‘It’s amazing to think so many people saw our ad!’ Hairbrush entrepreneurs on how they used MailOnline’s new Ad Manager to attract new customers
Giving something back to the community became an important priority for many local and global businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
When lockdown first hit in March 2020, it gave Alexandra Rock and Jackie Ruddle, co-founders of Rock & Ruddle hairbrushes, a push into pivoting their business to focus more on online sales.
As stores, including Harvey Nichols where the products can be bought, were forced to close, the entrepreneurs were ‘fortunate’ to have already been looking to increase their digital presence.
The pandemic pushed Alexandra Rock, left, and Jackie Ruddle into focusing on online sales
However, as communities struggled with the uncertainty lockdown brought, the duo, who launched their high-quality brushes featuring beautiful designs back in 2012, wanted to help support their customers too.
Jackie, 56, said: ‘We just really wanted to help as much as we could, whether they were small stores, people who purchased from us previously, or those who had found us on Google or Amazon.
‘It was such a weird time for everyone and we just felt if we could make contact, it would be a good thing. We upped the amount of emails we sent to our mailing list, just with ‘Hi how you doing, hope everything’s OK’, to reach out and be friendly.
‘It also worked in our favour and we would respond really directly to all our customer concerns.’
Although the duo saw an initial fall in sales of their brushes due to shops and hair salons having to shut during lockdown, orders soon picked up – thanks to their creative thinking.
The pair, who used to work together, wanted to create high quality, luxury hairbrushes
Alexandra, 57, said: ‘Lockdown affected the sales in our stores, they really struggled, too. We really supported them with things like a design competition they could get all their customers to join in. We offered them imagery, anything that could help them boost their web sales.
‘So we did this pivot to direct to direct customer sales and we found throughout lockdown that people were really looking to buy gifts – and personalised ones.
‘We focused on a lovely service that we do where you can actually have a name added to a hairbrush as a gift, which has been really popular.
‘We also launched the service for designing your own brushes where you can upload a picture of your child or your pet or something beautiful and we will put the design onto a brush.
‘That was something new that we launched in the summer of 2020. And those things really helped us sort of grow our online sales to two levels that were sort of fairly unprecedented for us.’
It’s with continuing to grow their online audience in mind that Alexandra and Jackie jumped at the chance to try MailOnline’s new advertising platform Ad Manager.
The system has been created to help SMEs come out of lockdown thriving.
Ad impressions (how many times the ads were viewed): 789,733
Web clicks: 774
Results: Surge in web traffic, stream of orders
Jackie says: ‘It is amazing to think that three quarters of a million people saw our ads!’
It’s an easy-to-use system, which allows businesses to advertise to MailOnline’s huge 25 million readers, but without a huge price tag.
Alexandra added: ‘One of our hairbrushes was featured in a really lovely piece in the Daily Mail back in 2015, and this created such a spike in sales for us, it was absolutely wonderful. So we know for certain MailOnline’s readership would be a really good medium for us.
‘The Ad Manager system is really clever, the way you can break down your audience into such precise chunks, and it was really easy to use.’
In less than one week, Rock & Ruddle’s Ad Manager campaign was seen by 789,733 women, which also resulted in nearly 800 click throughs to the brand’s website.
Jackie said: ‘We were very happy to see the campaign has had a particular effect on the traffic to our website which was up by over 50 percent compared to 2020 for the dates it was running.
‘We have seen a steady increase in sales all year, but this was accelerated during the week of the campaign.
‘We saw an increase in activity on our social media too, with content interactions up by over 70 per cent for the week and a lot of new followers.
‘It is amazing to think that three quarters of a million people saw our ads and now know about Rock & Ruddle hairbrushes!
‘We are always trying to find ways of showing off the hairbrushes to as many people as possible as brand awareness is so important.
‘This opportunity has been amazing. Normally advertising on a global platform such as the Daily Mail would be way out of the reach of a business of our size. We are now going to build on the awareness it has created.
‘The campaign has given Rock & Ruddle a great boost towards our most important part of the year. It is a unique opportunity for visibility in a very busy world!’
Advertising on MailOnline with the new Ad Manager platform allows businesses to target more people in your area than your local titles can reach.
Most of all, you’re in control – from the budget to the creative design, to the audience you target.
You decide how many of our 25 million consumers you would like to reach, and how – by postcode, interests and life stage.
Here’s how you can advertise YOUR small business on MailOnline:
BEHIND THE BUSINESS
When Alexandra Rock lost her favourite hairbrush and found it difficult to replace it with another of such high quality, she discovered there was a gap in the market.
She and Jackie Ruddle decided to go into business together back in 2012 – having met through work more than 20 years earlier – and Rock & Ruddle was launched.
Alexandra: ‘I met Jackie in my 20s at a friend’s party. Then a few weeks later, I was sitting at my desk, I worked for L’Oreal in the department dealing with marketing for perfume brands.
‘There was a knock at the door, and one of our bosses came in and introduced us to Jackie.’
Jackie added: ‘We worked together for a few years and then Alexandra left to pursue other things, and I continued there for about 10 years.
‘We eventually both stopped working to look after our families while they were very young.’
Alexandra: ‘I had the idea in 2010. I was studying at the time, and I’d lost this little hairbrush, and I really missed it. Then I had the idea and spoke to a few people who thought it was lovely.
‘I didn’t want to run a business just on my own, and I immediately thought of Jackie because she’d been such a good friend for years, and also we had worked together and I knew she knew a lot about beauty products and marketing and I just thought that we would be a really good team.’
The businesswomen spent years perfecting their product, which now retails worldwide
The pair joined forces and spent the next two years getting everything right – from the quality of the bristles to the beautiful artwork on the back of the brushes. They wanted their product to stand out, and be memorable, for all the right reasons.
Alexandra said: ”There are a number of really lovely selling points that are unique to our brand. Our designs are quirky, glamorous and inspirational – we use a selection of artists, so it will appeal mainly to ladies as well as children.
‘Another thing is our bristle pads which we wanted to compete with the best quality brushes, as well as leaving the hair silky and well conditioned. They are lovely to use and don’t pull, which is such an attractive feature.
‘With regards to sustainability, if your pad does wear out over time, and they do last, or you want a fresh one, you can simply reorder a pad and keep your brush.’
They duo launched their brushes at the Spirit Of Christmas exhibition in 2012.
Alexandra said: ‘We were very fortunate that a Harvey Nichols buyer saw our brushes and absolutely loved them, and they ordered them immediately.
‘A number of other smaller stores, and from the Harvey Nichols uptake, we then immediately got distributors one in Europe for the Benelux countries, and one in Australia who became two of our biggest customers so we’re still with those customers.
‘We still run the online side of our business and the direct to customer side which has become particularly important to have done during the pandemic.’
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