DMNews talks with Kenneth Nippes, director of integrated media, BrandBuzz

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BrandBuzz director of integrated media Kenneth Nippes worked with Town Sports International to push a new online trial gym membership offer. The campaign saw success by using search engine marketing.

Q: When did Town Sports International (owner of the New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington Sports Clubs) begin e-commerce?
A: About a year ago, Town Sports introduced a Web-only offer of a free two-week trial for $19.99 at its 146 gyms as its first foray into e-commerce. In general, gyms' Web sites aren't transactional because so many of them are franchises with geographically dispersed locations. To promote the offer, Town Sports stepped up its search engine mar­keting, via Google.

Q: What had the company done previous to this?
A: Its SEM efforts had been confined to trying to build brand awareness. There are a lot of different oppor­tunities for different gym-related keywords. The brand messaging continued at the same time that new messaging about the two-week trial was added to the campaign.

Q: Why offer a trial online?
A: We learned from research that 20% of online customers are looking for exercise and fitness information, and that 71% of people interested in learning more about weight loss turn to the Web. It made logical sense for us to serve those people, who are already on the Internet looking for this information, with a relevant message.

Q: How is the campaign working?
A: In one month last year, the search campaign produced as many as 50,000 clicks and 1,243 conversions. On average, the conversion rate is 2.5% and the ROI is 700%. More leads were converted by this campaign than we ever expected, so it will continue as is.

Q: To what do you attribute the campaign's success?
A: More and more people are using Google search all the time. People want to transact online and the more opportunities you can give people to do things on their schedule, the better. We have seen some differences in the results between regions. For example, in New York, where the brand is well known, ads specifically speaking about the two-week trial drove the most conversions. In some of the other markets, where Town Sports' clubs aren't as recognized, it was the brand-oriented ads that were the most successful.


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