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Preparing Your PPC Campaigns for Back-to-School Season

Back-to-School season is just around the corner which means it is almost time for a flurry of parents to descend upon the high street with their children in-tow.

While it may be an expensive time of year for parents, for the retailer, Back-to-School helps drive revenue and brand awareness across the business.

It’s important that you take steps to prepare for the season. In this article, we will show you how you can optimise for both online and offline to drive as many clicks and store visits as possible.

Consumer spending

Parents can be BIG spenders when it comes to their children and this research on consumer spending says it all:

  • Back-to-School is the third biggest spending seasonal event in the UK, beaten only by Black Friday and Christmas
  • In 2018, parents spent £1.63 billion on school supplies
  • The average parent spends £189 (Nationwide) on uniforms, shoes, sportswear, bags and stationary
  • With 63 million school children in the UK, that means a whole lot of profit for retailers

Nevertheless, 72% worry about the costs of new school supplies (a 13% increase from 2017). This gives retailers the opportunity to offer discounts and promotions in order to attract those more cost-cautious shoppers.


Prepare those PPC campaigns!

The best way to squeeze as much as possible out of Back-to-School is by executing your PPC campaigns correctly.

Preparing for seasonality is one of the best ways to get great results all year round. You may already be doing this for Black Friday or Christmas, but its always beneficial to stay active on this front all year round.

It's important to adjust your product data for different times of the year such as prom season and valentines and for events such as the World Cup. This can be done by adding keywords to the product_type attribute and to your titles.

Parents shop offline

Lots of parents shop online, and this makes channels such as Google Shopping and marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay a goldmine during the Back-to-School season. But many still prefer simple brick and mortars when the time comes, according to a 2017 report by Mintel:

  • 33% prefer supermarkets
  • 9% prefer department stores
  • 14% prefer pureplay retailer sites
  • 13% prefer specialist school retailers

This is because when children are growing, parents like to take them to try on clothes; rather than order online, send them back and order again.

It’s clear that while online is popular, a good majority of parents still prefer shopping on the high street. But this doesn’t mean that you should take away from your PPC budget. In fact, there are ways to add an offline element to your campaigns:

Local Inventory Ads

Local inventory ads are Google’s answer to the issues on the high street. When consumers search a phrase such as “lunch boxes near me”, Google shows ads such as this:

local inventory ads school trousers

Offered are opening hours, store proximity, price and inventory, which saves the customer time, and will ultimately help drive traffic to your offline stores.

And yes, this traffic can be tracked with the help of Store Visits. This will follow a consumer's journey from click to the moment she steps into the shop.

To read more about Google’s local inventory ads click here.

When to ramp up campaigns

According to Mintel, 41% of parents stock up 2-3 weeks prior to the start of term, with another 8% making it a rushed affair in the last week of the summer holidays.

We recommend:

  • Preparing your campaigns in May, launching in June and ramping them up in July.
  • Use the last week to target those last-minute shoppers with some retargeting ads to drive a sense of urgency.
  • Don’t forget the type of school you’re targeting; whether it be primary, secondary, sixth-form or university! Each will have different keywords.

Basic preparation

Before you start optimising for Back-to-School season, you need to first look at your product data.

If it’s not complete, correct and optimised, your products won’t appear. Having a good product data feed ensures that your products reach the correct, and highest-converting consumer search intent.

Have a read of our article on product data feed optimisation to learn how you can get your feeds up-to-scratch.

With 36% (Mintel) of shoppers looking for improved stock availability, this is your chance to drive a higher customer satisfaction and click-through rate. If you can get your offline stock up-to-date for local inventory ads, you’ll be in an even better position.

Be the teacher’s pet

Who doesn’t want to impress when it comes to PPC results?

The best way to secure a high level of impressions and clicks (and possibly a bonus?) is to test, test and test again.

First, we’d recommend segregating your Back-to-School campaigns using labels. This can be done easily with the IR Platform’s Label Manager. Labels allow you to split your campaigns based on shared qualities, giving you better control over what happens to your product feed.

We’d then recommend running A/B experiments to understand what attributes drive the most profitable results. This will give you more granular control over your seasonal products. Then you can get started with your experiments. Here’s what you can try:

  • Test Back-to-School to the product_type attribute
  • Test the type of school in the product_type
  • Test “kid’s trousers” against “kid’s school trousers” in the titles
  • Test Back-to-School overlays on images for Facebook campaigns

Experiment with us

If you’d like to find out how we can help you experiment on your product data feed content at ease using our Platform, have a chat with one of our team.

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