The back to school and back to college timeframe has always been a power window across multiple different industries. After a long summer off, parents prep themselves and their kids to return to pre-, in- and post-school routines. This 2021 back to school window is even more significant since for some, this is the big in-person return after a year and a half away from traditional routines. Students are actually heading back to school instead of 2020’s version of “back” to school amid the widespread virtual learning. As social distancing protocols and heightened health-related precautions linger, students will need to be extra prepared with their own school supplies and in some cases their own snacks and lunches.

As advertisers, you can and should dust off your old and trusty “Back to School” playbook and incorporate the strategies you know to be best for your business during this time. But you also have to remember everything that has changed over the past 15 months – changes that are likely here to stay.

At Home Routines

We can’t dismiss the fact that new routines were formed from spending so much time at home. Stereotypically, mornings before school are rushed and frantic. Without having to head out the door over the past year and a half to be at school or work, it’s possible families have a new morning routine – breakfast, coffee, a game, etc. – that they cherished and might hope to keep around. This is something that can be very powerful from a messaging standpoint in your advertising creative.

Online Shopping

This is going to be one of the most significant changes to your back to school digital marketing efforts. People browsing on their laptops and phones are now accustomed to shopping and purchasing being a part of that time with their devices. Previously you may have only had to capture people’s digital attention in a planning / pre-shop mindset. Now people expect to be able to switch from the planning / pre-shop mindset to actively shopping with the click of a button. Your digital marketing efforts should reflect this expectation.

According to a recent survey of more than 2,000 families with children in K-12 schools:

  • 30% of respondents plan to stay home and buy online only
  • 26% plan to shop both in-person and online
  • 35% plan to do back-to-school shopping exclusively in person

Here are some ideas to stay on top of this shift:

  1. Explore how you can make your digital banners shoppable both on and off the retailer sites
    • Also consider your different click-through options – product detail pages, adding one or multiple items directly to a cart, etc.
  2. Explore partnerships with brands that compliment your brand in order to meet a consumer need related to “Back to School”
  3. Explore new shoppable offerings from the social media platforms (old and new) and how you can connect to your DTC site or a retailer site.

Make sure to also prep for the unexpected when it comes to your product’s inventory levels. While we know this year’s back to school window is going to be longer and bigger than ever from an online standpoint, it’s unclear to what extent. RapidAds can ease the panic in these unexpected situations, making it easy to pivot to different featured products or messaging in the case of inventory issues with an advertised item. Explore how its done here!