Strategies for Back-to-School Promotions from Gen3

Jun 6, 2018
Written by CJ

School’s out. Back-to-School promos are in.

Across the country kids are cheering as they leave classes for the last time this school year. While families are planning summer camps and vacations, marketers are prepping Back-to-School promotions.

This ever-popular shopping season gives us compelling network data and trends to analyze from last year’s Back-to-School time frame (July-September 2017). With these insights in hand, Jonathan Kendall, Vice President of Affiliate Marketing for agency Gen3 Marketing, provided some key strategies and best practices for Advertisers looking to make a big splash during the 2018 Back-to-School season.

Summer Travel Increases Mobile Shopping

It’s no surprise that the summer months finds many folks on-the-go, making them even more inseparable from their smartphones. Due to the high rate of families travelling during the summer, CJ network data showed a YOY increase in purchases from smartphones during July and August. For example:

  • 29% of apparel purchases last year were completed on smartphones
  • 18% of sales in the Department Stores category were made on smartphones.  

As you try to reach mobile-first Back-to-School shoppers this year, Kendall recommends marketers focus on these strategies:

  • Capitalize on mobile-friendly Publishers and their ability to reach shoppers early in the discovery process/conversion funnel.
  • Arm Publishers with materials to introduce your brand in a clear and effective way, while focusing on the competitive differentials of your products.
  • Time enhanced placements on content/niche sites to run earlier in the season versus those on more transactional-based sites.
  • Reconsider deeper engagements with sites that may have previously fallen by the wayside due to low conversion rates. Concentrate on the potential reach they may provide in terms of getting your brand in front of new users/driving new traffic to your site.
  • Finally, don't forget to ensure that any assets you're providing mobile-focused sites render well on small screens!

Back-to-School Shoppers in the Market for Computers

As parents and students gear up for the start of a school year, a computer purchase is often at the top of many shopping lists. Our network data shows purchases of desktop and laptop computers surge during the Back-to-School time period. As a complex purchase that requires a fair amount of research, shoppers on the hunt for a new computer frequently engage with multiple publisher sites before purchasing. Based on CJ network data for Back-to-School computer sales, we found:

  • 90% of computer sales complete on a desktop computer
  • August is the peak month for Back-to-School computer purchases

To ensure you are part of the research phase for computer purchases, here are Kendall’s top tips for advertisers:

  • Ensure your offering is equivalent with core competitors and adjust promotional content as needed, otherwise this will be a large point of lifecycle abandonment.
  • Similarly, be certain your cashback offering on loyalty sites is in-line with those in your vertical, as well as potential resellers and wholesalers.
  • Consider launching category placements on heavily-trafficked sites, to attract potential customers that have yet to decide on a brand.
  • Maintain consistent coverage on price-comparison and deal-aggregator sites, and work with core influencers on fresh product/service reviews to help move potential customers closer to conversion.

Labor Day: The Cyber Monday of Summer

Labor Day is the peak sales holiday of Q3 and some of the best opportunities for selling.  Network sales growth shows that last year, shopping occurred in the days leading up to Labor Day.

back to school labor day chart
  • Sales on the Saturday and Sunday before Labor Day increased 37% and 38% YOY, respectively
  • In the 6 days leading up to Labor Day, sales growth exceeded the Q3 average by 17 basis points.

To convert shoppers who may be browsing in the days leading up to Labor Day, Kendall advises you incorporate these affiliate strategies:

  • As retailers move towards Labor Day, alter promotional messaging to reference the holiday whenever possible, and consider using a discount/shipping offer that fosters a sense of urgency, IE: "Last chance to save before the holiday!" or "Order by X date to receive before Labor Day!"
  • This is the time to launch enhanced placements with transactional sites, as they play a key role in facilitating conversion during this phase of the customer lifecycle.
  • An incredibly effective way to optimize the high surges of sales/traffic the Labor Day season offers is with placements publisher newsletter blasts as the holiday nears.

What are some key ways that you are preparing for the upcoming Back-to-School shopping season?

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