Back to school Email Strategy

MailCharts saves you the trouble of secretly subscribing to your competition’s emails and then spending hours trying to find something actionable.

Below you’ll find the canonical reference for Back to School email planning. From email examples to specific promotional strategies, we’ve included everything you need to ace your campaign.

Back to school
Email Examples

Back to school Email Campaign Planning

Use the calendar below as a starting point to plan your email campaigns.

This Staples email calendar is based on Staples, who sent 16 emails for Back to school in 2018.
Want to see a specific company’s email calendar?

Back to school Email Marketing Statistics

Day-by-day volume distribution

Will you simply send one email on Back to school or will you send a few emails leading up to it, including a “last chance” email once the event is over?
Emails sent before Back to school
Emails sent on Back to school
Emails sent after Back to school
Based on 5875 emails mentioning "school", "college", "back-to-school", "back-to-college", "dorm", "campus", "📚" in the subject line.

Back to school promotional strategy

Back to school
Discount Analysis

Discover the most popular types of promotions used for Back to school.

Note: One email might contain more than one type of promotion — this is why these totals may not add up to 100%.

Distribution of Promotions

Understand how steep a discount companies offer for Back to school. You can toggle between Dollars Off and Percent Off.
Be prepared for every holiday with the
perfect cadence and discount strategy.

Back to school Content Strategy

Ace your Back to school email content with these ready-to-implement strategies. Enjoy!

Cash in on this annual spending frenzy

If you don’t have a back-to-school strategy, you’re missing out on a share of a potential $82.8 billion in shopping to send kids back to school and young adults off to college.

That’s how much the National Retail Federation estimated U.S. shoppers drop on clothing, books, electronics, classroom supplies, shoes, athletic gear and more. No wonder Back to School/Back to College is the second-biggest retail event behind the year-end holiday shopping season.

Even if your brand doesn’t have an obvious back-to-school connection, the sheer spending volume should tempt you to test a campaign. Many of your customers will have school shopping at the forefront of their attention or in the back of their minds, so anything that helps them check off their lists faster and with less hassle should grab their attention.


Strategy #1: Aim for the college market

The back-to-college shopping list is longer and more varied than the K-12 list. Besides clothing and electronics, students and their families are spending an average $153 per household on dorm/apartment furnishings and $109 on food, the NRF estimates.

Been out of school for a decade or longer, or years away from packing someone off to State U? See how big-box merchants like IKEA, Target or Bed Bath & Beyond go after the college dollar in a big way with online and in-store events and special product collections.

Then, look at your product assortment. Which ones would fit on a dorm shelf or in a gym bag or locker?

Although parents usually foot the bill for back-to-college, students themselves have major buying power. The Refuel Agency estimates students have about $203 billion in discretionary spending alone. They’re open to products that aren’t traditional back-to-school items, such as appliances, convenience foods, music, storage and athletic gear.

If college students aren’t your target market, you probably have customers who are shopping for a college-bound friend or family member and would welcome a gift suggestion.


Strategy #2: Run an editorial campaign that adds value

You know that big discount merchants will win the price game almost every time, especially on back-to-school merchandise. Many B2S products – especially school supplies – are loss leaders for discounters, who gamble that families coming in to buy inexpensive pencils or crayons will stick around to buy clothing and shoes.

Instead of going head to head on price, your campaign can center on value. Offer editorial content on aspects of the back-to-school experience, such as how to shop for higher-priced or complex products like electronics and sports gear or a checklist for new or returning college students that mixes your products in with other suggestions.


Strategy #3: Create a product showcase

Collect at least three items that would appeal to a back-to-school shopper or college student looking to make a sterile dorm or dreary off-campus house more appealing. Use your imagination, remembering your own or your kids’ back-to-school cravings — or try polling co-workers.

Limit your product selections to no more than five or six per email. If you have more than that, send more than one email. This will give your products the attention they deserve.