In part 1 of this two-part series, I’ll share two of the common challenges that online marketers face when managing back-to-school efforts and offer best practices, tips, and solutions to overcome these challenges. Check back for a follow-up post featuring solutions to tackling online-to-offline and multi-devices strategies in this back-to-school season.

Back to school is the 2nd largest retail season of the year, surpassed only by the festive season at the end of the year. While both shopping seasons provide you with a chance to capture consumers with high intent, each event is different and has unique challenges associated with it.

To succeed during the back-to-school season this year, it’s important to understand the key challenges and implement strategies to overcome them, thus driving more traffic and engagement from your target markets and increasing overall sales and revenue.

Challenge #1: Forecasting

Unlike the peak end-of-the-year shopping season, the back-to-school season does not have key dates where sales typically spike. Instead, as shown in the charts below, consumers make purchases from 2+ months prior to the start of school to even after the school year begins.


This can make budget allocation difficult for digital marketers, as you want to stretch your budgets across this multi-month period of time, yet also want to support key promotional dates and take advantage of days where you will get the most bang for your buck.

Kenshoo Halogen™, our predictive media engine, can help illuminate the potential of digital marketing campaigns by providing forecasts and scenario plans that can automatically be applied to campaigns. Utilizing Halogen can provide more visibility into expected revenue and return on investment (ROI) for a specified time period and will allow for more accurate forecasting and budget allocation.

Challenge #2: Targeting

Marketers are also faced with major targeting obstacles when it comes to back-to-school shopping. Firstly, back-to-school and back-to-college consumers are extremely different — with differing product desires and purchasing habits. Within these two segments, you’re also faced with the challenge of targeting the user of your products or the buyer, as the buyer is likely the parent and the user the child. As shown below, another segmentation that may occur within the buyer segment is the division between moms and dads as components of the “parents” sector.

As Yahoo shares, over 40% of back-to-school shoppers are dads. By understanding the differences in the shopping habits between moms and dad, you can provide tailored messaging to each segment to increase engagement.


In order to manage these multiple target audiences on social media, marketers can utilize Facebook Custom Audiences, which allows you to target your ads to a specific set of people with whom you have already established a relationship. Sending targeted messaging to a subset of your audience — consumers who have signed up for your newsletter or mailing list, for instance — and tailoring that messaging accordingly will produce increased ROI and conversion activity. Providing a promotional coupon is a great example of this.

Taking this one step further, Kenshoo Intent-Driven Audiences™ leverages cross-channel insights to improve search and Facebook ROI by automatically creating Facebook Custom Audiences based on consumer intent demonstrated through search engine activity. Since these audiences have shown increased interest through search activity, it is highly likely that they will engage via social and produce incremental revenue.

To translate this into a more tangible example, brands can now leverage the data triggered by “back to school deals” keywords, for example, on Facebook to develop a cohort of audiences, and then deploy Lookalikes to expand reach to relevant “back-to-school” shoppers.

Check back for part 2 of this series where I’ll highlight two more challenges that retailers face in the back-to-school shopping season: online-to-offline and multi-device strategies — and how Kenshoo helps you to turn them into opportunities.