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.


Social Customer Service Metrics: 3 Case Studies

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photo credit: Flickr

How has marketing changed thanks to social media? Well, now 90% of customers are influenced by online reviews. Some companies cringe when they hear this: The decision whether to buy can come down to a good or bad Yelp review. And we all know some customers can be finicky, their opinions arbitrary and skewed. But some can be incredibly on point.   

Since so many people are influenced by consumer reviews, customer service is a new form of marketing. Customer satisfaction turns into word of mouth, word of mouth converts the potential customer.

Word of mouth/peer-to-peer marketing isn’t just happening via review platforms. It’s happening constantly on channels such as Facebook and Twitter, to name the major players. For that reason, social media listening, or monitoring, helps marketers and business owners understand more about the following:

  •         How people are talking about a brand – positive/negative sentiment
  •         Likes, dislikes concerning products
  •         Additional products or product modifications customers want  
  •         Complaints

The sheer volume of conversation going on allows businesses to analyze metrics and adjust customer service and marketing based on the numbers (i.e. number of negative posts about a product vs number of positive posts). Peer-to-peer marketing doesn’t exclude business-to-consumer social marketing—it runs alongside it.








We can learn quite a lot about what customers want, and what they like, from social media metrics. We can also learn from businesses who are doing this well. Here’s a look at some of the exemplars in different industries.

Five Guys

The burger franchise is all about social media for marketing and customer service. Through their efforts, Five Guys has one million followers on various channels, which has helped them open twelve-hundred locations worldwide. Online Marketing Specialist, Kenneth Westling, identifies three facets of the Five Guys social media campaign that contribute to its success:

  • Prioritizing customer service
  • Involving employees at home and abroad
  • Monitoring “engagement metrics” and “tailoring content based on what works for each social network audience”

Five Guys looks at posts related to brand and keywords and creates content based on what people are saying. Further, they use geo-locational data to zero in on marketing successes, product and service issues, and how people are feeling about unique campaigns around the world. They use Hootsuite to track as many types of hashtags about their company as possible and reach out to consumers on an individual level, talking with them, not at them.


The shipping company created a Customer Communications team to focus on, “Daily content and managing brand communications and reputation.” This team corresponds directly with a social customer service representative team, which reports to the overlying Social/Digital team. The Social/Digital team is more concerned with metrics and strategy. In terms of metrics, they measure the following:

  •         Conversation sentiment
  •         Engagement
  •         Organic audience growth
  •         Pull-through on Calls to Action

Their social customer service representatives work on responding to customer issues as quickly as possible. They get the most customer service inquiries on Twitter, then Facebook. They use social media to, “Serve as a barometer for customer concerns or business opportunities.” UPS’ efforts are an example of compartmentalizing different aspects of the social strategy, but integrating each team with the other.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines just landed on the list of Fortunes’ Top 50 Most Admired Companies. One reason is the companies’ practically legendary social media presence. Southwest’s “best practices” for social customer service include:

  •         Consistent engagement
  •         Timely action
  •         Genuine brand response

Southwest recently created a Listening Center, which they use to solve service issues, share information about their brand, and provide “one-contact resolution” to customers—which reflects their emphasis on personalization—they have teams devoted to each network and encourage flight attendants to post on social media when they find out about a customer’s special occasion.

As a take-home, here are five essential metrics to track:

  •         Engagement rate – amount of interest in a piece of content, divided by number of fans/followers
  •         Share of voice – your mentions vs those of a competitor
  •         Response time – amount of time it takes to respond to a query
  •         Response rate – percentage you responded to mentions
  •         Clicks – number of clicks

Any customer relationship management software can help you track these metrics. And ultimately, your social media campaign will benefit the more you listen.


Daniel_Matthewscropped_150x150Daniel Matthews is a freelance writer and musician from Boise, Idaho. In 2006, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis from Boise State University. Throughout his twenties, Daniel worked as a Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist, a marketer, and a server. Last year he took the plunge and became a full-time writer. Daniel believes one of the most important, if not the most important aspect of modern business is the understanding and appreciate of diverse cultures. Please find him on Twitter.


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