Microsoft’s Bing Cashback back to school promotion leaves consumers and retailers with money in their pockets

Consumers looking for a great deal got the bargain of the summer thanks to Microsoft’s Bing Cashback program. The Bing Cashback program enables users to save money when shopping online by offering cash back on purchases made at participating retailer sites. For two and a half weeks in August, Bing Cashback featured a back-to-school campaign in which merchants offered up to double their typical rebates on select purchases. Several retailers even touted a whopping 50% cash back on purchases. Compared to the month prior, traffic to the Bing Cashback/Shopping portal during those 2+ weeks increased more than 30% as consumers flocked to the site searching for great deals. Participating retailers also saw surges in Bing driven traffic as millions of consumers clicked through to the participating merchants to shop.

  • Not surprisingly, mass merchant and electronic retailers dominated both these lists. Students (and parents) in need of computers, dorm supplies, backpacks, books, and new clothes visited these retailers en masse.
  • Even with some merchants offering 50% cashback, Overstock, Sears, and Buy.com could not be knocked from their top positions on the most visited list.
  • Walmart fell short of the growth experienced by Overstock and Sears and actually declined in the Top Visited rankings.
  • Eastbay benefited heavily from its 50% cashback offer; traffic sky rocked over 600% and the merchant edged its way into the Top 10 list.

And did the increased cash back actually lift sales? Definitely!

  • For most of these retailers, conversion rate among Cashback users was more than double the rate of other shoppers.
  • Eastbay, again, stands out with a staggering 22% purchase rate; apparently Cashback users can’t pass up half priced sneakers.
  • Cashback users snatched up discount electronics. The purchase rate for Cashback visits at HP was 10X higher than the general purchase rate. Equally as impressive, 1 out of 5 times a Cashback user visited Newegg they purchased an item.
  • Tigerdirect.com is the only retailer whose Cashback purchase rate is less than the general purchase rate. I guess when you are buying big ticket electronics, a few more percentage-points cash back in your pocket is worth shopping around for.

Bing’s back to school promotion effectively drove more sales at retailer sites. In fact, the promotion was such a hit that Microsoft ended the event several days earlier than originally announced. The success of this campaign indicates that back to school shoppers this year were prepared to shop, but were very price sensitive. Given shoppers’ tighter budgets, the extra savings probably prompted sales of items consumers were delaying purchasing or willing to forgo all together. Looking ahead to holiday shopping, it is promising that an extra sale is all consumers need to open their wallets a little bit wider.

About Debra Miller Arbesman:
Debra Miller Arbesman is senior associate, retailer and consumer products at Compete, a Kantar Media company that helps brands improve their marketing based on the online behavior of millions of consumers.