How to Make the Most of Limited Back-to-School Marketing Budgets

Believe it or not, it’s not too late to start your Back-to-School (BTS) marketing. By August 13 last year, more than half (63 percent) of consumers had yet to complete their shopping, while in 2014 MasterCard research told us that August 29 was the heaviest shopping day of the BTS season. And you don’t need a huge budget to make your campaign a success. As long as you think digital-first, that is.

That’s what we did with online retail giant Zappos in 2015.

With a limited project budget, Zappos challenged RockOrange to build a compelling, memorable, effective back-to-school campaign that could be rolled out via digital and social media channels, showcasing the retailer’s collection of kids and young adult apparel and shoes.

The objectives of the campaign were to:

  1. Increase existing customer visits to while increasing engagement and purchases for kids products.
  2. Attract new customers by connecting the Zappos brand with key stakeholders and influencers.
  3. Generate positive media coverage for the brand.


To achieve these objectives, we identified a number of influential bloggers in the spaces of fashion, parenting and shopping including The Fashion Poet, Mom Trends, Mom Blog Society and Shopping Mama among others who would be appropriate and receptive targets to be evangelists for the Zappos brand.

Once we’d analyzed the reach and influence of each blogger, we facilitated the publishing of a series of posts, including the PS Beauty Blog titled “Top 5 Fashion Trends For Kids,” that positioned Zappos as a destination for kids apparel and back-to-school shopping. Our top influencer blog post came in the form of an apparel unboxing video, garnering some 87,671 views.

Overall, we engaged with 20 influential bloggers and experts, forging brand-to-blog relationships and gaining placement or coverage throughout the blogosphere. And it worked. We owned back-to-school in 2015, earning a robust 8,189 mentions, representing a 2.6% share of voice out of the total 2015 Zappos brand mentions of 314,016. During this timeframe, we had activated content and outreach that catered to moms looking for back-to-school trends for their kids.

August was far and away the most active month with significant blogger participation around BTS. The Mama Maven contest for BTS accounted for 58% of total mentions around “Zappos” and “Back-to-School” in a two-day period. With active blogger outreach, we were able to feature Zappos products in a relatable way that provided product recommendations and suggestions.

The top performing Facebook posts and Pinterest pins were focused around shoes, specifically trendy sneakers and fall boots. These posts featured products that spoke to those who had an intent to purchase. The three top performing Facebook posts earned approximately 500 likes. The total potential impressions in 2015 (as of October 31) were almost one million impressions higher than those in 2014. The Back to School campaign made a significant impact with 14.8% of the overall Zappos conversation.

And beyond the number, social listening tools showed that the Zappos audience had a positive sentiment towards the brand and all BTS conversation with drivers such as love, great, thank, cool, etc thanks to the relatable, relevant content mix featuring real people, inspirational type photos and product shots.

So if you’ve not yet started, or launched your BTS campaigns remember these three things:

  • You don’t need a big budget to make a big impact,
  • Make sure your content is relevant to your target audience, and
  • Leverage digital as the quickest way to get your message to your target audience.

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