back to school campaign ideas

13 Experts Share Their Back to School Campaign Ideas

Smart marketers know that the back to school sales period is a big deal. Consumers spent over $80 billion in the United States alone last year on back to school sales. This is more than Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Easter combined. 

The problem however is coming up with back to school campaign ideas that’ll boost sales during the period. So to that end, we’ve reached out to various experts across multiple fields in digital marketing and online retail for their top campaign ideas. 

So without further ado, here’s what they came up with:

1) Don’t Skip Back to School Marketing Campaigns – Felix Süllwold

felix sullwold

Felix Süllwold from PushOwl cautions marketers from neglecting back to school campaigns just because them seem like too much work:

For many retailers, running yet another marketing campaign seems like too much effort and many skip it. But missing out on any popular season means lost potential!

For a simple yet effective back to school campaign idea, he recommends web push notifications:

A truly simple way to run campaigns is sending push notifications, which only consist of a short title, message, picture, and link – and are sent directly to your subscriber’s screen on mobile or desktop. This makes it the perfect channel to create a quick and low-effort campaign, but also reach your potential customers with a highly visual marketing message. 

Keep it simple: Send one compelling offer that really fits the ‘back to school’ theme so you don’t miss out on this seasonal campaign

NB: PushOwl has made it easier to craft compelling campaigns with blogs like The Guide to Crafting The Perfect Web Push Notification.

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Know Who You’re Targeting

The first step to creating a successful campaign is knowing who to target. And while parents are the obvious choice for the back to school season, there’s a few things to keep in mind.

2) Consider the Needs and Priorities of Parents – Shane Felle

shane felle

Thinking about what parents’ value in the lead up to the new school year is the top tip from FelleMedia’s Shane Felle:

Parents have lots to do to get their kids ready for school which is applying lots of time pressure upon them. Therefore focus on convenience in your marketing. 

Say you’re selling school books and your campaign states “All you school book needs are here” or something similar. That’s not enough, you really need to hone in on the problem they face. 

Use a more engaging message such as “For when life thinks you don’t have enough to deal with already, there’s back to school! That’s where we come in. No stress, just success. Everything ticked off the list in less than 5 mins, arrives at your door in 3 days. Your chief de-stressor this back to school season”.

3) Remember Who’s Driving Purchase Decisions – Patrick Dhital

patrick dhital

While parents are the ones with the cash, Patrick Dhital from Honey Skin highlights that it’s often children who determine where the money is spent:

Roughly 80% of parental spending during the back to school period will be directly influenced by their children’s suggestions. Most small to medium-sized ecommerce stores neglect this pot of gold.

As for his back to school campaign idea, Patrick recommends running ads that directly target these purchase influencers:

This is why you should be using your ads to target children during the back to school period.

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4) College Students Also Need School Supplies – Rich Anand

rich anand

Back to college sales outrank back to school sales by roughly 2-to-1. Despite this fact, many college students are cash-strapped. So Rich Anand from Evolvez Agency suggests running a campaign targeting college students:

Focus the campaign around the idea of: “College is expensive, take {a certain percent off} your final order so you don’t have to overspend on {your business product} as well.” 

Promoting a specific discount with the idea of college being expensive is something that people will be able to relate to.

5) Don’t Forget About Teachers – George Hartley

george hartley

It’s not just parents and students spending big during back to school time. Teachers are also often end up having to purchase a lot of school supplies themselves. 

George Hartley from SmartrMail recommends running campaigns highlighting any bulk discounts you can offer:

A lot of the time the teachers end up having to purchase various classroom supplies for the new school year. Unlike with parents and students, these potential customers aren’t buying just individual items, but often enough to supply an entire classroom of students. 

So in addition to not forgetting about this audience, in your campaigns targeting teachers emphasize any discounts or savings for buying in bulk.

Enticing Your Customers

After identifying a target audience, an effective campaign will entice them with an offer tailored to them.  

6) Offer Something of Value for Free – Alina Adams

alina adams

Alina Adams from NYC School Secrets recommends offering something of value in order to capture the email addresses of potential customers:

Give something away for free that’s connected to a child’s potential school success in order to drive parents to your site and capture email addresses. We offer a calculator to figure out the best day for kids to take IQ tests for gifted programs.

7) Offer Tips and Other Resources – Sean Dudayev

sean dudayev

Sean Dudayev from Frootful Marketing suggests connecting your free offer to the products you’re selling: 

One of the best things you can do is launch a back to school educational content campaign for parents. A lot of parents, especially millennials, are always looking for new tips and hacks on making the process easier. 

What you want to do is be that solution for them and include your product(s) as one of the options. When you educate your customers you earn their trust, and if you can earn their trust, you’ll earn their business. 

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Make It Easy for Your Customers

To boost sales as much as you can, you’ll want to be making it as simple as possible for customers to make a purchase. 

8) Create Bundles of Back to School Supplies – Dana Roth

dana roth

Dana Roth from Fortvision recommends separating all of the product that back to school shoppers might be interested in into their own bundle: 

Create pre-made bundles of items. This helps the shopper quickly find what they need. And it’s a great opportunity for you to introduce new items that people did not even know was available.

9) Consider Creating a Dedicated Landing Page – Jeremy Lawlor

jeremy lawlor

Jeremy Lawlor from Active Business Growth suggests taking this a step further by creating your own back to school landing page:

Creating a dedicated back to school landing page with all of your deals, discounts, and offers is a best practice that all serious e-commerce companies should include as part of their marketing strategy. Use this page to direct traffic from social media, paid ads, and email lists to maximize sales during the back to school season.

Decide on Which Marketing Channels to Use

There’s plenty of marketing channels you can use to reach potential customers: email, social media, display ads, search engine marketing, etc. Here’s a few tips on which ones to use and how to use them.

10) Email Marketing – Syed Ali Hasan

syed ali hasan

Syed Ali Hasan from Film Jackets says that email is the best digital marketing channel for your back to school campaigns:

Email marketing is the best way to promote back to school products. It not only drives traffic but also increases conversions rate. Great email marketing apps will make it super easy to send emails and also provide options to personalize your email template according to your business niche. Just make sure to use the best subject line to get more clicks.

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11) Think About Your Email Subject Line – Tom Buchok

tom buchok

Tom Buchok from MailCharts backs up this point about subject lines:

One of the most important things you can do is get really in-depth with your subject line. How many times do you scroll through your email and delete almost everything derived from a mailing list, because nothing “jumps out at you”?

Your subject lines need to let the user know that they will save time by opting to open the email. You can add “for less” to any subject line to also let them know that time won’t be the only thing that they’re saving.”

12) Don’t Forget About Retargeting – Tim Brown

tim brown

Whatever marketing channels you’re using, you’re going to be driving people to your site who don’t make any purchases. 

Over 90% of people visiting a retailer’s site for the first time aren’t ready to make a purchase. This is why Tim Brown from Hook Agency highlights the importance of retargeting:  

If you have an e-commerce store that serves folks headed back to school – it’s important to have a remarketing campaign for each key category of products, or smart remarketing for specific products across the web during this time of year. If they leave your site with items in the cart, of course – make sure you have automated ‘Forget something? Finish your checkout now’ abandoned cart emails!

13) It’s Not All About School Sales – Raúl Galera

raul galera

The end of summer isn’t just about back to school, plenty of people are also heading back to work. In addition to running sales campaigns to workers returning from summer holidays, Raúl Galera from ReferralCandy also suggests using the time to organize partnerships: 

People are usually more open to discussing partnerships or long term projects after they’ve come back from their holidays. Most of us get back to work feeling recharged, so we’re open to hearing new ideas — this is also the time of year we typically use to plan what’s next, so our calendars aren’t as packed as they are during the rest of the year.

Now here’s the hack: Following up. 

Just because you have someone’s attention and initial willingness to work together doesn’t mean the project is going to happen. Make sure that you turn your conversations into actionable items and define next steps and deadlines for whatever it is that you’re planning on achieving.

Looking for More?

These back to school campaign ideas are a great starting point for starting your own ones.

Now that you have some campaign ideas in mind, you might be looking for some more inspiration. If you are, we’ve put together a collection of some great back to school emails along with some ingenious back to school ad campaigns that are sure to inspire you. 

For your emails, we’ve also got a list of 100 back to school email subject lines that you can use yourself. 

So there’s no excuse not to ace your back to school campaign with all the ideas available to you!

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