Notebooks, backpacks, sharpened pencils, laptops and the first day of school outfit. The back-to-school phenomenon is in full swing. Consumers are filling the aisles of retailers and shopping online to get the best deals. They’re engaged, have their wallets open and are ready to spend money on the needed school items.
Marketers who apply smart marketing strategies will come out ahead and see an increase in sales from the back-to-school shopping season.
So what’s the role of email in this back-to-school frenzy?
The benefits of email in back-to-school shopping
Email increases engagement: Email provides an opportunity to engage with your customers. With the access to multiple data insights on consumers (your customers), we as marketers can create communications that are relevant to each. The time has come where we’re speaking to our customers 1:You, which is a holistic customer experience strategy that’s personalized with the best choice for individuals across all interaction points.
It’s an influential channel that supports an omnichannel strategy: As an email marketer, it’s difficult to think of how we talk to customers outside of the email channel. Oftentimes, we’re focused on episodic communications. But if we take a step back and think about our view of data outside the email world, we can understand how consumers are engaging with brands holistically.
Recently we partnered with our client Coach to help them drive more personalization in conversations. The emails that Coach’s customers received encouraged both online and in-store purchases.
As a result, there were lifts in website and in-store traffic, as well as overall order values. And, Coach was able to make a connection between the email subscriber to their in-store experience, creating higher consumer engagement.
Email creative enhances the shopping experience: Digital creative can enhance the customer’s back-to-school shopping experience and create a 1:You relationship.
The first step back-to-school retailers have to take is designing a dynamic email template that allows for personalization of messaging using a variety of data points. Think of the template as a flexible journey where you can change the creative and messaging based on the individual and their previous brand interactions. This means your email template should be built on a modular framework, which in turn will create flexibility for your marketing needs.
Building this modular system takes time, but the efficiencies that come into play, like automation capabilities, bring the back-to-school shopping experience to life.
Going beyond the single-focus campaign
Most marketers begin their back-to-school campaign planning in Q1, but it’s important to think beyond back-to-school during the planning stage. Retailers that are engaging in multi-promotional campaigns during this season see positive results.
Staples is an example of a retailer doing it right. They recently sent an email combining their ‘Daily Deals’ promotions with back-to-school offerings and they’ve had great success with this strategy. Our partner eDataSource shared that Staples achieved a read rate of 15.2% on this email, which is well above the industry average.
It’s important to keep in mind that the back-to-school ‘holiday’ shopping season is a very short marketing window. In fact, July 30th to August 5th is the peek time for back-to-school shopping.
So think about ways to integrate your back-to-school promotions and messages in your campaigns leading up to this shopping period.
To sustain and increase brand loyalty, real-time technology is key
As part of these multi-promotional efforts, marketers are leveraging existing, targeted data segments (loyalty members, past purchasers, ancillary purchases, etc.) to connect with their engaged customers. They’re shifting away from customer acquisition strategies and focusing on how they can increase the value of their existing customers while enhancing brand loyalty. The right technology is critical.
Many marketers are applying real-time marketing (point of sale) as part of their digital marketing strategy. Once you have a consumer who’s interested in your product and ready to make a purchase, you need to capture their attention at this moment because it’s an opportunity for increased sales.
But if you snooze, you lose. It needs to happen in real-time, which you can do by applying the right technology and data.
The data-driven insights provide marketers with the knowledge of the offers they should deploy, while the technology drives the delivery of the data. When thinking about your real-time strategy during the back-to-school season and beyond, plan your knowledge – the relevant content – and leverage your technology to deliver content that takes your marketing campaigns to the next level.
Capture your back-to-school share-of-wallet
Additionally, think of wallet share opportunities to incorporate into your marketing strategy. For example, if you’re a retailer selling backpacks and outdoor gear, target the promotional offer to 20% off a backpack and a $10 coupon towards their next purchase with no minimum purchase required. It’s like getting $10 for free. Consumers love “freebies,” so it’s a great way to introduce new products and services that help to drive additional sales to your brand.
Further, when consumers perceive your brand to be a retailer of multiple offerings, it creates a “one-stop shop” mindset saving them time – and time is money after all.
So what’s next? Following the back-to-school shopping season, marketing efforts will be focused on holiday 2020.
To learn more, download the back-to-school infographic.