6 Tactics For Better Back-To-School Campaigns

June 29, 2022
By April Paige
1. Coordinate emails with search and social campaigns for wider reach.

Sending email campaigns to your subscribed customers is standard, but coordinate PPC and social media campaigns in conjunction will help with your reach as well. Always tie your search and social campaigns to a landing page that features your highlighted merchandise assortment.

Also include a prominent, benefit-focused invitation to join your email/newsletter list in your messaging.  Even if shoppers don’t find what they want in the moment, they might still sign up for your emails. Additionally, always use real-time verification to validate these new emails and prevent unwanted addresses from invading your database.


2. Focus on procrastinators, bargain-hunters and time-pressed shoppers.

Although the bulk of school shopping takes place by mid to late August, not everyone has crossed off every item on their lists. Scan your inventory for products that people might overlook or were out of stock earlier in the season.  Promote these in a one-off campaign with catchy messaging to gain attention.


3. Put your data to work with targeted promotions.

Start querying your database to find shoppers who buy mainly at this time of year. They likely are buying for back-to-school! Shoppers who signed up for your emails or bought school-related merch in the summer might be ripe for special reactivation/re-engagement offers that redirect them back to a journey with your brand.


4. Help shoppers succeed.  

Any parental veteran of the school-shopping wars will tell you to make it as easy as possible to browse and buy. That alone can encourage shoppers to stay on your site through checkout. Here are six ways you can de-stress the process:

    • Add “how to buy” info for electronics like computers, TVs, monitors and gaming gear.  This includes: product details, warranty info and reviews.
    • To help parents stay on top of the latest COVID-19 advisories, include links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to state and/or local COVID-19 information sources if you can geo-target your mailings.
    • Provide a separate button for each category of merchandise you’re promoting so shoppers can find what they want faster.
    • Feature all the ways a customer can shop and return items, including in-store; online; in-store or curbside pickup, in-store return of online purchases and more.
    • Include a store locator. Add a map for geo-targeting, if possible.
    • Remember Pre-K! Even the little kids need first-day-of-preschool outfits, uniforms and supplies.  Maybe even a snuggle buddy to help them settle down at naptime.


5. Promote all the ways customers can pay.

Money could be tight this year for many families. A Vericast study found 48% expect to pay more this year, while 38% of parents in the Deloitte study have financial worries. Feature “buy now, pay later” services like Afterpay, Affirm and Klarna or credit-card alternatives like PayPal prominently in your emails.


6. Don’t pack too much into a single email.

Variety is great, but don’t forget that Gmail and other inbox providers will clip your messages if they exceed size allowances.  The average email size maximum is 10MB along with individual attachment size of not more than 2MB.  Consider sending several targeted campaigns instead of a single all-purpose email. Testing (messaging, timing, links, subject lines, etc) can guide you here and also give you some overall insights you can use later in your holiday campaigns.


3 Notable Email Campaigns From 2021

Below are some notable back to school email campaigns for 2021. These campaigns might already be in your customers’ inboxes! Search for more back-to-school inspiration, and see what your direct competitors are doing.


1. Let your customers self-segment.

Sender: Office Depot

Subject line: School’s 🏫 out! Get a head start now!


2. Help customers buy the right products.

Sender: Pottery Barn Kids

Subject line: Durable backpacks that hold ALL of their school supplies 🎒


3. Link to each merchandise category.

Sender: Minted

Subject line: It’s almost here… the return to school.



Next up: Keep the names you worked so hard to acquire!

Whether you’re starting a back-to-school campaign or tuning up your holiday emails, always build processes into your planning and execution to keep your email lists as fresh and accurate as possible.

This way, you’ll hit the inbox, retain the most valuable emails in your database and keep the unwanted ones out. Look for tips and advice in the last email in this series – “Word to the wise: Do everything you can to hit the inbox.”