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Email marketing ideas for back-to-school and back-to-college shopping

Email marketing ideas for back-to-school and back-to-college shopping

Back-to-school shopping season is in full effect. If you think that it only pertains to a select bunch of Shopify merchants, think again.   

Remember that people are shopping for primary and secondary grade levels, plus those going off to college, So back-to-school shopping crosses a wide range of industries and stacks up to a big ecommerce event. 

National Retail Federation (NRF) data shows that back-to-school spending is expected to match last year’s record-high spending. Families with K-12 students plan to spend an average $864. Back-to-college spending is anticipated to amount to an average $1,199 per family.   

All of this, despite inflation concerns. A survey found that 50% of U.S. adults are either very or somewhat concerned about affording school supplies

Such worries have an impact on back-to-school shoppers. Per NRF

  • 43% plan to do more comparative shopping online
  • 42% plan to shop for sales more often
  • 35% will buy more brand/generic products
  • 24% will make do with last year’s school items

Why am I tossing all of these stats your way? I want you to take it all into account as you’re planning your back-to-school shopping promotions. 

The bottom line: people are still spending because it’s necessary, but they’re scrutinizing purchases and trying to stretch their dollar further. How can your brand help relieve their pain points?


The wide-spanning possibilities of back-to-school promotions

As I mentioned, back-to-school spending dips into different industry verticals. Popular products that many merchants promote include:

  • Traditional paper goods/journals/writing tools
  • Fashion, accessories, and shoes for children, young adults, and college-aged consumers
  • Home goods suitable for apartments or dorms
  • Electronics

I challenge you to think beyond the obvious. Case in point: Vitruvi’s email marketing is a smart twist. Their copy has convinced me that — why, of course — an essential oil diffuser is the perfect study buddy and should be on my to-buy list.

Email showing a desk with a notepad and pencil, with essential oil diffuser in the background and accompanying text: study buddy

Let’s dig into three other great examples, each with its own take. 


Up first is a very traditional back-to-school message, primary colors and all. 

Email snippet featuring a child running with pom-poms and text of Back to School, as well as up to 50% off first day styles

Carter’s is a brand for elementary-aged and younger children. The visuals here very much align, from cute kid with pom-poms to typography. What I really like about this message is that it's so easy to navigate to the different age groups and categories, making it simple to find what you need. 

I also love the parachute in the background. Who hasn’t played with one as a child? It’s got some good feels. 


On the flip side, this email message from Skinit is aimed at the back-to-college crowd or high schoolers. 

Email showing a young woman holding a phone, with overlay of a photo showcasing different phone covers

You know it even before you open the email. The subject line kicks off with “Wud Up Weds!” and is full of emojis to bring the rest of the text to life. 

Inside the email is a straightforward 35% off discount for custom cases and skins. The brand speaks to its audience through imagery, too, featuring an older student and ideas to spark custom designs of their own. 

Personal note: bonus points for showcasing “dope” on the phone case. It’s our favorite word, here at Seguno.   


This next message somewhat aligns with the “we’re not your traditional school supplier merchant, but we’re taking advantage anyway.” Though Maxtrix does sell some desks and other storage solutions, it primarily specializes in kid bedding.

Email image with photo of a girl with feet up on a desk and hands behind head with language "kids feeling too cool for school?"

The partial email above is super cute with fun lifestyle imagery of a lounging kid to match the headline. The copy is also engaging by acknowledging that most people don’t want to think about back-to-school shopping while summer’s in full swing. 

I, too, appreciate the angle they’re taking. Make over your kids’ room and you’ll give them a fresh start to the new school year. 

Get a piece of the back-to-school shopping pie

You already know that a lot of money is spent on back-to-school shopping. So I have to reiterate that it’s totally worth your while to work in some pertinent email marketing if you can. 

Think about those pain points triggered by inflation that I mentioned earlier. How can your products stand out to an audience that’s comparison shopping? What discounts can help alleviate the financial burden?  

Look around for some inspiration. And if you just don’t have the time to create something on your own or could benefit from a professional graphic designer, rely on one of our back-to-school templates to do the heavy lifting.

Seguno back-to-school template examples

You’ll find a bunch in our app’s template store. Some premium templates have an additional cost, but many are available at no additional charge to paid users. Learn more about using prebuilt templates.

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