A pioneer in the social space, Golfsmith recognized very early on that their customers’ passion for all things golf was a contagious force. Since going live as our first client in 2005, the company has woven customer feedback into every aspect of their organization. This year Internet Retailer recognized Golfsmith on their Hot 100 E-Retailers list, calling the brand a “leader in shopper interaction” and noting their expert use of these interactions – Facebook, Twitter, customer reviews, customer Q&A – to drive sales.

What makes Golfsmith’s social efforts so successful? One word: measurement. Golfsmith measures the ROI of all of their social efforts on two scales: “hard impact” and “soft impact.”

Golfsmith measures every social effort’s “hard” and “soft” impact to determine ROI.

Soft impact

Golfsmith calls the non-monetary benefits of their social efforts “soft impact.” Number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers are soft impact metrics for the brand.

Golfsmith has over 56,000 fans on Facebook and over 2,600 followers on Twitter.

Positive brand association – Fans of the brand interact with each other through social media, sharing their tips, tales of great shots, etc. Golfsmith tracks impressions and interactions for every social media post. Social media offers Golfsmith a way to interact with customers one-on-one, engaging their passion for golf and building positive associations with the Golfsmith brand.

Customers interact with each other and the Golfsmith brand on the company’s Facebook page, sharing their love of golf and driving positive associations with Golfsmith.

Share of mind – the appearance of the Golfsmith logo on fans’ Facebook and Twitter feeds helps keep the brand top of mind for customers. The brand’s newly launched iPhone app gives Golfsmith another touch point with customers – mobile. The app includes customer reviews for in-store and mobile use, exclusive product video content shot by Golfsmith, a store locator, and even a mobile shopping portal.

Mobile customer reviews and product videos on Golfsmith’s iPhone app.

Hard impact

Hard impact metrics tie directly to Golfsmith’s bottom line. The key to driving hard impact through social efforts is to begin every social initiative with a business goal. “Reaching 1,000 Facebook Likes” should not be your end-goal. Determine the hard impact you’re after (increased sales, decreased costs, improved customer service, etc), and design your social efforts around that goal.

Increased sales – Golfsmith found that shoppers who select the “Top Rated” category on Golfsmith.com convert 49% higher than the average shopper. Additionally, shoppers who “sort by rating” have a 36% higher average order value than the site average, and shoppers who interact with customer Q&A have a 17% higher AOV.

Improved marketing – Golfsmith also leverages ratings and review content in their catalogue, email, search marketing, and in-store promotions. They saw a 42% increase in revenue per email for “Top Rated” product emails with ratings and review content.

Golfsmith saw a 42% increase in revenue per email for “Top Rated” product emails.

Additionally, Golfsmith leveraged their Facebook community to launch and grow their new “Deal of the Day” initiative. So far, feedback and growth has been overwhelmingly positive. Golfsmith is currently contemplating how to let the community decide on future deals and offer direction.

Golfsmith shares deals and coupons on their Facebook page, where fans can share immediate feedback.

Decreased customer service costs – improving customer service was a key goal of Golfsmith’s social efforts from the start. The brand responds to customer feedback on Facebook and Twitter to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Additionally, Golfsmith utilizes customer Q&A to answer customer questions directly on product pages. Other customers, Golfsmith reps, and even manufacturer reps answer shopper questions within the purchase path, giving shoppers the information they need to buy confidently. Golfsmith has seen a 67% reduction in customer service calls for products with three or more answered customer questions on Golfsmith.com.

Customers answer each other’s questions on Golfsmith.com to help shoppers find the right product for their specific needs. Click to enlarge.

The big takeaway for Golfsmith – measure, measure, measure. If your social efforts are working, figure out how to make them work harder. If they aren’t, fail fast and move on. It’s more than ok – even encouraged – to experiment in the social sphere. Make sure that you’re testing your social efforts for both hard and soft impact to prove real social ROI.

How to keep customers engaged – and buying.

Communities should garner real results – and not just increased site traffic or number of fans. John Lazarchic, VP of E-commerce for PETCO shares key differences between communities that impact business-driving metrics and those that don’t in this free webinar.

5 Responses to “Hard and soft impact: how Golfsmith measures social ROI”

  1. George-

    You’re right, not everyone can do what Golfsmith did here. But I think that the very same kind of thinking and resource dedication that made them shine here also led to their success in a larger sense. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. This is the “holy grail” of social media. It’s enabled by Golfsmith’s integration of integration of offline and digital activities at the customer level.

    Unfortunately many companies aren’t set up to take it as far as Golfsmith has. For those that are, analytics are the key to driving performance.

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