Your eCommerce Brand Needs to Click Send: Back to School Email Marketing Campaigns

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Independence Day 2019 has officially come and gone, which means it’s time for another big shopping event for Americans living in any state to which ecommerce brands can deliver. That’s right – the start of Back to School 2019 is nearly upon us. If the shopping season’s almost here, that means it’s definitely time to start planning your marketing efforts.

If you run an ecommerce brand, it doesn’t matter if you’re D2C or B2C: you need to be sending out at least one seasonal email marketing campaign for the Back to School 2019 shopping season if there’s any chance that you have customers who would benefit from purchasing your wares during this time of year in particular.

The back-to-school shopping season is the second biggest shopping season of the year. Back to School 2018 spending has been estimated at a few different numbers, including $82.8 billion USD and $84 billion USD. That does indeed read billion, not million.

Here’s a few more numbers for you:

  • 50% of annual school-related in the United States takes place during the back-to-school shopping spree.
  • 2,900,000 American households took part in the Back to School 2018 shopping spree.
  • 54,000,000 American children and teenagers will need to buy (or have their parents buy, perhaps) some sort of back-to-school product before starting school in September. That doesn’t even include the back-to-campus squad, which is its own massive spending bloc. Consider all the products that need to be bought for a freshman’s new dorm room and everything that will need to be replaced by the time senior year in university rolls around.

The back-to-school shopping season usually last from early August to late August in the United States, but may begin sooner in Southern states where school goes back into session earlier in the calendar year. August 2019 starts in 23 days as of this post’s publication and September – when school will actually begin in most states – is approaching rapidly.

It’s time to start planning your Back-to-School 2019 marketing and advertising efforts, if it wasn’t already time to start working on this about a month ago.

Why should ecommerce businesses send Back to School-themed email campaigns?

Let’s talk about why you should be sending at least one Back to School 2019 email campaign to your current customers, your former customers, your prospective customers, and (essentially) anyone who has willingly given you their email address and would be interested in hearing what your brand has to offer back-to-school shoppers.

This is assuming “you” are an ecommerce brand or some sort of online retailer, of course. It’s okay if you also have a brick and mortar presence! If you sell your goods over the Internet, you should send out a Back to School 2019 email marketing campaign whether or not you also sell your goods over other mediums.

 Here’s why:

1.     Meet your customers where they expect to find you.

 If your customers are used to buying your products online, they’re going to expect to be able to find you and all of your communications online too, right? Provide consistency of experience by reaching out using the Internet to customers who use the Internet to buy from you. Consistency of experience builds trust; trust builds happy customer-vendor relationships; happy customer-vendor relationships build businesses.

2.     Most of your customers want to be emailed, as opposed to contacted through other means.

72% of customers say they prefer to receive communications from businesses via email. Give the people what they want! If you have a customer contact list and have collected information on how each contact prefers to be contacted, you should definitely be using that information. Honoring communication preferences is such a small, inexpensive way to make your customers feel heard and valued. It’s worth taking the time to email people who want to be emailed instead of mailed a flyer.

3.     This is a chance to save money on marketing costs without cutting corners. 

Speaking of inexpensive, it is going to be much less costly and infinitely better for the environment to email hundreds to thousands of people than to send them all flyers, brochures, circulars, coupons forged of dwarf gold, or really anything. Email also doesn’t get lost with the other household papers or accidentally crunched up. It’s easily searched for and accessible via a mere click. It’s a great way to get your message heard without cutting corners – email doesn’t have to be postal mail’s lesser cousin. In fact, there are many ways on which email can improve on postal mail.

Here’s a few useful tips regarding Back to School email campaign.

Okay! We’ve established that you have a bunch of good reasons to use email marketing to promote your Back to School 2019 offers. We’ve also established that Back to School 2019 and back-to-school shopping seasons, generally speaking, offer a valuable opportunity to businesses that only comes once per year. How do you use this opportunity to your greatest advantage, then, especially over email?

Segment, segment, segment!

First, think about which segments of your audience should receive which emails over the course of the Back to School 2019 shopping season. Mailchimp’s user data has demonstrated that segmented campaigns are opened 14.37% more often and feature higher click-through rates by a whopping 100.95%.

Clearly, there must be something to carefully targeting email campaigns and the copywriting within them to the right type of customer, as opposed to sending email blasts to everyone you can think of in one fell swoop.

So how might you want to segment for back-to-school email marketing?

 Creating “parent” and “children” segments might seem like the obvious choice given that it’s the back-to-school shopping season, but remember: the parents are often the ones spending and you typically don’t want to collect the email addresses of people under the age of 13. Instead, consider segmenting by the types of items they’ve purchased in the past. This can provide a valuable indicator as to what your customers might need to purchase again in the future.

If you somehow have this information, you can segment by the age of the child(ren) on whose behalf your shoppers are purchasing back-to-school items. People preparing their first-grader for a year of learning how to read may be looking for very different items than people preparing their college freshman for a year of learning how to read Proust.

Finally, you might want to segment based on whether they purchased something from you in the last back-to-school shopping season that seemed related to the season itself. A customer might just need your finest widget on August 18th, regardless of whether they’re buying for Back to School 2019 or not. However, if they’ve bought suspiciously academic-seeming items from you over the past three back-to-school shopping seasons, you might want to send them a targeted email this year reminding them that you still sell the best calculators and crayons in all the land.

Plan out content carefully.

Next, think about the content of the email itself once you’ve decided to which audience exactly you’re going to send your targeted Back-to-School 2019 email marketing campaigns.  

Should you include coupons, vouchers, or freebies? This largely depends on how reticent the audience has been in the past to make a purchase from your website. If they’re already buying up your entire inventory to the extent where you’re having trouble re-stocking on time, you may not need a coupon. If your inventory is a little more expensive and your customers need a bit of a push to make that initial investment, consider a 10% or 15% off coupon if it won’t represent a noticeable financial loss to your ecommerce brand.

If you’re sending an email campaign to capitalize on the opportunity presented by Back to School 2019, it makes sense to mention that you’re sending the email, in part, because it is the back-to-school season.

Design your email with a back-to-school theme. Include pictures of students wearing your clothes if you’re a fashion brand; professors reading your books if you’re a book retailer; or elementary school teachers biting apples presented to them by respectful pupils if you’re in the virtual fruit business. Making your email campaign seasonally themed personalizes the email experience to a certain extent – it reflects your customer’s current focus. Personalization helps!

Highlight the products most likely to be winners.

Finally, highlight the products that are most relevant during the back-to-school shopping season.

Save your Christmas trees and Jack-O-Lanterns for their own seasons: right now, your emails should focus on what’s most pertinent to the greatest section of your customer base during Back to School 2019. Make it easy for your customers to buy the things they need at this time of year from you by letting your customers know that your store or website has what your customers need right now, not what they need in December or March.

But most importantly, have fun! Send charming, quirky, and effective emails that delight your customers.

When you delight your customers, they’re more willing to spend their Back to School dollars with you. That’s a win for your business, a win for students now stocked with your business’s awesome wares, and a win for the economy.

Do you want cat pics in your inbox?

No, that’s not a trick question; yes, I am offering to send you a picture of my big orange cat, Tennessee Williams, once a week or so as part of the world’s furriest email newsletter:
The Intermittent Tennessee. There might be a few email marketing gems sprinkled in among the feline candids. Who knows?

If you enjoyed the blog post, you’ll like the newsletter. Go ahead. Sign up. It’ll be fun!

I respect your privacy and will never, under any circumstances, sell your information to a third party. I work in email marketing. Bought lists are the bane of my existence; you have nothing to fear besides missing out on cat pics.

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