The 2017-18 school year hasn’t even ended yet, but that doesn’t stop retailers from already focusing on the 2018-19 back to school season – and for good reason too. In 2017, back to school/college spending hit $83.6 billion. That number is only expected to increase for the 2018-19 school year.
To succeed at grabbing their share of the spending pie, retailers need to formulate a cohesive marketing strategy that both engages their potential consumers and drives them to purchase during the back to school season. The magic bullet for many of these retailers? Advocacy marketing.
If you want to build a successful advocacy marketing program to support your back to school marketing initiatives, you need to start putting the pieces together months before shopping begins. Here’s why.
Why Use Advocacy Marketing to Support Your Back to School Marketing Efforts?
At its core, advocacy marketing is about fostering relationships and driving engagements with your brand’s biggest supporters and fans. You’re creating a “private” world that lets your top shoppers connect with you on a deeper and more frequent level.
That increased engagement pays off.
Studies show that retailers experience a 21% increase in shopping visits as engagement goes up. Further, customers with higher levels of engagement show an increase in spending when they visit their favorite retailers.
Even more impressive, the same study found that 96% of shoppers consume goods or services from their favorite brands after they are engaged through a loyalty-building program.
The deeper your connection with your customers, the more you engage with them in non-transactional ways, the greater your opportunity to encourage ongoing engagement.
When a customer joins your advocacy marketing campaign, they’re exposed to additional opportunities to engage with your retail brand in a host of different ways:
- They are often the first to see your latest content
- They have an opportunity to share your marketing messages with their friends and family
- They can compete in unique challenges and contests
- They may win fun or exciting prizes
- They can open a dialogue with your brand through surveys and quizzes
A thriving advocacy program takes a bit of time to get rocking and rolling. That’s why if you want to use the full might of advocacy marketing to help you conquer back to school season, you need to start putting the program in place today.
Remember the adage, “The best time to plant an advocacy marketing oak tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.”
5 Ways to Get Your Advocacy Marketing Program Ready for Back to School Season
1) Grow Your Audience
If you want to ensure your advocacy marketing program is in ship-shape for back to school season, you need to start by building your program’s audience. In other words, spend the next couple months leading up to back to school season recruiting as many qualified brand fans as you can into your advocacy marketing program.
Every individual in your program represents a potential 500 – 600 social connections that you can reach with your marketing message during back to school season. Focus on building your audience week-over-week and before you know it, you’ll have a reach of 500,000+!
Here are a few tips to help drive recruitment:
- Post recruitment messages to your social media profiles
- Encourage your advocates to refer the program to their friends and family
- Email recruitment messages to your marketing list
- Include the advocacy marketing program on your retailer website
- Run paid advertising to targeted audiences that drive individuals directly into your marketing program
2) Leverage The Brain Power Of Your Advocates
When you have an advocacy marketing program, you have an on-demand focus group of eager brand fans just waiting to have their brains picked. Foster engagement during the months leading up to back to school season by soliciting your advocates for feedback on what you have planned for the upcoming shopping season.
Whether it’s a full-blown campaign, or a simple discount or sale, use your advocates as a sounding board to help ensure your idea is going to succeed in the marketplace. Further, you can use your advocates to help generate marketing ideas for your back to school season.
At SocialToaster, we make this easy for program managers to do through our built-in survey functionality. Simply put together a brief survey inside SocialToaster asking for their insights, then send that post to your adoring advocates.
3) Stockpile User-Generated Content
Ready to take your back to school marketing efforts to the next level? Incorporate user-generated content (UGC)!
UGC is a powerful form of advocacy marketing:
- UGC is shown to result in a 29% increase in web conversions than campaigns or websites without it.
- UGC posts shared to social channels see a 28% higher engagement rate than standard brand posts.
- UGC-based ads get 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click than average.
With an advocacy marketing campaign, generating UGC is a breeze. Simply determine what you want your advocates to create on your behalf (the simpler the better), and structure a program around it. Use your advocacy marketing program to build your library of UGC. Then turn that content loose during back to school season to supercharge your marketing efforts.
4) Build Anticipation for Back To School Season
Yet another benefit of not waiting until July to launch your advocacy marketing program! During the summer you can leverage your advocates to build anticipation for the upcoming event. By mid-July, parents might already be dreaming fondly of sending their kids back to the classroom. Use your advocates to remind their friends and family that school time is just around the corner.
As a best practice, incorporate a mix of content that includes pieces that help your advocates prepare for back to school season (checklists, guides, etc.), as well as insights into how and when to buy from you (tax-free weekend anyone?).
5) Amplify Content, Contests, & Sales During the Event
With all the pieces in place, it’s time to execute! Crank your advocates up to 11 and push out those posts and discounts announcing your back to school specials.
You’ve invested in growing and nurturing your advocates and now’s not the time to hold back. Consider offering a strong incentive or reward during back to school season to further encourage your advocates to share.
As a bonus tip, be sure to incorporate your re-marketing efforts into your back to school campaign. As visitors come to your website from your advocacy efforts you can retarget them with your paid advertising efforts.
With so much at stake, now is the time to start planning on how you’ll make your mark on the back to school season. Stat building your advocacy marketing program over the summer months so that it is ready to go come August 1.
Ready to start building your advocacy marketing program? Let SocialToaster help you today.