How to craft the ultimate “back-to-school” campaign



It’s that time of year again: the kids are going back to school. (Where has the summer gone?)


The morning commute gets busier, the pools and parks get quieter and the long nights start to draw in...

Even in the Nordics, the "back-to-school" season has become a well-known term for consumers and retailers alike. As for the US? Apparently, "back-to-school" is second only to the winter holidays when it comes to heavy customer spending. 

The growing popularity of this phenomenon means that as marketers, we have to keep track of what this means for our companies. Trends like the increase of online shopping, whether people "stock up" on supplies or buy just enough, and when they're most likely to start their purchasing should have a heavy impact on our own timely marketing activities.

But what if your company doesn't focus on school supplies? Don’t despair – “back-to-school” can be full of opportunities, regardless of your company’s industry. You don’t have to be selling pencils and school uniforms to jump on this particular bandwagon: it’s a time that means many different things to many different target audiences, beyond just the school kids themselves.

(A Deloitte study showed that electronics are even more sought-after during September than traditional school supplies, for instance!)

In fact, even though it's the parents most “back-to-school” campaigns need to target, the possibilities remain almost endless.

And unlike the school tie, when it comes to crafting relevant, timely and effective messages and campaigns, one size definitely does not fit all.

It needs to be a personal message - and to create a truly personalised message (for each and every customer, no less), you are going to need data.

Find out more about personalisation from our enlightening Website Personalisation whitepaper!

Here are a few pointers on how you can make that happen:

Use cross-channel data

Whether it’s emailing your customers, setting up a social advertising campaign to find new visitors or even be dropping letters in the post, you will almost certainly need to use data from other channels to best inform it.

After all, your target customer interacts freely across channels whenever they choose, so you need to be there when they’re looking… Even when they’re expecting you!

For instance, let’s say you’re emailing a woman about the back-to-school season and some special offers you are running. Has she purchased before? If so, you can derive the type of “back-to-school” products she may be most interested in from those previous transactions, and send relevant promotions accordingly.

Or maybe she has looked at holidays for two during peak summertime, which might suggest she doesn’t have children at all!

Or you can even hold demographic data about her in your CRM – geographic location, age, marital status – all of which could provide clues as to how many children she has, or which stage of their schooling they are at.

If you have run surveys in the past, you can even use your survey data to predict her preferences, or even pick them up from her responses if she took part!

What’s more, all this CRM and survey data isn’t just suitable for your email promotion – it’s also an opportunity for better retargeting through display advertising, social media or even direct postal mail!

Did you know that all this data can be collected into a SINGLE customer profile? See for yourself in our BRAND NEW Customer Profile guide!

Use predictive analytics

Cross-channel data gives you a richer picture and better foundation to deliver a personalised message.

Dare to take it even further? Predictive analytics give you a chance to push the boundaries of what you (and your customer) already know. Rather than analysing past purchases or demographic information, predictive analytics can anticipate their next move, or even make educated guesses about preferences.

Anything from car size, shopping habits or food preferences through to estimated age – predictive analytics capabilities will really take your campaign messaging to another level.

Use “back-to-school” to influence other campaigns

Like we said before, it’s not just about pencils and school uniforms. “Back-to-school” has implications on other times of year and campaign opportunities.

For a start, it indirectly signals the end of the summer holiday, so it’s worth considering if and how your summer and “back-to-school” campaigns influence each other.

It’s also an opportunity to promote term-time activities: daytime products and services that don’t involve kids, such as DIY or spa days.

Travel brands may even wish to start focusing on early promotions for autumn holidays!

To sum up: “back-to-school” for everyone!

Regardless of industry or audience, two things ring true: “back-to-school” season can affect everyone in one way or another - and using cross-channel data to personalise your campaigns for this special season just makes sense.

Good luck!

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