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The back to school season has become the second biggest revenue generator for retail companies, and eCommerce companies are steadily grabbing a bigger slice of the pie. AOL’s 2014 Back to School Season Preview reveals that 68% of consumers aged 18-34 plan to purchase more items from their back to school shopping lists online this year.
The growing trend of omnichannel retailing means that eCommerce companies are competing in the same arena as department stores, who often have bigger budgets to drawn on. However, social media marketers have the advantage of already living in the digital space and understanding online customer behavior. What motivates the two biggest demographics for back to school spend — moms and millennials?
Here’s the breakdown:
Moms are spending most of July comparison shopping for the best back to school deals and products, so it’s common for them to visit many websites without buying anything. The best way to stand out and reel mom back in is by putting display ads in front of those who have visited your site without completing a purchase in the past few weeks, with a gentle reminder to revisit or a discount to sweeten the deal.
As heads of the family and often full-time professionals, moms don’t have a lot of time or patience to return items to the post office or pay for products that didn’t meet a child’s or teen’s expectations. Make it simple for them to exchange sizes, colors, or models.
Mothers of younger children often do more research about products and are more open to trying new brands. If you can cement a relationship with your brand from the get-go using a rewards program, you will have a loyal customer for years. For retailers, loyalty apps and digital transactions make it easy to track purchase continuity. For customers, it makes the purchase a habit that feels rewarding and convenient.
While price is a primary consideration for moms, product quality is too. Sturdy backpacks, top-rated electronics, and outfits that will last multiple laundry sessions can be just as compelling as a buy-one-get-one-free sale. Money-back guarantees and customer reviews are bound to attract mothers who want the best for their children.
High school and college students are ready to make their mark in the upcoming year—but still want to fit in with the crowd. Marketing products as “fan favorites” while offering custom colors or monograms will appeal to millennials who want to stand out in just the right way.
Successful Facebook advertisers are constantly innovating and creating content that people are excited to pass along, such as feature promotions or contests. This approach is especially important when targeting young shoppers, who love social reassurance for purchase decisions they are making, and are highly influenced by the opinions of their peers. Likes, shares, or comment endorsements make ads more effective from both a click and conversion perspective, and can be encouraged through customer referral or loyalty programs.
Last year, Office Depot teamed up with boy band One Direction for a multi-channel anti-bullying campaign featuring limited edition back to school products. This year, Staples used the first weekend of August to highlight teacher appreciation, and the company donated $1 million to Donors Choose, an organization that helps teachers pay for school supplies. An AOL Advertising study called “Beyond the Selfie” explains why: 54% of millennial women have switched to a brand because it supported a cause they care about.
Don’t discount video as a means of promotion. Even if you don’t have a production company at your beck and call, YouTube has proven that millennials love watching on-camera reviews of purchases. This is also a chance to put one of your biggest fans in the spotlight.
Learn how to reach high-value back to school shoppers in Marketing to Moms & Millennials: A Back to School Guide.
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