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How 10 of Our Customers Are Going to Make Us a Better Company

June 21, 2019

Above all else, WordStream strives toward one goal: to help our customers succeed through online advertising. Whether you’re a small business owner, an in-house digital marketer, or an account manager at an agency, we want to provide the products and services you need to achieve healthy, long-term growth.

We can’t do that if we don’t understand the challenges you’re facing. And we can’t understand the challenges you’re facing if we don’t give you the opportunity to tell us about them.

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That’s the purpose of our customer insight roundtable—to welcome WordStream customers into our Boston headquarters and listen to what they have to say. What obstacles do they face? Are we doing an adequate job of helping them overcome those obstacles? If not, what do we need to do differently?

I think you get the point. With that, let’s take a look at some of the experiences our customers enjoyed while visiting WordStream HQ last week.

Speed networking exercise

After some breakfast, a glimpse into what’s coming to WordStream Advisor, and an update on the major developments in the world of digital marketing, it was time for our 10 attendees to get to know each other a little better. So they did some speed networking—think speed dating, but replace the premature declarations of love with insightful discussions of mutual challenges and unique experiences.

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Every four minutes, each customer rotated to a new partner and responded to a new question. The questions ranged from “What did you want to be when you grew up?” to “What are some tools other than WordStream that are integral to your success?” And the room was buzzin’.

After a couple rounds, it was time for WordStream employees (myself included!) to get in the mix. For the next half hour, we did essentially the same exercise—rotating to a new partner every four minutes and embarking on a new topic of conversation. The key difference was that we were free to come up with our own questions for one another. So, whereas I talked to Mark from Dental Health Management Solutions about the challenges of B2B lead generation, I talked to Ellen from LeaderStat about what it means to be the sole marketer at a company with several distinct internal organizations. We covered a ton of ground in only 30 minutes!

Marketing journey brainstorm

Following a trip to the Skywalk Observatory, a lunch-and-learn with Jenn Mason of Curds & Co., and a tour of the WordStream office, it was time to get back to business. Eric Gravlin, a senior manager on our UX design team, led a 90-minute brainstorming session that invited our customers to reflect on their experiences with digital marketing and business management.

The goal? To learn more about the challenges our customers have faced, the successes they’ve enjoyed, and the improvements we can make to better serve them going forward.

The brainstorm was broken into three sections: past, present, and future. During the first section—which took up the majority of the brainstorm—we asked our participants to share responses to three questions:

  1. How did you acquire your first customer?
  2. What’s been your biggest roadblock to date?
  3. What was a moment of success?

After jotting their answers down on sticky notes, everyone posted them on a timeline and expanded upon what they had written. For example, while one customer discussed the difficulty of negotiating for more marketing budget, another talked about the joy of winning a top ad placement on the SERP.

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Once everyone had posted their answers on the timeline, they marked each one with either a blue sticker (to signify an aha! moment) or a red or yellow sticker (to signify a moment when they knew they needed help).

Next, it was time to focus on the present—on the things our customers are currently doing on a monthly basis to keep their businesses running. We asked each of them to jot down answers to questions like these:

  1. What activities do you typically do every month? When?
  2. What tools do you use to accomplish these tasks?
  3. What are the five things that take the most time?
  4. What are the five things you do on a daily basis?
  5. What are you doing to grow your business?

Eric wrapped up the brainstorming session by leading a quick activity focused on the future. Once again, we asked our attendees to think about a few questions:

  1. What do you see yourself doing differently in three months?
  2. What keeps you up at night as a business owner or marketer?
  3. What’s the one thing you want WordStream to build?
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After a quick stretch break, it was time for the final—and most anticipated—part of the day.

Customer insight panel

Making sure to save the best for last, we wrapped up the day with everyone’s favorite session: the customer insight panel. Led—with a terrific sense of humor, I might add—by Senior Customer Success Specialist Lauren Gentile, the panel was our opportunity to get the customers’ honest perspectives on a wide range of topics.

The majority of the session involved Lauren asking direct questions to individual customers. For example, when asked if he has any advice for fellow business owners venturing into digital marketing for the first time, Mark (who owns his own law firm) recommended learning the basics of PPC on your own and then partnering with a company like WordStream. Later on, when Lauren asked John from Jennco Solutions for his opinion on the sales and onboarding processes, he recommended that we make more of a point to demonstrate the full value of what we’re offering to our prospects.

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After Lauren had asked each customer a specific question, she opened up the floor for WordStream employees to ask the group anything they wanted. Among my favorites was a question from Topher (an engineer) about ideas for WordStream Advisor features and a question from Navah (recently recognized PPC expert!) about the challenges of establishing a cross-platform digital marketing strategy.

By the time the panel had come to a close, our generous attendees had been hard at work for over nine hours—all to help WordStream become a better company. As a token of our gratitude, the day ended with a cocktail hour punctuated with plenty of drinks and a taco bar.

Final thoughts

Regardless of department, job title, or seniority level, every WordStream employee is in agreement on one thing: It’s a privilege to engage with our customers in this way. The better we understand our customers and their goals, the better we become at our jobs. Simply put, we can’t overstate how valuable these insights are to the success of our company.

We hope all the customers who participated got something out of it, too. Ideally, by giving you all an inside look at your favorite online advertising management company, we’ve fostered a stronger sense of pride in the products and services we do our best to build around your needs.

We’re looking forward to what’s coming next!

A huge thank you to Kim Castings for organizing a wonderful event and to Mikayla Wyman for snapping so many awesome photos.

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Conor Bond

Conor Bond writes words about stuff on the WordStream blog. He likes to drink coffee, play basketball, and pretend he doesn't care about his inadequate facial hair.

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