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How Retailers Can Get the Most Out of Back to School

August 17, 2016 at 9:00 AM by Caroline Watts

08092016_featuredImage_v1a.jpgFor retailers, the back-to-school shopping push is a critical opportunity. Standing out in a sea of competitors during this busy time is crucial to driving bottom lines, not just for August and September, but for the entire year. With every retail outlet competing for shoppers' dollars, and with more and more commerce being done online, retailers must be strategic and fast-moving to outmaneuver the competition and win the day for back-to-school season.

Start with a Wide Variety of Ad Concepts

One of the biggest mistakes most advertisers make is to stick to a single ad concept and create a huge volume of ads around that planned idea. Yet this is a crucial and costly missed opportunity that doesn’t ensure you’ll get the most out of your ad spend.

Rather than winnowing down initial ideas into one winner, it’s best to develop the top four or five concepts and then let your customers decide which one resonates the most. As well as you know your customers, it's impossible for even the most seasoned and skilled marketer to predict with 100% certainty what is going to hook audiences and inspire them to take action. Let them tell you themselves, and take the guesswork out of the equation.

Instead of knocking out the potential winner before your audience even has a chance to weigh in, run some experiments to determine which concept performs best. Just make sure those tests are perfectly designed. Only once your audience has a chance to vote with clicks and conversions should you narrow down your options to a single ad concept. That way, you’ll know that what you’re testing is the best of the best.

Personalization Is Key

One size fits all doesn't work for your products, and it won't work for your ads.

If you want to stand out to your customers, you need to serve them the products and offers they're most likely to be interested in. That's why 70% of marketers cite personalization as their most important data goal. If you can launch a successful personalization strategy, you'll be well ahead of the competition and position yourself to increase return on investment (ROI) more efficiently.

Whether your strategy is to drive in-store traffic through digital coupons and offers, or to generate more sales, personalization is key. Leverage your data management platform (DMP) to combine your first-party customer data (such as past purchases) with third-party data (including demographic profiles or in-market information).

Busy shoppers don’t bother with irrelevant ads, so the more comprehensive and streamlined your data insights are, the more effectively you can tailor ads to your audiences.

One and Done is Outdated

Even once your ad concepts are in play and your personalization strategy is live, you’re still not done. In order to stay on top of the pack during the entire back-to-school season—and beyond—it’s imperative to continue iterating on your concepts.

Continuously testing proven winners against each other ensures you’ll drive performance improvements over time. Every brand wants to cash in on this seasonal event, but for those who truly want to achieve sustainable results, testing personalized ad concepts is an effective way to stay top of mind all year long.

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