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6 Lessons Marketers Can Learn from 2012 “Back to School” Digital Marketing Campaigns

By Sara     Online Marketing

Back to School Social Media CampaignsIt’s September. Leaves are changing color, kids, teens and young adults are back in their classrooms – and retailers are adding up cash from back-to-school sales.

It’s too soon to know how successful the back-to-school season has been, but it’s never too soon to learn from the social media campaigns that were launched. After all, marketers never really graduate – we’re always learning new techniques for appealing to consumers.

Take a look at the stand-out digital campaigns of the season and apply the lessons they teach to your own future digital marketing efforts.

Teen Vogue Back to School Saturday1. Teen Vogue’s Back-to-School Black Saturday. Teen Vogue and dozens of brands scored a huge back-to-school victory with its “Black Saturday” on August 11, 2012. Shoppers claimed their prizes and discounts at various retailers by presenting a mobile coupon code available only on Teen Vogue‘s “Insider App”. Teen Vogue also held fashion shows in malls throughout the U.S., displaying styles available at participating stores. A month after the promotion ended, videos of the fashion events are still circulating, potentially drawing consumers to retailers long after the promotion ended.

Lesson: You don’t have to go it alone, social encourages sharing and collaboration. Partner with other non-competing organizations to help expand your audience.

2. American Eagle. American Eagle’s “Live Your Life” campaign encouraged people to display their personal styles by submitting photos of themselves wearing their back-to-school AE jeans. Fans and followers voted on them and 15 finalists will appear on the brand’s blog, Facebook, YouTube and TV campaign. Though the photo contest is now closed, the campaign lives on in the form of #LiveYourLife – tweets that contain the hashtag are displayed on the company’s website.American Eagle Live Your Life

Lesson: Appeal to your greatest asset – your social superfans – to sell your brand. They already love your products; encourage them to demonstrate their love through direct engagement with your brand.

3. Staples. The company stretched its back-to-school season to offer new deals weekly through September 15, making sure to tweet links to its specials. It’s also been using the #backtoschool hashtag and #StaplesforStudents, as part of its supply drive for students in need.  Staples’ handy “Parent’s Last-Minutes Survival Guide for Back to School” infographic is also chalk full of valuable information and humor.Staples StaplesForStudents

Lesson: Your social campaign doesn’t have to be intricate to be successful. Sometimes a little extra effort, a few fun visuals or a charity aspect can encourage positive engagement.

Target The Checklist4. Target. For those bigger “kids” heading off to college, the brand is encouraging consumers to use its mobile application for back-to-school shopping. Target’s checklist feature helps students keep track of what they’ve purchased. The app also offers product recommendations based on different living situations, as well as helpful resources and design inspirations. Consumers can share the lists via their mobile device or Facebook.

Lesson: Be a helpful, informative, convenient resource to consumers. Soft approaches like the mobile app depicted above helps subtly push consumers towards making a purchase.

Sears Team Up to Stop Bullying5. Sears. As students return to classrooms, Sears is trying to take on bullying with “Team Up to Stop Bullying”. The nationwide initiative aims to connect those affected by bullying to resources with “solutions and services” provided by a coalition of more than 55 organizations, such as It Gets Better Project. Sears is helping to spread word about the site and raise awareness of the issue via Twitter with the #BullyingHurts hashtag.

Lesson: Embarking on an unexpected route can help your brand stand out. Sears could have just promoted its fashions and goods. Its anti-bullying campaign is helpful and will draw audiences long after the back-to-school season has ended.

6. SpareFoot. Why would a storage company be interested in a back-to-school campaign? SpareFoot has launched Supply Memories, which invites social media users to reveal what keepsake they’ve “stored” since elementary school. For every memory shared through Facebook or Twitter, SpareFoot will donate a $3 school supply kit to one student.

SpareFoot SupplyMemories

Lesson: Think creatively to connect with popular topics that don’t directly relate to your brand. Though SpareFoot isn’t selling school supplies, it is raising its perceived social responsibility and value, which leaves a positive impression on consumers.

Bonus: In recent weeks, the internet has been flooded with videos, blog posts, Instragram photos and Pins of real people’s back-to-school purchases. This content is not only providing consumers with great, first-hand shopping guides, but presenting brands with free priceless marketing testimonials.

Lesson: Acknowledge your fans when they share positive information about your products or services. Has your business or brand been highlighted by a teen or tween online? Reach out to them and at least say thank you.

Have you seen any great digital marketing campaigns for the back-to-school season? Share your favorite in the comments below and let us know why you think their efforts are noteworthy.


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