July 12, 2004, 12:00 AM

How Golfballs.com drove up shoe sales after analyzing search engine traffic

While Golfballs.com can rely on a steady number of Internet searches for golf balls, searches for other products often come in bunches. So the site has learned how to change its merchandise displays to respond to search activity.

While Golfballs.com can rely on getting a steady number of Internet searches for golf balls, searches for other products often come in bunches. So the retailer has learned how to quickly change its merchandise displays to respond to current search activity, CEO and founder Tom Cox tells InternetRetailer.com.

When Golfballs.com, No. 289 in Internet Retailer’s Top 300 Guide to online retailers, featured a popular brand of golf club driver on its home page, for example, the Taylor Made club received a lot of hits from site visitors but few buyers. But after determining that many of the visitors coming to its home page from Internet searches had searched on “golf shoes,” Golfballs quickly changed the Taylor Made promotion to a special offering of three styles of Nike golf shoes.

“We reacted to what natural search traffic was coming to our site, and the sales conversion rate for golf shoes shot up considerably,” Cox says.

Golfballs analyzed the search traffic with Omniture Inc.’s SiteCatalyst site analysis tool, which provides an ongoing account of data including the number of site visitors, clicks per link, sales per link, sales conversion rates per item and overall sales conversion rates, Cox says. “As we feature different items on the main page of the site, we know which items get clicked, which clicks turn into sales, and that helps us make fast merchandising decisions,” he says.

Golfballs will continue to monitor its Internet search traffic regularly to watch for changing trends in customer demand, Cox says. “Search terms always rank high for golf balls, but not always for other items,” he says. “So we’re learning how to better use our traffic to drive sales.”

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