Archive for December, 2022

Official Press Release – Major opportunities remain for the sport and leisure sector to embrace digital to get people active, finds ukactive Digital Futures 2022 Report.

Posted by Gemma Bonska

Headline findings:

> 82% of leisure operators say their online web presence could be improved, with 4 in 10 (40%) not as effective on social media as they could be

> Less than a quarter (24%) maintain and use a customer database and 42% of operators do not have a digital strategy

> Digital Futures 2022 report finds that major opportunities remain for sport and leisure sector to embrace digital to get people active

> Platforms like the free the Digital Marketing Hub can help upskill the sector, supporting organisations to develop digital skills and strategies to support their growth

Last week ukactive published ‘Digital Futures 2022’, following on from the inaugural report of 2021.  It shed a spotlight on the digital marketing knowledge gaps, as well as the opportunities for digital growth within the health and fitness sector.

Almost 67% of the world’s total population now uses some form of mobile phone, with smartphones accounting for almost four in five handsets (Data Reportal 2022 Digital July Global Statshot). The number of internet users is up 3.7% in the past year, reaching 5.03 billion. Social media use grew by 222 million over the same period, reaching 4.7 billion, equivalent to more than half 59% of the world’s population (Data Reportal 2022 Digital July Global Statshot).

Research found that 91% of operators believe they possess ‘essential’ digital skills within their organisation, but this isn’t automatically translating into positive outcomes. 82% say their web presence could be improved; 40% aren’t as effective on social media as they could be; and only 28% monitor and invest in search engine optimisation. 

Understanding customers is another opportunity for improvement, according to the Digital Futures 2022 report: just over half (52%) of operators say they know about the needs and expectations of their existing customers, and only 24% actively maintain and use a customer database. Just 15% of respondents have knowledge about the needs and expectations of their target customers, which is likely to be holding them back from engaging new audiences.

42% of operators do not have a digital strategy, and only 15% have a strategy that is ambitious, up to date and complete with a roadmap for delivery. 85% also believe that their current software systems are holding them back from harnessing the potential of digital. 

The Digital Futures 2022 report, which can be downloaded here, is packed with research and data highlighting where the sector can improve in its adoption of digital, by the use of technology and data to meet raised consumer expectations, to improve participation and business outcomes . The report’s forewords, delivered by Robin Knowles, Founder and CEO of Digital Leaders and Adam Freeman-Pask, Head of Digital Innovation Sport England, provide a clear summary of the missing pieces and challenges that the industry faces as a whole. 

The key takeaways of Digital Futures 2022 reinforce the need for the resources of the Digital Marketing Hub in providing free, easy-to-access and comprehensive content to embrace opportunities in digital growth, of the respondents to the digital maturity tool used in Digital Futures report:

91% say digital helps increase participation

88% say digital helps increase retention 

88% say digital helps to make a positive social impact

66% say their use of digital supports the sector as a whole 

60% say digital will play a critical or central role in their future 

The Digital Marketing Hub is a free resource delivered by CIMSPA, supported by Sport England and funded by the National Lottery. Following a successful first year the Digital Marketing Hub is continuing its partnership with Google and the Digital Marketing Institute, and growing its influence across the sport and physical activity landscape. The platform is now available as an app and continues to expand the range of content and support available. 

The latest development is the introduction of the Digital Marketing Hub Gold Accelerator Programme providing cohorts of learners with trainer-led sessions, mentoring and guidance from entrepreneurs. The aim of this programme is to help individuals bring their digital marketing strategy to life.

Ali Donnelly, Executive Director of Sport England says: 

“When we started exploring digital marketing across sport and physical activity, we found that 63% of respondents to research by the Digital Marketing Institute in 2021 didn’t have a clear plan to attract new audiences through their digital channels – even though 81% of respondents said that attracting new participants was very or extremely important.”

“This evidence was compelling enough to create the Digital Marketing Hub, to help us close the skills gap so that the sector could emerge in an even stronger place than it was prior to Covid-19.”

To find out more about The Digital Marketing Hub visit

To register for the Digital Marketing Hub visit