How Marketers Can Use Mobile to Shape a Back-to-School Strategy

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Back to schoolIt’s that time of year again — time to get ready for school. This presents marketers with a huge opportunity to implement a back-to-school strategy, especially when it comes to mobile.

According to a new report from Thinknear, 40% of customers spend at least one hour planning for back-to-school shopping on mobile. These customers are performing all sorts of actions on mobile prior to their back-to-school shopping.

Forty-six percent are looking for sales and coupons, and 47% are making a shopping list. On top of that, 21% are comparison shopping, 8% are researching product reviews, and 7% are researching product ideas.

“I think it’s become the device that’s just become the extension of us as a person,” ThinkNear’s vice president of Marketing Brett Kohn said. “Whether you’re killing time on a train or in a store shopping, it’s always there with you, and there’s this need to know information or what’s going on in the world and it’s just easy, and I think the ease has become part of our DNA and that just creates a continuous wheel where people are going back to their phones more and more.”

This means that marketers can preemptively reach customers on mobile before they even reach a store. Marketers can send mobile messaging and offers that helps convince customers to buy their product.

Customer reliance on mobile doesn’t end with shopping preparation either; they bring it into the physical stores with them as well. Forty-five percent of shoppers use a phone or tablet while shopping in brick-and-mortar locations.

According to the study, twenty-seven percent of those shoppers are comparing prices, 27% are reading product reviews. 33% are searching for coupons, 27% are looking at store circulars, and 3% are using it for entertainment.

While shopping, customers are interested in receiving certain mobile offers and messages. Two in five would like to receive relevant discounts, and 47% want to receive coupons. Thirty percent would like to receive price comparisons, 27% want product information, 20% want product recommendations, and 20% would like store maps.

This means that there is a willing audience for mobile marketing. Marketers can tap into these behaviors to influence offline back-to-school shopping and keep their products front of mind for customers.

“I think brands are starting to realize that they have to be in mobile,” Kohn said. “It’s where the users are and where the eyeballs are. I think in the past mobile has been viewed as a brick and mortar play for restaurants, for hotels, for retailers.

“But as the targeting has gotten better, as the creative has gotten better, you see more brands entering the space because they realize they have the tools to reach consumers in a more impactful way and they’re also realizing that the traditional tools of media are becoming less relevant to their customers,” he said. “And measurement is getting better. I think all those factors combined are pushing brand marketers to focus more on the mobile space.”

Besides for the mere fact that consumers are spending more time on mobile, the channel also provides a great way to tap into consumers’ location and target specifically based on that.

“You need to understand your audience and find the tools to ensure you’re hitting the right audience, and I think location is a great tool for that,” Kohn said. “You can identify neighborhoods with primary school age children or you can identify areas of college students.

“You’ve got to get that targeting aspect right otherwise you’re spending money to hit people that aren’t really your audience,” he said. “Mobile gives us the opportunity to do some really interesting things.”

Rebecca Borison is a Street Fight contributor.