How to Set Up Effective Back to School Campaigns

This year’s Back to School season is going to be unique. The possibility of extended remote learning due to COVID-19 is driving shopping behaviors away from traditional school supplies to personal electronic equipment and comfortable home clothes.

But while the type of purchases parents plan to make this BTS season are different, the pandemic is likely to drive a boost in online sales. According to Deloitte, both parents of K-12 kids and college students plan to spend more this year, an increase of 28% and 6% respectively.

Let’s dive into the main driving factors of this year’s BTS season and how you can adjust your Amazon strategy accordingly.

Uncertainty Drives Shopping Behaviors

Uncertainty is the main factor influencing this year’s BTS shopping. Many parents still don’t know whether their kids will continue learning online or return to classrooms in the fall.  

This will likely extend the BTS shopping period into late August and early September as many parents will wait to see what happens in their school district. Given these changes, it’s wise to start your Sponsored Product ad push early and extend it later.

Remote learning is expected to increase the demand for personal computers & other electronic equipment. Personal computers alone are expected to have a +38% YoY change. Traditional school supply items, on the other hand, are expected to be down year over year, -13% YoY.

However, many schools might practice a hybrid mode of both online and in-person learning, which can make the demand for on-the-go items such as lunchboxes and backpacks surge quite quickly.

Price is still an important factor, and many will go online to find good deals. According to a survey from Deloitte, 58% of parents with college-aged kids and 44% of parents of K-12 children plan to do their shopping online. The increased eCommerce traffic is further driven by limits put on in-store shopping. A lot of the online traffic will certainly show up on Amazon as 81% of parents plan to shop at mass merchants.

Tips to Succeed in the 2020 Back to School Season

Even with the uncertainty of how exactly this year’s BTS season will look, there are a few changes you can make to adapt. Here are our five most important tips.

Tip #1: Focus more on generic terms

Given the increase in online BTS shopping, we recommend focusing more on generic terms, such as pencils, notebooks, laptops, etc. Many new eCommerce shoppers are likely to start with those generic searches.  

Be aware that these high impression volume keywords can be expensive given the bid density. You can:

  • Set budget caps to mitigate overspend.
  • Implement Dayparting. Bid later in the day when a lot of brands run out of budget, and take advantage of lower CPCs.
  • Utilize out-of-budget alerts to adjust your strategy.

You can also use the product targeting feature in Sponsored Product campaigns to target entire product categories at scale, such as “school supplies”.

Tip #2: Set up a sub-page just for BTS

Sub-pages of brand stores are great to leverage during seasonal events such as BTS. They are free to set up and have the potential to highlight seasonal products and breadth of assortment. We advise directing Sponsored Brand ads to your BTS sub-page.

To get the most out of your BTS sub-page, include a relevant headline of 50 characters or less, and content like tips and tricks to keep people engaged and show which products they can buy.

Tip #3: Leverage sponsored display

Sponsored Display is a great way to purchase placement on the product detail pages of complementary products. You can both purchase placement on your competitors' product detail pages and block them from appearing on yours. If you use the Product Targeting feature, the paid placement can include an entire category.

With Sponsored Display, you can also employ a cross-sell or an up-sell strategy across different items within your catalog, and promote new products or big promotions with special built-in badging.

Tip #4: Monitor inventory

While Sponsored Products will pause when you are out of stock, you may want to stop advertising items that are running low, especially as we continue to head into uncertain times. With Pacvue, you can use inventory levels as a bid rule variable to make sure you’re advertising items with enough inventory.

Tip #5: Advertise Larger Pack Sizes

Promote items with larger pack sizes as these have a lower cost per unit. For school supplies, make sure to enroll your products in Subscribe & Save, since parents are more likely to reorder them more often.

This year’s Back to School season is colored by uncertainty. Parents still don’t know if their kids will go back to school or continue with remote learning. As a result, the demand for traditional school supplies is expected to decrease, and the demand for home items to increase.

To adapt to this new reality, we advise focusing your campaigns on generic terms, set up a sub-page solely for BTS products (with a focus on larger pack items), purchase placement on the product detail pages of complementary products, and pay close attention to your inventory levels.

Agencies and brands can now manage their sponsored product ads across a wider ecosystem of marketplaces and retailers using Pacvue
by 
Pacvue Blog

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