Although students aren’t yet thinking about back-to-school, marketers are. Performance marketing budgets are being set for the peak back-to-school months of July, August and September. To give retailers an idea of this year’s opportunity, we looked back at 2011 back-to-school paid search data for our aggregate group of retailer clients. We also considered some key differences between the 2011 and 2012 back-to-school shopper to devise some fresh 2012 engagement strategies.
During the back-to-school season last year (Q3), we saw that:
This year, 46 percent of shoppers plan to spend more on back-to-school than in 2011 (PriceGrabber). PriceGrabber also found that 17 percent plan to start their back-to-school shopping in June, 35 percent in July, 44 percent in August, and 3 percent in September.
Although the majority of students will start shopping in August, our data shows that they’re more likely to buy in September. We think this is because many students compare options and explore new trends in the summer, but don’t actually purchase until they see, back in class, what their fellow students have purchased. With this in mind, advertisers should:
The 2012 back-to-school shopper is quite different from 2011. For instance:
Because of these differences, engaging the 2012 back-to-school shopper requires fresh strategies:
NRF found that 39.6 percent of college shoppers and 30.2 percent of grade-school shoppers planned on using their tablets to purchase back-to-school products in 2011. But since July 2011, tablets have exploded. For Performics’ clients, tablet paid search clicks are up 332 percent from July 2011 to May 2012. Overall mobile paid search clicks (tablets + smartphones) are up 423 percent over the same period. It’s safe to say that your mobile strategy will be critical to 2012 back-to-school success:
Pinterest is the best way for back-to-schoolers to see what all the cool kids like. Back-to-schoolers can also pin your products and share with friends. Pinterest encourages deep participation and evangelism that could result in back-to-school traffic and sales for your brand. Best practices include:
Although Google+ isn’t as hot as Pinterest, Google is giving it high visibility on the search engine results page (SERP) in hopes of boosting Google+ usage. The opportunity for advertises is to dominate the SERP and convey three targeted messages at once for brand queries. Consider the below example for men’s clothing retailer MR PORTER:
According to NRF, 31 percent of back-to-school shoppers compensated for the weak 2011 economy by doing more online comparative shopping. This is likely to continue in 2012; and, this year, advertisers have more robust opportunities to engage comparative shoppers and deal-seekers:
Back-to-school searchers are able to redeem their offers by entering promo codes online, printing in-store coupons or showing their mobile devices to cashiers to scan the offers’ barcodes.
This year’s back-to-school shoppers are savvier than ever. Keep up with them on mobile, tablets, Pinterest, Google+ and comparison shopping engines. Remember that they’ll explore all their options before buying, even if they wait to check-out until September.