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Back to School Marketing: Ensuring a Strong Digital Presence for Your Brand

By Andrea Ryan | Account Specialist

Back to School has become the second biggest time of the year for retailers. In fact, the estimated dollars spend on back to school advertising last year was approximately 55 billion, second only to the winter holidays. Research from 2010 shows us that the days of moms packing their kids into the minivan to get the essentials for the new school year are behind us. Today, moms, dads, and students themselves are looking online for their back to school needs. Your consumers are online, but is your brand breaking through the competition?

In 2010, eMarketer reported that teens and young adults are spending more time on the internet than participating in other activities, even watching TV. For the upcoming back to school season, ensuring a strong digital presence should be a top priority in back to school strategies.

How to Stand Out

Consumers begin researching for their back to school purchases as early as May but back to school searches peak in August. It is essential to have an integrated back to school marketing plan in place to maximize your brands potential during this high-traffic time of year. Here are some tips for optimizing search campaigns for the back to school season:

  • Separate back to school search campaigns for better optimization.
  • Establishing a competitive budget to break through the competition. This is especially important for mobile search where there is less ad space within search results.
  • Direct traffic from your ads to a back to school landing page to increase user experience.

Leveraging display as early as May can help get your brand in front of the consumer and raise brand awareness by the time back to school shopping begins. Make the most out of display campaigns by contextually targeting back to school promotional keywords: “back to school specials,” “back to school clearance,” “textbook deals,” “school supplies,” etc. Back to School Search marketing Categorically targeting is also an effective way to get ads in front of an audience that is likely to resonate. Targeting sites that specialize in topics such as parenting, electronics, shopping, and couponing to place back to school ads is a great way to raise brand awareness with the right audience.


Don’t just focus your search and display efforts on PC’s, the year of mobile is here! The rapidly growing mobile space provides an array of opportunities for retailers. As smartphone penetration increases, more and more mobile users are conducting product research and making purchases on their mobile devices. A significant 49% of users searching on a mobile device have made a purchase in the past 6 months. Beyond that though, more than 80% of mobile users use their mobile devices to look for local retailers or find online retailers. Mobile also serves as a great compliment to other channels in the advertising mix. Google reported that over 70% of mobile users research a product or service after seeing an ad.

Mobile is not just for the young and savvy anymore. More and more moms are tapping into the mobile channel on a regular basis. They are using their smartphones for shopping, researching, and communicating with their peers about products. A recent studied showed that 46% of moms have taken an action after seeing an ad on their smartphone, making them an attentive and engaged audience.

Use Mobile Advertising to Push In-Store Traffic

Mobile is a great opportunity to push shoppers into your store. Targeting consumers by their geographic location is an effective way for an advertiser’s ads to appear when a user conducts a relevant search in close proximity to a store location. If the user discovers that a retailer who carries products they are searching for is nearby, they are more likely to pay a visit. Advertisers can provide additional incentive by leveraging Google’s offer ads allows advertisers to include coupons or offers within a search ad for users to redeem in a store.
Focusing your back to school marketing efforts on your online consumers can lead to higher brand awareness, increased revenue, and a happy back to school season!

*Data found in image is from National Retail Federation*

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