GeoMinds: For Retailers, It’s Back-To-School — And Back to Location Basics
xAd's Dan Silver offers some lessons for retailers who want to target moms and kids before classes begin.
Back-to-school shopping is set to bring in more than $831.33 million in sales this season – and the season is already underway. Data from the National Retail Federation found that 42 percent of back-to-school consumers start their shopping three weeks to a month before school begins, and 20 percent begin more than two months in advance. Regardless of when consumers start their back-to-school process, it’s clear that mobile is a major component. A recent Deloitte survey found that 80 percent of smartphone owners plan to use their devices throughout their back-to-school shopping process.
How exactly do consumers plan to use their smartphones during the shopping season?
- 53 percent look up store locations
- 37 percent locate a store that carries a particular product
- 70 percent will make a purchase in-store
Needleless to say, location is a strategy all retailers need to incorporate in their back-to-school planning this year.
Not sure how to get started? Whether you’re late to the game, or already in it, these location-based stats and simple strategies will get your brand in front of the eager back-to-school shopper and help funnel some of those sales in your direction.
Defining Your Core Location Audience
The back-to-school shopper spans a broad range of audiences. Students and their parents vary in age and degree of education along with other key demographic differences and attributes like tech savviness. Given this broad definition, reaching the right audience, at the right place and time, with the right message, can pose a challenge. Here are some initial stats to show just how distinct this target consumer can be:
- 53 percent of Millennial Moms are using smartphones in-store to research products and purchases
- 79 percent of College Students splurge on clothing
- Parents of Kindergarten Students plan to spend $495 this season while parents of College Sophomores plan to spend $1,011
How do you choose which audience is most appropriate for your brand during the back-to-school season?
For brick and mortar based retailers, the first step in identifying an audience is to understand who is visiting their locales. Mobile location data can provide retailers with important insights that shed some light on who their target audiences should be. This real-world, dynamic data can not only better inform planning for back-to-school than some traditional targeting techniques, but also help optimize campaigns in real time to better reach audiences as shifts take place during the season.
For online retailers, location-based audience data can be a powerful tool for both planning and execution. Leveraging location data can help retailers understand the visitation patterns of their competitive and comparative audiences. Imagine a consumer receiving an ad for an online-based discount retailer as they near a TJ Maxx store, and then again when they shop for groceries. By understanding past visitation patterns, marketers can predict and inform their future planning, keep their brands top of mind, and influence back-to-school consumers all season long – driving them to mobile apps or websites to complete their purchases.
Pairing audience-informed location strategies with an on-premise play can set a brand apart from the rest during the back-to-school season. Similar to pairing a print campaign with desktop banners, or OOH (out of home) with direct-mailing, capturing the attention of consumers in multiple formats is always powerful. On-premise targeting is especially important when we know that 44 percent of consumers that conducted retail research on their smartphone actually completed a purchase in store, and 39 percent of retail consumers expect their mobile research to reveal retail storefronts within 5 miles of their location. But the real beauty of location marketing is that it allows marketers to track and act upon this real-time consumer behavior, happening in the real-world.
Below is a screenshot from xAd’s Footprints, a visitation visualization platform that powers our tech and targeting strategies. With real-time location, retailers are given unprecedented transparency into the physical visitation of their own storefronts, competitor storefronts and the patterns revealed as mobile users go about their day.
Thanks to xAd Footprints platform, we can identify and act upon visits to retailers – such as Target, Marshalls and Walmart – enabling a level of real-time marketing never before possible. For example we can see that of the 490k visits tracked throughout the Boston DMA in the last week, 20k 8 were to department stores. Imagine the ways these types of insights could be applied to a back-to-school campaign, not just being able to reach people in the moment, but also provide an accurate view of who they are as consumers. For retailers looking to win the back-to-school season, understanding these on-premise visitation patterns is a no brainer.
Measuring Back-to-School Success
The final application for this powerful location data is attribution. With real-time location, we can analyze the results of back-to-school campaigns by understanding the typical visitation level of retailer locations, and then any spikes driven by consumers that saw and engaged with the mobile ad. The industry has come to call this metric Store Visitation Lift or SVL for short. In measuring the physical visitation of back-to-school consumers, we identify a higher level of urgency and intent. Unlike your classic CTR (Click Through Rate) measurement that is trapped in the digital space, Store Visitation Lift bridges the online and offline worlds – solving for an age old marketer challenge and providing far more valuable ROI.
Last year, xAd released the industry’s first mobile ad measurement benchmark study that revealed a retail industry average Store Visitation Lift of 14.05 percent with an exposed conversion rate at 9.5 percent – that means that nearly 1 in 10 consumers who were exposed to a mobile ad campaign went on to later visit that retailer. While these results vary by campaign and strategy, these benchmarks go a long way in establishing new measurement metrics based on physical visitation patterns for the mobile marketplace.
As advancements come to market, driven by improvements in technology, creative, and consumer demand, marketers’ mobile interest (and budget) has increased — 30 percent to be exact – and is set to reach $18.2 billion in the U.S. a by 2019. Seasonal spikes such as back-to-school and holiday have certainly impacted this increase as brands and businesses find new and exciting ways to remain competitive. In the midst of these innovations and technologies, one thing remains certain; physical locations are still very much a part of the back-to-school season, complementing our expanding in-device experiences. By leveraging these rich, real-world data insights, marketers can better integrate location and mobile into their campaigns from planning to measurement. With that, the results are bound to follow. It’s an easy A.
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