The back-to-school shopping season is in full swing.
We’re writing this post to do a friendly check in on your BTS marketing efforts so far, but also to offer you some mobile marketing tactics to help you earn that A+.
While the BTS season occurs annually, it’s important to be mindful of an immense amount of uncertainty affecting our world on a daily basis.
- Schools are continuing to navigate the moving target that is COVID-19 that led to irregular school seasons in the past few years
- Supply chain disruptions are still very much around
- The economy is taking a double hit with inflation and the threat of another recession
The good news is despite all of the above factors, spending for the upcoming school year from K-12 is expected to reach new heights: $34.4B, or roughly $661 per student according to new research from Deloitte. Given this is an 8% YoY increase for spending per student, concern about sales should be minimal.
Since it’s a critical season for both student shoppers and parents who are helping their children buy items off of a long list of necessary supplies it’s important to keep both demographics in mind.
These key marketing trends will directly influence the needs and behaviors of BTS shoppers.Here are a few major ones to keep in mind.
Price Still Matters
Although higher prices are expected by consumers, many won’t go with the first price they come across. Price checks are expected to spike as shoppers want to put the extra time into finding the best deal around. 64% of shoppers are expected to plan their shopping around major sales events.
Along similar lines, compared to 2021 the consumer interest in likely to use coupons has increased. Now that consumers have more options again for ways to shop, they likely will be aiming to find the best deals to get more bang for their buck.
In other words, both price and value are driving shopping behaviors in a significant way this year and brands must be prepared for consumers who are on the hunt for discounts.
Now More Than Ever, Convenience Is King
While BTS sales occur through mid-September, you’re working with a mere 3-4 weeks left before students are back in their classrooms. This timeframe leaves consumers wanting shopping experiences that are fast and efficient.
It’s not only a desire for convenience for things like optimal shipping times and fast delivery dates, but also what is most convenient for their wallets. Since consumers have been conditioned by the pandemic to wait longer to receive their order, 79% of consumers say free shipping matters more to them than fast shipping.
However as the BTS timeframe continues to crunch, the buying process needs to be as easy as possible with the least amount of friction.
Buying Decisions are Driven by the Experience
Personalized shopping experiences are a top motivator for consumers. For brands, the time is right now to invest in strategies and tools to meet consumers where they are in their buying journey before they hop over to your competitors.
It’s very important to keep in mind that this “personalized customer experience” doesn’t only include personalized content, but it also encompasses all of the channels your customers shop in. And in-store is certainly back in the channel consideration set: while there’s no sign of online shopping slowing down, in-store shopping is expected to represent 49% of the BTS budget compared to 43% in 2021.
No matter the channel, in order to succeed you need to be giving your customers the same message throughout each and every touchpoint. This will give them the assurance and confidence they need to make a purchase from you.
Why Mobile is the Best Fit
Consumers have developed a habit of mobile shopping and there are no signs of that changing. That’s because mobile phones arm consumers with the tools that all stem from the device they spend about 5-6 hours a day on.
It’s no wonder that 59% of shoppers worldwide say being able to shop on mobile is an important factor when deciding which brand to buy from.It’s at the heart of everything they do.
Also, mobile is a data-driven channel. From location to spending habits all of a mobile consumer’s behaviors and interactions can be easily – and ethically – tracked, leaving you a clear trail of breadcrumbs that can lead you to delivering better, highly personalized content that they will want to engage with.
So, how should brands accommodate the wants and needs of these eager student shoppers and their families during this BTS season? Given time is of the essence, here are a few ideas that are easy to execute in market and incredibly impactful.
Target to the Seasons
The school year starts in late August and ends in May or June, and depending on where consumers are located this means that many students will experience all four seasons.
This is especially applicable for college students. 42% of college students are at school in a different state than they call home, which means 42% of students may be adjusting to a new weather climate.
For instance, a student originally from a fairly mild, drier climate may not even think about needing their boots or their laptop bag to be waterproof despite attending school in a climate that typically gets more rain and snow.
A great brand should act just as any friendly advisor would, providing your customers not only with this insight, but also with recommendations on how to be prepared before it’s too late.
Using location-based data, like zip code, you can effectively target your mobile subscribers based on their location in order to reach the right segments of customers with the right products that are associated with the relevant weather patterns they’ll be in for the upcoming school year.
If you’re seeking a way to further boost engagement, 85% of shoppers say product information and pictures are important when deciding which brand to buy from. Use MMS to help encourage product discovery either in the form of a GIF or video, as these types of visuals will catch the eye of more subscribers.
Drive Mobile Revenue with Exclusive Mobile Wallet Offers
With inflation driving up spending shoppers stress levels are also up, rising 7% in just the last several weeks.
Research found that 52%of shoppers will be looking for deals to help alleviate this stress, so it’s important for retailers to be receptive to this reality. Limited-time offers or discounts can show consumers you’re hearing them during these uncertain times while also attracting them to all of your products.
But a coupon a consumer would need to print out or dig through their crowded email inbox to find won't cut it. Brands that activate Mobile Wallet for their offers provide consumers with a convenient way to store, immediately find and redeem offers in a contactless manner. This simple experience is likely why we see an average Mobile Wallet redemption rate of 25%*.
A mobile wallet offer can easily be distributed through any existing marketing channel - from in-store signage and direct mail to lower-cost digital channels like SMS, email, web, social and your mobile app. This ease of distribution helps create a frictionless experience as your customers engage with your brand.
And with the ability to update the content on mobile wallet passes and send lock screen messages with new information at any time, brands have a versatile, persistent, visual way to engage with and activate consumers.
Don’t always offer free shipping? Reconsider offering this during the BTS season to draw more customers in, particularly if they are making their purchases with only a few more weeks left until the school year begins.
Effectively Bridge the Online & Offline Gap
BTS shoppers are ready to go into stores, but this does not change the fact that the average person checks their phone once every 4 minutes.
If you don’t think about the importance of delivering consumers the same experience and message through all of the channels involved within their interactions with you, the risk of diminishing your customer lifetime value is real.
Using mobile is not only effective as its own channel, but it's the best tool for connecting and elevating the in-store experience, too.
It should be no surprise to learn that SMS sees a 60% response rate within 5 minutes. That's because SMS is a highly personal, conversational channel so consumers are extremely receptive to engaging with brands through text messaging.
Use SMS as a means to deliver timely promotions or mobile wallet offers which can effectively incentivize more in-store traffic. It's very simple to include "in store only" prominently on the mobile wallet pass to ensure your customers are aware the offer cannot be redeemed online.
For customers close to a physical location, you can use Mobile Wallet to drive foot traffic by sending automated mobile wallet notifications to inform them of your nearest store.
Now we must add on the layer of trust being a primary shopping motivator - trust in this context defined as proving to your customers you always have their back pre and post purchase.
Mobile as a channel offers your customers a personal, more streamlined shopping experience that they are craving and expecting.
Along with driving more online shoppers to your stores offer - or continue to offer - BOPIS as a delivery method at checkout. Use SMS to deliver order updates and pickup details in a place that consumers are guaranteed to be reached: directly on their phones.
Mobile Wallet can also provide the same level of convenience and accessibility to relevant information that customers need post-purchase. And unlike mobile apps, mobile wallet notifications cannot be turned off and does not require any internet connection to access.
Surprise & Delight Mobile Customers with Timely Inventory Notifications
Certain things like the anticipation of continual stockouts puts brand loyalty at a high risk this year. 77% of shoppers stated they will trade brands if their preferred brand is not in stock.
Maybe you can’t control out-of-stock items, but you can control automated back-in-stock notifications that will reach your customers the fastest through SMS.
The window is small, so the notification could easily be missed amidst a crowded email inbox or silenced mobile app notifications. Where you’re most likely to successfully notify your customers in time is through SMS since 60%of consumers read and respond to a text within 1-5 minutes.
The Bottom Line
Not only will mobile help your customers best navigate these uncertain times as they get back to the school year, but also it will result in more product discovery, more time spent shopping with your brand and help drive sales.
*Average Mobile Wallet offer redemption rate seen by Vibes customers