Case Study: YMCA


The Valley of the Sun YMCA is one of the oldest nonprofits in Arizona, serving more than 100,000 families in 18 communities The values-based organization promotes health and wellness, youth development and family programs that build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all.


The economic downturn of 2008 led to a steep decline in revenue and donations. The organization needed to reintroduce itself and its benefits to the community.

The YMCA’s old website was cumbersome to use and discouraged users from signing up online; only a few customers would take the time to call or come in to sign up for classes and events. The registration process needed to be streamlined.


Increase membership rates and foot traffic to the local branches.


Through BIG YAM’s research efforts, we discovered that moms are not only the decision makers of gym memberships, but they are also looking for a place to take their children to participate in constructive activities. This audience was not a main focus for the brand in the past.


BIG YAM created the Unplug. Reconnect. campaign to communicate the YMCA’s solutions to the problems that moms and families were facing in the areas of health and development. Through an integrated marketing effort, BIG YAM drove users to a completely revamped e-commerce website, The user flow of the registration process was completely rethought. The backend system for managing the classes and registration was truly cumbersome and the old website followed the same process requiring users to click 17 or more times to register for a class. The search for the class/event feature of the website was changed to allow for dynamic filtering based on age, activity type and time of day. The user was presented a list of all classes matching their search requirement and from that page they could read a detailed listing of the class or they could register directly from the search results page. The average user was now able to register for a class in just as little as three clicks. BIG YAM worked with Christian Computer Consulting (CCC), one of the largest providers of YMCA management software, to integrate the site with real-time access to classes and registration.


Print, outdoor, online video, digital display, radio, social media, retargeting, paid and organic search, and a new e-commerce website.


In September 2014, at the time of the site launch, digital media garnered 5.3M media impressions, driving 48K visits from 32K users and in-store registration and walk-in traffic increased by 42%.

A side benefit was that the YMCA support staff was now about to find class information faster than using the old CCC system.