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What you can Learn from this year’s Back to School Marketing Trends.

Well back to school season has come and gone, and if you spent a lot of time and money marketing products in anticipation of the shopping rush, you’re not the only one! Many marketers unveiled the full arsenal of tactics this season, but with mixed results. In 2015, total combined selling for back to school and college is expected to top off at 68 billion, so did your business see any of that? Maybe not, but if you peruse popular E-commerce sites, this statistic is reinforced by all the clever tactics utilized by today’s marketers. Importantly; however, these tactics involve more than just typical back to school savings, a fact you may have learned a bit too late. While offering percentages off is a great way to sell a product, the marketers that succeeded this back to school season are those that were more focused on highly targeted ads displayed via specific channels. There’s no doubt that offering savings works, but you’ve first got to reach potential customers, and here’s how today’s savviest marketers are doing so.

Pay Attention to Mobile Browsing

This year, 41% of college shoppers plan to use a smartphone to research products and compare prices, and 46% will use a tablet to shop. It’s not enough to feature your products for online sale. You’ve also got to make sure that those products are easily accessed and viewed by customers that are using mobile platforms. That means responsively designed, streamlined E-commerce platforms that make buying easy. Another statistic that speaks to this point: 31% of college shoppers plan to buy products with their smartphones, and 35% plan to use their tablets to purchase. When it comes to back to school shopping, shoppers typically use their mobile device for one of four things:

  1. To find deals and coupons
  2. To read product reviews and descriptions
  3. To compare products
  4. To buy

There’s no getting around it; Mobile Browsing was enormously important for back to school shopping this year, and it will be in the future. Refusing to cater your content to mobile shoppers will most certainly cost you.

Utilize Social Media Ads

Social Media represents a means of connecting with your audience in ways that just didn't exist before. Not only can you create and monitor highly specific ads that speak to targeted markets, but you can also get results from those ads at a fraction of the cost of typical outbound marketing strategies. Fact: Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. Another Fact: Companies have also seen an increase in customer acquisition via social media: B2C is up 77% and B2B is up 43%. Marketers have seen such success with paid advertising on social media that ad revenue from these platforms in the US is expected to increase by 194% by 2018, topping off at 15 Billion dollars.

The reason that paid social media advertising works so well for advertisers is because it works equally well for customers. It’s estimated that 80% of US social network users prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. Customers simply get a better feel for a brand in the context of social networking, a fact that many marketers this season were wise to take advantage of.

Display Remarketing Works!

Also known as Ad Retargeting, Display Remarketing saw a lot of uses this back to school season, and with good reason. Display Remarketing involves distributing specific ads to your site’s visitors, the ones that didn’t convert. With analytics, you’re able to get an understanding of each user’s interest with a high level of accuracy, and deliver an ad that speaks specifically to that interest. An example from Amazon:

PPC Retargeting Seattle WA

For most websites, only 2 percent of traffic converts on the first visit, which is why retargeting has become so important. That and, with retargeting, you can increase click thru rate of ads tenfold. This type of targeted advertising is huge for E-commerce because the majority of customers do their homework prior to making a purchase, which is also why this tactic makes so much sense for Back to school shoppers. Most back to school purchases happen close to the first day of class, but all the shopping takes places months before hand. Retargeted ads that speak to a customer’s specific interest can boost ad response by 400%, which helps marketers ensure their products are up for consideration once the time for purchase actually comes around. See How to Increase Your CTR by 10x and Cut Your CPC in Half

What have we learned?

While many products this season were sold simply because of the back to school rush, there’s still one major lesson to learn from these tactics: Know your customer, and use every available tool to reach them. All sorts of retailers advertise during back to school season, but those that saw success this year were able to stand out against the din of deals and ads by connecting directly with customers. This principle and these tactics tend to work any time of year, for any sort of customer, and any sort of product. So, if your marketing returns left you a little deflated this back to school season, take note of this year’s successful trends and try and get a jump on next year. Contact Bonsai Media Group to learn more tips today!

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