March 30, 2006, 12:00 AM

Targeted PPC search and a site redesign boost conversions at Smoothfitness refines on-site creative and classifies searchers finding the site under different terms as researchers, shoppers or purchasers. Delivering them to the right pages on the site was a factor in tripling conversions.

Exercise equipment site tripled its online conversion rate in a two-step process that included altering its paid search copy and a recent redesign of its web site, Kevin French, director of marketing, tells Internet Retailer.

Prior to those changes, the site, which specializes in exercise treadmills, used standard creative across all its PPC search ad copy, with the only differentiation being the product the ad was promoting. “If someone typed in ‘treadmill,’ they’d get an ad that said, ‘Buy a Smoothfitness treadmill.’ If someone typed in ‘elliptical,’ they’d get an ad that said, ‘Buy a Smoothfitness elliptical,’” says French.

Then Smoothfitness decided to focus on trying to understand what phase of the buying cycle the searcher was in when doing the search – research, shopping or purchase -- as suggested by what keywords they used in their search, and then delivering them to the appropriate page on the site.

“If they search for ‘cardio equipment,’ we assume they are in the research stage. They don’t have a specific brand or model or specifications in mind,” says French. In that case, Smoothfitness now delivers searchers who find the site through such general terms to its general treadmill page, which shows an overview of its entire treadmill line. By contrast, if the searcher came to the site from a term such as “Smoothfitness treadmill,” that searcher is delivered to a page that shows only the relevant treadmills, rather than all treadmills available. “You see consumers being the closest to a purchase when they type in a brand name and usually, a model number associated with that,” says Smoothfitness COO Cliff Koraska.

French notes that while the web site redesign including new creative on the site contributed to the overall triple increase in conversions, altering its copy for paid search prior to the redesign delivered almost immediate benefits in the form of a reduction on PPC ad spending and increased purchases.

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