visit
- Facebook exits reduced by 27%
- Website visits up by 15%
As user experience improved on the new platform, members were able to find existing discussions quickly with it’s enhanced, intuitive search functionality. Members began to interact with each other seamlessly across all platforms, including mobile. As word of these forum improvements spread, website visits shot up, directly attributed to better SEO and people coming back at multiple times during the day instead of just once.
And all of this was performed after a seamless migration process, transferring 10 years of old forum data into the new platform, all without losing a split second on the clock.
Not a bad way to finish the race…with a new personal best. So what’s your training strategy?