5 Back to School Marketing Tips to Fuel Your Campaigns

With children heading back to schools at the end of August and early September, the school year may seem like it’s still quite a way off.

For savvy e-commerce business owners, who are well-aware that it’s time to ramp up their back to school (BTS) marketing efforts, the time to start targeting students and their parents is right now.

While you may already be planning your plan of attack for the holiday season, the most lucrative sales period for e-commerce retailers in Q3 is around August and September, accounting for nearly 70% of all Q3 E-commerce revenue. If you haven’t yet made this period a focal point of your yearly marketing calendar, it’s time to jump on it!


If you want to stick-out from latest and greatest backpack compartment, you’ll need some careful planning. This post provides 5 back-to-school marketing tips that will help your e-commerce business engage with students while catering to the people spending the money; parents.

Tip #1 Understand What Products Align with BTS

If you’re struggling to understand what products beyond pencils, backpacks, and notebooks constitute BTS items, don’t fret, there are a bunch of non-traditional product categories that can still take advantage of the general E-commerce sales surge during this period. From electronic items like headphones to shoes, clothing and accessories, chances are your products are marketable as a BTS item.

The chart below, created by the NRF, depicts how much money shoppers will spend across the four main back-to-school product categories, with the top two (clothing & accessories and electronics) pulling in 65% of the $674 that is spent on average for back-to-school shopping.


Most importantly, just because you’re not selling traditional BTS products like school supplies, doesn’t mean you can’t run BTS campaigns. As retail expert Bob Phibbs says, back to school “is a transition time that brings a harbinger of change. It’s a time of new beginnings, changes in the weather and changes in the way we see ourselves.”

Think carefully about which of your products best align with the BTS season and build your marketing campaign around them.

Tip #2 Understand Your Audience

This is a crucial element of your marketing year-round. While the biggest BTS shoppers are parents, your products and messaging determine exactly who to target. For example, high school students are very much concerned with trends and usually base their purchasing decisions (or requests) off what is currently trending or popular on social media. If your product aligns with a trend, consider how your messaging and targeting aligns. If you’re not sure, do extensive research on trending clothing brands and styles, as well as popular backpacks, shoes, and electronic equipment to see what’s expected to be popular in 2018.

Another key demographic here is college students. They likely have some purchasing power and usually shop for themselves. If you know a key demographic for you year-round is college students, then it makes sense to hone in on the college student market.

Regardless, it’s crucial to understand who your core audience is when it comes to back to school season.

Tip #3 Create Back-to-School Themed Content

The next step is creating the content for your BTS campaigns. Create some marketing collateral that focuses on the BTS theme. Top of the funnel content like buying guides, sizing guides, checklists, can help build brand awareness and introduce people to your brand.

Best Buy took this a step further. Using Adam Devine, the comedian and actor, the brand created narratives around common college experiences and how Best Buy’s products can help.

Best Buy also created exclusive emojis—or “Adamojis”— that students could download for free from the App Store and use in texts and on social media.

While most of us don’t have a budget anywhere near the budget of a large brand like Best Buy, the idea is to have fun and be creative when building out your BTS content.


Tip #4 Align your Marketing Activity

If you believe the BTS period is a key period for your E-commerce store, then it’s worth aligning ALL of your marketing activity. For example, if you are running Facebook and Instagram ads, building BTS themed content, and sending targeted emails, all three activities should be aligned and acting as a cohesive whole.

As most of us know, wherever there is online shopping, there is also cart abandonment. The stakes are definitely higher when there’s an increase in traffic and demand. To capitalize on this BTS uptick, you need a way to convert abandoning visitors into paying customers.

You could consider running a specific cart abandonment email series and a retargeting Facebook and Instagram ad that focuses on these individuals, which all center around your BTS themed content. A cohesive marketing strategy that aligns all your marketing channels will drive home your message, as studies show that repetition improves its efficacy.

Aligning your efforts across channels can go a long way toward helping you achieve all your BTS marketing goals.

Tip #5 Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Competition is especially high during busy shopping seasons and back-to-school season epitomizes this. Whether it be comparing prices with a competitor or tracking down a promo code, shoppers are hunting for savings. The best way to keep shoppers on your site and to purchase from you is to offer promotions.

The NRF reports that 84% of parents won’t make a purchase online without free shipping being attached to it. And, with 77% of parents being required to buy supplies for their kids, this is a fairly captive audience for online sellers to tap into, pending they make their offers enticing enough.

Incorporate offers, discounts and added-value when targeting the BTS market.


While the back to school period is often overlooked, it can be a very lucrative period for your e-commerce sales. Ensure you never forget your audience, understand where the product fits into the overall competitive landscape, create specific back to school content, provide offers, and align everything that you do.

Interested in learning more about MarketTap could help you sell more online during your back to school push? Book a free consultation call today