July 5, 2023

Back to School Marketing: Campaign Ideas, Slogans, and Tips

Reading time about 11 min
Back to school marketing campaign of little boy going to school with his mom kneeling and saying bye.

Summer’s winding down, which means school is back in session! This guide will help you ace your back-to-school marketing strategy, attract shoppers, and boost sales — all before the new year begins.

Strap on your backpack because the back-to-school season is one of the most important times of the year for marketing campaigns. As schools prepare to reopen their doors to students, parents go on the hunt for new supplies and back-to-school bargains.

This article will cover everything you need to know about back-to-school marketing, including ideas, tips, and catchy phrases to inspire your campaigns this season.

Back to school marketing 101

Back-to-school shopping is the second most important retail period, just behind the winter holidays. As summer comes to a close, customers start searching for brand-new products to get ready for the upcoming school year. This period, stretching from the middle of summer to early fall is an exciting time full of new beginnings and record sales. 

Despite inflation, families prioritize school expenses, and many will look for sales and Labor Day deals to make a purchase. Beyond offering back-to-school promotions, businesses can also emphasize the value of their products to let shoppers know their dollar is well spent.

While school supplies are traditionally bought in person, this back-to-school season, 45% of back-to-school shoppers plan on doing comparative shopping online, which means it’s time to get your online marketing strategy rolling!The Back to School season is great for sales. All kinds of businesses can take advantage of this unique marketing opportunity, so let’s dive in to get some marketing tips and ideas

Further reading: A How-to Guide for The Perfect Holiday Marketing Strategy

When should you start promoting back to school products?

The back to school season runs from mid-July to mid-September. This varies across the US, with the school year running on different schedules depending on the state.

Marketers should consider launching their back-to-school campaigns at the start of July, as many potential customers gear up to check a few items off their shopping lists several weeks (or even months) before the first day of school.

What are the most popular back to school products?

Electronics, clothing, shoes, and general school supplies top back-to-school shopping lists, according to last year’s 2022 NRF survey. Tech plays a bigger role than ever in education today, joining backpacks and binders as a must-have school staple. 

Back-to-school marketing graph showing the most popular items in 2022 conducted by the National Retail Federation.


How do you market back to school products?

Here are a couple back to school marketing guidelines to help you plan your strategy. Follow these to get the most out of this retail season and make your campaigns stand out.

Keep your key target audiences in mind 

Back to School shoppers are a varied bunch, including:

  • Parents and caregivers
  • K-12 students
  • College students
  • Teachers

It’s always a good idea to tailor your back-to-school marketing campaigns to your target audience. You can even tag them in your CRM so you can easily reach out with targeted offers. The channels, campaigns, and promotions may change depending on your target audience’s needs and preferences.

For example, offering discounts or bundles on classroom supplies can be an effective way to market back to school products to teachers.

Take advantage of digital marketing channels 

Online marketing is key to running any successful back-to-school campaign. The biggest back-to-school retailers, including Walmart, Target, and Amazon, rely on digital advertising more and more to reach their customers before the school year starts.

Social media plays a growing role in the back-to-school shopping experience. Customers enjoy finding inspiration for their shopping lists online. In fact, over 25% of back-to-school shoppers plan their back-to-school lists on Pinterest.

A back-to-school marketing campaign on Pinterest by Staples that shows crayons and glue and other school supplies.


Many effective back-to-school campaigns are also multichannel, bridging both physical and digital spaces. This is because back-to-school shoppers, particularly parents, often browse in stores before purchasing back-to-school products online — and vice versa.

Ideas to ace your back to school marketing campaigns

Don’t know where to begin? Here are a few back to school marketing ideas to help you get started.

1. Start early (but remember the latecomers)

Don’t wait until September to launch your back to school marketing campaign. Early bird shoppers already start stocking up on supplies in July. 

Amazon’s Prime Day, which falls in mid-July, has also become an important shopping event for the back to school season.

Run your marketing campaigns early to attract more customers. But remember — the back to school season is long. This opportunity doesn’t have to end the moment summer break comes to a close.

Come fall, you can always find shoppers hoping to scoop up last-minute deals, or taking advantage of Labor Day sales. Be sure to keep the latecomers in mind as you plan your campaigns this back to school season.

2. Attract customers with back to school deals

Whether you’re marketing to parents or college students, back-to-school shoppers are budget-conscious. Attract them with back-to-school sales, coupons, and flash promotions. The promise of savings is key to many successful back-to-school marketing campaigns. Consider offering special discounts, such as student-only deals, to win over your target audience.

Back-to-school marketing campaign by Apple that shows a laptop for 20% off AppleCare and a gift card for students and teachers.


3. Offer back to school bundles

With its long checklists, back-to-school shopping can be overwhelming. Make it easy for customers with bundled offers. These bundles might include everything from basic school supplies to snacks, high-tech devices, and sports gear.

Back to school bundles attract the busiest of customers. This is because they save shoppers money and cut down on the time it takes to find everything they need before the school year begins.

The weeks before the first day of school can be hectic. Product bundles free shoppers from the hassle of rushing through a long back-to-school shopping list. They’re a simple, impactful way to draw in customers and make your offerings stand out.

4. Send a back to school newsletter

Email marketing can play a huge role in your overall back-to-school marketing strategy. Consider sending a special newsletter with sneak peeks, product recommendations, back-to-school promo codes, and more.

A back-to-school marketing newsletter for laptops.


Back to School (or back to college) newsletters can help you bring value to potential customers and reactivate one-time shoppers. Use them to build lasting customer relationships this back-to-school season.

Enjoying these marketing tips? Check out our free, 2024 Holiday Marketing Calendar download for more important dates and ideas.

5. Incorporate content marketing into your back to school strategy

Offering your audience useful content helps make your back to school campaign more impactful. Ask yourself, “Apart from selling them something, how can I make shoppers’ lives easier?”

Here are a few back to school content ideas you can try:

  • Blog posts
  • Shopping guides
  • Product reviews
  • Downloadable checklists

Content is a great way to bring added value to back to school shoppers, cultivate trust in your business, and engage loyal customers.

Back-to-college checklist for school supplies as a back-to-school marketing campaign by Staples.


6. Use social media to connect with customers

Social media is one of the most important channels for back to school promotions. Run paid social media campaigns to advertise your products and services, or offer special discounts to your followers.

Social media is also a great way to interact with the back to school crowd. Consider using your online platforms to build buzz and engage with potential customers.

Here are just a few ways you can incorporate social media in your back to school marketing strategy:

  • Post polls
  • Share quizzes
  • Run contests or giveaways
  • Post user-generated content 

Back-to-school marketing for teachers. This image shows hand sanitizer that says "kids boogers" and "teacher's survival kit".


7. Consider influencer marketing

Influencer marketing plays a growing role in back-to-school promotions, as many shoppers look to their favorite social media stars for product recommendations.

An endorsement on an influencer’s feed helps add a personalized touch to your back-to-school campaign. Influencer marketing can also boost your products’ credibility and raise brand awareness among your target audience.

This is because social media influencers, including family bloggers, have often built a deep, authentic connection with their followers. They can help you reach younger, social media-savvy audiences.

Back-to-school marketing campaign on social media.


20 back to school marketing phrases to kickstart your campaigns 

Need inspiration? Here’s a list of phrases, taglines, and slogans to fuel your back to school marketing efforts.

General back to school 

  • Class is back in session
  • Get ready. Get set. Get learning.
  • Make your first day memorable
  • Your one-stop back to school shop
  • Summer’s over, but more fun’s just around the corner!

Back to school fashion 

  • Your turn to rock the blacktop
  • Ace your back to school looks
  • Back to School and looking cool
  • Start the new school year in style
  • Put your best foot forward this back to school season

Back to school supplies 

  • Back to School, back to basics
  • Gear up for success with these back to school basics!
  • Stock up on your favorite back to school essentials
  • Your new semester essentials

Back to school savings 

  • Save big this semester
  • Go back to school with big savings
  • Back to School with unbeatable savings
  • Raise your hand if you’re ready for back to school bargains!
  • Prep for success with these back to school deals!
  • Don’t miss these back to school doorbusters

Conclusion: Back to school marketing in brief

For many businesses, back-to-school season presents a vital opportunity to connect with customers and increase sales. There are several techniques you can use to launch your marketing campaign before the school year starts.

Start marketing early to take advantage of the entire back to school season. Use digital channels and social media to connect with shoppers. Offer irresistible promotions to win over your target audience. With these tips in mind, you can ace back to school marketing campaigns for your business!

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