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Did you know the average shopper spends over $890 during the back-to-school season? This is only the tip of the iceberg as families plan for the upcoming school year and knock out their to-do lists before the first bell rings. If you serve families or provide products or services for kids, chances are that back-to-school pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are an effective way to strengthen your brand and boost sales. On this page, we’ll walk you through the data and trends, plus provide some back-to-school PPC campaign tips to elevate your success.

Why Advertise During Back-to-School Season

Back-to-school spending is on the rise, with the latest year generating $41.5 billion in sales in the United States alone, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reports. That works out to over $890 per person. Of this, around 55 percent of sales take place online. However, 83 percent of people use online search before visiting a physical store, according to Google research. This suggests that online marketing for back-to-school campaigns is essential, whether you’re strictly virtual or operate a physical location.

Who Should Run Back-to-School PPC Campaigns

This is a versatile season that offers lots of businesses the opportunity to serve their audiences with timely messages. A few industries that benefit from back-to-school PPC campaigns include:

  • Retailers: Major retailers and smaller, specialized stores, focus on selling school supplies, clothing, electronics, and other essential items.
  • Educational Services: Companies offering tutoring, online courses, and other educational resources ramp up their advertising.
  • Technology Companies: Many technology firms advertise their latest gadgets, software, and tech accessories.
  • Financial Services: Banks, credit unions, and other financial firms often promote student accounts, loans, and savings plans geared toward education.
  • Healthcare Providers: Eye care clinics, dental services, and other healthcare providers target parents with back-to-school checkups and vaccinations.

Back-to-School Shopping Trends

There are many opportunities for retailers this time of year. A snapshot of the most popular categories for back-to-school shopping per NRF data is provided below.

Most Popular Back-to-School Purchases
  • School Supplies: Items like folders, pencils, and glue are purchased by 96 percent of shoppers, amounting to $140.39 in seasonal spending per person.
  • Clothing (Excluding Shoes): Clothing is the second most popular category, with 95 percent of shoppers making purchases. The average spend per person comes to $257.20.
  • Shoes: Footwear is not far behind, with 94 percent of the population making purchases and spending an average of $166.59.
  • Electronics: While just 69 percent of shoppers pick up electronics or computer-related equipment, this category has the highest average spend at $325.96 per person each season.

15 Proven Tips to Amplify Your Back-to-School PPC Campaigns    

Now that we’ve covered the background, let’s explore some specific PPC tips for school season advertising.

1. Start Early and Plan Ahead

Your niche and offering should be taken into consideration when developing your timeline. For instance, one in five back-to-school shoppers begins their quest in or before June, per NRF. You’ll want to start running ads in advance of this if you sell physical products. Meanwhile, most families start selecting schools in January for the upcoming school year, and summer educational plans are typically locked in by around spring break. You’ll want to plan for ads during winter if you fit into those categories. Medical offices will also likely want to start running ads in the spring and continue throughout the summer.

2. Segment Your Audience

Your audience segmentation strategy should be tailored to the specific needs of the back-to-school season. During regular campaigns, you might segment broadly based on demographics, interests, and behaviors. However, for back-to-school campaigns, it’s crucial to create more targeted segments to address the unique needs of different groups. A few that might make sense to include in your back-to-school PPC campaign are outlined below.

  • Parents: Target ads for school supplies, clothing, and tech gadgets to parents who are preparing their children for the new school year. Consider using segments based on the age of their children or their location.
  • Students: High school and college students are often looking for specific items like laptops, dorm essentials, and study aids. Tailor your messaging to highlight the benefits and features most relevant to them.
  • Teachers and Educators: This group is interested in classroom supplies, educational tools, and bulk purchases. Target them with offers and discounts that cater to their needs for the upcoming school year.
  • Healthcare Providers: Segment parents and guardians looking for back-to-school health checkups, vaccinations, and eye exams. Focus on local geographic targeting and relevant seasonal health messages.

For example, educational services and tutoring companies should focus on parents and students who have shown interest in summer learning programs or have engaged with educational content. Retailers can segment based on past purchasing behaviors, targeting those who bought school supplies last year.

3. Use Seasonal Keywords

Back-to-school PPC campaigns should incorporate trending, seasonal keywords that reflect the immediate needs of your audience. These keywords capture the spike in searches related to the back-to-school period. Examples include “back-to-school supplies sale,” “best laptops for students,” “school clothing discounts,” and “summer tutoring programs.”

For instance, if you’re a retailer, including keywords like “discount backpacks” or “school uniforms” can attract parents looking for deals. Educational services might use keywords such as “summer learning programs” or “back-to-school tutoring.” Healthcare providers should focus on phrases like “back-to-school physicals.”

By updating your keyword strategy to reflect seasonal trends, you can increase the relevance of your ads, improve your Quality Score, and ultimately drive more targeted traffic to your landing pages during the crucial back-to-school shopping period.

4. Leverage Remarketing

Remarketing is a powerful tool to re-engage users who have previously interacted with your website or ads but did not convert. Tailoring your remarketing strategy to the back-to-school season can significantly enhance its effectiveness.

During this time of the year, remarketing efforts should be more season-specific. Create targeted segments such as parents who viewed school supplies, students who browsed electronics, or teachers who searched for classroom resources. Develop ad creatives that highlight back-to-school promotions, limited-time offers, and seasonal discounts to entice these segments to return and convert.

For example, retailers can use remarketing to target users who browsed their back-to-school section with ads promoting special deals on school supplies and clothing. Educational services can retarget parents who visited their summer program pages with ads for fall tutoring sessions. Healthcare providers might remarket to parents who looked at health check-up information, emphasizing the importance of back-to-school physicals.

5. Create Compelling Ad Copy

Your back-to-school PPC ad copy should be more season-specific and urgency-driven. Highlight special offers, limited-time discounts, and the unique benefits of your products or services for the back-to-school period. Use phrases like “Back-to-School Sale—20% Off All School Supplies” or “Get Ready for the School Year with Our Top-Rated Laptops.”

By creating ad copy that speaks directly to the seasonal needs and emotions of your audience, you can enhance engagement, drive higher click-through rates, and ultimately boost conversions during the back-to-school shopping period.

6. Utilize Shopping Ads

Shopping ads are a powerful tool for showcasing your products directly in search results with images, prices, and product details. Tailor your shopping ads to feature products that are in high demand during the back-to-school period. Highlight school supplies, backpacks, clothing, electronics, and other essentials. Ensure your product titles, descriptions, and images are updated to reflect back-to-school themes. Use promotions and special offers to make your ads more attractive.

7. Optimize Your Landing Pages

Tailor your landing pages to reflect the urgency and specific needs of the back-to-school season. Highlight seasonal promotions, special discounts, and relevant product bundles. Ensure that the messaging, imagery, and CTAs are aligned with the ads you’re displaying.

For example, a retailer should create landing pages that feature categories like “Top Deals on School Supplies,” “Back-to-School Clothing Sale,” and “Best Laptops for Students.” Educational services might have landing pages promoting “Fall Tutoring Programs” with detailed descriptions of courses and enrollment benefits. Healthcare providers could focus on pages for “Back-to-School Health Check-ups” with easy scheduling options and information on what to expect during the visit.

By optimizing your landing pages to be season-specific, you can improve user experience, increase relevance, and drive higher conversion rates during the back-to-school season.

8. Set a Flexible Budget

Back-to-school PPC campaigns require a more dynamic budgeting approach to capitalize on peak shopping periods. Increase your budget leading up to and during the peak back-to-school shopping months, which are typically July through September. Be prepared to allocate additional funds to high-performing ads and keywords to capture increased demand. Flexibility in your budget allows you to respond to real-time performance data, shifting funds to the best-performing campaigns and maximizing your returns during this crucial period.

For example, a retailer might set a higher budget for PPC campaigns targeting school supplies and clothing from mid-July to early September, adjusting daily spend limits based on traffic and conversion rates. Educational services might increase their budget for ads promoting tutoring and extracurricular programs as the school year approaches, ensuring they capture the attention of parents and students finalizing their plans.

9. Monitor and Adjust Bids

Back-to-school advertising campaigns need more frequent and proactive bid adjustments to capture peak interest and demand. Monitor your campaigns daily, if not multiple times a day, to ensure your bids remain competitive. Increase bids for high-performing keywords and ads to maximize visibility during the critical back-to-school shopping period. Conversely, reduce bids on underperforming keywords to manage costs effectively.

For example, a retailer might increase bids on keywords like “school supplies sale” or “best backpacks for students” during the weeks leading up to and during the back-to-school shopping rush to ensure their ads appear prominently in search results. Educational services might adjust bids to prioritize terms related to “fall tutoring programs” or “online learning tools” as parents and students finalize their academic plans for the year.

10. Incorporate Social Proof and Reviews

Emphasize timely and relevant social proof related to back-to-school products and services. Showcase recent reviews and testimonials that highlight the benefits and success stories specific to the back-to-school context. For example, feature testimonials from parents praising the durability of your school supplies or reviews from students lauding the performance of your educational tools.

Incorporate Social Proof and Reviews

For example, a retailer might include quotes from satisfied parents who have purchased school supplies in their ad copy, or display star ratings prominently on product images in shopping ads. Educational services can highlight success stories from students who have improved their grades through their programs, while healthcare providers might feature testimonials from parents who appreciated their back-to-school health checkups.

11. Experiment with Ad Formats

Leverage a variety of ad formats to stand out in the competitive back-to-school market. Experiment with interactive and visually appealing formats such as video ads, carousel ads, and shopping ads. Use these formats to showcase different aspects of your products or services, highlight special offers, and engage your audience with dynamic content.

For example, a retailer might use video ads to demonstrate the features and benefits of new school supplies, carousel ads to display a range of back-to-school outfits, and shopping ads to directly promote individual products with prices and reviews. Educational services can use video testimonials from students and parents, while healthcare providers might use display ads with seasonal graphics promoting back-to-school health check-ups.

12. Highlight Special Promotions and Discounts

Emphasize time-sensitive and season-specific promotions to create a sense of urgency and capitalize on the heightened shopping activity. Highlight special discounts on school supplies, clothing, electronics, and other essentials. Use clear and compelling messaging to communicate the value of these offers, such as “Back-to-School Sale – Up to 30% Off” or “Limited-Time Offer – Buy One, Get One Free on All Backpacks.”

For example, a retailer might run ads promoting a “Back-to-School Mega Sale” with significant discounts on popular items. Educational services can offer “Early Bird Discounts” for fall programs, while healthcare providers might highlight “Special Rates for Back-to-School Health Check-Ups.”

13. Use Geo-Targeting

Geo-targeting can be more narrowly focused to capitalize on localized back-to-school shopping trends and events during this season. Target specific regions, cities, or even neighborhoods where your target audience is most likely to be actively shopping for back-to-school items. Use geo-targeting to promote local store events, special regional offers, and community-specific discounts.

For example, a national retailer might use geo-targeting to promote back-to-school sales at specific store locations, highlighting local events or in-store promotions. Educational services can target ads to communities around their physical locations or areas with high demand for tutoring. Healthcare providers targeting parents with PPC ads might zero in on specific neighborhoods with ads for back-to-school health check-ups and vaccinations.

14. Integrate with Omnichannel Strategies

Enhance your omnichannel strategy by aligning your back-to-school messaging and promotions across all platforms. Coordinate your PPC ads with email campaigns, social media posts, in-store events, and direct mail offers to create a cohesive and compelling customer journey. Highlight special back-to-school promotions, ensure consistency in branding and messaging, and provide seamless transitions between online and offline experiences.

For example, a retailer might run PPC ads promoting back-to-school sales that are also featured in email newsletters and social media posts. In-store signage and promotions would match the online messaging, creating a unified shopping experience. Educational services could synchronize their online ads with local community events and workshops, while healthcare providers might integrate their online appointment booking system with targeted PPC ads for back-to-school health services.

15. Analyze and Learn from Competitors

Focus on identifying seasonal tactics and promotions your competitors are using to attract back-to-school shoppers. Look for trends in their ad copy, keywords, promotional offers, and landing page designs. Use these insights to adapt your own campaigns and stay competitive. For example, if a competitor is offering a limited-time discount on school supplies, consider how you can match or exceed that offer with a unique promotion or added value.

For instance, a retailer might monitor competitors’ PPC ads to see which keywords they are bidding on and what special back-to-school promotions they are highlighting. Educational services can look at the types of courses or discounts competitors are promoting for the new school year. Healthcare providers might analyze competitors’ strategies for promoting back-to-school health check-ups and vaccinations.

Get Help Building and Optimizing Your Back-to-School PPC Campaigns

The window to capitalize on the back-to-school season is short. Partnering with an experienced PPC agency can significantly boost your ROI. They bring expert knowledge in keyword selection, audience targeting, and ad optimization. By crafting compelling ad copy, leveraging seasonal trends, and using advanced tools for real-time adjustments, they help you stay competitive, reach your target audience effectively, and drive higher conversions. This means more sales and better overall campaign performance for your business. If you’d like to put your back-to-school PPC campaigns on autopilot, request a complimentary consultation.

FAQs on Back-to-School PPC Campaigns

Effective seasonal ad strategies for school supplies include starting campaigns early, using seasonal keywords, and targeting specific audience segments. Highlight special promotions, utilize various ad formats like video and carousel ads, and employ geo-targeting. Regularly monitor and adjust bids to maximize engagement and conversions. What strategies are effective for PPC optimization for educational products?

Effective PPC optimization for educational products includes thorough keyword research, using negative keywords, and audience segmentation. Create compelling ad copy with strong calls-to-action, utilize ad extensions, and regularly monitor and adjust bids. A/B test ad variations to determine what performs best and maximize conversions.

Effective PPC during school shopping involves using seasonal keywords, starting campaigns early, and targeting specific segments like parents and students. Highlight special promotions, utilize various ad formats, and employ geo-targeting for local relevance. Regularly monitor and adjust bids to stay competitive and maximize ROI.

To effectively use back-to-school sales and PPC, start campaigns early, use seasonal keywords, and target specific audiences like parents and students. Highlight special promotions, employ geo-targeting, and create compelling ad copy. Regularly monitor and adjust bids to maximize conversions during peak shopping periods.

Effective strategies for targeting students with digital ads include using relevant platforms like Instagram and TikTok, creating engaging content, and utilizing student-focused keywords. Highlight special discounts and offers, leverage peer reviews, and use video ads to capture attention. Regularly monitor and adjust campaigns to optimize performance.

PPC for school supplies retailers can boost visibility and sales by targeting specific keywords, running seasonal ads, and highlighting special promotions. Use geo-targeting to reach local shoppers, create compelling ad copy, and regularly monitor and adjust bids to maximize ROI during the back-to-school season.

Effective strategies for online advertising for the academic season include using seasonal keywords, targeting specific audiences like students and parents, and highlighting special promotions. Utilize various ad formats, such as video and display ads, and employ geo-targeting. Regularly monitor and adjust campaigns to optimize performance.

Effective conversion strategies for the school season include using targeted ads with seasonal keywords, offering special promotions, and optimizing landing pages. Utilize social proof, create urgency with limited-time offers, and ensure a seamless user experience across devices. Regularly monitor and adjust campaigns to maximize conversions.

To maximize ROI on back-to-school PPC campaigns, start early, use seasonal keywords, and target specific audiences. Highlight special promotions, optimize landing pages, and employ geo-targeting. Regularly monitor and adjust bids and ad copy based on performance data to ensure cost-effective conversions.

Effective PPC tactics for the education sector include targeting relevant keywords, using geo-targeting, and segmenting audiences by demographics. Create compelling ad copy with strong CTAs, leverage seasonal trends, and use remarketing to re-engage potential students. Regularly monitor and adjust campaigns to optimize performance and maximize ROI.

Back-to-school sales typically start in late June to early July and run through early September. Retailers begin promoting school supplies, clothing, and electronics to capture early shoppers, with peak sales occurring in August as the new school year approaches.

Effective ad formats for back-to-school campaigns include video ads, carousel ads, and shopping ads. These formats allow advertisers to showcase multiple products, demonstrate their use, and highlight special offers, making them engaging and informative for the target audience.

Geo-targeting is crucial for back-to-school PPC campaigns as it allows advertisers to reach local audiences with relevant offers. By targeting specific regions, cities, or neighborhoods, advertisers can promote store events, regional discounts, and localized messaging, enhancing relevance and engagement.

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