Shore Soap Co.
Newport, Rhode Island
Shore Soap Co. was born in a small kitchen in Newport, Rhode Island when husband-and-wife duo Jake and Steph Kopper began experimenting with cold-process soapmaking. “We both had full-time jobs but we wanted a change, so we decided to take on a new hobby on the side,” said Steph. The Koppers gifted their products to friends and family and received so much positive feedback that they decided to quit their jobs and open a retail space in downtown Newport in April of 2013. The brick-and-mortar location quickly gained traction with tourists and locals, but getting the business online was different story. Despite launching a website as soon as they opened their store, the Koppers had trouble growing their e-commerce platform. “There wasn’t much action on the website at first,” said Jake.
To remedy this, the Koppers launched a Google Ads campaign to get the word out about Shore Soap Co. and stay in touch with customers who had visited the store. “It helps to get traffic to the website and drives conversions,” said Jake. “About 18% of our web traffic is from Google Ads.” Meanwhile, organic search generates around 35% of the company’s web traffic, and the remainder comes from direct or from email marketing. “The website’s really important, because nowadays a lot of people rely on the convenience of online shopping,” said Jake.
Today, almost 90% of the company’s ad budget goes toward digital. “With digital, we can see how many people called the store or got directions from our Business Profile on Google,” said Jake. “It’s nice to see hard numbers.” The Koppers also use Google Analytics to monitor and optimize their campaigns and G Suite to stay organized both online and in-store.
“Our goal is to make quality products that are natural, family-friendly, and affordable,” said Steph. Judging from the positive customer feedback they receive via their Business Profile on Google, Shore Soap Co. is achieving that goal. “Seeing how much our customers enjoy using our products is a good feeling,” Steph said. After years of hard work, the Koppers are finally seeing the fruits of their labor and plan to open a second location on the West Coast soon. “A lot of people thought we were nuts to quit our jobs and open a soap shop in a tourist-driven New England town,” said Steph. “But we went all-in, gave it 100%, and created this growing business that we’re really proud of.”
Providence, Rhode Island
Jeff Caruso’s great-uncles, Alphonse and Lucky Lodato, started Crisloid in 1948 out of their home in Brooklyn, New York. The two made and distributed high-quality classic games, such as backgammon, checkers, dominoes, and mahjong. Their company relocated to Providence in 1970, and in the years following grew into one of the largest classic-game manufacturers and volume wholesalers in the country. At the turn of the century, however, increased competition from overseas stifled the business. “It was difficult to succeed in the volume wholesale business with our premium, American-made products. We saw a downward path in sales for 10 years,” shares Jeff. Knowing that the company would need to adapt in order to remain competitive, Jeff shifted their business model from wholesale to direct-to-consumer. “I saw the future as being direct-to-consumer sales and started to focus on higher-end, handmade items where there was a good margin—and where we could directly reach the end consumer,” he says.
Crisloid launched their first e-commerce website in 2011. “We weren’t the most savvy online sellers in the first couple of years,” Jeff admits. “But with the right help and tools, it certainly has turned around nicely.” The company uses AdWords, Google’s advertising program, “to find customers that we otherwise would never have found," he explains. Jeff attributes nearly a quarter of their online sales to AdWords and says that they see a 500 percent return on their ad investments. With 90 percent of their marketing budget going to digital, Crisloid also uses Google Analytics to “understand what we’re doing with our advertising dollars, why we’re doing it, and how it’s impacting our business,” he adds. And G Suite tools, such as Gmail, Docs, and Drive, help keep their internal operations running smoothly.
Crisloid ships their products to over 5,000 customers annually. From their quiet-cork playing surfaces to their hand-crafted and polished checkers, every detail is designed and built in their 25,000-square-foot facility. Jeff is especially heartened by the younger generation of enthusiasts who are putting aside their digital devices to play the classic games. “I see this brand really sinking in across the country,” he says. “It serves a great purpose. It brings families together. These games are not going to get thrown out. They’re multigenerational—they're passed down, and they all have great stories built into them.” When he thinks about his great-uncles, he adds, “their legacy is near and dear to me, and I’m proud to be able to continue it.”
Newport, Rhode Island
John Florez and his wife Karen Sironen launched Drupal Connect from their home in 2009, when the American economy was mired in what John calls “a state of sheer calamity.” They started off providing staffing services to web development companies and, within six months, had over 30 clients. Inspired by the demand for Drupal Connect’s software expertise, the husband-and-wife team decided to expand their business and offer web development services of their own. Drupal Connect now builds and manages websites for a growing number of customers, from large multinational companies to government agencies. “I would say 85 percent of all that growth is attributable to Google,” John says.
About 80 percent of Drupal Connect’s marketing budget goes to digital ads. The company began using AdWords, Google’s advertising program, after their first year in business. “AdWords was like having a sales person in every state, in every major metropolitan area we wanted to serve, without actually having a person there,” John says. “That helped us get started, and it still helps us get a lot of business. Over three-quarters of our sales comes through it.” In addition to helping them acquire new clients, AdWords also builds brand awareness for the company. “Without AdWords, the business would not be where it is today,” he adds.
With 2016 revenue topping $7 million, Drupal Connect is thriving. And thanks to a new West Coast office, growth is expected to continue. This success is to the benefit of not only the company, but also the local community. “As we expand, I want to make our city of Newport a better place,” John says. Drupal Connect sponsors high school invention contests to get students excited about innovation and awards scholarships to the winners. He marvels at what he calls “this constant reinvention, this constant growth,” of his company. “I get to make a positive impact on many people's lives, including people within our community,” he explains. “That's something I am very fortunate to have.”
Providence, Rhode Island
70% of Sureflow Rooter's customers find them online
Brian Wood grew up around a family-owned business. When he decided to strike out on his own in 2012 and start Sureflow Rooter, he wanted to make his business easy to find and easy to trust. He started out doing all the work himself and built Sureflow from the ground up. In addition to affordable, 24/7 emergency response, they provide drain cleaning and rooter services throughout Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. “I take great satisfaction in our reputation and interactions with our customers,” Brian says.
Brian attributes his success to a decision to use Google tools early on. “I created our website because I realized that everybody searches,” he says. “I don’t think there’s any growth for us without Google.” He uses Google Search Console to help him optimize his site in search results and Google Analytics to help him track and improve his website’s effectiveness. His Google My Business listing makes it easy for potential customers to see his phone number and where he’s located. “When people see that we’re local, they’re more likely to go with us,” notes Brian. His customer reviews on Google have been nothing short of “amazing,” he adds. “It’s almost like they’re multiplying. When someone calls us in the middle of the night and we go out there, the first thing they say is, ‘Oh, we were on Google and your reviews were fantastic.’ We simply thank them and the reviews just keep coming in.”
Brian credits Google with increasing Sureflow Rooter’s sales 15 to 20% per year. “There are so many ways that Google has impacted my business. This is such a competitive market. Without these tools, I really don’t know how I would’ve done it.” His success gives Brian great confidence in the future. “I'm extremely happy and proud of my company,” he says. “We’re really creating something that we can continue to build on.” Brian knows where he will turn to help him reach his next long-term goals, which are to add more employees and more vehicles. “Google is the key to growth,” he says. “The sky’s the limit.”