Why (and how) you should let your customers do the advertising for you

customer advertising

photo credit: DSC_0134 via photopin (license)

I grew up in the nineties, and my parents weren’t big on technology. My first computer had a 486 processor with a monochrome screen, it ran DOS, and it had Chessmaster 3000 on it. It was given to me by the people who owned the used bookstore in town after it had finally become too dated for even them to use. I loved that little computer.

Finally, one Christmas, my parents broke down and bought a more modern computer. It had Windows 95 and could connect to the internet. I was in heaven. I quickly taught myself to write HTML and launched my first website, a resource for pet rabbit enthusiasts.

Since that time, I have been responsible for the creation and promotion of many more websites, some of which have gone on to become full-fledged, successful businesses.

I am currently CEO of a company I founded around 8 years ago: Hatchwise. Hatchwise is a crowdsourced design community that has designed over a million different logos, websites and graphics of all kinds.

When I first launched Hatchwise, I was still running an internet company I had started previously, called MyCustomLogo, which relied almost 100% on PPC ads to bring in new sales. My company was profitable, but I was constantly stressing over the daily fluctuations in advertising cost. Also, there were a massive amount of competitors who were offering services which were priced similarly to mine, who were then advertising in the same places I did. So each of these factors made me decide that I wanted my next business to rely heavily on word of mouth, and to avoid PPC bidding wars and razor thin margins.

I was successful. The vast majority of contests started on Hatchwise come from people who heard about us through word of mouth, and who then go on to tell others about us, and just about everybody who wraps up a contest on Hatchwise has nothing but good things to say about us.

In this article, I am going to detail what we focus on here at Hatchwise, and why our customers love to tell their friends about us.

1. Focus on what you are selling. If people love the experience they’ll come back.

If your main focus is on getting new customers, but you’re neglecting the service, software, or experience that you are selling, then, in my opinion, you are wasting your time. Having a solid offering will increase your conversion rate and help you maintain a healthy growth. You should always strive to be a company that you would want to be a customer of.

Make sure that you have a website that is scalable and user-friendly. You do this by getting feedback from as many actual customers as possible. For example, it may seem to you that your website is easy to navigate, but you can’t know this for sure until you’ve gotten feedback from the people who are actually using it. Ask them what they like and don’t like about it, and how you can improve their experience.

Once you have a solid website and product you can then focus on spreading the word because everyone who uses your website or buys your product will be telling their friends about you. Obviously, the same situation applies if a customer has a bad experience, which is where the next point comes in.

2. Go above and beyond with your customer service. Everyone should have an amazing experience.

In our current day and age, people expect fast and responsive customer service. One of the things we do at Hatchwise is to make sure that all emails are responded to as quickly as possible. We also try to be aware that if we are consistently getting the same questions over and over, we need to figure out what we can do to eliminate the issue that is causing the email in the first place.

We use every email we receive as a chance to think about how we could make the customer experience easier and better than it already is. There have been times when a customer had an idea, and we implemented it that day, simply because it was a great idea. Every customer is important to us, and if they take the time to provide an idea or problem we take it very seriously.

3. If you never ask you’ll never know.

Several years ago, we began requesting feedback on our customers experience after they’ve completed a contest. This really helped us scale efficiently because we quickly identified issues that affected multiple customers. One of the big issues that arose was that the site was not mobile friendly. We realized pretty quickly by hearing feedback from customers that having a mobile-friendly site was very important to them, which is something that we had, for whatever reason, not really paid any attention to.

We also created an easy way for customers to share issues and request improvements as they were in the process of running a contest. This made it simple for customers to let us know about an issue they were having without having to email us. So we have also received a lot of great suggestions through this tool.

4. Do what you do better than anyone else.

Regardless of what you sell, customer satisfaction should be your number one concern. Identify what your customers want from you and make sure they get what they want. At Hatchwise, we realize the most important aspect of our website is the design that the customer receives. With that as our focus, we’ve worked hard to make sure that the designers who use Hatchwise are completely happy. We do this by dealing as fairly as possible with the hundreds of little issues that pop off when you have a community of thousands of designers, and also, we do this by making sure the website has all the tools and features that they require in order to operate as efficiently as they can. Shortly after we launched we created a unique program that runs in the background of the site that catches most clipart and keeps designers from copying the work of other designers.

By making sure that the designers are happy, we are able to provide an overall better experience to our clients, which results in everyone being happy.

5. It’s okay to reward people.

For a long time we did not have an affiliate program. Anytime a customer referred us it was because they thought we were awesome and they received nothing for doing it. We have recently launched an affiliate program after receiving a lot of requests to implement one. The results have been great. Giving people an incentive to recommend us was something that we should have done a while ago. If people love you and also receive something for recommending you, they are going to do it way more often.

6. It’s all about happiness.

Focusing on customer satisfaction and making it easy for customers to share any issues they are having is one of the biggest things you can do to grow your platform. It’s easy to create banner ads and market your site, but if the customers you have already have are not 100% satisfied, you are wasting your money. It is much better to have your existing customers be the marketers for your website. This will save you a significant amount of money and you will have a much more stable site.

George RyanGeorge Ryan is a serial entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of Hatchwise, a community of tens of thousands of graphic designers and writers who have created over a million amazing designs and company names since 2008. George resides on the Connecticut coast, where he enjoys photography, his family, and starting new businesses.

 

How to Track Your Social Media Efforts

large 9.2

photo credit: pixabay

If your small business is taking advantage of social media to engage with customers in hopes of growing your business, how do you know if your efforts are paying off? The truth is, it can be hard to tell if all the work you’re putting into growing your social media following is worth the investment. There is only one way to know for certain: you have to measure it.

The purpose behind measuring your activities on social media is to enable you to figure out what you are doing that is working (and therefore should continue doing) and to find out what you’re doing that isn’t bringing you any positive results (and should therefore be improved or eliminated).

Ongoing analytics help familiarize you with how your customers are interacting with your updates generally and more specifically, analytics are the way you get a feel for how your company is perceived in the marketplace. For example, you want to know what people are saying about your brand, your company, and your products. Are people complaining about your customer service or are you seeing a lot of criticism about the quality of one of your products? All of this can help you improve and provide better service going forward.

General Analytic Tools

There are a few simple tools that you can use that will help you know when people are talking about you online. Google Alerts will happily shoot you a quick email anytime someone mentions you or your business anywhere across social media, blogs, and websites. This will give you a chance to respond to any concerns or just join in the conversation.

Social Mention will also track whenever any of your keywords pop up on any of more than 100 separate social media sites. It is similar to a search engine, but it specializes in social media.

If your intention with social media is to drive traffic to your website, then you will want to keep track of the number of clicks, URL shares and conversions that you get as a result of your social updates. Google Analytics is one of the best tools for measuring the traffic that is coming to your website. In addition to telling you where your traffic is coming from so you know which links are getting clicks, it will tell you what people are doing once they get to your site. In other words, after they consume the content they clicked on, are they staying on your site and looking around? If they aren’t, that could be a sign that you need to add more attractive/interesting content to your site so people will want to stay longer.

Tools for Specific Platforms

Twitter

If you want to keep an eye on specific social media platforms, Hootsuite and TweetDeck both provide simple ways to monitor Twitter without requiring you to scroll through hundreds of individual Tweets.

Facebook

Facebook provides its own analytics tool called Page Insights. It’s handy if you want to know more about your audience and how they are interacting with your posts. As soon as your Facebook Page gets at least 30 likes, you’ll be able to use this feature.

Booshaka is a service that tracks and collects every time a customer interacts with one of your Facebook ad campaigns.

Centralized Analytic Tools

You can combine all of your social media tracking efforts on a single dashboard like Quintly. They give you a neat overview of your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, as well as several other types of social accounts.

If you want to keep an eye on your RSS feeds as well as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, you can use a dashboard service like NetVibes.

With a little planning and one or more of these helpful tools, you’ll be able to keep on top of your social media efforts without feeling overwhelmed.

Tess PajaronWith a background in Business Administration and Management, Tess Pajaron currently works at Open Colleges, Australia’s leading online educator. She’s also interested in branding and digital media.