Top 5 best back-to-school email campaigns of the season

August 27, 2013

Email is one of the key channels for marketers looking to reach parents and students during the back-to-school season.  Second only to the holiday shopping season, back-to-school/back-to-college is a $70 billion merchandising opportunity that’s especially important to electronics and apparel providers, thus retailers would be wise to engage parents and students during this lucrative season. That said, with the high competitiveness of the season, marketers need to be sure their email campaigns are cutting edge, effective and timely.

With the back-to-school season recently coming to the close; we’ve taken some time to compile the top 5 best back-to-school email campaigns that we saw this season from a consumer point of view.

Free shipping makes everyone happy

This year, as many other clothing retailers, JCPenney jumped on the “free shipping” bandwagon. Because we all know that just having the word “Free” in your email subject-line automatically increases the open and click through rates of your emails. Everyone loves something free! I especially liked this email because it’s very simple, visually pleasing and to the point. Look at these kids. They are happy with their new clothes – which they got from JCPenney’s free shipping campaign. If the kids are happy so are the parents. Especially if the parents saved some $$$.

jcp free shipping

Bonus: Free money!

I think every young college graduate can remember having the anxiety of needing to buy a laptop or a desktop and knowing that all of their savings would disappear as soon as that purchase was made. Depressing. This is why I think this Apple Inc. campaign, which promises to give you $100 to spend at the Apple store once you have purchased a Mac is a great campaign.  Although this is not a new-to-2013 campaign (I remember this being the deal when I was in college - not too long ago) it’s incredibly effective and get around by word of mouth – fast. Because who doesn’t love free money? Yes, you might be spending a big chunk of your money on a new laptop, but hey! – you get $100!
apple get money

One-of-a-kind giving back campaign

This year, Pediped, a footwear company that offers a variety of stylish and comfortable shoes for children that promote healthy foot development, offered another way for parents to help make money for their child’s school. This campaign is effective while at the same time heartwarming because of the recent hardships public schools have been facing in terms of budget. By the end of the campaign which was launched late July, participating schools receive a check for 10% back on their total attributed purchases of Pediped Footwear. Each school was able to earn up to $10,000 this year. What better way to give back to the community?pediped


Focus on the fun part of going back to school

For many college students’ going-back-to-school can be a drag. Giving up the nice carefree lifestyle of the summer and going back to the grid can be daunting. Add to that the even-less-enjoyable part of purchasing textbooks. Aside for usually being very expensive – having those puppies in your hands makes the impending reality of going back to school all-too-real., an online retailer of new and used college textbooks, caught on to this and set out to find a way to make textbook shopping more enjoyable for students. created a campaign around a back-to-campus giveaway.  Each week, students were able to enter for a chance to win a “back-to-campus essential” (maybe not essential to college but definitely items a college student wants) and had an even higher chance of winning if they referred a friend for their chance to win too. This is a campaign that I’m sure had no trouble going viral. The potential to win through the amount of times you shared the campaign while making the tedious task of buying textbooks more enjoyable – I’m sure was a huge success for


In recent years we have seen a huge push in the media to encourage teens to be individuals and love themselves for who they are. Lady Gaga and her “Born This Way Foundation” is one of the many groups out there encouraging individuality and acceptance. This season, American Eagle piggy backed on this idea for their back-to-school campaign. Without offering savings, free shipping or rewards, American Eagle was able to reel in the teen crowds by offering something even better - Individuality. With the first day of school being something similar to a fashion runway, with every student strutting down the school hallways, sporting their new clothing for the school year, this is the best time to show that you not afraid to stick out. You are a proud, strong individual who wears American Eagle.stick out american eagle