Back-to-school season is a profitable opportunity for mobile marketers

College students are ideal targets for marketers looking to leverage mobile technology

Wed Sep 05 08:32:00 EDT 2018

Marketers thrive during back-to-school, especially if they’re attempting to capitalize on the buying power of the 18 to 24-year-old college segment. These young adults, with their well-documented spending habits, fall in a popular yet narrow demographic. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the millennial population is expected to reach nearly 23 million in 2017 and more than $523 billion in total spending power. In addition, millennials are multi-category buyers and powerful influencers on their peers.

Here’s why college students are rich targets for mobile marketers:

Although they don’t make a lot of money, they still spend a ton of it.

2017 back-to-school spending is expected to see its second-highest spending level on record, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey. Total spending for school and college combined is projected to reach $83.6 billion, which is over 10% more than last year’s $75.8 billion. However, it’s important to keep in mind that students are still budget conscious. They respond well to loyalty discounts, coupons and other opportunities to save money.

They are tech-savvy and socially engaged.

College students actively engage in social media and consume content on an average of 7 devices for over 45.8 hours per week, according to the 2016 Refuel Agency College Explorer. Raised in a digital world, their adoption of technology and digital connectivity has completely reshaped how they engage with brands. As consumers, their social prowess has presented them with the opportunity to become more aware, connected, informed and empowered than any generation before.

They represent a future consumer group that’s well-educated and brand-loyal.

Students are experiencing life away from home for the first time. That means they’re making their own purchase decisions and establishing brand preference. With that said, they’ll spend their money on brands they can relate to and appreciate -- with notable spend on food, entertainment, clothing, technology and cosmetics. For brands, this is a key time to reach out and build-relationships with a consumer base that’ll soon evolve from occasional shoppers, to lifetime, brand-loyal customers.

College students share a common location.

College students gather on campus on a regular basis, making it easier for mobile marketers to craft compelling, relevant messaging and connect in real-time.  The commonalities of primary gathering spots, specific activities and interest, and student housing to name a few open a number of opportunities to strategically market to students. By segmenting your target marketing in this way, you can focus on specific consumer segments that are more likely to engage with your offer or promotion while increasing efficiency in both effectiveness and overall spend.

Top three tips for marketing to college students

Now that you realize their potential, here are some ways to capitalize on the college student segment:

First and foremost, understand how to incorporate location into your mobile marketing strategy. 

Location-based advertising is gaining considerable momentum due to advancements in technology, ubiquity of connected devices and demand for personalized content.

Accurate, well integrated data can help geo-enable and enrich location-based marketing to provide the most relevant brand experiences to capture this opportunity rich market. Use cases range from geofencing and search, to audience creation and behavioral insights, all of which provide more relevant brand experiences to help capture this opportunity-rich market.       

Mobile marketers and advertisers have a unique opportunity to stand out by pairing the demographics of college students with contextual, location-based data and their spending habits and buying preferences. Creating real-time, targeted offers not only makes your communications more effective and relevant but is more likely to generate a positive response.

Second, achieve a single customer view to better understand consumer priorities, motivations and spending habits.

A fully integrated 360-degree view of your customer is key. An organization that is not in control of its data is not in control of its business. The basics seem easy: name, address and account numbers. Yet, sometimes even getting that right is a challenge, let alone realizing what they buy, how they shop, where they spend their time and what they value. 

The more complete and accurate your view of the customer, the more effectively you can maximize customer profitability. When you can predict customer behaviors and tendencies you’ll enable cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, campaign planning and segmentation, as well as improved customer loyalty, satisfaction and engagement.

Finally, know what matters and when.

In order to provide the most relevant brand experiences and capture this opportunistic market, hone in on the ebb and flow of major events and milestones throughout their college career. Remember, the customer relationship continues after graduation. When students transition into life after college, you’ll have another opportunity to engage a group of consumers who experience a number of life changes including where they live, where they work, and their level of income, all of which  impact what and how they buy. Make sure your strategy includes both short and long-term wins.

The more businesses seek to engage college students -- arguably the most important consumer group in America today – the more marketers will be challenged by high accountability and ROI expectations.

The dependencies on quality data, real-time personalization and campaign relevancy will be key in building targeted campaigns that engage the modern student consumer group. Connecting this influential group with preferred brands and products now is critical as they are forming spending choices and loyalties can have a lifetime impact.

Pitney Bowes offers a comprehensive set of data, including College Boundaries. Learn more