5 Paid Search Tips to Help You Get Ready for Back-to-School Season

Eric Yarnik
August 17, 2015

A new season is fast approaching. No, it’s not Halloween—please stop stocking stores with decorations and costumes so early. It’s too soon, guys. Too. Soon. With summer winding down, paid search and social analysts need to be vigilant in preparing for this important consumer season—back-to-school shopping.

While this time of year might not affect every industry—B2B, lead generation, and some e-commerce industries, for instance—it’s still a huge consumer season across a wide variety of industries. You don’t have to be a student or a parent (or even just a really big fan of good deals on Ticonderoga pencils) to care about this time of year.

 Are your paid search clients prepared to maximize on the back-to-school season? Check out these tips and ensure that your campaigns make the grade this fall.

1) The early bird gets the worm

 It’s not just a piece of advice vaguely related to getting to the school bus stop early. (Wait, that’s not what the saying is about? Are you sure?) Be the early bird by getting an early bid in the online space–it’s always incredibly important to a campaign’s success. Nowadays, certain school years start at the beginning of August while others kick off at the end of the month. Play it safe and think about your back-to-school campaigns ahead of time!

 By getting back-to-school campaigns launched sooner, advertisers can maximize their total volume by nabbing as much of the early shopping purchases as they can and perhaps even convince parents to purchase even farther ahead of time because a deal is just too good to pass up.

 Remember to be aggressive and attentive with bids and average positions during this time, as many advertisers will want a piece of the action. Keep an eye on impression shares per campaign (especially shopping campaigns) to ensure maximum traffic volume.

 Amazon.com is a great example of a site that has been pushing their own back-to-school sale landing page across many products with a lot of limited deals on back-to-school products.

2) Mobile is important

 Since mobile search share has continued to grow over the past several years, it comes as no surprise that mobile is vital to the back-to-school season. Think With Google reports that in 2014 about 40% of back-to-school purchases were done through mobile. This year, that number is now topping 50%. With ten-percent growth over one year’s time, mobile’s importance in this shopping season can’t be ignored.

 Parents are taking every opportunity to search for the best deals across many devices and times throughout the day. Double down on mobile efforts, including bids, average positions, and messaging, to ensure you gain the increased web traffic (and foot traffic if you have a brick-and-mortar location).

3) Know the current trends

 Before blindly launching campaigns and setting bids this season, do your homework. Take the time to gather in order to be as prepared as possible. Check out Google Trends and the Adwords Keyword Tool for your keywords to historically analyze when the shopping season has typically commenced and ended. Doing this research can also give you an idea of what kinds of volume to expect for your keywords.

 Of course, don’t forget that school start dates can vary by region, state, and even within city, so be sure to account for that in your campaign strategy. Also, certain products or trends that were so 2014 might not be as relevant or popular for 2015. Keep this in mind and do the research so your campaigns aren’t negatively affected.

4) Mix up the messaging

 Stand out in the online space by confirming your messaging speaks toward whatever seasonal promotions or products you are offering. This goes for ad copy, sitelink extensions, banner ads, shopping campaigns and landing pages. I definitely suggest A/B testing many different types of messages to ensure that your message stands out in the crowd.

 Since many online sources will demand the attention of parents and students alike, it’s ever important for yours to be unique and enticing to shoppers. Take a look at how many similar messages come up when you search for “back to school clothes sales.” Don’t blend into the pack—listen to those posters taped to your middle school hallways and be different.

5) Take advantage of the busy season

 Not directly affected by back-to-school season? Still try to capitalize on the demand and urgency of the season. Any promotion could be branded as back-to-school, even if it isn’t necessarily an out-and-out back-to-school item like backpacks or laptops. Think outside the box to make the most of a busy online season.

 For example, Sleep Number, the mattress company, is currently running a back-to-school campaign. While a mattress may not immediately come to mind as a school supply, Sleep Number ties together the importance of a good night’s sleep with a student’s success.


 No matter what, it’s never too early to start planning to next steps to ensure a strong end to the calendar year. It’s just like all my teachers said: you can’t start at the last minute if you want to ace the back-to-school season.

 Do you have any other tips on paid search and the back-to-school season? Are Trapper Keepers still a thing? Comment in the section below, email us at info@perfectsearchmedia.com, or tweet at us @perfect_search!


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Eric Yarnik
Director, Search & Social Advertising

Eric Yarnik is a Northwestern University Alum who considers writing the Perfect Search Ping Pong Power Rankings Column to be one of his favorite tasks at work. If he had to pick one fictional character to be friends with, it’d have to be the one who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

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