Back to school shopping is a critical shopping period for consumers. Whether this is your first year as an affiliate publisher, or you’re a seasoned veteran looking for ideas and back to school marketing tips, this blog post will help you get ready for this huge Q3 shopping period!

Last year we provided content publishers with 10 back to school marketing tips and strategies to make the most of this vital Q3 shopping period. In addition to last year’s blog post, we’ve taken a look at upcoming back to school shopping trends and identified 7 must-know marketing strategies for affiliate publishers.

Whether you’ve been doing back to school marketing for years or this is your first time, these 7 tips will help you build a back to school marketing plan, identify back to school shoppers, and make the most of this shopping period! Be sure to also check out our8 back to school shopping trends and marketing strategies article as well!

1. Review Your Previous Content

If this isn’t your first year with back to school marketing, then fantastic! Chances are you’ll already have a backlog of previous back to school content you’ve published or shared with your audience. Take this opportunity to start reviewing your previous back to school content to see what’s been most effective for you in years’ past, what hasn’t worked, and what you can repurpose. Figuring out what’s previously been effective in driving conversions and why can be a great way to jumpstart your content planning for this major shopping season, so evaluate all pieces carefully for content, format, length, and medium to understand what made your visitors respond positively.

If this is your first year with back to school promotions, or if you just want extra resources for your strategy, be sure to check out last year’s ‘10 Back-to-School Marketing Tips for Content Publishers’ for ideas.

2. Promote Offers Early!

Back to school shopping starts early, which means you need to promote deals even earlier. The last thing you want to do is try and play catch up to other publishers who are already providing their audiences with affiliate offers on back to school essentials. Start pulling offers now and working with your advertisers to generate deals you can promote, and have your links, banners, and other promotional materials ready to go early. If you want a better idea on the timeline for back to school shopping behaviors, be sure to check out the Back to School Trends blog post.

3. Deals Drive Conversions, So Highlight Value!

The importance of finding deals for back to school shoppers is at the top of every shopper’s list. eMarketer noted that in 2016, 60.5% of back-to-school shopping mothers targeted discount stores, and 55% of mothers said the price was the top priority in back to school deals. Consumers are always looking for a good bargain, so make sure you show them one in their back to school shopping by highlighting that in your published content. This can be anything from deep discounts to additional cashback, to free shipping.

4. Keep All Shoppers in Mind

What does your typical back to school shopper look like? Are they parents of an elementary school student looking to get the essentials; a college/graduate student needing a mix of technology and traditional resources; or a teacher looking to get supplies for their students and classroom? The reality is that there is no one typical back to school shopper because the back to school shopping season encompasses all these shoppers and much more. You can help all of them by keeping them in mind and highlighting deals that would bring them the most value. Provide guides for what different ages might need, highlight discounts that teachers might value, and don’t be afraid to have a wide range of back to school shoppers.

5. Keep Mobile in Mind!

New studies show that 61% of mothers doing back to school shopping plan to use their mobile devices to some extent during their back to school shopping. Furthermore, the top product categories for mobile shoppers will be basic supplies, clothes, and footwear. This information makes one thing very clear: mobile needs to be part of your publishing platform to some capacity. Make your content/platforms accessible on a mobile device, and if you have an app be sure to highlight that for the mobile shopper.

6. Back to College Shoppers Are a Great Target Audience

Back to college shoppers are far different than their back to school counterparts. The need for basic supplies may remain similar, but back to college shoppers will also be looking for clothes they can wear in the dorm, at class, and out on the weekend, technology that will make their college experiences easier, as well as furniture/décor for dorms and apartments, among many other categories. Additionally, this category encompasses a wide age range, from late teens and early 20-year-olds to middle-aged students who will be taking classes at night, on the weekends or are returning to school full time. Since this audience is so wide be sure to highlight the value certain products and brands can bring different types of back to college shoppers.

7. Always Highlight Free Shipping and In-Store Pickup

Free shipping is absolutely critical to a consumer, so when your partnering advertiser offers free shipping be sure to always, always, always call it out! Provide the details of the free shipping such as price threshold, if it’s a limited time offer, or if the customer will need a coupon code, so the customer can make their purchases with those details in mind. If the advertiser also offers in-store pickup then you should highlight that as well. Last year 89.4% of back to school shoppers and 84% of back to college consumers said they planned to use free shipping as a shipping option for their back to school needs, the highest response of any shipping/delivery option. The second highest? Buy online and pick up in-store or ship to store, with 54.2% of back to school shoppers, and 53.7% of back to college shoppers responding that would be the delivery method of choice.