WordStream’s Customer Focus: What Happens When Companies Listen

WordStream is an online advertising software platform built for small to medium sized businesses. They provide step-by-step guidance on how to get more leads, customers and revenue from online advertising.

Since WordStream’s founding in 2007, they have transformed from developing keyword software tools to becoming one of the top thought leaders for PPC and online advertising.

Most notably, their Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Larry Kim and his team write a blog that generates over 500,000 visitors and 8,000 leads a month. He also adds value to his writing by addressing topics in-depth and backing it up with new, credible research.

Kim, himself writes and contributes blog posts on several influential websites, while additionally posting on Medium daily. He says it’s a content marketing experiment to get his brand into the minds of a different audience.  Oh, and his Medium posts generate WordStream roughly a million extra views each month.

That made us wonder how did they do that, and why?

We analyzed Larry Kim and WordStream’s content, core values, and customer service standards. What we found was incredible and proves that when companies are willing to listen to their customers, their customers will give them the answers.

Where Listening is Everyone’s Job

WordStream’s free AdWords Landing Page Grader was developed after hearing customers’ struggles with landing pages. Many of WordStream’s best tools and research came just from listening to their customers. Currently, they have about a dozen other free tools to help their targeted customers with their biggest pain points.

Related: 7 Impressive Tactics to Build Customer Loyalty

WordStream has beautifully tapped into this source of product and content development. In doing so, they not only became a leader in PPC, but WordStream is now a household name for marketers worldwide.

Even in the beginning, Larry Kim and the team were listening to customers and leads. He realized people didn’t want to try his AdWords software, they wanted to know how their AdWord campaigns were doing.

That’s when they created one of their first free tools. Wordstream’s Google AdWords Performance Grader scores your campaign and offers tips on where to improve. The new offer improved the conversion rate from 2-3% to 20-30% and worked as an incredible lead magnet capturing targeted data.

Transparency and Two-Way Communication

When companies listen to their customers, their customers will give them all the answers. One of the most effective ways to facilitate this is to create a company culture that focuses on the customers.

WordStream’s customer focus became a big topic back in 2012 while the company was rapidly growing, they had just hired 30 new employees. The whole company came together to formulate a “playbook” of how they wanted to operate WordStream and what values mattered most.

CEO Ralph Folz created a committee composed of employees from every level. He listened to stories about employees experiences at WordStream that make the company special. Then took those stories and drafted up what values were most important and specific to the company’s vision.

The committee gathered a few more times to go over the company values that resonated and the ones that needed editing. After each meeting, the committee members took the values back to their teams to listen to additional feedback.

Below is a graphic illustrating WordStream’s Core Values:



For Folz and his employees, they did more than just posting the core values on a printed sheet in the breakroom. With a blog post broadcasted to their audience, WordStream boasted their new core values and what it would mean for their customers.

Related: How to Segment Broadcast Emails

It didn’t stop there though. The company went a step further and created the above infographic, new business cards with different core values on the backs, mouse pads, and a peer-based employee recognition program. They incorporated these values everywhere, even including annual reviews, interviews, and making key business decisions.

Extraordinary Customer Service

Listening is key to effective customer service. Kim even says to listen to the criticisms you’ll get from early customers and funders, “use it, don’t dismiss it.”

WordStream goes above and beyond an typical annual customer satisfaction survey. In a recent podcast, company CEO, Ralph Folz discussed his key factors for a customer-focused culture. He shared how every role in the company extracts “data and value out of every customer interaction.”

That’s the factor that won them #1 Rated Business in Customer Satisfaction in a report from G2 Crowd, an independent crowd-based review platform for comparing SaaS companies.


Related: 4 Great Customer Service Strategies Backed by Data

Across the board, WordStream ranked #1 in customer service based on five questions. In all five areas, they impressively surpassed industry standards as well as the competition:

  • Likely to recommend
  • Product going in the right direction
  • Ease of doing business
  • Quality of customer support
  • Ease of use

Promoting their customer service as an invaluable part of working with WordStream, is showing their sincere value for transparency and two-way communications. They want their customers to feel empowered by search marketing, not scared.

How WordStream Hears Their Customer Needs

Founder, Larry Kim originally developed free tools for Facebook ads & AdWords. His AdWords Performance Grader, a free account auditing tool has delivered over 1 million reports and analyzed over $9 billion in unique advertising spend.

Additionally, he’s a leading contributor to some of the most influential online marketing sites, including Inc. and Search Engine Land.  You might have even noticed how active and responsive he is in blog comments and on social media. This has become a powerful way for WordStream to listen to their customers’ worries and needs.

In a recent AMA on Inbound.org, Kim was asked of his daily tasks and his response points to how you can understand your customers’ needs. He goes on to say, “You really have to keep the pulse of your industry if you want your content projects to be a success.”

The biggest way to stay on top of your industry is it be involved in it every day. So read your blog and social media comments, emails, industry news, and influencer articles. Even chatting with people on social channels daily can clue you into your customers’ biggest needs. All of these are great sources to guide business decisions and new content ideas.

Turning Listening Into Data

WordStream combines their subjective data, like feedback from social media or blog comments with quantitative data using metrics that show what their clients actually do. That strategy helps the company make informed decisions on the direction of their products and services.

Utilizing comments, reviews, and testimonials from the massive base of WordStream customers, they can illustrate the value of their advertising software through numbers and simple data.



WordStream and its founders are involved leaders in the online advertising industry. They develop ideas for new software and content by listening to customer feedback. Living and breathing core values that include transparency and two-way communication create a culture where delivering awesome customer service is a part of every job position.

Listen and read blog and social media comments, emails, industry news, and influencer articles. They will keep you up-to-date with industry trends and let you listen in on the struggles of your customers and potential customers.

Caitlin Johnson

Caitlin is an Austin-based digital marketer with a passion for content and social media marketing. She is the newest member of the Performance Marketer team and brings years of writing and marketing experience, as well as the best recommendations for where to go for lunch.

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