Martial Arts School Enrollment Increases 40%


  • Traditional advertising stopped working
  • Moved to a full online marketing strategy
  • Marketing budget decreased while student enrollment increased
  • Business grows by 40%

The Customer: Elite Taekwondo

Elite Taekwondo is a martial arts studio located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Master Steve Bartley opened the facility in 1997 with a strong focus on programs for families, kids, and individuals of all ages and abilities. Started in 1997, Elite Taekwondo has been providing a premium martial arts offering to families and individuals alike. With 6 employees, Elite now serves close to 250 students in the local area. Elite provides quality instruction by highly ranked instructors, flexible class times, and competitive pricing. The schools emphasis is on developing self- improvement, self-confidence, self-discipline, and respect.

Problem: Traditional advertising stopped working

Elite Taekwondo has always been very aggressive in marketing their business. Traditionally, Elite has used portable signage, print advertisements in local weekly newspapers, and YellowPages® advertising. While this form of advertising worked well in the late 90’s and the early years of the millennium, the return on this sort of advertising investment has diminished over the years. Despite having a website since 2001, the majority of Elite Taekwondo’s marketing budget went towards offline marketing efforts. Fewer new students were being attracted to Elite’s programs using traditional advertising. Something needed to be done to not only replace students that left the program for whatever reason but to also grow the overall total number of students that would call Elite their martial arts home. Like many small businesses, Elite was reluctant to discontinue marketing campaigns that had worked well in the past in order to try something new. However the ROI on his marketing spend needed to increase.

Solution: Marketing Automation to drive online strategy

Elite Taekwondo has had a website since 2001 and it saw a few revisions and updates over the years. It provided them with on online presence however it was not optimized well in search engines for potential students to find them. In 2009, Elite Taekwondo integrated ActiveDEMAND to phase in an online marketing strategy. There were three main parts to the marketing campaign:

Part 1: Attraction

Elite needed a way to attract people to their martial arts school. The main tool to attract people would be the Elite Taekwondo website which meant there needed to be a strategy in place to drive the right audience to the website. There were three main ways traffic would be driven to Elite’s website: Search Engine Optimization SEO: The site would be programmed to comply with the latest SEO techniques to ensure it would be found by the major search engines including Google, Bing and Yahoo. The SEO is a long-term strategy with payoffs starting after about six months of the new website being launched. Pay-Per-Click Advertising: Once the new website was live, Per-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising with Google, Bing and Facebook was set-up. PPC would enable Elite to be found in the search engines immediately however every time someone would click on their online ad it would cost money. A budget of $200 a month as allocated for PPC. Local Listings Placements: Elite’s business and website information was submitted to select third party websites to help build their online presence. Visitors to these third party websites would find links to Elite’s website and then visit the site.

Part 2: Convert

The second part of the online marketing strategy dealt with conversion. With a well optimized website so people could find Elite within search engines, PPC advertising driving people to the website, and third party links pushing traffic to the site, Elite Taekwondo significantly increased the number of new online visitors. Now that Elite has website traffic, there needed to be a way for them to “convert”. In other words, the website visitors needed to become students of Elite Taekwondo. Elite decided to use the “Free week trial” value offer as the tool to convert visitors into students. Throughout the website, visitors were presented with the option to complete a simple online form and receive a coupon for a free week of classes. Those that completed the form were sent the coupon to their email along with an encouraging note and details on how to redeem their coupon. At the same time, Elite’s administrative assistant would be notified of the requested coupon and schedule a phone call to the prospect encouraging them to visit the gym.

Part 3: Retain

The final stage focused on retaining students. It costs significantly more to obtain new students that it does to retain existing ones. The retention strategy involved communicating with students on a regular basis. Elite had already been publishing a monthly newsletter and so this tradition continued. Every month students would receive motivational articles, news and upcoming events to their email. Students were also asked to provide reviews on third party websites to encourage others to try out Elite’s martial arts programs.

Results: Business grew by an incredible 40%

Unlike traditional offline marketing initiatives, ActiveDEMAND enables online efforts to be tracked and managed. Some metrics tracked included daily website visitors, referring sources of website visitors, page views, keywords used to find the website, PPC advertisement impressions and click throughs, “Free trial” conversions, email open and click through rates and a lot more. Over a six month period, an enormous amount of data was collected. ActiveDEMAND was able to collect all of the online data and provides the tools to interpret what was working, what wasn’t working and what needed tweaking. Using a variety of reporting tools and algorithms, which enabled continuous improvement. Overall, Elite’s website visits saw an increase of 112% in unique visitors. Call-to-action conversions increased by a whopping 500% and Elite is now one of the largest Taekwondo studios in South Edmonton. The most significant metric though was the 40% increase in new students. With the online marketing strategy, Elite grew over 70 members which equates to an additional $85,000 of gross annual revenue. Elite Taekwondo was please with the success of the online marketing campaign. As a result, Elite reallocated its offline marketing spend to online advertising and increased their PPC campaigns.

About Elite Taekwondo

Elite Taekwondo is located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and was established in 1997. Opening its door with seven students, the membership has grown to over 250 active adults and children. Owner Master Steve Bartley and his awesome instructor team teach all classes. The school’s emphasis is more than self-defense; it is self-improvement. The development of self-confidence, self-discipline, and respect, enables students to resolve and avoid confrontation. In addition to scheduled training programs, Elite regularly holds special training sessions, open workouts, extra help opportunities and social events. Children love the sleepovers, movie nights and summer camps. Opportunities to attend and participate in tournaments are provided regularly. Elite holds several inter-school tournaments and attends many local and national competitions. Their 2700 sq. foot facility includes a 1700 sq. foot Dojang (training room) and a separate waiting area room, as well as bathroom facilities, and changing rooms. Visitors and parents are always welcome in the spacious lobby to observe the classes. All of this combines to make Elite Taekwondo in Edmonton, Western Canada’s leader in fitness, self-defense, and self-improvement. Visit Elite online at