Case Study: Social media as a key marketing strategy

Gemma Whates, founder of All By Mama, an online marketplace for enterprising mums, discusses how social media was key to her early-stage marketing.


Company: All By Mama
Date founded: November 2014
Employees: 7
Sector: e-commerce

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

All By Mama is an online marketplace for businesses run by mums working around family life. It launched in November 2014 and our vision is to become the world’s best marketplace for parent-run businesses. The idea for the business happened when I was on maternity with my first son, Leonardo, who is now four. Coming from a marketing background and worrying about the long hours after maternity leave, I was looking for ways to work more flexibly around my son and support others to do the same. I felt very isolated and thought there must be others in the same situation. I had had a few conversations with mums who had started a craft business and I loved buying from them to support their business, but I wasn’t crafty enough to do that myself. So I thought through my own skill sets and how I could apply them and All By Mama was born. It was all driven by a passion to work flexibly and find a community who wanted to do the same. Having spent a lot of time working on my career as a Marketing Director predominantly for Disney, I was still ambitious and wanted to put my mind to something without having to miss school runs and bedtimes.

The power of social as a marketing tool

To begin with we relied on social media and word of mouth. We did a lot of networking, picking up the phone and telling people about our business and posting on social media. We also entered awards to raise our profile – there are some wonderful free awards around and that really helped us with our reputation.

Social media, specifically Facebook, worked to provide us with a primary base of possible customers who were engaged with the brand and the idea, but the difficulty is converting that interest into a purchase. When we launched, Facebook was easier to use without spending too much and we quickly grew our community very cost effectively.

Awards worked well for us

This is a different story now, and whilst still an important part of our marketing plan, we do need to spend more to achieve similar results. Awards worked well for us, we won some fantastic ones, received a £5,000 grant. We met Karren Brady for a one-to-one session and it really helped us raise our profile and give us something to talk about without costing us any money. It gave our customers the confidence to purchase from us too. The other thing that worked well was to build a database from both our network and emails received that we could communicate with regularly. In terms of what didn’t work so well, we did spend some money on print advertising and at the time, although it did yield results, it wasn’t the biggest bang for our buck.

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific turning point but I think the use of social media and engaging with key influencers has been important. Building traction is hard but once consumers can see that others are engaged they begin to take interest. We’ve also raised funds via crowdfunding which has allowed us to scale.

Why reviewing your marketing is important

We review our marketing regularly, as a small business we are able to be reactive. Our marketing plans for 2017 include using social media, collaborations, newsletters, events, paid search and influencer engagement. As a small business we still look at ways to reach our audience in a cost effective manner, and when we spend against social media we ensure that we are measuring the results. It’s important to keep reviewing when the world of social media is so fast-moving, so we do have a plan, but we are also able to adapt when we need to.

In terms of advice for other companies, I would say map out your year ahead, highlight key periods of activity and focus on applying your efforts to them – if you have a limited budget it’s best to concentrate on specific areas rather than trying to spread yourself too thin. Make sure you look at the results of your campaign, review and make amends where you need to – you need to be analytical. Lastly, know your audience and refine your product – you can spend a huge amount of money attracting customers to your business, but if you are shouting the wrong message, then it’s wasted.

This year we will be placing a focus on video and customer experience.