Back-to-School Marketing Tips for Your Ecommerce Company

Published on January 4, 2022
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Filed under Shipping Basics
Read time 11 Minutes

Students might be avoiding thinking about going back to school. But you should be planning and implementing your back-to-school marketing strategy now. Even if your target audience isn’t students and parents, you can still take advantage of this high spending season.

Why You Should Care About Back-to-School Marketing

Your ecommerce company has the chance to make major profits from the back-to-school shopping season. Parents with children in kindergarten to 12th grade will spend around $28 billion on back-to-school shopping this year. On average, parents will spend around $510 per household. And online shopping will account for $115 of that.

College students are likely to spend $942 on back-to-school shopping. And nearly half plan to do most of their shopping online.

What You Need to Do

According to Deloitte, back-to-school shoppers want brands to make “online and mobile interactions more exciting and meaningful.”

Want your ecommerce company to generate a large amount of sales from the back-to-school shopping season? Then you’re going to have to be creative and price conscious. And you have to start now.

Here are some basic steps you must take, whether your campaign is big or small.

Start Now

Did you know 62% of parents plan to start back-to-school shopping before August? These shoppers spend $100 more on average than shoppers that start later. Early shoppers also tend to be more deal-seeking and mobile-savvy. This means these shoppers are looking for great back-to-school deals now. So you need to start promoting your products right away.

Offer Free Shipping and Deals

Failure to offer free shipping can be a major deal breaker. And it can result in people abandoning their shopping cart and buy from your competitors instead. In fact, 63% of consumers prefer shopping with online retailers who offer free shipping.

Back-to-school deals and promotions can be a big incentive. You can offer these in pop-ups on your website, mailing lists, or social media posts.

Paper doodles is kicking off its back-to-school marketing early by giving out promo codes on social media:

Back-to-School Marketing: Paperdoodles Instagram


Retargeting plays an important role in getting repeat customers. It also helps convince shoppers to return to their abandoned shopping cart to complete their purchase. It’s especially important in running a successful campaign.

Reach out to your mailing list and social media followers to tell them about your back-to-school specials. To increase click-through-rate, you could give them discounts and promo codes. Reach out to people who have bought your back-to-school related products in the past. Investing in ads on Facebook and Instagram that direct people to your landing page is also a good idea.

Create a Back-to-School Landing Page

Make it easy for consumers to shop for back-to-school must-haves by creating a landing page. You can direct people to this page via social media, ads, or email lists.

Erin Condren is an ecommerce site that offers journals and stationery. The brand has a colorful and organized back-to-school landing page and breaks up categories by product type:

Back-to-School Marketing: Erin Condren Landing Page

You can also organize your landing page by grade, gender, price point, best sellers, etc.

What Others Are Doing

Now you have some guidelines of what you need to do for your back-to-school marketing. So here are some fun and strategic examples of what other companies are doing.

Sweepstakes and Giveaways

Back-to-school sweepstakes and giveaways are fun ways to promote your business. These can be effective even if you don’t sell school supplies or apparel.

Last year, gourmet chocolate company Maggie Louise Confections ran a “sweet-stakes”:

Back-to-School Marketing: Maggie Louise Sweet-Stakes

The grand prize was $2,500 of custom designed chocolate gift boxes and a $1,000 donation to the school of the winner’s choice.

The sweet-stakes showcased Maggie Louise Confections’ unique designs and increased brand awareness. It also put the idea of buying teachers chocolates from Maggie Louise Confections as thank you gifts in parents and students’ heads. Sweepstakes are an effective way your company can incorporate giving back to schools in your campaign.


It’s important to not only make your products affordable and practical but also stylish and trendy so students will want to use them. Parents are the ones usually buying school supplies. But children influence over $21 billion in parents’ back-to-school shopping.

Erin Condren shows off its planner packs for different grade levels on its back-to-school landing page:

Back-to-School Marketing: Erin Condren Planner Packs

The planner packs are fun, colorful, and visually appealing. And buying in bundles can be desirable for consumers because it saves them time and money.

DIY Crafts and Tips

Cutting Edge Stencils traditionally markets its products for home decor and renovation. But it created a blog post about how college students could use Cutting Edge’s decorative stencils to decorate their dorm room:

Back-to-School Marketing: Cutting Edge Stencils College Blog Post

Even if students aren’t your usual target market, you can find a way to market to them. You just need to figure out how your product can meet their needs or wants in preparing to go back to school.


One of the most stressful tasks parents have is figuring out healthy, easy to make snacks and meals their kids will actually want to eat. If your company sells food or emphasizes eating healthy, you can give parents recipe ideas to help them out.

Paleo Treats posted a blog post about healthy after-school snacks that follow the Paleo diet:

Back-to-School Marketing: Paleo Treats Recipe

(There is even a piña colada recipe for parents that need to unwind after a long day.)

You could also offer helpful content for parents and students. For example, share school survival guides or back-to-school checklists. Think about your target audience’s lifestyle and what they need/want and how your product can be a solution.

User-Generated Content

A fun way to get audiences engaged and interested in your product is through user-generated content (UGC). UGC is exactly what it sounds like: content created by users.

The best part about UGC is it’s basically free back-to-school marketing. Plus, it expands your audience as people share content featuring your brand.

WriteyBoard, a portable whiteboard, has a monthly feature on its blog showing people’s drawings on dry erase boards:

Back-to-School Marketing: Writey Boards Blog

To be considered, people post their work on Instagram and tag it #donoterase.

WriteyBoard also had a back-to-school themed blog post where it showed people’s dry erase cartoon art.


Almost 90% of consumers trust online peer reviews more than traditional advertising. As a result, influencer marketing has become a popular strategy for advertisers.

Influencers usually expect compensation. But you don’t have to hire someone famous and very expensive. Micro-influencers are influencers with around 1,000 to 10,000 followers. They tend to be more effective since they have a niche and more engaged audience. In fact, micro-influencers drive 60% higher campaign engagement rates. And they’re seven times more efficient than macro influencers per engagement.

The Instagram post below is by Caleb Mantuano, a child actor and Instagram influencer. He has 1,361 followers, placing him at the micro-influencer level. And he has represented multiple retailers on his Instagram page. In this post, he is promoting B-Wap backpacks for the company’s Back 2 School sale:

Back-to-School Marketing: A Day in the Life of Caleb

And, like most of his sponsored posts, he’s included a promo code

What to Do if You Don’t Sell Back-to-School Products

Even if your company doesn’t sell products relevant to students, you can still create a back-to-school marketing campaign. You may think “back-to-school” only refers to students from preschool through college. But consider grad students and students attending trade schools/specialized colleges. For example, if you sell cooking supplies, target students attending culinary schools.

You don’t even have to target students. Instead, you can use the back-to-school season to encourage consumers to take up a new skill. If you sell musical instruments, run promotions inspiring people to learn how to play a new instrument.

Don’t forget about the parents, who are the ones doing the shopping. Think about what will help them. The beginning of the school year can be a really hectic time for parents. So products that can help them relax and de-stress might be just what they need.

Next Steps

It’s best to start your back-to-school marketing as soon as possible since some parents are already scoping out the best deals. As always, consider what your target market wants/needs. And then be the brand that can meet those needs.

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Written by

Margie Zable Fisher

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