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Back-to-school shopping starts earlier than you think. According to Google Trends, searches for “back to school sales” start to pick up at the end of June, peaks the first week of August, and then tapers off through the first week of September.

Start strategizing in the spring if you want to take full advantage of back-to-school season. If you are just getting started, though, there are still effective ways to push your ads before Labor Day.

  1. Let them save their lunch money.

    Parents and teachers are looking for all the sales and deals right now. They’re already buying everything on the class supply list, plus some new clothes, so they are looking to save money where they can. That also means that almost every kid-friendly retailer will be having a sale, and in the age of online comparison-shopping, you need your sale to stand out.Test different iterations of your sale to see what sticks. A/B test a % off vs. $ off; use wording such as “up to XX off” if only certain items are on sale; or push a general offer for email list signups if there is no specific back-to-school sale.

  2. Find your friends, and make new ones too.

    Utilize your customer lists for effective retargeting efforts. Creating an RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads) campaign with broader back-to-school keywords will allow you to bid on popular short-tail keywords without blowing your whole budget, since the ads will only show to your existing customers.If your primary objective is prospecting, you could also test targeting Similar Audiences for search, using your pixel-based conversion audience. You can still use the short-tail keywords here, but spend will be much higher compared to traditional RLSA.

  3. Ask mom and dad.

    Detailed Demographics (still in Beta) gives you more than the option to target parents; you can also target parents of different age groups. (This is huge if, for example, your brand only carries items for grade schoolers.) Layer these audiences onto your standard back-to-school campaigns to bid more aggressively, or create a separate campaign that only targets these users.If the Detailed Demographics Beta is not yet available in your account, other options are to use standard demographic targeting (e.g. ages 25 – 54) or layer on similar in-market audiences, such as Primary & Secondary Schools (K-12).

  4. Be yourself.

    Since back-to-school season is relatively short, the competition is high and the ad clutter is real. Test witty or humorous messaging; call out what makes your brand unique; and most importantly have a clever but clear call-to-action. Do what you can to stand out from the crowd!