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We are all familiar with the back to school campaign time, right? A few weeks into summer and we’re already getting ads reminding us school is just around the corner again. It may be a tough reminder for students, but for brands that want to take advantage of this period, it’s your time to take action.
Back to school campaigns are right up there with holiday season campaigns. To put it simply, it is one of the most profitable times of the year for brands. According to the National Retail Federation, back to school sales are only going up. Reports show that families plan to shell out over $789 for K-12 kids, and $1,058 for college students. Generating a total of $101.6 billion in projected sales for 2021.
From deciding what to promote, how to market, when to run, and what platforms you should use, here’s your guide to creating a back to school campaign.
What types of brands/products can run these campaigns?
More products can benefit from a back to school campaign than just traditional school supplies. Clothes generate a hefty revenue each school year as kids most look forward to upgrading their wardrobe. Electronics are projected to gain record-high profits as digital learning tools are becoming more of a necessity.
Home décor and furnishings are on the list, too, as college kids need to furnish their dorm rooms and off-campus housing. We cannot forget about food products and snacks for them, either. If a company has a product that can fit into a modern-day student’s life, they should consider positioning themselves with a back to school campaign.
How do you structure the campaign to get results?
While old-school campaign methods (like TV ads) are becoming less effective, brands have turned to social media to generate brand awareness and drive sales. One of the most profitable strategies for reaching audiences online is to use influencer marketing campaigns.
With the rise of social media came content creators and influencers. Individuals whose online personality and presence form an organic relationship between their followers and themselves. This friendly dynamic makes influencers the perfect spokesperson for a brand’s target audience. Their trustworthy opinion has proven to sway consumer attitudes and buying patterns.
Even more recently, brands have recognized they can maximize their online marketing investments by combining paid ads with influencer marketing. This idea demonstrates the importance of working with both the influencers and the platforms themselves. By investing in paid ads, marketing messages can reach an audience well beyond an influencer’s following- because it gets boosted by the platform. Additionally, paid ads have the benefit of tracking their data, allowing you to analyze and optimize your marketing strategies.
Another way a brand can expand on its influencer marketing strategy is by using cross-promotion on social media. Cross-promotion translates to sharing marketing content across multiple social media platforms. This strategy allows content to be captured by audiences on various networks, rather than just one. This can boost marketing results by spreading a wider message for a brand.
Here’s an example of how American Eagle used paid ads and influencer marketing in their AExME back to school campaign featuring Addison Rae.
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In this campaign, American Eagle used a blend of micro and macro influencers to promote their back to school campaign. By using a combination of influencers, having a tiered follower count gave American Eagle the opportunity to amplify their audience reach. They also incorporated a cross promotion strategy by distributing their message across multiple social channels (i.e Youtube and Instagram).
Looking to build brand deals like this? See how Addison Rae built her platform and became big enough to work with American Eaglehere.
When do you start running back to school campaigns?
The timing of a back to school campaign strategy is crucial and can be decided by a few factors. First, when students are going back to school. And second, what time certain products are being purchased.
First day of school dates range within the U.S., with some students going back as early as July while others won’t step into a classroom until September. This creates a range between late-June to late-August as prime time to run a campaign.
Another timeline to consider is when certain products are being bought. School supplies and clothing sales reportedly spike in July, and many shoppers wait for discounts to roll out to buy electronics (usually in mid-July). To keep things fresh, snacks are usually the last items to be bought, just before school starts.
Recognizing trends in shoppers reveals many are conscious of sales when it comes to back to school spending. With big brands leading the way with their discount strategies, they run promotions across different months to encourage shoppers to “buy now”.
For example, Apple’s educational promotion includes a gift (AirPods) with every purchase of a Mac in 2021. Their campaigns typically run from June-September. Amazon promotes Amazon Prime Day, a 36-hour long period of deals with free one to two-day shipping mid-June. Target and Walmart have joined a similar timeframe to Amazon by competing with their own discounted deals.
By paying attention to these larger companies, you can identify some of the best trends and timelines to follow for your own brand.
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What platforms should you focus on?
Figuring out which social media platform to focus on in a back to school campaign is another essential part of your campaign strategy. Each platform has users of any age, but as new networks gain individual success throughout the years, demographics have moved with them. With your target audience in mind, paying attention to these demographics within platforms can propel your message even further.
Back to school shopping isn’t only influenced by parental spending as the students themselves carry opinions that help decide what gets purchased. Especially in today’s world, as we are spending more time on our phones than ever before, teens are spending an average of seven hours a day on their devices. This younger generation is being exposed to the most daily information and ads than any group before them. Makes sense why they’d have so many opinions.
Whether your target audience is the parents or students, let’s break down some platform demographics to help you decide which platform will benefit your campaign the most.
TikTok, formerly known as musical.ly, is the latest social media platform to execute great success. Not only have they accomplished staggering results as a social network, but they have also transformed the way we view content today.
Loved shooting with this crew for the new @americaneagle Back-to-School campaign ❤️ #aepartner #aejeans
As a revolutionary app, it has attracted a large user base (roughly 500 million monthly users), mainly GenZers and Millennials. 60% of users are between 16-24, spending an average of 52 minutes a day scrolling through video content. Recent surveys show that TikTok (29%) is the most preferred app for teens in the U.S., beating Instagram (25%) for the first time.
It’s no secret that innovation attracts newer generations, making it one of the top platforms to market to students.
Instagram is the second largest platform, with 1.2 billion users worldwide. It paved the way for influencers and has changed the game of marketing because of it. Its largest users are reportedly 25-34, with 18-24 being the second largest for the platform.
Running campaigns on Instagram would be a valuable platform for brands to focus on that are looking to target both students and parents alike.
Not sure which platform is best for your campaign? See our guide to TikTok vs Instagram creator marketing here.
Facebook was the first social network, completely transforming the way we absorb media today. And it is still the largest platform in history, with 2.1 billion users worldwide. Although stats show their largest age group to be 24-35 year olds, they carry a lot of weight with the baby boomer generation as well.
Because of this, Facebook is a great resource for brands looking to target parents with their back to school campaigns.
YouTube has a user base of 2 billion globally, and with 70% of viewers purchasing from a brand after seeing it on the platform, it is no doubt a valuable asset to marketers. 95% of 18-29 year olds, 91% of 30-49 year olds, and 45% of 65+ year olds use the network. This makes it another great platform for multiple target audiences.
Pinterest is best known as a media platform used by moms. And although that may be true as 80% of moms do use the platform, younger crowds are surprisingly not far behind. Although there is a younger presence, 34% of users are 30-49 years old and 38% are 50-64 years old. To best optimize Pinterest’s demographics, the best target audience on this platform are, in fact, moms.
Taking the steps to organize a back to school campaign is no easy task. However, by focusing on defining your target audience, aligning with suggested timelines, and selecting a platform to focus on, you have the foundation for a successful back to school campaign. Now, you just need a killer influencer marketing agency to expertly execute!