iProspect launch Clarks’ first ever Digital PR campaign during unprecedented media landscape

The Brief

Back to School is Clarks’ biggest sales and brand push of the year. Faced with competitive keywords and a variety of products, iProspect wanted to ensure they were ranking as highly as possible for the Back to School peak in August.

We knew we needed to build links to these pages to boost rankings, but creating a news story around this in such an uncertain time where many children were being homeschooled would be a challenge. How could we remain sensitive to the news agenda while still building links for school shoes?

The Strategy

There were two key aims of the campaign: to ensure Clarks retained its high-ranking positions for its core school shoes terms, and secondly to boost rankings for other school-related products to ensure visibility across the Clarks product range. Our internal linking strategy reflected this approach.

Given the news agenda at the time, Clarks didn’t want to appear tone deaf. After a rigorous ideation process, we had our Digital PR idea: a deep dive into the homeschooling experience. 

Clarks wanted to understand what parents were searching for whilst homeschooling their children throughout lockdown in the UK, as well as uncover how parents had found the homeschooling experience.

Digital PR example

The Execution

We analysed 2,496 search terms that parents across the UK had been entering into their browsers to help them teach at home. We crunched the numbers and analysed the top 20 most-searched-for questions about maths, English, Science, Geography, and History. The analysis included which city had been searching for those terms the most, as well as the increase in searches compared to April 2019. 

To support the keyword findings, we also surveyed 1,000 UK parents of school-age children to find out what they had learnt since taking on homeschooling duties and what they enjoyed most. ​

Using the findings, iProspect promoted the story to online publications in education, parenting, lifestyle, regional news and other verticals, and launched it in line with the day some children returned to school in June 2020 after several months of homeschooling.

The campaign was relaunched in Jan 2021, in line with the third national lockdown, and generated further links from the likes of The Sun, The Telegraph, Ipswich Star and more as a result, bringing the average DA up to 41 from 35.​  The coverage secured from The Sun also became a double-page spread in The Sun newspaper, featuring a celebrity mathematician answering the Google searches we uncovered.

The Results

The campaign secured 37 pieces of coverage and 30 referring domains, which resulted in the following keyword improvements of Clarks’ core Back to School terms:

  • 1,514 keyword ranking improvements overall to target pages
  • ‘black school trainers’ +3 places to position 2
  • ‘school trainers’ +1 place to position 3
  • ‘leather school shoes’ – remained in position 3
  • ‘kids school bags’ +6 to position 10

This boost in rankings ensured Clarks defended its share of voice during the Back to School period, and also led to a 42% ROI from the campaign. 

The campaign also won Silver for ‘Best Use of Data and Insights’ at the International Content Marketing Awards 2020.

Discover the campaign on the Clarks website.

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