How an allergy-friendly local bakery pivoted to online sales during lockdown — and used Google Ads to make 2020 one of their most successful years to date
When Daniela Ortega couldn’t find sweet treats that suited her vegan and gluten-free diet, she started making her own — adapting over 50 recipes for cakes and cookies and trialling them on friends and family. They were such a hit that she was soon taking a large number of paid orders, so Daniela joined forces with Vanessa Miquilena to launch Vida Bakery.
The company started in 2015 as a pop-up shop at markets and fairs, before the pair opened their first store in 2018, in east London’s Brick Lane. The allergy-friendly bakery was an overnight success, with Daniela launching her own YouTube channel sharing baking tips to support the brand. The women opened a second store in London’s King’s Cross in January 2020, and a third store in Soho was in the pipeline when the pandemic hit — they were forced to close the two stores, put the third on hold, and pivot to online sales. Vanessa worked on setting up a website in less than 24 hours, learning to use Google Ads and amending the company’s Google My Business account to keep customers up to date.
“Our online store launched in March 2020 — the same day the shops were forced to close,” explains Daniela. “We only had a simple holding website, so Vanessa put together a new version overnight, giving the option to buy our products online. And it was a smart move because we were one of the first to do it. We had over 300 orders that first weekend — I couldn’t believe it!”
Vanessa had also used the bakery’s social media platforms to market the new online store, which initially worked very well. However, as competitors caught up and added delivery options too, Vida Bakery’s runaway success began to slow.
“We had to work harder to get customers, so I started working on our Google My Business account, adding pictures of our best-selling products and details about opening hours once we were allowed to offer takeaways again,” explains Vanessa. “We’d always had good Google reviews, which have proved important in getting new customers and also for feedback to improve our services and recipes. Luckily, the good reviews have just kept coming since we started our online shop.”
As of May 2021, the business has nearly 300 reviews and an impressive 4.6 star rating, which has helped attract new business, and Vanessa was keen to do more.
“We turned to Google Ads to increase our chances in what was now becoming a saturated market. It helped us not only reach customers who wanted cupcakes and cookies but also the allergy-friendly market,” explains Vanessa. “Adding Google Ads to our marketing strategy was integral, and being able to target niche Search terms around allergies was super-useful in stretching our spend and reaching our target audience. I’m now running campaigns for both online orders and to drive visitors to the shop — we get a lot of customers through Google Ads.”
Marketing through Google Ads also helped Vida Bakery to reach new customers outside London. The bakery now delivers U.K.-wide and is in the process of expanding into Europe.
“We always had people coming into the store who were visiting from outside London because they’d heard about us through friends or on social media, but now they don’t even have to make the trip,” explains Daniela. “And local customers who love the products can send them to loved ones anywhere in the U.K. The online store has been a game-changer for us. It’s helped Vida Bakery have one of the best financial years to date, which is a relief after the difficult time it’s been for everyone. It’s given us time to think up new products such as our best-selling cookie dough and cake tubs — so people can make their own Vida Bakery treats at home.”