An online bookshop utilized a large suite of digital tools to help parents find important materials for their children during lockdown and, when protests erupted around the world in 2020, put more socially relevant books into the hands of children in schools.
Diversity and inclusion is extremely important to bookseller Lynsey Pollard and it’s at the heart of the small business she started. “So many children’s books these days lack inclusive representation or are about women being rescued,” Lynsey explains. “I thought it was time to bring a different perspective.” She initially sought to put together a collection of books for her own son. Before long, however, she realized that lots of other parents would probably want the same thing. The business that resulted, Little Box of Books, is an online shop specialising in books for children up to age 12 with diverse characters and plotlines. Many parents choose to introduce their children to these books via a monthly subscription box service the company offers.
“The reality of having a business today is that you can’t not have a robust digital presence,” Lynsey says, “which meant I had to become digitally literate quickly when I decided to open Little Box of Books.” Thankfully, she found a whole range of easy-to-use tools at her disposal. Google Workspace quickly became her go to. “Google Drive is where I put just about everything,” Lynsey explains, “and tools like Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Google My Business work together in a formidable combination. They allow me to not only reach more customers but also develop an intimate understanding of what they want—which feeds back into the outreach.” Lynsey also utilizes digital platforms such as Xero for accounting, Asana for project management, Slack to communicate with partners, and other tools like WooCommerce. She has also cultivated a robust social media presence, which includes accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and more than 14,000 followers on Instagram. In addition to sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses into her company’s operations, Lynsey also uses social media to more effectively communicate the purpose behind her mission. As she puts it, “being in the Diversity and Inclusion space means having to do a lot of explaining, and digital platforms provide the perfect avenue to do so.”
As COVID-19 descended in Britain and across Europe, lockdowns – and homeschooling – became the norm for millions. Lynsey put out Google Ads aimed at parents seeking materials for newly homebound students. “I thought the moment called for books that would not only continue to teach children about the world but also transport them outside of their so-called normality,” Lynsey recalls, “The orders started coming in droves.” She soon sold the most books ever in a single month and website visits tripled from March to April. “This is where Analytics became super important because it allowed us to instantly snapshot where the spikes were happening and quickly plug any gaps where people were dropping off.”
All of this was before things really picked up for Lynsey’s company. The Black Lives Matter protests that emerged around the globe in the summer of 2020 spiked interest for exactly the types of stories that Lynsey sought to tell through her books. “I was so proud to be able to be there with socially relevant stories at a time when the world needed them most,” Lynsey recalls, “But the volume was almost too much to handle—and without these digital tools, there’s no way I could have stayed afloat.” In fact, in June 2020 alone, Little Box of Books took in more than 15 times the revenue compared to the same month the previous year. Google My Business became an especially important tool at this time, because it provided an easy way for Lynsey to let customers know that Little Box of Books was still open and fully stocked with the books they wanted. She also set up a crowdfunding page that raised £57,000 in just 4 weeks and allowed her to get more than 10,000 books into schools across the UK.
Today, Lynsey is just as busy—and determined—as ever. She’s already preparing for her next mission. “This last year was a complete whirlwind but, thanks to digital tools, we were able to reach thousands with our inspiring stories,” Lynsey said. “We’re now working with corporate sponsors to go global and get more of these books into schools and in the hands of more children who can benefit from them most across the world.”
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