Email Marketing

7-Email Sequence to Boost Back-to-school Sales

The back-to-school retail season has begun, and a well-executed email marketing campaign can boost sales.

Last month, the National Retail Federation surveyed U.S. shoppers about their back-to-school (and college) spending. The NRF then projected purchases this year for elementary through high school students at $41 billion, up from the previous high of $37 billion in 2021, while folks headed to college would spend $94 billion, up from last year’s $20 billion.

Separately, Klaviyo reported the results of 2022 research that showed that the 10 top-performing back-to-school email campaigns generated about $200 in revenue per recipient.

Hence many retailers — brick-and-mortar, omnichannel,  pure-play ecommerce — will likely make significant back-to-school marketing investments, most certainly including email.

What follows is a seven-email sequence for retail marketers to known customers and subscribers.

Remember to keep your emails engaging and visually attractive, with clear calls to action. Personalization is key for a successful email campaign, and monitoring the emails’ open and conversion rates facilitates adjusting your strategy as necessary.

3 college-aged people: one male and two females, outside in a park setting

The back-to-class shopping season is among the most significant retail sales periods in the U.S., according to the NRF. Image: Midjourney.

1. The Back-to-school Teaser

The first email in the sequence is meant to spark back-to-school interest. Its message has a dual mission.

It should point to seasonal content marketing pages on the retailer’s site, such as a list of back-to-school fashion essentials or a preview of the best laptops for any budget.

Second, the email should tease (reveal) coming featured products or sales.

2. The Sale Announcement

Having properly teased the promotions, the sale announcement email delivers the offers.

This is straightforward email marketing. Share the products, focus on the benefits, and watch the purchases come in.

Consider removing from the sequence shoppers who make large purchases from this message. Advance them to the post-purchase email.

Try including a mechanism — such as a contest or product personalization — to learn about the students using the items. You can use this information later in the seventh email.

3. Personalized Recommendations

Some shoppers will have clicked installment two, The Sale Announcement, and browsed products without buying anything.

Send these folks personalized recommendations based on their browsing behavior, items placed in the cart, or past purchases.

Once again, move shoppers who buy to the post-purchase follow-up.

4. Ending Soon

A week before the end of the back-to-school shopping season, deploy an “Ending Soon” email targeting shoppers who have yet to buy or bought sparingly.

The message reiterates an offer, calling out featured products, and could include a second dose of personalized recommendations.

5. The Last Day

Similar to the “Ending Soon” message, this notice goes out on the last day of a retailer’s back-to-school season.

It is a final reminder about the sale and could include last-minute offers or closeouts added since the sale began.

6. Post-purchase

A post-purchase marketing email is not an order verification but an opportunity to thank shoppers for their back-to-school purchases by offering something extra.

The offer could be a coupon code for an unexpected discount or an item the shopper may have overlooked. It could ask shoppers to place pictures of their purchases on Facebook or Instagram, perhaps entering participants in a sweepstakes.

7. School Begins

The final email in the series should occur shortly after school begins.

The message could wish students a successful year, including a personalized note from “The Sale Announcement” message above.

This email could point recipients to articles or videos on the store’s blog, putting a conclusion to the sequence that started with a teaser.

Now the goal is to keep the customer engaged until the next retail opportunity.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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