Back-to-School Marketing: How to Drive More Q3 Sales

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Back to School

Back to School is the silent Q3 sales booster that can be worth almost as much to your bottom line as year-end sales. The National Retail Federation (NRF) projected 2018 B2S spending to be nearly $83 billion — meaning 2019 will be even bigger.

Much like the Winter Holidays, Back to School as a season spans almost three months. Though Q3 doesn’t have specific holidays, there are a few times where spending spikes and sale trends are routine, for example July Fourth, Labor Day, and the infamous Prime Day on Amazon. Nearly half of shoppers plan their back-to-school purchases around these sales, so it’s worth it to personalize your summer sales campaigns with the intention of appealing to these shoppers.

In this article, we will cover where the majority of the Back-to-School spending is concentrated, the purchasers and influencers, as well as a few tips for how to optimize your on-site promotions to make the most out of this season.

2019 Back-to-School Marketing

There are several industries that are sought out heavily during the Back-to-School season — the top categories being clothing, electronics, shoes & accessories, home goods, and furniture.

According to RetailMeNot,  spending is expected to be up in these top categories with shoppers spending the following averages:

  • Clothing – $212
  • Shoes – $104
  • Electronics – $209

With this in mind, the average consumer is set to spend about $507 this back-to-school season.

While this is where the money is mainly concentrated, that doesn’t mean shoppers aren’t spending more in other categories. Parents shopping for kids’ school supplies may pick up something extra for themselves, or see a sale for an item they’ve wanted so they add it to the cart.

Taking into account both the necessary and unnecessary products that back to school shoppers may be interested in, you can create targeted marketing efforts that appeal to both the practical and luxurious sides of the consumer.

However, it’s important to note that your previous audience lists will most likely require a refresh. As school-age children grow, last year’s marketing messaging may no longer apply to some shoppers. Kids grow out of clothes, move up in sizing, supply requirements change with age, or consumers have more kids in school than before. Keeping these shifting needs in mind are vital to creating marketing content that is personalized and up to date.

Another critical factor for where the money is concentrated is the college aspect of back-to-school shopping. College is the driving force behind a majority of the spending done during this season. So it’s not only crayons and folders that consumers are buying, but also outfitting dorms, apartments, and graduating to more advanced electronics.

Spanning the market from crayons and playdough through to bedding or dorm room organization is something that makes back to school unique. Make sure that you understand where your e-commerce store lies in the spectrum, understand your target audience, and know where they want to spend money this summer.

Know Your Back-to-School Target Audience

Obviously, parents (mostly) are the purchasing authority for most household units, but you may be surprised to know that kids hold significant influence over these purchases. Kids were responsible for influencing over $21 billion in back to school purchases during 2018.

While kids may be influencers, parents are still the final say so. They’re heavily price conscious, with a vast majority saying it’s the most significant factor for purchases during this season.

This makes sense since competition is fierce amongst retailers and with Prime Day being the unofficial start to the back to school season, Amazon has made it a race to the bottom in terms of prices.

Back to School Example Pop-Up

Keep this motivation in mind and make sure that deals are heavily advertised on-site as well as email campaigns to appeal to these price-conscious shoppers. 

If you’re a brand or retailer whose products aren’t discountable, or it’s not something you do normally, don’t change that. Your customers and target audience understand that and doing anything that seems off-brand won’t necessarily help sales and may even hurt your business in the long run.

On-Site Back-to-School Marketing Promotions 101

Tie in your off-site marketing efforts (paid social or google ads, email campaigns, etc.) to your on-site strategy. As with most holidays or shopping events, we recommend that you create a specific landing page or product collection for the season.

Back-to-school content on your site will help direct traffic to desired pages faster and ease their site experience. Sending short, actionable emails to drive your subscribers back to those specific pages will help you move customers through the funnel.

Use purchase history to segment customers and create targeted emails designed to appeal to their general interests or lifecycle stage. These personalized emails will not only be better converters but also allow you to drive traffic to specific areas of your site for an optimized sequence.

Back to School Pop-Up

According to RetailMeNot, 56% of retailers want to use geo-targeted coupons on mobile devices to drive digital shoppers to brick-and-mortar locations. This is a great chance to capitalize on the increasingly large portion of millennials with kids that want to research their purchases online before buying. Drive traffic in-store with coupons that target digital shoppers who haven’t converted yet to capture the full spectrum of shopping preferences.

Geo-targeted coupons are also a great way to segment customers, serving different ads to those located near college campuses offering deals on more college geared needs vs. those in more residential neighborhoods near schools.

Using AI-powered cross-selling, you could increase the average order value (AOV) of shoppers by using a pop-up with intelligent recommendations based on what a shopper has added to their cart. For instance, a shopper who added a twin bedspread to their bag would be shown a pop-up with the matching pillowcases and sheet set.

Rather than merely showing other products you carry, make recommendations for ones that are complementary to those they’re interested in. These offers have a higher conversion rate and make the user’s journey even easier.

The more advanced you get with targeting rules, the more likely you are to stand out from the crowd of 78% of retailers who are offering deeper discounts this back to school season.

Final thoughts

Back to school is a critical time for retailers, even if you’re not in one of the top product categories. Make sure that you’ve optimized your pages and made a targeting plan for which audience segments you’re campaigning for.

Differentiate yourself with thoughtful content both on and off-site, discounts that appeal to your customer base, and streamlining the process to help overwhelmed parents and students out.

Use the back to school season as a sort of trial run for the winter holidays. While the intentions, motivations, and consumers may be different, there are still lessons to learn. Find holes in your ordering system, streamline logistics, and figure out where in your system there are places to improve efficiency. Doing this now will save you a headache later and get your prepared for busiest time of the year.

Check out some more advanced uses of the Justuno AI-powered conversion platform in our Academy for inspiration about how to elevate you on-site conversion efforts.

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