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Back to School: How to Leverage Insights to Drive Your Retail Campaigns

Back to School: How to Leverage Insights to Drive Your Retail Campaigns

Consider every holiday leading up to Thanksgiving as an opportunity to test out new ideas and capture insights. Learn how.

Test, test, test, and test again. This is the advice I’ve heard from retail marketers time and time again as they prepare for the biggest holiday event of them all -—Cyber Week. Testing can come in many different forms. It could be testing email subject lines, body copy, imagery, advertisements, and preparing your service agents for top-notch service. The bottom line is, marketers are preparing for the highest traffic of the year, and every second counts. 

Consider every holiday leading up to Thanksgiving as an opportunity to test out new ideas and capture insights. Take, for example, the “back-to-school” holiday. Parents are flooding into stores with a long list of needs they needed yesterday. In fact, according to Deloitte’s 2019 back-to-school report, the total back-to-school spending is expected to reach $27.8B or $519 per student, up slightly from $510 in 2018. With such high traffic, what a great opportunity to test out a new campaign and capture insights that you can take into November. So, here are a few ways marketers can take advantage of the off-season, to gear up for the big show. 

Optimizing your ad spend

The biggest lever retailers have control over during this period is where they spend their ad dollars. This means the risk is much higher. One day of wasted spend on an ad that isn’t working is a bigger loss than other times of the year, and the opportunity cost of not spending that money where it’s effective is a higher missed opportunity. Use these peak holidays as a chance to optimize your ad spend.

Retailers are reaching the modern shopper through many different channels, across Facebook, Instagram, email, web, and more. This fractured landscape makes it difficult for marketers to get a holistic view of their customers and ensure they are properly optimizing their campaigns. So how can we avoid miss spending? It starts with having access to full information and data in real-time to pause or double-down on ad spend so that retailers ensure they’re not missing a minute of customer attention throughout this crucial shopping season.

Often, retailers are too slow to react, waiting for weekly reports from agencies or spending days trying to wrangle data for insights in order to optimize. But with such a short Back to school time frame, retailers don’t have a second to waste. That’s where technology comes in to save the day (or the ad). AI-powered marketing intelligence and analytics help you to connect, analyze, and take action on all of your data to drive ROI, speed, and growth across your business. Marketing intelligence technology enables retailers to solve marketing challenges and deliver the best holiday season ever. But it’s time to get started now before the frenzy of Black Friday kicks off the holiday season. Here are a few reasons why retailers bring in marketing intelligence technology:

  • Marketers typically see 30% efficiency gains in their marketing budgets by using marketing intelligence platforms like Datorama, imagine what you could achieve if you had a 30% increase in the holiday marketing budget?
  • Real-time reporting and insights have led to 25% reallocation and reinvestment of marketing budget into smarter, more effective marketing 
  • Marketers also experience an 80% time savings, so they can move at the speed of the holidays

Example of a customized Datorama dashboardExample of a customized Datorama dashboard

Example of a customized dashboard for retail marketers powered by Datorama

Coordinate every touchpoint with a purpose

As you gear up for the holiday season, you’ll also need to ensure your cross-channel strategy is aligned. Again, the back-to-school l holiday is a great chance for retailers to test run this. Put yourself in the shopper’s shoes. Subscribe to multiple channels and determine if they feel coordinated. Coordinating the same promo on two channels (like an ad and an email) helps resonate with the shopper more. However, you also need to consider that each channel has a different purpose. 

For example, with SMS messages, think to yourself, “is this message worth disrupting the dinner table?” Think about time-sensitive messages like password resets, shipment alerts, and final call on sales. Since these messages are a bit more invasive, be sure they relay important information. Marketers also need to consider this has character limitations. This means you have to pack all of your great information into 160 characters (if you’re in the United States). 

Consider the entire lifecycle

Shopper loyalty shouldn’t fade away at the end of the back-to-school season. Hopefully, retailers brought in new opt in’s and have increased their subscriber base. Now let’s make sure you’re hard-earned marketing efforts don’t go to waste. After acquiring a new customer, it’s important to retain them and turn them into advocates of your brand.

Have a small team? No, problem! Drew Price, Head of Lifecycle Marketing at Grammarly, spoke with us in a recent episode on the Marketing Cloudcast. Drew leads a very lean but scrappy marketing team, and he shared some advice on how to best scale your lifecycle marketing efforts. “Try to think at a higher level around what the long term goals are for the company and then start to ideate on ways that email as a channel or other channels like push can help you start to create those signals over time.” Drew also started that helps retailers like Home Depot learn tactics on how to reach email marketing enlightenment.

Want to ensure you shoppers are finding holiday success? For more holiday readiness best practices, check out our Holiday Readiness Guide.

megan hostetler collins
Megan Hostetler (Collins) product marketing manager

Megan is a product marketing manager for the Go-To-Market team focused on Retail and Consumer Goods for Marketing Cloud. She also hosts the Marketing Cloudcast — where trailblazers talk marketing. Check it out at

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