Make the Most of the Back to School Shopping Season

We’ve barely gotten a glimpse at the beginning of summer but that means it’s time to be thinking about the upcoming back to school shopping season. It has been estimated that the combined spending of back to school K-12 and college shopping will exceed $80 billion. With school years seeming to start earlier and earlier each year, brands need to take steps now to make sure they are stocked and ready to make the most of the purchasing rush that will come as everyone gets ready for the new academic year.

First and foremost, understand who your potential customers are. The largest group of shoppers are parents looking to check things off their children’s lists of necessities. Older high school students are a smaller group but there has been an increase in the level of independent shopping done by this age group. Both of these subgroups of your target audience will have a variety of needs from supplies to clothes to “pampering” products and services, etc.

College students offer the widest range of needs out of the back to school groups. While they are smaller in number, their spending amounts are almost twice that of the k-12 back to school group. Furniture, decorative items, bathroom products, food, and so on will be included on the back to school shopping lists of university students. If you have the ability to tag into a storage or moving company, brainstorm with their staff how you might offer discounts or packages that will benefit both brands.

And, of course, teachers and other school staff will be looking to get in those last-minute appointments or make purchases to get themselves ready as well. Consider creating landing pages geared towards each type of shopper to make it even easier for people to find the products and services they are looking for.

Brands also need to have an understanding of what shoppers will be looking for. There are many ways to tap into student and teacher needs even if your business is not necessarily school related. Think haircuts, teeth cleaning, clothes, office supplies, dorm room accessories, food needs, and on, and on. Include in your website content images that show how your products or services fit into different people’s school lives.

Create content themes that feed into the back to school mindset. Offer buying guides and product reviews. Take that idea one step further and create collections of back to school products and services. Push those out in social media ads and lead consumers to dedicated landing pages that keep a focus on buying, offer a limited number of relevant options, and create a stress-free, decision-making environment.

Consider going with the back to school theme on relevant parts of your website. Focus your July through September blog posts on topics relevant to going back to school or change, in general. Feature banners and pop-ups leading site visitors to your back to school landing pages. Use images and videos showing segments of your target audience interacting with your products or services.

It goes without saying that all brands need to offer a website that is device responsive and mobile-friendly. Visitors will expect a consistent experience in regards to viewing and navigating around your website, irrespective of what type of device they are using. Visitors will quickly leave your site if it doesn’t meet their performance expectations.

A responsive website responds to the specific mobile operating systems of the device being used. The navigation is often condensed, unnecessary images are hidden while other images are optimized for that specific device.

A mobile-friendly website displays a website in exactly the same way on all devices because it doesn’t rely on mobile operating systems. No images are hidden and, instead, are scaled based on the size of the device being used.

An informed marketing plan is the best marketing plan. Make the most of any analytics your website and other resources offer. Take a look at your back to school marketing efforts from last year. Identify the successes – repeat those strategies. Identify the not so successful efforts – tweak those or toss them completely.


Here are some other ideas for both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores:

  • A flat discount in the months prior to the start of school to encourage consumers to get ready for the new academic year.

  • A flat discount off products, services, or classes during the first month of school.

  • Launch a customer loyalty program for students, parents, or teachers to encourage repeat business.

  • Give a free, school-related gift with every purchase. Something as simple as a pen with your name and logo printed on it will do.

  • Offer bundle packages that encourage consumers to purchase items related to or complementary of the original item they were looking to buy.

  • Post a marketing calendar for the fall to bring customers back into your store or to your brand website. Let customers know of any special promotions or product launches that are coming up and encourage them to keep checking in and visiting your store, website, and social media channels.

  • Offer special discounts for teachers, administrators, and school staff members.

  • Offer discounts for customers that interact with your brand on social media. 

  • Hold a promotion where you give a discount to customers who post on social media and tag your business. You can easily send back to anyone who submits content a one-time use promotional code that can be applied on the next purchase.

  • Offer social media giveaways. Generate a buzz by raffling off a free product or service.

  • Get involved in the community. Sponsor a summer event, have a booth at any outdoor fairs or celebrations, volunteer to join in local work projects, etc.

  • Offer discounted or free shipping during the back to school shopping months.

  • Capture email contact information leading into and throughout the summer to not only build your list for your back to school marketing campaigns but also for the busy holiday shopping season just a few months down the road.

  • Capitalize on last-minute shoppers and extend your discounts and back to school sales well into September.


In Summary:

Understand your potential customer groups.

Understand the specific product and service needs of each segment of your target audience.

Get creative with back to school themes and product or service bundles.

Have a modern, device responsive, and mobile-friendly website that offers an amazing level of user experience.

Use performance data from last year’s back to school marketing efforts to inform this year’s strategies.

Make the most of discounts, giveaways, and loyalty programs.

Push out back to school content on all of your marketing channels, especially social media platforms.

Stay focused on the current shopping season but also mindful of the approaching holidays by capturing contact information for future marketing campaigns.


The team at Strategy Driven Marketing understands how important it is to make the most of shopping seasons throughout the year. We also understand the importance of continuously working towards increased brand awareness, driving traffic to an ecommerce website, and keeping the conversion rate as high as possible, regardless of the sales season.

We’d love to learn more about your business and help you create and execute a specifically tailored marketing plan that works for your brand throughout the calendar year. Start now to have your brand ready for back to school shoppers of all ages. Contact us today to get started!