All over the US, retailers are bulking up their inventory for back-to-school sales. After irregular stints of seclusion, the new school year finally resembles a return to normal.
Your back-to-school marketing campaigns start here, with insightful methods and strategies to increase sales for your online store.
Like clockwork, parents, teachers, and students look for seasonal sales for deals, discounts, and personalized back-to-school goodies. As an eCommerce marketer, this is your opportunity to generate healthy revenue from late July through early September.
Class is in session.
Back-to-School Campaign – a MUST for Your Online Store
Back-to-school shoppers rack up the highest sales of the summer season, beating every other niche during that time. The global school and college supplies market is valued at $108.1 billion and is expected to increase by almost $15.12 billion by 2024, with a 3% compound annual growth rate over the forecast period.
2022 is still an uncertain year – the threats of inflation and a general recession are nudging households to look for more affordable options. Remote living has popularized eCommerce as an attractive, budget-friendly shopping alternative. Back-to-school marketing is expected to reach more online shoppers than ever this year.
While uncertain, the market is still growing with a post-pandemic intensity. Last year, the average household spent a record-breaking $849 on school-aged children and $1200 on college students. Currently, the average household is planning to spend most of its budget on back-to-school devices ($295.65) and clothing apparel ($253.46).
Before we list our back-to-school marketing ideas, use this year’s emerging trends to develop the foundation of your seasonal strategy – when you should promote your products, how you should price them, and how large of an audience you can expect to reach:
- 73% of back-to-school shoppers plan to shop in late July and early August
- $100-500 is the most common budget for back-to-school supplies
- 24% of customers shop from a store’s website (30% use third-party apps or marketplaces)
By the start of August, your campaign should be in full swing to catch as broad an audience as possible, promoting budget-aware sales and curating back-to-school marketing across multiple channels.
Insightful Back-to-School Marketing Ideas and Tips
If you want to keep up with the back-to-school rush, attractive discounts and timely content is a must. This section will detail fourteen unique strategies to help you develop a successful seasonal campaign.
Launch Seasonal Products and Marketing Efforts on Time
Prepare quickly, and research when the back-to-school season starts in your market region. Even in the US, the first day of school differs from state to state. A good rule of thumb is to prioritize your campaign in August for the broadest reach of potential customers.
Some essential products to sell during the back-to-school season are backpacks, notebooks, lunch boxes, and footwear. You can find inspiration and possible options in the Printify product catalog:
- Custom unisex backpack
- Ruled-line spiral notebook
- Bento lunch box with utensils
- Women’s high-topped sneakers
- Men’s high-topped sneakers
After electronics, clothing is the second most purchased product during the back-to-school season, with footwear and essential supplies in 3rd and 4th place, respectively.
Personalized clothing and accessories should be a mainstay in your store. Still, school-specific products give your catalog more legitimacy with the flexibility to create back-to-school bundles and promos.
Create Back-to-School Bundles
Offer your customers an option to buy personalized back-to-school-themed bundles. You can tackle your audience directly with online surveys or by contacting local schools. Alternatively, research the top websites that offer lists of back-to-school essentials.
To better customize your back-to-school bundles, choose a specific customer base. Parents, teachers, and college students will respond to different marketing efforts. Design your content marketing strategy based on your existing customer demographics, their preferred media channels, and use of vocabulary.
Market your back-to-school bundles as a more affordable alternative to buying things separately. Take the opportunity to theme your products with matching designs and product imagery.
Update Your Storefront to Match the Seasonal Aesthetic
It’s ideal to give your customers a seasonal feel with a uniquely themed UX design. Match the back-to-school aesthetic by redesigning your storefront. Update your homepage with seasonal messages, and change visuals for your banner image, background, and theme.
Use this opportunity to change and update your catalog listings for the new traffic. Place promos, discounts, and appropriate products on the top of your catalog for accessibility and higher visibility.
Here are a few standard back-to-school themes you can use for inspiration:
- Classroom designs – add images of blackboards, lecture podiums, and notebooks with chalk or cursive letter fonts and formats.
- Grading systems – use thematic accessories like grades, corrections, and images of diplomas, exams, and countdowns for deadlines.
- Seasonal images – fill your background with fall colors, landscapes, transitions in nature, and pictures of schools or a college campus.
- Character profiles – use images of children with backpacks, campus students, and teachers from stock photos or product models.
- Supplies and stationary – add collages of calculators, rulers, protractors, globes, chemistry sets, textbooks, etc.
By redesigning your interface, your store gains authenticity and builds loyalty for new visitors. An active and updated store page can encourage your customers to participate in user-generated content.
Organize a Sales Event Contest or Challenge
Back-to-school sales are an excellent opportunity to promote creativity and ideas. Take advantage of the seasonal shopping rush by creating an accessible medium for user-generated content.
Offer parents or students a unique way to highlight their customer journey. Create raffles and options to share posts, tag people, or jump on a catchy hashtag. Social media is an essential platform for this kind of engagement. People can freely participate and follow timely developments.
Set up a tangible reward that your customers can look forward to, like a special deal, a chance to customize their own product or a highlight on your store page or profile. Use these insights to generate more content and valuable resources for other users.
Create Valuable Resources
Creating seasonal content has the potential to increase your search engine rankings, which is a necessary part of managing good website SEO. Master your keyword research through valuable guides, lists, and how-to’s to increase the quality of your brand without having to make significant expenses.
Some valuable ideas for back-to-school marketing content include:
- Shopping lists – provide a list of back-to-school picks for parents or students
- Survival guides – determine the essential supplies every student needs
- E-books and articles – delve into deeper topics surrounding education and back-to-school sales
- Fashion lookbooks – discover the latest fashion trends for the new fall semester
- Educational resources – list the do’s and don’ts of buying back-to-school supplies online
Your trove of original resources will encourage more traffic and sales and give you the authority to team up with educational institutions and organizations.
Team Up With an Organization That Supports Education
Provide support for education through fundraising initiatives and goal-oriented partnerships.
You can help local organizations or donate a part of the profits to a good cause – help foster education and make it more accessible for local communities.
When done with good intentions, corporate social responsibility can humanize your campaign and give your store an edge over competitors. Think about initiatives for diversity, academic freedom, better conditions for teachers, or workshops that involve and motivate students to learn.
As an award for participation, provide deals and discounts for the back-to-school shopping season or donate your proceeds to charity to increase your overall growth and customer loyalty.
Offer Special Deals
A special discount is the lifeblood of good back-to-school marketing. Seasonal deals encourage users to do their own research and spend time exploring possible shopping avenues that wouldn’t otherwise be on their radar.
Finding a good deal is a rewarding experience – it encourages return purchases and fosters word-of-mouth advertising. We will briefly describe the types of offers that you can add to your catalog of back-to-school products:
- Percentage-based or cash-off discounts – the most common offer you can provide is a percentage or cash discount for a limited time or season. You can discount specific products or offer bundle deals for a better price.
- Free shipping and deliveries – high shipping costs are a common reason for abandoned shopping carts. Free shipping will give the customer a more transparent price estimate.
- Promo codes – promo codes are great for affiliate marketing campaigns and limited offers. Add them to your newsletters, partnered organizations, or social media posts.
- Student discounts – personalize your discounts for specific demographics. Student discounts are a tried-and-true tag that users openly search for.
- Teacher discounts – show appreciation for the hardest workers of the back-to-school season. You can market teacher discounts as great gifts that parents and returning students can give to their favorite professors.
- Dorm or roommate gift deals – college roommates will be ecstatic to find appropriate gifts for their own, often neglected demographic.
- Returning customer discounts – offer loyalty discounts for return purchases for customers that subscribed to your newsletter or follow your media channels. Once customers develop a purchase pattern, next time they will likely go directly to your store.
Including an extra deal that feels unique to each customer is necessary to encourage smart shopping. A rewarding experience from a perceived gift can counteract the otherwise stressful season for many parents, teachers, and students, especially near the end of August.
Include a Gift With Each Purchase
Adding a small but free school-related gift with each order can be a nice touch. You may also consider customizing your packaging for a more personalized look and providing extra discounts with the product receipt.
Your gift doesn’t have to be too grandiose – extra stationery or a thoughtful booklet can significantly increase your brand’s quality without breaking the bank. When thinking about potential gifts, consider purchasing in bulk to keep your expenses lower.
Of course, free labor is hard to come by and even more challenging to sustain. Not everything in your marketing campaign needs to be done by you. Next up, we have influencer marketing.
Get in On Influencer Marketing
You might not know what younger school kids are into these days, what parents have to deal with, and the struggles of your average teacher. It’s untenable to perfectly capture the ins and outs of every demographic.
Move out of old-school advertising into marketing campaigns with a more authentic method of engagement. Save time and partner up with social media influencers, or sign a contract with an agency that offers to promote your products through a profile that your niche would naturally enjoy or be familiar with.
Influencers are incredibly relatable among younger audiences. The current k-12 aged generation is part of different pop-culture niches. YouTube creators, Twitch streamers, Instagram gurus, Twitter gimmick accounts, and even social media activists are all potential outlets for back-to-school marketing.
Influencers can frame your back-to-school marketing campaign in various ways:
- Products with specialized features or manufacturing techniques
- Latest clothing and accessory fashion trends
- Affordable supplies for families with a tight budget
- Ease-of-access online shopping opportunities
- Home-learning vs in-person essentials
- Customizable products and gifts for teachers
Influencer marketing is a specific term used for figures that have formed their business for dynamic marketing. Influencers create curated profiles that mix content and marketing based on trends, audience analytics, and overall growth.
Organize a Giveaway
Giveaways are one of the most straightforward marketing methods that provide high engagement without costing more than the prize for the lucky winner. The prize, however, must be substantial enough to entice potential participants.
Select a series of requirements to enter the giveaway. You can ask potential participants for:
- Follows, shares, replies, and retweets
- Testimonials for a product or service
- Subscriptions to your newsletter
- Specific hashtags in related posts
- Challenges and user-generated content
Media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, where your follower count can influence your brand standing, are a great medium to practice a variety of giveaway offers. Your giveaways can operate under one entry per person, or you can encourage more active users by offering multiple entry requirements for a higher chance of winning.
Offer Coupon Codes for Future Purchases
Your work doesn’t end with a successful sales campaign. Grow your business by encouraging return purchases with coupon codes. Back-to-school season shoppers make their purchases sporadically, returning for extra essentials and forgotten supplies for a new class or course.
Coupons, like discounts or promos, can offer a cash-off deal or free shipping for a limited time. Your coupons don’t necessarily need to be back-to-school themed, they can be a great way to keep new visitors around after the end of the seasonal period.
Create Fun, Interactive Quizzes With Shareable Results
If you’re likely to sell to internet-focused generations, we encourage more entertaining methods of back-to-school engagement. Formulate a results quiz for students to identify their clique, niche interests, or personality type related to some form of belonging, e.g., “what kind of back-to-school shopper are you?”
Quiz results should be easily shareable on social media and contain a call-to-action statement to inform the user of your products or special deals for the season.
Create a Back-to-School Campaign Newsletter
At this point, you’ve most likely noticed that all these back-to-school marketing ideas work well with one another, providing a diverse assortment of content that users can expect to receive throughout the season.
By design, your marketing should be curated across multiple channels, filling your advertising portfolio with timely and streamlined content. As part of your email marketing, newsletters are a great way to combine back-to-school campaigns into a single, digestible feed of content that users can check without effort.
In turn, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletters are an excellent tool to maintain all year round, advertising seasonal sales and new content releases, while informing users in a personalized and entertaining manner.
Additional Things to Keep in Mind
Surveyed back-to-school shoppers showed a growing comfort in purchasing online this year, with 40% planning to buy curated supply kits and 50% looking to purchase apparel and fundamental school supplies.
Online shopping trends are varied and often hard to predict. Knowing where and how to present your back-to-school marketing for maximum visibility is just as important as creating original content in the first place.
The remaining points below will briefly discuss practical marketing methods to keep your back-to-school marketing successful.
With omnichannel marketing, you create a seamless experience for your customers by using multiple marketing channels in a unified way.
Unlike multichannel marketing, where each platform is managed separately, omnichannel marketing is simply the process of distributing the same or similar content over multiple points of customer contact.
By using over three channels in a campaign, marketers earned a 494% higher order rate than single-channel counterparts.
You should upload most of your back-to-school marketing efforts on social media channels. Social media usage is increasing, even among users aged 65 and up. Adults spend an average of 95 minutes per day on one of the leading social media apps.
Over 90% of businesses use social media in their marketing, and its process has shown results from surveyed customers. Pick your preferred media channels, be it social networks like Twitter, media sharing sites like Pinterest, or other community-oriented sites.
Benefit Even if You're Not Selling School Supplies
You don’t need to plan a streamlined campaign or sell school supplies to take advantage of the back-to-school season. Get in on the fun simply by offering seasonally-themed products or student discounts.
Celebrate the new semester with fall-themed store designs, community posts, and gestures of support to keep your business actionable and authentic throughout the year.
Ready to start your store’s school year with an increased budget and growth? Start your back-to-school marketing campaign using marketing content, discounts, gifts, and events made for parents of school children, college students, and teachers.
Are you interested in setting up a new set of products for your store? Check out the Printify catalog for apparel, accessories, and decorative goods with back-to-school discounts. Match the spirit of the season with your unique designs with print-on-demand.
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