Back To School – What Is It Good For?
When one door closes, another door opens. As marketers, we know that when graduation comes to a close, back to school (BTS) messaging starts up in its place. Yet as much as we know it’s coming, it always seems to spring up on us like lethargy after a big meal – suddenly and all at once. While scrambling to build or prep your campaigns and BTS strategy, you may find yourself asking if marketing for back to school is really so important.
The answer is, “Yes, it is!” With an estimated $72.5 billion in back-to-school and back-to-college spending , back-to-school has become the second largest retail event of the year, following the winter holiday season in the U.S. So take advantage of this tremendous annual spending spree!
Smart Shoppers = Smart Marketers
This year, shoppers are planning to spend 8% less on school items, with 61% of shoppers planning to buy back-to-school items “on sale” . 37% will comparison shop online more  to find the best prices; over 1/3rd of BTS shoppers will shop online, and of those online shoppers, 41% plan to spend more than other shoppers . And although shoppers may be spending less this year on back-to-school items, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t advertise your bigger ticket items, as 2 out of 3 shoppers are expected to spend $250+ . What does this all mean? It means smarter, more savvy shoppers are moving towards online consumerism behavior, but with the potential to still spend big. It also means that we should tap into our smart marketing brains and start thinking about where we can most wisely spend our ad dollars and make it count most.
Preparing for the BTS Madness
Mobile is going to be big for this year’s BTS season. Last year, 78% of smart phone owners planned to use their devices to assist them with back-to-school shopping . The top 5 activities consumers use their web-enabled smart phones for in back-to-school shopping includes 1) getting pricing information, 2) getting or downloading discounts, coupons, or sale information, 3) viewing a retailer’s ad, 4) finding a store location, and 5) getting product information . To get consumers to buy from you this BTS season, start strategizing about mobile geo-fencing, mobile-only ads, enabling location extensions, updating your local listings, and setting up mobile-friendly and responsive landing pages for easy product comparison or exclusive savings and discounts.
Social is also going to be an important aspect of back-to-school shopping. While parents tend to get their back-to-school shopping ideas mainly from online sites, family members, or friends; children tend to get their shopping ideas from friends, television, and social media . In addition, 21% of shoppers plan to use social media sites in their back-to-school shopping to find out about promotions, read and post reviews, get recommendations, browse products, visit retailers’ pages, etc.  Make sure you’re managing your online reputation, responding to any negative reviews or thanking those that share something positive. Think about shareable content and how best to word a promotion to compel someone to share it with their friends. Does “15% off” sound more compelling than “$50 off”? Also remember that complicated posts aren’t always the best – if you know people are going to be looking for a “hot” product that they may want to access on your site through your Facebook page, create a post specific to that product just calling out the product itself.
The Countdown Begins
Work efficiently, work strategically…and work quickly! Most shoppers will do the majority of their back-to-school shopping in early August. So back-to-school shoppers and back-to-school marketers – reach into your wallets and spend those dollars.