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Back-to-school email examples that get top marks

Back-to-school email examples that get top marks Headshot

By Camilla Bass, Senior Content Marketing Manager

Back to school email examples - featured image

That palpable end of summer feeling is in the air and parents and guardians around the world are gearing up for back-to-school season, along with the inevitable shopping that goes with it. A recent study found that back-to-school spending in 2021 is set to rise 16% YoY, which is likely due to the boost in consumer confidence that came with the reopening of schools. 

With that in mind, it’s time to wow your customers with your back-to-school fare.

Here are 9 ways to get to the top of your email marketing class (with 9 back-to-school email examples to inspire you). 

1) Reduce purchase anxiety with reviews and ratings 

With more people turning from bricks to clicks for their shopping needs, social proof cues are more important than ever. Show shoppers that your products have been given the green light by other parents and guardians by displaying reviews and ratings alongside products in your emails. Two in three consumers find detailed product reviews useful when making a purchase and over half look for star ratings when making a decision. So if your products are highly rated, make sure your shoppers know about it. 

Sock Shop shows off their five star ratings and positive reviews to ease purchase anxiety and reduce click to purchase. 

Source: Sock Shop email


2) Make products more desirable with popularity messaging

Popularity messaging is when retailers use real-time purchase and browse data to display how many other shoppers have recently viewed, carted or purchased a particular product. This tactic simultaneously increases urgency and makes products seem more desirable. And it’s proven to boost conversions - Buyagift has seen a 13% increase in sales since implementing popularity messaging into their automated discount emails. So if your products are popular enough to sit at the cool table, it’s time to let your shoppers know about it. 

The Entertainer uses this social proof tactic to highlight how many people have recently bought their back-to-school products, making those items stand out and encouraging click-throughs in the process.

Source: The Entertainer email


3) Help shoppers make a purchase decision with product recommendations

Speaking of social proof, help shoppers make a purchase decision by showing them crowd sourced product recommendations in the form of trending items and best sellers. For shoppers who are accustomed to getting recommendations from helpful sales clerks in store, offering recommendations in your marketing emails and on your website is sure to get you a gold star. Plus, product recommendations can generate sales uplifts of up to 11%, making them an essential tactic in your back-to-school marketing toolkit. 

Ryman gives their shoppers a dose of inspiration by displaying best selling products in their emails.


Source: Ryman email


4) Build trust with real people in your campaigns  

With a plethora of products and content competing for your shoppers’ attention, brands that radiate authenticity stand out from the crowd. Using real people in your campaigns can help you foster trust and resonate with shoppers. And with a lack of school gate catch-ups over the last six months, shoppers might be craving stories, tips and tricks from other parents more than ever. 

Etsy shows their human side by featuring four of their employees’ back-to-school stories and the products that help them make learning fun. 

Source: Etsy email


5) Create urgency with countdown timers

Countdown timers are an effective tool to build excitement and urgency, especially for important deadlines such as the end of a back-to-school promotion. 

New Look has used a countdown timer to highlight their back-to-school sale, encouraging shoppers to make their purchases now by counting down the deadline. 

Source: New Look email


6) Grab shoppers’ attention with your hero image

The hero image (also called a banner or header) is the first thing shoppers see when they open your email, which means getting your creative hat on with eye-catching designs and relevant content to ensure you make a good first impression.

Rip Curl adds interest to their email with an animated GIF, which helps bring their range of fun back-to-school backpacks to life. 


Source: Rip Curl email

For added impact and maximum relevance, use a dynamic hero image featuring the shopper’s most browsed brand or favorite color in the hero image to put them in buying mode.  

7) Boost retention with replenishment emails

Back-to-school items such as pencil cases and shoes are replenishable by nature and tend to require re-purchasing every year due to being worn out or outgrown. 

That's where replenishment emails come in handy. These triggered emails serve to remind shoppers to repeat a purchase they previously made, helping to increase the likelihood of repeat purchases from your store. This kind of email should not be sent immediately after the shopper has made a purchase, but when the customer might soon be in need of a replacement. Think about the lifecycle of the product in question and use that information to guide your timing. Of course, it’s also worth bearing in mind that parents are likely to think about back-to-school purchases towards the end of the summer. 

Ryman encourages back-to-school shoppers to restock their stationery supplies, highlighting items that are likely to need replenishing, such as ink and paper. 

Source: Ryman email

8) Make sure shoppers don’t miss out with back-in-stock emails

The pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions of last year have led to anxiety over availability of back-to-school products, with 50% of back-to-school shoppers expressing concern over stockouts, particularly for tech items. 

The damage of stockouts extends beyond the direct consequence of a lost sale. First, there’s the possibility that the shopper will turn to a competitor to find the desired item. Then, there’s the long-term impact on customer satisfaction caused by the frustrating experience.

Back-in-stock alerts are an opportunity to turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one, keep customers engaged with your brand and get them back to your site to make a purchase. One in four shoppers want retailers to send them back-in-stock alerts, making this a valuable type of email to add to your back-to-school marketing toolbox. 

Wex Photo Video uses back-in-stock email alerts to keep customers engaged and connect them with the product they had their eye on.

Source: Wex Photo Video email

9) Cater to shoppers’ preferences with your fulfilment options

Consumer preferences have changed since the pandemic and besides more people shopping online, consumers want retailers to offer fulfilment options that suit their lifestyles in the new normal. More than one in three shoppers plan to use BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store) or curbside pickup more frequently for back-to-school shopping this year, so if you offer these options, let your customers know about it.

Bed Bath & Beyond highlights their attractive curbside, store pickup and same day delivery options in their back-to-school email so shoppers can happily browse in the knowledge that their fulfilment needs can be met. 

Source: Bed Bath & Beyond email

You can get more back-to-school email inspiration on our dedicated Pinterest board

Download your copy of Five Easy Ways to Make Your Emails Perform Better for more email marketing tips. 


This blog post is for informational purposes only. Fresh Relevance is not claiming to provide its services to the companies and brand owners referred to in the blog post.

Back-to-school email examples that get top marks Headshot

By Camilla Bass

Senior Content Marketing Manager

As Senior Content Marketing Manager at Fresh Relevance, Camilla leads the global content strategy and manages, writes and edits user-centered content that helps marketers in the eCommerce and travel spaces get their jobs done.