Back to school emails are hot right now! The back to school season is a huge moneymaker for brands everywhere. This year back to school spending is expected to hit $83.6 billion, which is about $687 per household, according to the National Retail Federation.
While a majority of parents plan to head to department stores for the essentials, a growing number of consumers (46%) are skipping the retail craze altogether and shopping online.
Whether you run a brick-and-mortar store or an online shop, every retailer – no matter what you sell – you can use email marketing to generate sales this season.
To provide inspiration, here are five back to school emails that every brand can use:
1. The traditional back to school sale
Parents are on the hunt for good deals during the back to school season, so hosting a sale or offering a discount is a great way to get your registers ringing. In fact, back to school is the second largest spending season for consumers, just after the Christmas season.
If your brand sells back to school items like clothes or paper products, creating a promotional email is a breeze. Remember the back to school season isn't just for young kids, college students are headed back to campus too so don't forget deals aimed at the older crowd.
Feature school-related items in the email and highlight the deals. Here's a great example from Hanna Andersson:
If you don't sell the usual back to school items, don't worry you can still offer a sale. Take a look at this email from a dog boutique. It's taking an educational approach to its email by selling training leashes and puzzle toys.
Get creative and come up with a unique back to school theme for your brand. For instance, skincare companies could give mom a break on facial cream as a way to celebrate kid's returning to school, or a car dealer could offer cash back to parents looking to upgrade their carpooling vehicle.
And remember, you can offer different incentives beyond a sale. Consider offering free shipping, a free gift with a minimum purchase or a coupon to use on a future purchase.
2. The charitable invitation
Back to school sales will drive traffic to your store and site. Since you have the attention of a captive audience, why not ask customers to give back to their community?
Consider collecting school supplies for kids in need, fill a school bus with canned goods for the local food shelf or ask customers to donate money to a local school program.
The event can be as simple or as elaborate as you want, but whatever you decide to do, ask customers to join via email.
Email provides the perfect way to let customers know about your campaign and how they can participate. You can send a series of emails. The first email can announce the campaign, another could serve as an official invitation to an event, a third email could give customers a coupon for participating, and a fourth email could serve as a reminder when the event is just about over.
Here's a great back to school campaign from Columbia. The outdoor apparel store is collecting used clothing with plans to donate or recycle clothes that are collected.
3. The testimonial back to school email
During the back to school season, the focus is usually on kids. However, putting the spotlight on parents is an effective marketing tool too.
Cos Bar, a luxury skincare and cosmetics boutique, created a series of back to school emails that focused on moms.
They asked beauty specialists who worked at their stores to share their morning routine with subscribers. The email reads like one mom sharing tips with another. It has a personal feel to it, which makes it easy for customers to relate to. Plus, you'll notice the only call to action is "Ask Cicely a Question" rather than a pushy CTA to buy one of the products she mentioned.
Consider trying something similar with your product. Ask a mom or dad to provide a testimonial that you can weave into an email.
Granted, these emails are a little longer than the typical "check out our sale" message but they're different, eye-catching and definitely worth your effort.
You can even use dynamic content to ensure specific customers get certain testimonials. For example, if you collect testimonials from moms in Chicago, New York City and Orlando, you can use dynamic content to make sure that subscribers in each of those locations see the testimonial from a local mom.
Pinpointe users have access to this kind of dynamic content and can get started with this guide.
4. The contest email
Generate some buzz around your brand or product by running a contest. Cater the contest to the products that you sell and plan to use them as prizes.
The contest can be a simple giveaway, where participants enter their name to win or it can be more complex where you ask participants to send in an essay or photo.
Here's a great example of a back to school contest from Gaiam, which actually specializes in yoga equipment. However, the brand gets creative and offers a classroom makeover to teachers using its innovative yoga balls and active sitting gear.
You can use email to invite your current contacts to join the contest, as Gaiam did, but you should also use other channels to promote it. Mention the contest with in-store signage and talk about it on your website, blog and social channels.
Contests are a great way to engage customers, but they're also the perfect chance to grow your email list. Have participants provide their email address when they enter the contest.
There are some simple tools that can help you create and promote a contest while collecting new emails at the same time. Try Wishpond or Rafflecopter.
5. The niche email
Most students have a list of items they need as they head back to school. The list has the usual items – pencils, book covers, notebooks, crayons and calculators.
But every student is different, and brands can generate sales by tapping into a specific back to school niches. For instance, Sperry, sent an email that focuses on shoes that are approved to wear with a school uniform.
Your brand can do something similar. Consider segmenting your list to meet the needs of specific customers. For instance, if subscribers have purchased swimwear for their children through your website, create an email that offers a back to school deal for swimmers.
Market your products to small groups rather than blasting an email to a group of parents and hoping to get a few sales.
Comb through past sales and see what customers purchased during the back to school season. Create segments based on past purchase behavior and design specific emails for each group.
Yes, this does take more work, but personalized emails see transaction rates that are six times higher than generic promotional emails.
In addition to segmenting emails based on behavior, you should also add the subscriber's name to the email. Pinpointe users have access to several personalization methods that allow you to add a subscriber's name, address, job title and more.
No matter what product or service you offer, the back to school season should be on your email radar. Take a few minutes to sit down and figure out how your brand can reach customers during this busy shopping season. Create a schedule that includes at least three emails that you can send to subscribers and work toward making sales before the school bell rings.