Back to school season is here once again! As an affiliate marketing advertiser, are your back to school marketing strategies ready?
Back to school shopping is kicking off as you read this, which means your marketing strategies need to be ready to go. Whether you’ve got your affiliate marketing plan in place and are looking for a few last-minute tips, or you’re just getting started and want to know the best ways to create a back to school marketing plan, this advertiser-focused article examines 7 tips, tricks, and strategies for back to school affiliate marketing. If you’re interested in seeing some strategies your
If you’re interested in seeing some strategies your publishers might employ, check both this year’s blog post on back to school marketing strategies for publishers and last year’s post on 10 content marketing tips for back to school marketing. And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the 8 essential back to school shopping trends!
For now, let’s get started!
1. Form Publisher Partnerships for Specific Demographics
Back-to-school marketing planning is usually focused on the younger children, but students are a large and diverse group, and their shopping habits reflect as much. The back-to-school shopper will range from preschool children and their parents to adult students who decided to, quite literally, go “back to school” to earn a degree, along with every shopper in between. They’re all going to have different needs based on their education levels and where they are in life, so you’ll need to make your placements accordingly.
Leveraging back-to-school shoppers through loyalty and reward sites can be critical because many loyalty sites can target specific demographics. In addition, finding specific niche bloggers and influencers could be achieved through the Find New Publishers tool in the Advertiser Dashboard. Specific publisher categories to search for include children, education, fashion & beauty, parenting & family, and teen.
Finally, using student-focused publishers and publisher tools is a great way to get started with your affiliate marketing strategy. Using identification tools in conjunction with your student-exclusive offers to verify if the student is an active student can help ensure your deals are going to students.
Evaluate the specific needs of each demographic segment, think about what your product line offers them and where they’re most likely to shop, and make your partnerships and promotions accordingly.
2. Have an Omnichannel Strategy
Back-to-school shoppers are becoming more complex in their shopping behavior, thanks in part to the multiple devices they use and the ways they leverage them. Customers are researching products from their desktop to buy in a store later, or in a store with the product in one hand and a mobile device in the other, comparing prices to other stores in real time to see if they can get a better deal. In short: Your customers are all over the place, and you’ll want to give them as seamless a shopping experience as possible. Having a good omnichannel strategy in place has always been important, but as your customers become savvier with how they shop and the devices they use, the strategy will be necessary. With back-to-school being the second biggest shopping season of the year, use this as an opportunity to organize your omnichannel strategy and put it into practice.
3. Understand How Customers Are Using Mobile
How exactly are your customers using their mobile devices to shop? Are they using their phones to research products while they’re in store, search for coupons before checking out, reading reviews and getting tutorials, or something else? Chances are the answer is ‘all of the above’ – more people are relying on their mobile devices for a wider range of shopping activities including research, comparison shopping, coupon hunting, finding stores in their area, and more.
Although mobile may not be the last stop a customer makes, having a mobile strategy in place is critical when it comes to the success of your back-to-school marketing strategy.
First, have specific banner sizes available. Best-converting banner sizes generally vary by country and by program. Some common banner sizes include: 320×50, 320×480, and 728×90. These are good for mobile, tablet, and desktop, which can be extremely helpful to your publishers. Additionally, it’s also good to keep your text links short and concise for a mobile audience’s shopping behavior. You can use the Mobile Link Type Report to provide actionable insights for your own program.
Next, you’ll want to ensure that your checkout process on mobile is easy. Should a customer decide to purchase from your site via mobile, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible to complete their purchase. Don’t risk cart abandonment because your process was cumbersome!
Be sure to track mobile coupon codes if possible. Doing so will give you greater insights in customer behavior and could lead to higher conversions.
Partner with publishers who can offer a mobile option to customers, and consider having a diversity of publisher models that can offer different services to the shopper via a mobile device (such as mobile coupons, reviews on products that are formatted for mobile, and so on).
4. Understand the Path to Purchase with Attribution
We’ve stressed how complex the path to purchase is for a back-to-school shopper, so addressing that complexity is critical for how you develop your affiliate strategy. Using attribution tools such as Rakuten Marketing’s Cadence tool will help add visibility to the back-to-school shopping behaviors that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to identify as clearly. The tool is free and available to all Rakuten Marketing customers, so if you haven’t already started leveraging this resource to enhance your affiliate strategy we recommend doing so for this back-to-school season. This tool will be incredibly helpful for long term planning as well, so when you plan for back-to-school shopping next year, you’ll have much better and more actionable insights from this season by using Cadence. Contact your Account Manager to get started with Cadence.
5. Experiment with Video
Video is starting to become a conversion driver, but there’s still plenty of room to explore and experiment within this medium. Consider working with publishers who leverage video as a content medium to see if you can boost your back-to-school sales.
Using sub-networks is a great way to identify video influencers, but the key to understanding what works is through testing the content. You can test by experimenting with different products and partnering with different content creators who might add their own spin or story to what you’re promoting.
6. Include Free Shipping
Recently, the NRF (National Retail Federation) conducted a survey which asked back-to-school shoppers about their feelings on free shipping. 89.4% of those surveyed said they were planning on using free shipping during their back-to-school shopping, more than any other category by far. The simple fact is customers need free shipping when they order online. If you can’t offer free shipping for all orders, offer it at a low order amount threshold so that a customer can take advantage of it.
There are too many places where consumers can find free shipping or circumvent the shipping costs by ordering for in-store pickup. Don’t miss out on sales by not offering free shipping – offer it, and if you do make sure you promote it.
7. Promote to Teachers, Too!
There is another important demographic you cannot forget about: Teachers! Teachers are returning to school just like the students, but in addition to shopping for their needs, they may also be shopping for students as well.
You can start targeting teachers by acknowledging them in your marketing efforts with publishers. Call out to teachers with banners and media content, and be sure to have that content available for publishers to quickly grab and promote. If you’re offering teacher-exclusive deals, the same rules can be applied from ID tools to ensure that only teachers are taking advantage of your offers.
Adjust your marketing strategies to promote products and offers for teachers to purchase for students and for themselves. From classroom supplies to new outfits to wear during the school year, teachers can be a great demographic to market towards!
Special thank you to Tucker Erickson, who contributed to this article. Tucker is an account manager who works with some of Rakuten Affiliate Network’s largest retail and travel clients to develop their affiliate marketing strategies