It’s that time again. All the students are heading back to school, and your inbox is flooded with back-to-school marketing efforts. It’s reminiscent of Black Friday to me. Every company has something to sell and is trying to stand out among the crowd. If you’re in the marketing business, you know this can be challenging, especially when you’ve got so much competition at one time. The National Retail Federation is anticipating record spending for this year, estimating the total amount of back-to-school purchases to come in at over 80 billion dollars. If you’re asking yourself what you can do to raise the bar for your marketing efforts when it comes to capitalizing on this high-dollar back-to-school mania, start with these steps:

Know Your Demographic

The first thing to pinpoint in your marketing efforts for a back-to-school campaign is who your audience is. Are you promoting products for higher education or for primary grade levels? A college student heading back for his or her junior year at a university will need a completely different set of supplies than a first-grader. Also, the college student will likely be the one doing the shopping and a parent will be purchasing the first grader’s needs. If your audience is college-aged, how can you adapt your writing so that what’s being advertised will resonate with someone in their early twenties? College kids might think about the “cool” factor of a product, its price point or how fast they can have it shipped. If you’re speaking to parents, they might want to know about the safety of your product, how it can improve their child’s experience or if it’s practical and budget-friendly.

Push Certain Products

With such a huge amount of competition and information saturation with back-to-school sales, it’s a smart idea to decide on and focus upon certain products as your main sellers. This allows your team to place those items at the forefront of your website and your other marketing materials. It also lets SEO strategists know what to concentrate on (more on that below). This doesn’t mean that you ignore all of the other products, but advertising a few “big ringers” might get you the click you need to lead your customers to other valuable products.

Create Informative Content to Help Your Audience

As with any good content marketing strategy, it’s imperative to have quality content on your website. Search engines like Google are doing a better job every day at identifying what content is informative and meets its audience’s needs. You need to have well-written content on your website so you rank higher in search engine results. Additionally, quality content helps to establish you as an expert in your field or with regard to your product. It creates a trust between you and your audience and helps to cement you as a top choice in regards to sales. In my experience, if I read about a product or service on a website and the information presented is carefully crafted and helpful, I’m much more apt to make a purchase off of that website than, say, another one that is poorly presented.

Implement a Smart SEO Strategy

According to Search Engine Land, your SEO for a back-to-school campaign should be focused on hero products, which are the main products you’re promoting. Once those products are decided upon, you can create an SEO strategy that starts with your hero products, then you can do your research to decide what other keywords would fit each page the best. What keywords are trending for back-to-school currently? What keywords were successful in your past campaigns of this nature? Another important factor in planning your SEO strategy is when to start your campaign. Likely, if you’re incorporating back-to-school SEO into your website a week before school starts, you’ve lost your chance at any solid rankings. Plan ahead here! Do your research and thoroughly arrange and execute a solid SEO strategy in advance to help you get the rankings and the traffic you need for success.

Incorporate Long-Tail Keywords

In relation to SEO, I’m a fan of long-tail keywords for efforts like this, because there is such a diverse set of needs for back-to-school shopping. Long-tail keywords give you the chance to pull in an audience who is looking for specific products. Many times, long-tail keyword searches lead to a purchase because they hone in on exactly what the potential customer is looking for. To illustrate, if you’re selling clothes and shoes, and your items fit the requirements for a school uniform, include a long-tail keyword like “back-to-school clothes for school uniforms.” Another example that I’ve actually been using frequently lately is “stainless steel school lunchboxes.” So while “school lunchboxes” might end up in a mediocre search engine ranking, adding the “stainless steel” portion to that keyword could draw customers to your website who will more likely purchase from you because you’re offering exactly what they need.

In summary, a well-thought-out plan for SEO and content that directly reaches your demographic should provide you with success. Do you need help in this area? Don’t forget, Black Friday is coming, too! Let us help you.

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