The back-to-school season is already in full swing. According to eMarketer, both parents and students are starting their shopping early this year with most making purchases three weeks to one month before the start of the school year. Not only are parents and students spending earlier but they are spending big. According to data from National Retail Federation, spending during the back-to school period is set to hit $74.9 billion this year.
Increasingly, parents and students are going online to make back-to-school and back-to-college purchase decisions from doing research to reading reviews to comparing prices. This means that the digital experience will make or break many companies looking to cash in on the back-to-school rush.
To help you better maximize on the back-to-school rush below are three things to keep in mind.
Intent driven retargeting
There are many weapons in the digital marketer’s arsenal but few are as promising as retargeting. The beauty of retargeting is the ability to stay top of mind with your site visitors. According to CMO and Software Advice, retargeted customers are 70 percent more likely to convert than customers who do not view retargeted ads. Retargeting is set to play a critical role this back-to-school season with 30 percent of back-to-school shoppers saying that online ads help them find what they need for the start of the school year, according to an AOL Consumer Survey. However in the hyper competitive back-to-school period, the cost of getting retargeting wrong is particularly expensive. Therefore, how can you be more efficient with your retargeting budget?
One of the most innovative and effective retargeting strategies is to leverage visitor intent to create relevant campaigns that drive engagement. By recognizing and aligning campaigns to the intent of back-to-school shoppers you can increase engagement with relevant messages and call to actions. For instance, eMarketer reported that more than three-quarters of teens and millennials plan to buy new electronics this back-to-school season such as headphones and laptops. By identifying whether a teen or millennial is ready to buy a new electronic device or just researching the different options, you can create campaigns that align with their needs in order to increase the likelihood of conversion. Also by picking up on pre-sale signals from visitors in the research phase you can create lead-nurturing initiatives such as ‘compare these back-to-school headphone or laptop deals’. As the back-to-school season kicks into gear make sure your retargeting campaigns are optimized to your visitors’ intent.
In-store vs online experience
Even with the increase in online purchases, most parents (82 percent) will make at least 70 percent of their back-to-school purchases in-store this year, according to CMO.com. But interestingly, Danielle Bailey, principal at L2 Think Tank told eMarketer that, “90 percent of department store sales still occur in-store, but 70 percent of those sales are influenced by digital.” This means that in-store and online can’t be pegged against each other but instead need to cooperate together to maximize back-to-school dollars. By offering consistent customer experiences across touchpoints and over the customer lifecycle, retailers can drive revenue, retention and ultimately customer loyalty. A great example is using mobile technology such as Apple Beacon to bring personalization and recommendations into the store. Currently, half of all messages sent through beacons are coupons, according to Shopkick. Also according to a Business Insider article, “Since beacon-powered apps will collect valuable data on consumers' in-store activity, they could result in highly personalized and targeted offers.” This is supported by International Council of Shopping Centers findings which showed that 79 percent of shoppers plan to use a mobile device while shopping in-store for back-to-school. One of the ways you can better understand the relationship between the in-store and digital experience is to run Voice of Customer research. By understanding the experience both in-store and on your digital properties you can bridge the gap between the online and offline world. This back-to-school season make sure both your digital and in-store operations complement each other’s experience.
A seamless mobile experience
A majority of back-to-school purchases might not be made on mobile devices but they will play an extremely important role and only retailers that create mobile experiences that are aligned to visitors needs and wants will succeed. According to eMarketer, the top way parents use their mobiles when making back-to-school purchases is to download discounts and find sale information (57 percent of US parents).
This means retailers need to provide mobile experiences which ensure pricing is front and center, coupons are readily available and visitors don’t waste their time looking for what they need. Your mobile visitors don’t want a watered-down version of your main website. Instead they want a mobile experience that complements the other touch-points in the customer lifecycle and provides a consistent and continounous experience. Therefore, it is essential to collect customer feedback to understand visitor’s intent, needs and experiences specific to your mobile website. The Altimeter Group noted that, “When businesses don’t consider differences in mobile device interaction, they’re left with a one-size-fits-all approach to mobile that doesn’t account for nuances of engagement, context, and intention that vary greatly from one platform to the next.” Mobile is a big part of the purchase decision process and it is essential to understand its impact and then create a mobile experience that matches shopper expectations.
The back-to-school rush is a stressful time so don’t make it hard for your customers to find what they need. Instead, make it easy for them to browse, compare and purchase by using intent-driven retargeting, having a seamless mobile experience and providing a consistent in-store experience. That way you won’t leave any money on the table this back-to-school season.