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Back to School Emails: Subject Lines, Best Practices, Examples, and More

Saffa Faisal

Ah, school - the only thing we hate to love. 

Back to school is an exciting time for everyone - fresh beginnings, new stationery, and old friendships. This season is even more thrilling for marketers as they can earn some quick dollars, lots of them, if we’re being honest. 

However, not all back to school marketing campaigns perform well as expected. Most of them fail to stand out and grab their audiences’ attention. But that’s not the case with back to school emails - they appear personalized, legitimate, and persuasive.  

Let’s learn the art of creating powerful back to school email campaigns. 

Why should you be sending back to school emails? 

3 reasons to execute back to school email campaigns

Did you know that back to school season is the second-biggest shopping holiday in the US? With an average consumer spend of $970, all your marketing efforts should be directed towards reaping the most benefit from this season. 

What makes back to school emails so powerful is that almost everyone can profit from them. If you think such campaigns are only meant for companies in the education sector, you’re mistaken. To give you an idea, the following companies, among many others, can send back to school emails: 

  • Stationery companies for school/college supplies 
  • Apparel firms for a new wardrobe
  • Electronic companies for laptops and accessories
  • Career counselors for guiding students’ future 
  • Food manufacturers for boxed lunches 
  • Nonprofit organizations to fund education for the underprivileged  
  • Banks for opening accounts for kids and teenagers 

In a nutshell, you should be designing and sending back to school emails because they are profitable and inclusive.

Back to school email marketing during the pandemic 

Should you send back to school emails in the pandemic?

With schools and colleges being closed and online classes becoming the new normal, Covid-19 has hit the education sector hard. But should that stop you from sending back to school emails? Not really. 

As students are all set for returning to schools this time around, the overall optimism is high. According to the National Retail Federation, one-quarter of back to school and college shoppers have already bought their supplies in June. This comes as a pleasant surprise since back to school season in the US usually starts from mid-July and ends in mid-September. 

In fact, back to school sales in 2021 are expected to rise by 5.5% as compared to last year’s sales. The apparel industry, in particular, is in for a treat since students want to freshen up their wardrobes in time for fall classes. Apparel sales are expected to increase by a whopping 78% compared to 2020. 

Even if physical classes halt because of the growing concerns of the new Covid-19 variant, you shouldn’t stop executing back to school email campaigns. People will still spend their money but differently. 

76% of people intend to make purchases because of e-learning. Hence, surging the demand for computers and desks. 

Who should you be targeting? 

4 segments to send back to school emails

Getting your audience right is key for successful back to school email marketing. Ideally, you should be targeting any, or all, of the following segments: 


Back to school emails for kids and teenagers must be fun. These emails are mostly received by their parents and should appeal to their logical minds as well as emotional ones. 


Such students are always on a budget. Hence, you should be sending them promotional emails that will save them a buck or more.


The start of school/college is a stressful time for teachers. Make it easier through back to school emails that solve their problems. 


Parents, especially working ones, want only one thing, and that is convenience. Make sure your back to school emails maximize their ease. 

Writing the best subject lines for back to school email campaigns 

If your email’s subject line is not captivating enough, you’ve failed at the first step. 35% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email after reading its subject line. 

Subject lines are even more critical for back to school email campaigns as you’re fighting multiple brands for your audience’s attention. Writing subject lines is the fundamental step in achieving your email marketing goals. 

The following are a few tips that’ll help you create irresistible subject lines. 

Use the phrase ‘back to school’ 

Your subscribers are busy people - they get tons and tons of emails. On the other hand, back to school season is a profitable time for you. How do you maximize return while ensuring your audience opens your emails? By writing ‘back to school’ in your subject line. 

As we discussed earlier, people are not hesitant when it comes to shopping during school time. By writing this phrase, your subscribers can easily scan what the email is about. The latter prompts them to open the email in hopes of a good deal.  

Urgency = action 

This valuable time isn’t going to last forever. 

By creating a sense of urgency in subject lines, you’re encouraging your audience to take immediate action. Such a strategy plays with your prospects’ minds and ignites their FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out. 

Following are a few examples of how you can add urgency in back to school subject lines: 

  • 30% off on back to school essentials 🤑 Shop Now! 
  • Free shipping on our back to school capsule wardrobe 
  • Back to school sale: 15% off on laptops till stock lasts 
  • Limited time offer: Free water bottle on the purchase of a backpack

However, choosing the incorrect words will land your emails in your recipient’s spam folder. Read this guide to know which spam trigger words you should be avoiding in subject lines. 

Quantify every chance you get

4 reasons to use numbers in subject lines

Read both of the following subject lines and decide which creates more of an impact. 

Back to school sale: buy your favorites now 


40% on your back to school favorites 

The second one is an obvious win. 

When you add numbers to subject lines, your offer seems more appealing. In a sea of words, numbers instantly catch your customer’s eye. Additionally, quantifying your offer takes the abstractness out of it and shows your audience what to expect. 

Make it fun

Students might dread it at first, but back to school season is a joyful time. The same fun element should be displayed in the subject lines you write. 

What’s an easy way to make subject lines an amusing affair? Just add emojis! Don’t worry; emojis are not only for aesthetics but are proven to perform well. Adding emojis to subject lines can increase open rates by a whopping 56%. 

Bonus Tip - Don’t add just any emojis - make sure they’re relevant to the back to school season. Include the calendar emoji or the school bus one, but don’t overdo it. 

Talk about positive outcomes

If all teachers, students, and parents could unanimously agree upon one word for back to school season, it would definitely be stressful. 

In such anxious times, focus on sharing positive outcomes in your subject lines. The following examples might help you understand what we exactly mean:

  • School supplies for the best academic year ever 
  • Wardrobe essentials all popular kids have 
  • Top your class with our budget-friendly bullet journals

Positive outcomes put your readers in an optimistic mood, and when they’re feeling hopeful, they become generous with their money. Additionally, when you write subject lines this way, your customers would associate positive emotions with your brand. 

Back to school email marketing: 5 powerful tips to follow 

Tips for creating engaging back to school emails

Once you’ve figured out your subject lines, it’s time to move on to the real deal - designing back to school emails. 

Such emails can easily appear spammy and promotional. Luckily for you, we’ve carefully crafted 5 tips that’ll skyrocket the success of your back to school email campaigns.  

1. Refer to popular TV shows/characters 

When I was in school, Hannah Montanna was all the rage. All the popular kids had themed backpacks, badges, and pencil cases. Today when my nephews are in school, We Bare Bears have inherited the fandom. 

Association with popular shows and characters sells like crazy. When you incorporate them in your email marketing, young kids will be after their parents to get them the themed school supplies. 

2. Offer freebies 

Semester fees, school supplies, new wardrobe, and electronics - back to school season is hella expensive. Students and their parents are often looking for the most value for their money. Offering a freebie in your back to school emails will give you a strong edge over your competitors. 

What freebies can you offer? 

  • Free delivery 
  • X% off on next purchase 
  • Low ticket items, like colors or crayons 
  • Free consultancy for career coaches 

3. Add school-based design elements 

Back to school emails should look like back to school emails. From a single glance, the reader should have a clear-cut idea of what your email entails. 

Include a chalkboard, feature a group of friends, or show a school rugby game - add school-based imagery. Such design elements differentiate from other marketing emails and help readers understand when they are on an email scanning spree. 

The following email from LD Products perfectly uses school-based imagery. 

Example from LD Products

4. Adopt fear-based marketing

No parent would want their child to attend fall classes completely unprepared. Similarly, teachers would have a breakdown without their desk organizers and class planners. On the other hand, college would be a nightmare without a trustee laptop by your side. 

Let’s lay down the fact; emotions compel readers to buy. Fear is one strong emotion - the existence of which can motivate people to end it no matter the cost. 

You can use fear-based marketing when executing back to school emails. Show your subscribers the different problems associated with the school season and how they can lead to unfavorable consequences. You then want to convince them on how your product/service is the solution to all your concerns. 

5. Make it anything but boring 

Homework is boring, and so are 8 am classes, but that doesn’t mean your back to school emails should be as well. Follow the below tips to make your emails exciting and fun to read; 

  • Use bright colors to grab attention. 
  • Make your email copy conversational. You may also use slang but very carefully. 
  • Add interactive elements to encourage engagement. 
  • Include GIFs and videos to add much-needed motion in static emails.

When should you be sending back to school emails?

Any good writer will tell you that the conclusion is as important as the introduction. Similarly, when you send your back to school emails is as critical as its subject line - it can make or break your email campaign. 

When sending back to school emails, remember the following two pointers: 


You should initiate your back to school email campaigns by mid of July. While most schools begin in August, sending emails in July gives you a headstart for outshining your competitors. 

You shouldn’t be sending back to school emails more than twice a month towards the school season’s starting (mid-July) and ending (mid-September). 

When your major sale launches, you can send emails on a weekly basis to remind your customers of the ongoing offers. However, these are just suggestions. You should be basing your frequency along the lines of your competitors. You can also A/B test sending frequencies to determine what works best for your audience. 


The right time to send back to school emails

If you don’t email your audience at the right time, you’ve successfully missed the opportunity to convert them. As discussed earlier, you can target multiple segments when sending back to school emails. Make sure to follow the below timelines for successfully targetting each of these groups: 

  • Teachers: Thursdays at either 8 am or 3 pm. 
  • For parents: Tuesdays or Thursdays at 8 am, 10 am, or 4 pm
  • Students: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays at either 8 am-10 am or 8 pm-12 am

3 back to school emails to get you inspired

Time for some good ole inspiration. 

The following companies nailed their back to school email campaigns. Feel free to steal an idea or two - no judging here. 


Example from Kohl's

We love this email because it hits two birds with one stone - it targets both girls and their parents. It also plays with the affordability factor to entice readers to click on the call to action button

Example from

Remember when we said back to school emails need to be fun? has completely knocked it out of the park with this email design. The bright colors over the white background are an eye refresher, and the blinking cool sign is truly cool. 


Email example from TOMS

This email cleverly shows the brand’s different collections through school-based imagery. We are also a fan of the paper-like background. 


The back to school season is a profitable time for every marketer. Capitalize on its true potential by sending captivating back to school emails. From subject lines to design trends to sending times, this article covered everything for executing successful email campaigns.  

If you want to save time and money when designing back to school emails, check out Unlayer’s vast collection of HTML email templates. They are mobile-responsive and completely free to use. Start designing today!

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