Back To School Marketing: A+ Campaign Ideas To Win Over Customers

Ellie Ho
Jun 7, 2024
3 min read

While it may feel like summer has only just begun, families and students are already gearing up for the new school year. These shoppers are on the hunt for back-to-school (BTS) sales, and hoards of retailers will be vying for their attention. To stand out in the vast ocean of back-to-school sales, you’ll need a well-crafted back-to-school marketing campaign that’ll reel shoppers in. Get your creative juices flowing with these back-to-school marketing campaign ideas that are certain to win over customers.

Back To School Shopping At A Glance: What will matter most to shoppers?

Price is going to be a major deciding factor for back-to-school shoppers. Rising inflation and economic woes are causing families’ budgets to be stretched. As a result, 60% will turn to online retailers to bag the most competitive prices. Moreover, free shipping offers are likely to sway these shoppers.

reasons for purchasing online | back to school sale prep
(Source: Deloitte)

In some instances, parents are willing to splurge on back-to-school purchases. This case is particularly prominent for clothing. 6 in 10 say they’ll spend more on products that allow their child to express themselves.

Mouth-watering deals will be of prime importance for securing sales from back-to-school shoppers. However, competition will be fierce, so let’s take a look at some marketing campaign ideas that will knock your sales out of the park.

Back-To-School Marketing Campaign Ideas

Provide informative content that inspires

Content marketing is an excellent tactic for promoting your products while providing added value for shoppers. The content you create to push your BTS products should make shopping and school preparation easier.

back to school checklist to promote sale on staples online store

Consider creating back-to-school blog posts that include tips for parents and students on getting ready for the upcoming school year. Think about how you can weave your products into these informative posts.

An excellent method is to craft checklists with essential items for different school stages. Staples provides a back-to-college checklist with links to different collections. Advice on how to organize study rooms and reflect your personal style also works well and will be a valuable source of inspiration.

It’s a good idea also to include non-salesy content that exists purely to educate back-to-school shoppers on pressing matters. For instance, a recent survey found that almost half of the parents are concerned about the mental wellbeing of their children. Articles with useful resources and tips for nurturing mental health would therefore be precious to parents.

Approaching content in this way helps to position your brand as trustworthy and form genuine bonds with customers. With these positive feelings, you’ll have an easier time turning casual browsers into buyers.

Connect through social media with visual UGC

Content that allows visual-based exploration provides much-needed context that is easier for shoppers to process. That’s why over 25% build their back-to-school shopping lists on Pinterest. These visuals harness more power when they incorporate user-generated content (UGC).

Families and students will be flocking to social media for back-to-school shopping, making it a great chance for merchants to connect as well as inspire. Alongside Pinterest, Facebook is another popular source of inspiration, so you’ll need a solid strategy for both.

Make use of visual reviews, if you have them, and use them to promote deals and offers on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re lacking visual UGC, use images that show your products being used in context, like Yes Bebe. Alternatively, you can run contests and competitions that facilitate UGC - more on that later.

Create themed Pinterest boards for different back-to-school scenarios that showcase your products in context. Ensure the pins you include are shoppable and link back to your website.

back to school promotion campaign on target
Target’s back-to-school board on Pinterest

Don’t limit your Pinterest content to just images. Pinterest has a wealth of features to help brands create inspiring stories. Combine campaign videos, how-tos, and guides with images into Idea Pins to craft a world of inspiration.

Pinterest is also about building a community. You can engage and interact with your clientele by creating or joining group boards for back-to-school shopping ideas.

Run contests and giveaways

Contests and giveaways are excellent promotional hacks that draw attention to your store and engage shoppers. They’ll bring a sense of fun to your back-to-school campaign and create a buzz around your brand that’ll expand your reach. They’re also a great way to build up UGC for future campaigns.

Ensure the contest or giveaway directly relates to education or school in a way that could be useful for back-to-school shoppers. It’s a big bonus if the contest encourages customers to show off your products. You could ask participants to share their first-day-of-school outfit ideas, back-to-school hacks, favorite healthy lunch recipes, or their most cherished school memory. Lure shoppers in with irresistible prizes like gift cards, money-off coupons, or a free back-to-school essentials package.

Emphasize self-expression

Self-expression will be a key driver in encouraging back-to-school shoppers to part ways with their cash. A back-to-school marketing campaign that promotes individuality, acceptance, and being yourself will have a dramatic impact on your sales. This was the key focus of Gap’s successful 2022 campaign.

back to school promotion marketing campaign on gap online store

Celebrate self-expression with campaign images that show students from all walks of life using your products. Emphasize how your products can appeal to a diverse group of students and help them show off their personalities. You could create collections based on different personality types. Dormify, for example, helps students find their personal style with collections based on aesthetics.

back to school campaign on dormify shop

Partner up with organizations and charities that support the mental well-being of students and donate a portion of your sales to them. This idea of self-expression could also be an excellent basis for running contests and giveaways.

Create targeted email marketing campaigns

Newsletters and promotional emails will be crucial in making sure your existing customers choose your store for back-to-school shopping. In addition to sending a generalized newsletter with all your BTS products, craft targeted email campaigns that appeal to different types of shoppers.

Dig into your customer data and create segments for shoppers who likely have young children, teenage customers, and college-age consumers. Fill these emails with relevant products and links to helpful blog content.

Build a timeline for your email campaigns to capture early shoppers and those who are more last minute. We recommend 3 emails for each of your segments.

The first should focus on bagging early deals and feature content on preparing for the new school year. The second can be sent when you launch your back-to-school sale. Include links to shopping guides alongside some personalized product recommendations. The final email should provide a sense of urgency and push shoppers to wrap up their purchases in your store. As well as highlighting personalized last-minute offers, you could also include a back-to-school shopping checklist.

back to school checklist on email promotion campaign of paperchase shop
Get creative with the look of your emails to give them a school-like feel. Paperchase’s A-Z checklist is a great example of this.

Focus on deals with creative copy

Even with back-to-school spending predicted to reach an all-time high, deals and offers will be of utmost importance to shoppers. Your marketing campaign needs to have a glaring focus on money-saving to entice shoppers. With countless retailers running back-to-school sales, make yours come out on top with a creative copy.

Words can go a long way in captivating shoppers and helping your campaign stand out in the vast sea of competition. Use catchy headlines and humorous puns in your ad copy, email subject lines and promotional banners.

Wrapping Up

The upcoming school year presents an excellent opportunity for merchants to secure big sales and build lasting customer relationships. With fierce competition, a top-class back-to-school marketing campaign is vital for success. You’ll need to show that your store provides that extra something shoppers won’t find elsewhere. Whether through informative content, genuine interactions through social media, playfulness, or the art of self-expression, you’ll win big with a well-thought-out marketing campaign.

boost ai search and discovery banner
Ellie Ho
Content Marketing Specialist
June 29, 2024
7 min read