Back-to-School digital marketing campaigns – Part two

In my previous blog post, I looked at back-to-school strategies to target people who are trying to achieve a goal on your site. This post goes into detail on strategies to target people looking for the product or service you offer but haven’t found your site yet.

Purchase intent is high during the back to school season. Your products/services need to be visible and prominent online – if people can’t find it, they can’t buy it. Your SEO strategy should be well under way given that results take several weeks to come through. But if you are looking for an immediate lift to your online visibility, there are 3 key areas to consider: Paid Search,Display Advertising, and Social Media.

1. Paid search advertising

When it comes to eCommerce, there is a lot of predictability around user search behaviour for certain times of the year. Retail/eCommerce marketers should integrate the following tactics into their PPC strategy to reach the searcher at a variety of touch-points throughout their back-to-school research and shopping.

Choose keywords with the most opportunity: Focus on relevance of the keyword to your offering, intent of the visitor, competition for the word/phrase, and search volume — high volume/competition ratio is better.

Entice the searcher to visit your site by promising something relevant to them in return. Really try to understand what your target market is wanting and make that clear in your ad copy.

Example: someone is searching using key phrase such as “best tablet for students”. They would be interested in ads that speak to comparison between products, looking for quality over price. However a search for “cheap tablets” suggests more of a focus on price, therefore a price reduction or discount would appeal to them more. Captivate the user’s attention with descriptive words, such as “lowest prices,” “free shipping” or “latest technology”.

Leveraging ad extensions to dominate more of the search result page. Use of images in the ad increases CTR substantially, driving users to product specific pages on the site.

2. Display advertising

Display Advertising is a proven and highly effective shopper marketing strategy for digital advertisers to bring targeted traffic to their site or landing page. Brands that advertise at-retail are able to control their exposure throughout the purchase funnel and target consumers shopping with intent to buy products in targeted retail categories. In other words, by placing ads on websites with content that is highly related to purchase intent, you are delivering your message to people who are actively shopping for your product or services.

In a recent study, Mediative measured the impact of at-retail display advertising on consumer behaviour, using Walmart as a test environment. The results show that display advertising that is related to the intent of the visitor can have a big impact on consumer online behaviour.

Back-to-School display advertising creative: Quick tips

  • Align creative strategy to campaign objectives: If you’re building a banner to drive traffic to your website, and ultimately increase revenue, create strong messages that encourage direct response. To win the conversion, you need to tell users why they should click your ad. What is the immediate benefit to them?
  • Keep your message straightforward: Use the limited space wisely to promote the one message that you want consumers to retain. Best practice is to use approximately 2/3 of the available space for the message, and the remaining 1/3 for the CTA. Cluttered ads are a sure fire way to put off potential traffic.
  • Use your creative imagery to cut through the clutter: Color and imagery is key to grabbing your audience’s attention. For the CTA, bright colours and clickable shapes are essential. Avoid banners with white backgrounds as these can get lost in the website.

Below is an example of a well-designed banner ad that is related to visitor intent:

Back-to-School Digital Marketing Campaign Best Buy

Tip: Websites have built their ad slots to IAB standards so it’s critical that you’re building to these specs, otherwise your ad may not make it onto the site.


The emphasis is on re-engaging people who have visited your website and left without making a purchase. Targeting the right people, with the right message, in the right place, at the right time is a great value added tool for virtually any online advertising campaign.

Retargeting Quick Tips:

  • Find the right balance between too many ads, and not enough. You don’t want to bombard people with ads, but not enough exposure will have little effect.
  • Make sure your ads are well branded with engaging creative – ads that include prominent images, brand names, specific promotions, pricing or product offers are likely to perform better.
  • Have measures in place so as not to retarget to those who have already converted on your site.

3. Social media quick wins

  • Shoppers often want social reassurance in a purchase decision they are going to make. If other people they know have bought the same product and like it, the purchase risk is reduced. Encourage ratings and reviews of your product especially for higher risk purchases such as laptops or other electronic products.
  • Create content and/or feature special promotions and contests that that encourage “liking”, tweeting, sharing and interaction with your brand (e.g. contests to win iPads, or gift cards)
  • Add back-to-school specific features to your social media pages such as wish-list or shopping list builders to encourage engagement.
  • Offer rewards in the form of discounts or special offers for check-ins at your physical locations on Foursquare or Facebook.
  • Create unique hashtags on Twitter to generate buzz around a promotion you might be running, or use Twitter’s Promoted Tweets for more visibility.

Paid Search Advertising, Display Advertising, and Social Media will have an immediate impact on your online marketing goals if executed properly. This can translate into a direct revenue increase, or an increase in the intent to purchase your product or brand.

For more information on SEO, PPC, Nurturing, Advertising and Social Campaigns to support your Back to School Digital Marketing Efforts, see our full list of Cheat Sheets.