CPAP wakes up to SEM

CPAP Supply USA, which sells products for people with sleep apnea, is just over a year old. But the Richmond, VA-based company understands the importance of search engine marketing (SEM). In two months, CPAP Supply more than doubled its online sales without increasing its budget, while a subsequent investment of $13,000 in online advertising brought a return of more than 300%.

Launched in October 2004, CPAP Supply sells medical equipment and supplies for sleep apnea to both small independent dealers wanting to pass along better prices to customers and to consumers with high deductibles or no insurance or those wanting a secondary continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. Its sales in 2004 were $490,000.

CPAP Supply president Jeff Burgess spearheaded its initial endeavor into paid placement but arrived at only decent results. So Burgess turned to search engine marketing and optimization firm MoreVisibility. Since starting with Boca Raton, FL-based MoreVisibility in late March/early April, CPAP Supply has seen a nearly 150% increase in sales — as of press time, it was expecting to hit $1.4 million in sales for 2005.

MoreVisibility’s plan for CPAP Supply included analysis into where visitors were going on the Website, how they came to the site, and conversion patterns. From there, MoreVisibility tied back the analysis to CPAP Supply’s return on investment to help determine the company’s bidding threshold on keywords, paid-inclusion listings, and paid-placement listings. Paid-inclusion listings ensure that a Website is included as part of the natural search results but do not guarantee positioning; paid-placement listings ensure a high ranking on search results, most often in a section on the page segregated from the organic results.

Paid-placement listings with Google AdWords and Overture make up the significant portion of CPAP’s online marketing, accounting for about $7,000. Paid-inclusion listings such as those with Yahoo! Search Marketing accounted for the remaining $6,000.

In addition, MoreVisibility tested the advertising copy in the CPAP Supply campaign to determine how click-through and conversion rates stacked up. It found that using the search-specific keyword in both the headline and the copy of the ad achieved double-digit clickthrough rates and higher overall conversions than using the search-specific keyword in the copy only.

Danielle Leitch, MoreVisibility’s vice president of marketing, found that bidding for specific keywords such as “CPAP machine” and “CPAP supplies” garnered the best response. CPAP Supply typically ranks in the top two paid-placement positions for its keywords for 21-22 hours each day and consistently on the first page of paid-inclusion results.

MoreVisibility also helped CPAP Supply improve its shopping cart and gave the site a crisper look and new layout this past summer. The Website now links with CPAP Supply’s inventory database, which enables quick and easy updates.

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