School's (almost) in session. Borrow our notes to ace your back-to-school promotions this year.
It may still be summer, but 25% of shoppers are already gearing up for the fall with school supplies, clothes, and college dorm decor. Between Prime Day, Christmas in July, and other seasonal promotions, retailers are capturing this early demand months before the start of the next school year.
We took notes on eight back-to-school marketing campaigns brands have used to drive online and in-store revenue.
1. Erin Condren: Promoting product discovery with a fun quiz
Erin Condren, a lifestyle brand known for creating fun and functional organization essentials, used their SMS channel to start driving back-to-school purchases early in the summer. They created a conversational quiz with Attentive's Two-Way Journeys™, asking subscribers which products they’re most excited about getting for the new school year.
Based on their responses, the brand sent subscribers directly to the relevant category page on their website to shop. Erin Condren also saved these answers as custom attributes to personalize future promotions based on subscribers’ interests.
2. Dormify: Offering customized experiences across digital channels
Dormify, an online decorating destination that specializes in small spaces, launched a move-in- day campaign promoting their virtual dorm room styling services. They referenced a timely TikTok trend in their message (“AYO MY DORM IS FIRE CHECK”) to help grab their digitally native audience’s attention.
FaceTime styling appointments—and text messaging—are the perfect fit for Dormify’s customers since their target demographic—Gen Z college students—shops on their phones more than any other generation.
3. The Happy Planner: Launching a sitewide back-to-school sale
The Happy Planner—a brand that makes planners, notebooks, stickers, and other accessories—announced a sitewide sale to help their customers get ready for the year ahead. In addition to the major discount, they also added a bunch of new items to their back-to-school collection. The "buy more, save more" promotion was a great way for the brand's audience of teachers and students to save money while stocking up on essential school supplies.
4. Skechers: Incentivizing loyalty program sign-ups with a bonus offer
Lifestyle and athletic footwear and apparel brand Skechers used their back-to-school sale as an opportunity to grow their loyalty program. They offered shoppers 20% off kids’ items—with a push to join Skechers Plus and unlock an extra 10% off. The offer was only available for a limited time, creating a sense of urgency for non-loyalty members to sign up, save on their back-to-school shopping, and start earning points to use on future purchases.
5. Crocs: Helping students show their school spirit
Crocs fans love to customize their favorite pair of clogs with Jibbitz™—small shoe charms that easily pop into place. The iconic footwear brand knows this about their audience, so they tapped into the idea of Spirit Week to promote their collection of university-themed charms, specifically appealing to college students and alumni. They encouraged these customers to head to a nearby Crocs store to pick out a charm that represents their school and show their pride.
6. OLLY: Improving their customers’ daily routines
In August, towards the end of the summer, gummy vitamin and supplement brand OLLY promoted their range of kids' gummies as a helpful tool for parents to ease the transition from summer to school routines. The brand’s creative copy and imagery focused on engaging the parents in their audience, highlighting how their products could help keep their kids healthy and energized throughout the school year.
7. Casely: Maximizing revenue with timely shopping reminders
To prepare for early back-to-school shoppers, tech accessories brand Casely started promoting their offers at the beginning of July. On the last day of the sale, they sent shoppers a final reminder, encouraging them to take advantage of the deal before it was too late.
While the messaging itself focused on sitewide savings—appealing to a wider audience, not just back-to-school shoppers—Casely used a playful discount code (“B2S”) to nod to the seasonal moment. The bookending strategy also helped the brand maximize revenue by driving last-minute purchases.
8. Shoe Carnival: Encouraging tax-free back-to-school shopping
Stocking up on school supplies can get expensive, which is why some states (like Florida) have a back-to-school sales tax holiday. Clothing, footwear, backpacks, notebooks, pencils, and other items are all tax-free for a period of time. To help parents, teachers, and students save on new shoes for the year, Shoe Carnival—an American family footwear retailer—used geo-targeting to remind customers in those states to take advantage of the tax break.