Retailers Ramp Up Social and Mobile Initiatives to Reach Back-to-School Shoppers
As the second-largest spending season among consumers — and, at three months, the longest — back-to-school (BTS) brings big opportunities for retailers to connect with shoppers. RetailMeNot recently released a study conducted by Kelton Global that found 85 percent of retail marketers plan to invest more in their BTS marketing in 2017 compared to the previous year.
As retailers look to gain more engagement and loyalty among customers, a majority of the increased investment will be seen in omnichannel initiatives, with nearly nine in 10 retail marketers reporting that they plan to spend more on mobile (89 percent) and social media (88 percent) efforts to reach shoppers.
Specifically, mobile continues to be the apple of marketers’ eyes, making it the top priority this year for a large portion of retailers (53 percent). Additionally, mobile will continue to influence sales across all channels, including in-store, which is a major opportunity for retailers as parents and kids alike head to physical stores to touch and feel the products they're interested in.
Beyond expanding investments in mobile marketing, retailers will continue to explore new methods of reaching consumers throughout the season, including using new social media approaches and new offer content across channels.
Increased Interest in New Social Tactics
In 2017, retailers and brands have become more open to trying the latest tactics for reaching audiences earlier in the shopping journey. Testing marketing on social platforms like Facebook Live (74 percent), Instagram (60 percent) and Snapchat (55 percent) are all top of mind for savvy marketers looking to get in front of both students and parents alike.
Among the latest approaches being explored by brands, livestreaming offers retailers the ability to connect with consumers on a more meaningful level and give an inside look into the brand. Additionally, recently developed functions like linking for advertisers and brands on these platforms allow an e-commerce and conversion play to emerge for marketing new products, deals and offers, as well as other initiatives. Retailers can plan social media efforts to coincide with seasonal content or real-time moments in a consumer’s life, in addition to being an effective method for getting in front of more mobile audiences.
Digitally Savvy Deal Seekers on the Rise
As retailers compete for consumer attention, they recognize the power of incentives and promotions. Eighty-one percent of marketers surveyed said they plan to offer more BTS promotions this year versus last.
Additionally, thousands of consumer and retailer insights across the RetailMeNot app and website show that two in three retailers are offering the same or better discounts for BTS in 2017 compared to the same time frame last year. The retail industry can expect to see an increase in the number of brands using omnichannel offers, likely a response to the 40 percent increase in engagement with omnichannel offers among consumers during BTS last year.
Shopping during this season can be stressful for parents, and price is often the biggest determining factor in what they decide to purchase. With nearly a third of shoppers saying they always browse BTS deals online before stepping inside a storefront, a robust mobile strategy has become table stakes for reaching and engaging shoppers from discovery to transaction.
Parents want to maximize their spending power during the BTS season, and are turning to new channels across social and mobile platforms to find the best promotions and incentives. Omnichannel efforts and compelling content are imperative for retail marketers who want to reach these audiences online, on mobile and in-store.
Marissa Tarleton is the chief marketing officer at RetailMeNot, a company that maintains a collection of coupon websites.