The last year has been challenging for everyone, but has been particularly tough for those who own and run small businesses.
And while some have been able to switch to an online-only model, or pivot to a different kind of trade, for many SMEs this wasn’t an option. Some have gone bust, others are struggling through with the help of loans and the furlough scheme, all while suffering huge losses.
But with restrictions lifting and the end of lockdown on the horizon, business owners are getting ready for what they hope will be a busy summer and a return to normality.
And to help boost their chances of a successful reopening, small businesses are flocking to use the new MailOnline Ad Manager.
Launched in March to help SMEs coming out of lockdown, Ad Manager offers the chance to advertise to MailOnline’s huge audiences without a huge price tag.
Ian Cox, managing director at VIRE Escape Rooms, was among the first to try this brand new service, after an incredibly difficult 12 months that saw his newest venture in Hemel Hempstead close overnight.
Ian Cox used the Ad Manager to advertise the reopening of VIRE Escape Rooms (pictured outside the Hemel Hempstead branch)
Ian said: ‘We were booked solid every weekend with parties and escape rooms and were having hundreds of bookings each week. In February, before lockdown, we’d made just under £20,000 in the month and then in March we made nothing, as we had to close down.
The MailOnline ad designed by Ian
‘It fell off a cliff and one of the things with this business is that parties are often booked a long way in advance, so not only did we have no income, we had to refund people too. So it was a double whammy.’
In a bid to keep the business going, VIRE moved into providing outdoor games which enabled them to reopen in June 2020, ahead of the indoor escape rooms reopening in August.
Ian said: ‘We also managed to have a pilot with English Heritage at a nearby castle in August that went really well. We’re launching 32 similar games this year off the back of that – adventureoutgames.co.uk – so that’s a massive change for us.
‘As long as when we open again in May we can get going at a reasonable rate we should be okay, but it’s touch and go like a lot of other businesses.’
‘We just want to get people back in, get them working again and back to doing what we do well.’
Ian was thrilled to have the opportunity to advertise on MailOnline, targeting local customers and escape room enthusiasts.
He created the ads himself, set the budget and chose the people he wanted to target.
VIRE ESCAPE ROOMS ADS: THE RESULTS
- Cost: £1178
- Ad impressions (how many times the ads were viewed): 269,543 in less than a week
- Rush of new bookings
- Website traffic up more than 21%
- ‘Really easy to use; help we received from MailOnline was excellent and we felt supported throughout the process.’
He said: ‘I think it’s great because a lot of this is about trust, so a brand like the MailOnline, it brings a trust and is something people will recognise.
‘We’re looking at every area we can to let people know that we’re there, that we’re opening up, that it’ll be safe.
‘The more trusted that communication can be, that will make a fundamental difference.’
In just under a week, the ads Ian created with the MailOnline Ad Manager increased his website traffic by nearly a quarter – a huge achievement considering the ongoing restrictions lockdown has on his business.
And that’s not all: ‘Before we started these ads, our last booking was April 1 and the customer used a voucher,’ says Ian.
‘However, since my adverts launched, we’ve already made eight bookings. This is huge for us as we weren’t expecting any bookings this early.
‘Of all the people who’ve been driven to the website, it means a quarter have bought so the conversion rate is great – and it’s clearly drawing genuinely interested customers.’
If you’re a small business owner looking to boost the visibility of your business, Ian couldn’t recommend MailOnline’s Ad Manager enough.
‘Advertising through the Mail is a powerful thing and gives a small business like mine incredible reach. Plus, if you receive the great level of support we did, you’re going to be delighted.’
HOW AD MANAGER WORKS
The new self-serve Ad Manager makes reaching a large, but targeted audience easy and is enabling small businesses to reach more adults across all UK regions than ever before, with hyper-local advertising for relevant, affluent customers.
It takes only minutes to set up and your campaign could be live in less than 24 hours.
Not only can you advertise to more people in your area than your local titles can reach, it’s also cheaper than Facebook, and you can target customers by postcode, interests and life stage, ensuring you reach as many of our 25 million consumers as you choose.
There are no hidden fees and you can control everything, from budget to target and audience to creative design.
Visit manager.mailmetromedia.co.uk today to see how YOU can transform YOUR small business!
Ad Manager allows you to see live data for your campaign, adjust targeting and pause campaigns as you like.
You can set up automated email reports, and experiment with different creative and targeting strategies to get the very best for your business.
This new opportunity means that SMEs can easily and effectively manage their own ad campaigns across MailMetroMedia’s online portfolio, which engages more than 10 million UK adults every day.
Martin Clarke, publisher of MailOnline, Metro.co.uk and iNews.co.uk, said: ‘We are passionate about helping SMEs recover from the covid crisis, and proud to be launching a tool which will enable small business owners to purchase and set up ad campaigns in a few easy steps.
‘We look forward to helping you build your business.’
Picture this: You can design your own bespoke ad campaign – and get it live – within 24 hours