of Payton Jewelry
This used to happen to me all the time—and it was particularly flattering because my husband, Sean, and I had made the jewelry ourselves. What began as a pet project eventually grew into a full-fledged business, and we finally admitted to ourselves that we didn’t just want to sell our jewelry. We wanted to build a brand.
From Humble Beginnings
Payton Jewelry started as a way to salvage some scraps. After Sean and I bought our first home (and received our first electric bill), we bought a wood stove to save money on heating. This obviously meant that we had to chop a lot of wood, but certain colors and markings on some wood remnants were just too beautiful to burn. So we kept them, without any real plan for the pieces.
We both love wood and woodworking, so maybe it was only a matter of time before we started a woodcraft line called Beautifully Broken. We put those scraps of wood to work, making pieces such as candle holders and wine holders and selling them at flea markets and craft shows. Our creations were true works of art and were priced accordingly. They were also well-made and lasted for a lifetime—so people didn’t purchase them regularly. We began to rethink our product line in order to draw more repeat customers.
The first piece of wood jewelry Sean ever gave me was a heart-shaped necklace. I loved it, and I wore it everywhere. I got compliments on it all the time, and those encounters sparked an idea: what if we were to pivot to sell handcrafted jewelry? The demand for jewelry was much higher than it was for woodcrafts, and we knew we could create more products in less time.
We introduced necklaces to our product line, and we began to get requests for bracelets and earrings. We became self-taught jewelers. Our only real startup equity was our time, and any profits we made were immediately reinvested into our business.
Today, Payton Jewelry features full lines of handcrafted jewelry using many combinations of wood, stone, leather, metal, and silver.
Building a Trusted Brand
Even though we started small, the idea of building a brand was exciting. I wanted Payton Jewelry to look professional, polished, and for our work to be recognized as well-crafted labors of love, rather than handmade hobby items.
We also wanted people to know where they could find our jewelry, especially since we sold our pieces wholesale to other stores. We started tagging each piece with our company name. By using the tags, customers would know that those were Payton Jewelry pieces, and it was a separate brand from the store where they made the purchase.
In addition to knowing who we are and where to buy our jewelry, we wanted people to know that we weren't some fly-by-night pop-up shop. We experimented with branding using printed bags that displayed our website URL and logo at our craft shows. As we began opening brick-and-mortar locations, that branding came to include signage and professional photos.
Our social media goal was all about building brand integrity. I started using Facebook to promote our business very early on. I didn’t know anything about social media marketing back then, but Facebook was what I knew so I went with it. We’ve had great success with Facebook, and we joined Instagram about two years ago.
It all worked: we cultivated a pool of loyal, enthusiastic, return customers. But we hit our ceiling with our existing tools. As our business grew, we needed to focus on maximizing our online approach to reach more potential customers.
An Unexpected Opportunity for Growth
Around this time, I received an email from AdRoll, the growth marketing platform. It was great timing; we were ready to invest in a new marketing tool and expand beyond our existing capabilities. I was intrigued and signed up, but we didn’t make the most of it right off the bat. We launched a handful of static ads but we weren't doing any promotions or anything tailored to our target audience.
When Pennsylvania went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, I was tempted to cancel our AdRoll subscription altogether. We knew times were going to get tough, and every dollar was precious. But I also knew that reaching people online is all about algorithms, and that the more people visit your website, the more you can learn from their behavior. With everything shutting down offline, I figured we were going to see an increase in online traffic. My instinct told me that this would be the wrong time to cancel AdRoll.
We had also just hired a marketing manager, Annie, to help us take our social media presence to the next level, so we encouraged her to check out AdRoll and see where we could improve. Almost immediately, AdRoll reached out and said we were hand-selected to participate in their Growth Stories program, which gave us access to 1:1 consultation sessions, their new product offerings, and free thought leadership opportunities to increase our brand’s visibility. We were thrilled and couldn’t wait to make the most out of this unique opportunity.
Unleashing the Power of the AdRoll Growth Platform
Before AdRoll, our strategy wasn’t concrete. We stuck to what we knew and what worked: we’d use social media and the occasional email to re-engage our loyal pool of customers, who would inevitably make a purchase after a push. We were primarily focused on honing our voice and brand message but we hadn’t diversified our approach, which is what AdRoll brought to our attention.
Over the past three months, we’ve built out an always-on, multichannel marketing strategy which has boosted our online sales and uncovered new avenues of web traffic. We started running web and social dynamic retargeting campaigns, and expanded into dynamic and static campaigns for both web and social. With AdRoll, we’ve learned to take a more analytical look at our customers.
Through a more robust segmentation strategy, we switched from a general email blast to all audiences to emails that reach low intent, medium intent, and high intent groups. Each of those groups sees something different. We’re also attacking cart abandonment, with abandoned cart recovery sequences, as well as taking advantage of the product recommendation carousel and capturing new visitors via email to build direct relationships with potential customers and engage them long term.
Before 2020, we relied so heavily on our presence in brick-and-mortar locations that online sales accounted for maybe 5% of our overall revenue. Now, online sales account for 15% of our total revenue—and it’s steadily growing. Every month is almost double, if not more, than we did last year.
Finding new customers and growing our customer base aligns with our long-term goals of going national and eventually international. AdRoll has helped us see our potential and educate us on the myriad of ways we could achieve our goals. Having an online store is extremely important, and having a customer email base and online marketing systems ready to go is really what saved us during the pandemic and what’s launching us into our future.
How We Achieved 650% YoY Growth
Our multifaceted efforts have paid off: business revenue is up 650% over last year. In March, we earned $90,000 in online sales, which is $15,000 more than we did in all of 2019.
We’re also focusing on making sure we stay true to our brand voice, as we explore new online advertising avenues and audiences. It’s all about striking that balance between being perfectly cultivated and being authentic to our scrappy, grassroots beginnings. At one point, we were told that our look had become too corporate, which confused our customers. As our products evolved and the quality improved, some folks were questioning if they were even handmade anymore!
Since actively partnering with AdRoll, we have more time to reconnect with our roots and our audience on a personal level. We’ve been sharing behind-the-scenes footage of our pieces being handcrafted with love and care. We just celebrated our 10-year anniversary, and have been able to bring back our original heart-shaped wooden necklaces for a limited time, even though they’re much more time-consuming to create. It’s a great opportunity to remember where we started and show our audience that history in action.
Trust Is at the Heart of a Healthy Partnership
Discovering AdRoll’s new offerings has meant everything to a small business like ours. When you’re a small team and everyone wears so many different hats to keep the business running, it’s a relief to have the tools we need all in one place to effectively grow our business.
Eventually, we want our online store to at least match, if not exceed, our best-performing brick-and-mortar retail location, and we’re on track to do just that. Together with AdRoll, we’ve increased our marketing competency, and it’s been a really fun experience that has shown us what we're capable of doing.
AdRoll’s Growth Marketing Platform has given us the bandwidth and space to become creative business owners once again, and focus on the part of our work that we love best: taking separate materials and combining them to create items that are beautiful and timeless. Our partnership with AdRoll has been nothing short of magical—the timing was serendipitous, and it was exactly what we needed