For students, summer means lazy days at the pool, outings to the park and vacations across the country. For advertisers, it means prepping for the peak days when parents, students and teachers make their back-to-school purchases.

Back-to-school retail sales in the U.S. are expected to grow 4 percent YoY with sales exceeding $857 billion. To ensure sure your brand realizes those extra sales, follow these essential tips to make your display campaigns especially successful this back-to-school season.

Display Advertising for Back to School

1. Get There Before the Bell with Early Prospecting

With back-to-school searching and shopping beginning earlier every year, implementing new customer acquisition strategies now will keep your brand on consumers’ minds as they begin shopping this season.

Lookalike modeling is a top-performing prospecting strategy we recommend to many of our advertisers. Utilize your first-party data, including Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and site purchaser data, to create a valuable pool of new audiences based on actual customers of your brand. These lookalike audience will have similar demographics and purchase behaviors to your high-value customers and you can target them with relevant and compelling display, video and social ads that have proved successful in the past.

Boost your first-party data with unique data from Slice Intelligence, a Rakuten company that offers accurate, comprehensive digital commerce data from over 4 million consumers. Our media buying team works closely with Slice to create seed audiences based on hundreds of millions of aggregated and anonymized e-receipts with insight into merchants, brands, products and much more. Lacoste implemented Slice lookalike targeting to boost their prospecting campaign and saw significant results including a 12 percent higher AOV and 70 percent higher ROI.

2. Retarget Before Finals Week for Each Vertical

Stay ahead of the curve by advertising before the different trending and conversion peak dates throughout the summer for each shopping category.

To make the most of consumers that have already been to your site, use our proprietary algorithms and Dynamic Creative Intelligence and Optimization (DCIO) capabilities to maximize your retargeting campaigns in the weeks leading up to conversion points for your products.

Our DCIO uses machine-learning algorithms to continually test ad variations displaying different combinations of your logo, product feed and call-to-action to ultimately serve top-performing ads to consumers for increased conversions. Clients leveraging DCIO have seen a 14 percent increase in total conversion rates and a 33 percent increase in post-click conversion rates.

While DCIO is a top-performing creative strategy, our clients still see impressive results from custom creative strategies. An established backpack retailer utilized personalized dynamic ads from Rakuten Marketing in their previous back-to-school campaigns and saw impressive results, including a 703 percent lift in revenue and 128 percent increase in ROAS.

3. Boost Your Mobile and Social Presence Before You Hit the Halls

Our 2016 Back-to-School Digital Insights revealed that although 85 percent of consumers noted they would purchase in-store, 60 percent of consumers stated they would begin their searches on mobile devices. With this insight, your brand can catch consumers’ attention by experimenting on mobile and social platforms using unique ad formats. To increase your social presence and performance, utilize our social team to build a product set around best-selling products and incorporate Rotating Product Ads (RPAs), which leverage a combination of video assets and top-performing products in a single ad.

A women’s fashion retailer utilized these attention-grabbing RPAs to promote their products on Facebook. When compared to static ads, RPAs drove 1.5 times the number of purchases for this client, resulting in a ROAS that was 2.3 times higher for RPAs than static ads.

The back-to-school shopping season is getting longer and more monetarily important each year. To keep up with the ever-changing scene, it’s crucial to be mobile- and social-minded as you run retargeting and prospecting campaigns for parents, teachers and college students.

To implement these display tactics in your back-to-school strategy, get in touch with your account manager or contact us here to learn more.

Be sure to check out our posts on overall back-to-school trends, paid search and affiliate strategies to ensure your overall back-to-school strategy is top notch this season.