November 13, 2007, 12:00 AM

Social network pumps up average order and conversion

Bodybuilding.com did not take a wait-and-see approach to social networking. It dove in a little over a year ago with BodySpace, amassing 117,000 active users since, and now is reporting positive results: increases in average order and conversion.

More e-retailers are checking out social networking as a way to enhance their site experience, improve brand awareness, increase traffic and, ultimately, boost sales. At Bodybuilding.com, customers are checking out each other via the health and fitness merchant’s social network, BodySpace, where users can post photos of themselves, describe their workout goals and blog about their progress.

Bodybuilding.com did not take a wait-and-see approach to social networking. It dove in a little over a year ago with BodySpace, amassing 117,000 active users since, and now is reporting positive results.

“There is no doubt our community and social networking offerings are making a big difference for sales and conversion,” says Ryan DeLuca, CEO. “Since we added BodySpace, our average order size is up nearly $10 to $92.41, and our conversion rate is 8%, up from 7% a year ago. That one percentage point is huge.”

In addition to BodySpace, Bodybuilding.com offers 20,000 pages of content from experts and consumers, an online forum where more than 800,000 fitness buffs have posted 19 million messages over the past five years (making it the 34th biggest online forum on the web as measured by forum tracker Big Boards), 24 educational online video series, and functionality that enables a user to create his own blog.

Bodybuilding.com LLC, No. 152 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, reached sales of $65 million in 2006. Based in part on enthusiasm for the site’s social and community features, DeLuca is projecting $90 million in sales this year and $122 million next year.

“We are building something that is not just based on making money,” he adds. “Everything we add to our site is based on helping visitors reach their goals. Helping our visitors stick to their programs and reach their goals will ultimately lead to much higher revenue, a much more valuable brand based on emotional connections, and more profitability based on increased customer loyalty.”

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