Annual marketing events present the unique opportunity for brands to plan around a set date and compare benchmark data from last year’s efforts. Although summer is often filled with cookouts and vacations, the mid-to-late summer season sees the rise in demand for Back to School purchases of all shapes and sizes. From backpacks to binders and sneakers to snacks, consumers will certainly roam store aisles with intent of crossing every item off their list.

When it comes to taking your annual Back to School efforts to the next level, shopper marketing campaigns are a great way to turn annual promotions into engaging in-store and online experiences.

Online sweepstakes and contests pair perfectly with shopper marketing by seamlessly transitioning in-store products to digital properties. Here are some tips to help your brand elevate back-to-school promotions and improve your marketing strategy.

Leverage Text-To-Enter Technology

Almost every consumer today utilizes their mobile device during their shopping experience. Whether the device is being used for product research or mobile purchasing, leveraging the mobile experience is key for brands. For consumers that still shop in-store, integrating a mobile-friendly promotional experience can boost participation rates and lead generation efforts.

Rather than starting the customer journey with email collection, engage users with mobile SMS entry. From there, consumers can be directed to a promotional landing page where registration and data collection can take place. By utilizing sms/text-to-enter functionality, your brand can avoid the overcrowded email marketing space and seamlessly direct shoppers to a digital touchpoint that’s quick and easy.

Involve Consumer Preferences

Throughout the lead generation process there are several opportunities for consumer preference data collection. A simple way to increase the rate at which customer data is obtainable is by pairing data collection with engaging promotions that have a sweepstakes or instant win prize.

By incentivizing data collection, the consumer feels as if your brand is interested in more than just their data. Through the use of integrations such as profiling quizzes you quickly expand your data collection methods. This preference data can then be used for retargeting to ensure that customers are being presented with accurate and personalized messaging.

For more information on consumer preference data collection and use check out our blog on zero-party data.

Incentivize Repeat Purchase with Receipt Validation

Receipt validation technology is a quick and simple way to offer a reward to customers who complete purchases. By using this purchase-to-enter integration in your back-to-school promotion it incentivizes product purchase and promotion participation.

A simple promotion to stimulate repeat purchase is a gift with purchase campaign. The process itself is simple and leverages mobile technology for entry. Encourage customers to submit their receipt to a unique SMS short-code where the receipt is processed and verified. Once the purchase is confirmed customers are alerted and their reward is sent right back to the mobile number they provided.

Related: Garnier’s Earth Day Gift with Purchase Campaign

Expand Your Prize Pool

A great way to draw traffic to your back-to-school promotion is to expand your prize pool. Here are three easy ways to expand your prize pool and encourage more customer participation:

1) Increase the Number of Prizes
Rather than focusing on one single suite of grand prizes, consider offering several lower level prizes. Offering prizes at tiers below that of the grand prize can often create more excitement than the premise of a single winner. Similarly, holding multiple sweepstakes drawings for multiple prize pools is a surefire way to create long-term traffic.

2) Create Sustained Engagement with Daily or Weekly Prize Drawings
Drive shoppers back to the shelves by creating multiple opportunities to win and earn sweepstakes entries. Two easy ways your brand can sustain repeat engagement during your promotion are:

  • Use daily or weekly emails as real-estate for promotional reminders. If you’re looking to drive consumer interaction through email, offering an incentive is a great way to generate a higher open rate.
  • Integrate an Instant win game into your promotion. Instant win games provide a chance for shoppers to win additional prizes and gamify the entry and registration process. Instant win games can be programmed to be played once or allow for multiple plays at a set frequency — more chances to win means higher levels of repeat engagement.

3) Create Additional Means of Winning
More ways to win means more ways and chances to grow participation. While sweepstakes are a great way to grow traffic, instant win games work to create repeat traffic. As an additional means of winning, customers are incentivized to come back at a variable rate for another chance at winning.

Use On-Pack Promotions to Funnel Traffic to Digital

On-pack promotions are a bold and up-front way to introduce customers to your digital promotion. By using product packaging to direct users to your promotion, you guarantee yourself an audience to engage with. Putting promotions front and center on packaging shows consumers you’re interested in giving them an experience outside of the product itself.

The interaction between customers and on-pack promotions allows brands to place digital keys in the hands of customers. One promotional user-flow to consider is placing unique bag codes on packaging. Not only does this transition physical consumers to your digital property, but it encourages repeat purchasing. The more of your product that consumers buy the more entry codes they earn.


When it comes to back-to-school marketing, layering in a shopper marketing promotion and implementing mobile technology into your marketing strategy is a great way to elevate your results. With the flexibility and scale to run sweepstakes and contests of any size, Realtime Media is the leading full-service promotions partner.

Whether your brand sells school supplies or snack packs for lunch, we’ve got you covered. At Realtime Media we make digital promotions easy with our full-service offerings for every campaign you run. Learn about our entire suite of shopper marketing solutions and get ready to launch your back-to-school promotion.