The back-to-school season may look a little different for marketers going forward. Here are our top tips to help you adapt for your best back-to-school season ever.
Life is slowly but surely easing back to normal as the pandemic fades away, and for millions of Americans, that means it’s once again time to pick up everything students need for a successful school year.
As a retailer or e-commerce company with a full stock of back-to-school products, it’s your time to shine.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of selling to families in a post-COVID world, I’m here to put your mind at ease. All it will take is a little creativity and a few tweaks to your messaging and strategies.
Follow these tips to make this back-to-school season your most successful ever.
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There have been countless ripple effects on students and their families in the wake of the pandemic, but I’ll highlight a few of the most important ones for retailers to keep in mind here:
These are all crucial details to keep in mind as you design your back-to-school marketing campaign.
Emphasize that your products will help keep students safe, organized, and set up for success — and that they won’t cost parents an arm and a leg.
Think back to your school days: What were your daily essentials?
While technology has changed the way kids pack for school these days, the basics haven’t changed much. The most popular back-to-school products include:
Every school around the country has adopted one of these three learning models since the start of the pandemic:
As of Fall 2022, most schools have returned to fully in-person learning, but the approach an individual school takes will still impact the materials your customers shop for this year.
With that in mind, the best strategy is to optimize for the way customers will shop this year.
The numbers suggest that the online shopping boom is leveling out slightly, with 51% of back-to-school shoppers reporting that they intend to divide their shopping between online and in-store in 2022, up from 31% in 2020.
That means you’ll need to diversify your marketing a little (but I’ll get to those strategies shortly).
Although different schools start up at different times, most kick off the school year in August or September.
That means you’ll want to start marketing your back-to-school products around July.
Pro tip: Base your start date on factors like the speed of your supply chain and your team’s bandwidth. When in doubt, start planning early.
Now that you know when to kick off your back-to-school marketing campaign and which products to feature, here are nine tips to give you an advantage over your competitors.
47% of parents in America did their 2021-2022 school shopping from a mobile device.
That’s a lot of valuable traffic, so you’ll want to be sure your site is optimized for those mobile shoppers. That means having responsive themes and text sizes, no cut-off images, and no excess pop-ups.
By the way, if you’re not sure how well your site performs on mobile or you need a starting point, use Google’s tester tool to assess your site’s mobile-friendliness.
The back-to-school season may only come around once a year, but remember that it comes around every year.
It’s well worth it to reward parents who shopped with you last year and incentivize them to choose you again. The easiest way to do this is with an attractive loyalty program.
Offer special discounts or free extra products to parents who enroll or send gift cards after a set number or dollar amount of purchases.
According to a Deloitte study, collecting coupons or discounts is the most popular use of mobile phones when it comes to retail. Texting has the other added benefit of sending personalized offers to the only inbox with a 98% open rate.
The data shows that 72% of consumers will only interact with personalized messaging, and texting is the best channel to send offers instantly in a way that ensures your customers will see them.
Take that sense of connection to the next level by letting your text lists know that the offers you send out are exclusively for them. This will make them more likely to engage and make your texting program more desirable.
The goal of any good marketing strategy is to break through the constant marketing chatter your customers experience and show them something that will make them stop and take action.
If you’re looking to keep your website visitors engaged and browsing, set up a banner on your site with your best back-to-school deals.
Be sure to include the details of the sale and a call to action (CTA) that encourages them to click through to a page where they can shop.
Giveaways on social media, email, or through text-to-win are all great ways to gain new followers, boost your brand reputation, and generally leave your audience wanting more.
They’re also a cost-effective marketing strategy to start your back-to-school campaign out on the right foot.
Offer up a popular product in your giveaway and encourage participants to follow you on social media or tune into your texts and emails for future deals and perks.
None of us are immune to FOMO, and a little urgency can help motivate unsure customers to make a purchase.
That’s the basic principle behind a “last call” type of sale.
A week or so before the end of your big back-to-school marketing push, send out a text or email blast letting customers know that you’re featuring one last big promotion before the school year starts.
Let them know the details of the sale and how long it lasts, and send them a link to your site or encourage them to visit your store.
While partnering with local charities is a great way to bring more attention to your business and its back-to-school sales, it’s also a sign to your community that you’re focused on making a positive impact.
That can do wonders for your brand reputation and help you stand out from your competition.
Center your efforts on the back-to-school theme by donating some products to a local Boys & Girls Club or YMCA (or any other local nonprofit you like). You can also sponsor those nonprofits’ back-to-school drives or programs and place a few advertisements on-site.
Note: The pandemic has been hard for everyone. Partnering with a local charity lets your community know that you understand people are struggling and want to help share the burden.
The more you showcase your products through engaging photos and videos, the more likely you are to watch your sales rise.
Images motivate 25% of viewers to visit a website from social media, and videos influence 16% of viewers to click through.
Media not only gets results, but it also gives you a chance to show off your products to interested buyers.
Not to mention, the unique climate COVID has created means it’s important that you show how your products can be used to keep kids safe, happy, and motivated throughout the school year.
Real people showcasing how products work in real life is one of the best ways to reach, you guessed it, real customers.
Given that you’re trying to reach parents to market your back-to-school products, “mommy bloggers” are an effective way to convince those parents that what you’re selling is worthwhile for their students.
Partner with a blogger for an Instagram giveaway or sponsored posts/videos on your social media platforms to drive sales and awareness toward your brand.
You’re almost ready to run the perfect back-to-school marketing campaign. Now all you need are some eye-catching phrases to help customers check out your products.
The fact is, parents will be drawn to the most convenient and attractive option when it comes to buying school supplies, especially with the extra stress that COVID has caused.
School years may look a little different now, but your ability to adapt to the changing times will make you more valuable (and popular) than ever to your customers.
Meghan Tocci is a content strategist at SimpleTexting. When she’s not writing about SaaS, she’s trying to teach her puppy Lou how to code. So far, not so good.More Posts from Meghan Tocci
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