Back to School Email Marketing – Top 8 Campaigns of 2015

Eradium back-to-school email marketing Chalkboard

Back to School Email Marketing – Top 8 Campaigns of 2015

The best and the worst back to school email campaigns and how to make them better

This article is from the weekly series of posts about eCommerce Email Marketing Best Practices.

It is that “special” time of the year again. Back to school symbolizes that the best time of the year has come and gone.

Every year around this time I start feeling that Christmas is just around the corner. Back to school is only second behind Christmas in terms of value to retailers.

Back to school by the numbers (U.S. Retail Data) (1, 2, 3)

Eradium back-to-school email marketing pencils
  • Average Spending on Back to School has grown 42% in the past 10 years
  • The average family with children in grades K-12 plans to spend $630.36 on electronics, apparel and other school needs, down from $28 last year.
  • Total k-12 spending is expected to reach $24.9 billion.
  • Total expenditures for K-12 and college is expected to reach $68 billion.
  • 7 % will purchase new apparel, spending an average of $217.82, though most 94% will head out for new school supplies, spending an average of $97.74; families will also spend $117.56 on new shoes.
Eradium back-to-school email marketing Kids with a computer
  • In 2014, 58.3 % of parents said they would buy electronics for their school-age children, and planned to spend an average of $212.35 —families said they would decrease their spending on gadgets for their children and will spend an average of $197.24.
  • More families with children in grades K-12 are opting to wait before rushing out to shop. According to the survey, 6 % will shop at least 2 months before school, down from 22.5 percent last year. 42.8 % will shop at least 3 weeks to one month before school. 30.3 % will shop 1 to 2 weeks before school, up from 25.4 percent last year.
Eradium back-to-school email marketing eleventh hour
  • 9 % said they shop early to spread out their budgets, and 51.1% do so to avoid crowds associated with school shopping. Other popular reasons include not wanting to miss out on popular merchandise 21.5 % and prices and promotions being too good to pass up 45.3 %.
  • Planning to shop around for their school merchandise, families will head to their local department 56.4%, discount 2%, clothing 53.5 %, electronics 22.4 % and office supply stores (35.9 percent). And slightly more than one-third 35.6 % of those looking for school items will shop online.
  • Of those planning to shop online, nearly half 4 % say they will take advantage of retailers’ buy online, pick up in store or ship to store options, and 17.3 % will look for expedited shipping offers. 92.1 % will take advantage of retailers’ free shipping offers.
  • Broken out by age, Millennials are much more likely to use these channels: Two-thirds of 18-24- and 25-34-year-olds will use a buy online, pick up in store or ship to store option (65.7 % and 65 %), and 15.4 percent of 25-34-year-olds will use a reserve online option, much higher than the 9.1 percent of average adults who plan to do so. Additionally, 23 percent of 18-24-year-olds will use same-day delivery, significantly more than the 10.2 percent of average adults.
  • According to the survey, 4 % of school shoppers say their children will influence one-quarter or more of their back-to-school purchases. And for the smaller purchases, children plan to chip in some of their own money; teens will dole out $33.27, and pre-teens will spend an average $17.57.

 

LIKE THEIR YOUNGER COUNTERPARTS, COLLEGE SHOPPERS SPENDING LESS IN 2015

Eradium back-to-school email marketing University
  • Trendy Millennials Drive Dorm Furnishing Spending Up 30 % in 2015
  • College shoppers and their families will also spend slightly less this year after investing in electronics and supplies in 2014. 2015 Back-to-College Spending Survey, families with children in college and college students will spend an average of $899.18, down slightly from $916.48 last year.
  • After spending significantly more on electronics last year, the average person shopping for electronics will spend $207.27, down from $243.79. Families with college students and students themselves will spend $136.95 on apparel, $117.98 on food items to stock their dorms and apartments, $66.70 on school supplies, $72.79 on shoes and $78.02 on personal care items.
  • According to the survey, 3 % of college shoppers will purchase dorm or apartment furnishings and will spend an average $126.30, up 30 % from $96.70 last year.

The Top 20 Most Powerful “Back-to-School” Retail Brands

Eradium back-to-school email marketing Retail Brands
This week we are reviewing back to school eCommerce emails from the following retail brands: Indigo, Master Mind Toys, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Costco, Children’s Place, Hudson’s Bay, Sears.

Rating

All emails will be rated from 1* to 5*, where 1 means poor and 5 is great.

We review on a weekly basis:

Design

  1. Colors – colors have good contrast, consistent
  2. Typography – fonts have readable size, clear titles
  3. Images – clear, visible, easy to understand
  4. Formatting – blocks follow each other in an easy to navigate pattern
  5. Mobile Optimized – all elements are visible and formatted correctly on the mobile phone

Content

  1. Subject line – signals urgency and clear main offer that will be found inside the email
  2. Clear offer – one main offer with clear call to action
  3. Urgency to purchase – time, stock, shipping that motivates the buyer to purchase
  4. Product highlights – clear description of the products to evoke the interest of the reader

Winer 1st Place

Email 1: Indigo

Subject Line: Back to School Cool – Gear Your Kids Will Love.‏

Eradium-back-to-school-email-marketing First Place
Eradium back-to-school email marketing Indigo
Eradium back-to-school email marketing Indigo

Design

  1. Colors:5*
  2. Fonts:4*
  3. Images:5*
  4. Formatting:4*
  5. Mobile Optimized: – 0*

 Content

  1. Subject line:5*
  2. Clear offer:5*
  3. Urgency to purchase:3*
  4. Product highlights:4*

Overall rating: 3.9*

Conclusion-BUYING FACTOR: YES

Best thing about the email:

Product offering and layout

Worst thing about the email:

Not mobile optimized

2nd Place

Email 2: Master Mind Toys

Subject Line: Free Water Bottle with Lunch Bag Purchase!‏

Eradium back-to-school email marketing Master Mind Toys
Eradium back-to-school email marketing Mastermind Toys

Design

  1. Colors: 5*
  2. Fonts: 3*
  3. Images: 4*
  4. Formatting: 4*
  5. Mobile Optimized: 3*

Content

  1. Subject line: 3*
  2. Clear offer: 3*
  3. Urgency to purchase: 3*
  4. Product highlights: 4*

Overall rating: 3.5*

Conclusion-BUYING FACTOR: YES

Best thing about the email:

Product showcase

Worst thing about the email:

Hard to read font

3nd Place

Email 3: Bed Bath & Beyond

Subject Line: Parents & Students – Want a Chance to Win a $1,000 Shopping Spree?

Design

  1. Colors: 4*
  2. Fonts: 3*
  3. Images: 4*
  4. Formatting: 3*
  5. Mobile Optimized:  3*

Content

  1. Subject line: 3*
  2. Clear offer: 3*
  3. Urgency to purchase: 3*
  4. Product highlights: 3*

 

Overall rating: 3.2*

Conclusion-BUYING FACTOR: YES

Best thing about the email:

Love the list, what a smart way to increase sales

Worst thing about the email:

The format appears a bit on the cluttered side

4th Place

Email 4: Walmart

Subject Line: Gear up for Back to School

Eradium back-to-school email marketing Walmart
Eradium back-to-school email marketing Walmart

Design

  1. Colors: 3*
  2. Fonts: 3*
  3. Images: 3*
  4. Formatting: 3*
  5. Mobile Optimized: 3*

Content

  1. Subject line: 3*
  2. Clear offer: 3*
  3. Urgency to purchase: 3*
  4. Product highlights: 4*

 

Overall rating: 3.1*

Conclusion-BUYING FACTOR: YES

Best thing about the email:

Product specific information is very descriptive and relevant

Worst thing about the email:

Not sure why the pharma is one of the top offers for back to school

5th Place

Email 5: Costco

Subject Line: Back to school smartphone savings

Eradium back-to-school email marketing Costco
Eradium back-to-school email marketing Costco

Design

  1. Colors: 3*
  2. Fonts: 3*
  3. Images: 3*
  4. Formatting: 3*
  5. Mobile Optimized: 3*

Content

  1. Subject line: 3*
  2. Clear offer: 3*
  3. Urgency to purchase: 3*
  4. Product highlights: 3*

Overall rating: 3*

Conclusion-BUYING FACTOR: NO

Best thing about the email:

Easy to flow format

Worst thing about the email:

Offer is not very exciting, not enough phones being offered

6th Place

Email 6: Children’s Place

Subject Line: A+ Deals for School: 40% Off Entire Store, $5.99 & Up Denim, Extra 25% Off Savings Pass + Earn PLACE Cash!‏

Eradium back-to-school email marketing Children's Place
Eradium back-to-school email marketing Children's Place

Design

  1. Colors:3*
  2. Fonts:3*
  3. Images:3*
  4. Formatting:3*
  5. Mobile Optimized: – 3*

Content

  1. Subject line:3*
  2. Clear offer:2* –
  3. Urgency to purchase:3*
  4. Product highlights:2*

Overall rating: 2.7*

Conclusion-BUYING FACTOR: NO

Best thing about the email

Subject line

Worst thing about the email:

Only being offered boy clothes

7th Place

Email 7: Hudson’s Bay

Subject Line: Love Levi’s: 30% off clothing for girls and boys

Eradium back-to-school email marketing Hudsons Bay

Design

  1. Colors: 2*
  2. Fonts: 2*
  3. Images: 3*
  4. Formatting: 2*
  5. Mobile Optimized:  3*  

Content

  1. Subject line: 3*
  2. Clear offer: 3*
  3. Urgency to purchase: 3*
  4. Product highlights: 2*

Overall rating: 2.5* 

Conclusion-BUYING FACTOR: NO

Best thing about the email:

Single columns, easy to follow format

Worst thing about the email:

Main offer is not presented well

Last Place 8th Place

Email 8: Sears

Subject Line: Get your kids back to school with the KidVantage® Grow Out Guarantee‏

Eradium back-to-school email marketing Sears

Design

  1. Colors: 2*
  2. Fonts: 3*
  3. Images: 3*
  4. Formatting: 3* 
  5. Mobile Optimized:  3* 

Content

  1. Subject line: 3*
  2. Clear offer: 1*
  3. Urgency to purchase: 2*
  4. Product highlights: 2*

Overall rating: 2.4* 

Conclusion-BUYING FACTOR: NO

Best thing about the email:

Format

Worst thing about the email:

Why are there appliances in a back to school email?

Just for Fun

This is one of the most confusing emails I have received in a long time. It seems like one of those games you play as a child. I guess the marketer could not decide which offer they liked best.

  • So first I will get $20 or $50 dollars off depending on my purchase amount.
  • Then there is over 400, 000 of pairs running shoes and they are 20% and also $50 off.
  • Kid’s footwear is 20% and 25% off at the same time.

How confusing! What promotion will I get???

FINAL REMARKS

10 Tips for making a back to school campaign that will let you stand out from the crowds:

  1. Don’t send a back-to-school email campaign before August. That is just too early, and your campaign will just demotivate buyers from your brand.
  2. Unless you can do proper targeting, include offers for both genders and multiple age groups.
  3. Try to motivate emotional purchases by including life shot images with the products.
  4. Add timely offerings to close the sale right away before your customers start shopping somewhere else
  5. Use bright and cheerful colors, do not overuse dark colors to maintain the positive emotions.
  6. If possible, include new, unique and trendy products as one of the top offers. Exclusive offers will help keep your customers from shopping around
  7. If you have merchandise for both school and college demographic, do not combine those offers into one email. Those are very different groups and need to be targeted messaging
  8. Do not try and include others unrelated offers, as it will just overwhelm the reader and the central message will be lost
  9. Create special sales days, for example, have a big sale on pencils, if there is a free shipping minimum purchase amount the cost will be offset by other items at full price.
  10. Offer free shipping incentives especially on school supplies as they are popular for online purchase.

Happy Back to School!

Anna Battrick
anna@eradium.com

Anna Battrick is Eradium’s Director of Ecommerce Services, has an extensive background in retail marketing and project management. With over 10 years of managing complex projects from inception to completion while always maintaining “it can be done” spirit. The world of retail is not only a professional interest but also a personal hobby which lets Anna see the other side of retail, from a shopper perspective. This helps create engaging marketing programs that speak personally to the shoppers interests and engage them in a conversation.



To start a dialog about your next eCommerce initiative