Yes, the 2021 back-to-school shopping season is already here, and expected to be bigger than ever. Explore SMS examples from our customers, and snag some ideas for your brand’s strategy.
After a year of virtual learning, most students are returning to in-person classes soon. With eager students, parents, and teachers already shopping for this return, the 2021 back-to-school season is expected to be the largest yet. According to a recent Deloitte survey, consumers are expected to spend $32.5 billion on back-to-school shopping—up 16% from 2020.
As families start shopping for school supplies, clothes, and college dorm decor, retailers are capturing this pent-up demand with early back-to-school promotions.
Don’t want to fall behind? Learn how you can ace your back-to-school campaigns from our favorite teachers—our customers. Check out how The Happy Planner, Casely, Michaels, Dormify, and Paper Source use SMS in their back-to-school strategies to drive in-store and online revenue.
The Happy Planner: A/B testing for maximum engagement
The Happy Planner—an organization and lifestyle brand—used a data-driven SMS strategy in their early back-to-school marketing. The brand shared their new collection and a colorful back-to-school graphic to promote the sitewide sale to their SMS subscribers.
Cherise Bottorf, the brand's CRM Manager of E-Commerce, gave us extra insight into their back-to-school text campaign. “We ran an A/B test with two different message variations—one asking if they’re ready to get back into the classroom this year. We’re curious to see which will resonate better with our customers when it comes to this new collection.” The Happy Planner can use this data to determine the most impactful messaging for the remainder of this prolonged back-to-school season.
Casely: Driving mobile revenue with limited-time offers
During last year’s back-to-school sale, tech accessories brand Casely sent a final reminder for their sitewide promotion. While the promo code (“B2S”) reflected their back-to-school marketing, the general sitewide sale appealed to all SMS subscribers and helped drive last-minute revenue.
To prepare for early back-to-school shoppers, Casely started promoting their offers in early July. “This will be the largest back-to-school season that we have ever seen. We believe back-to-school shopping will begin much sooner than previous years,” said Mark Stallings, Casely’s Co-Founder & CEO. “We will also make sure to develop messaging that resonates with both the students and their parents to market to both demographics.” So not only do they invite students to find the perfect accessory for their device, but parents can also shop for their kids’ school essentials.
Michaels: Serving customer needs—no matter where or how they’re learning
Last year, arts and crafts retailer Michaels texted subscribers about their range of back-to-school products and seasonal deals. The brand recognized that while most students plan to return to the classroom, many families are still working around unpredictable learning conditions. The back-to-school text included a direct link where subscribers could immediately find the best supplies for their unique situation.
This year, the brand seeks to inspire their customers with new products. Bernard Liad, Email, Push, and Text Marketing Specialist at Michaels, said they plan to promote a range of products “from at-home schooling (like customized storage carts), to fun DIYs to bring mindfulness in the classroom for teachers (like sensory bins)” The craft store wanted to prioritize customers’ needs and help them prepare for the return to school. They’re using text messaging to ensure they stand out during this record-breaking sales period.
Dormify: Building customized experiences, virtually and in-person
Dormify—a design store known for their stylish college dorm decor—used the personalized nature of text messaging to promote their customized experiences.(“See you tomorrow, Pittsburgh!”). They included a GIF of the event’s signature lanterns to reflect its surreal ambiance. The message ends with a direct link to their website, making it easy for subscribers to reserve their tickets, while driving web traffic and last-minute mobile conversion for the brand.
In last year’s move-in day campaign, Dormify incorporated their brand voice by referencing a TikTok trend of the time (“AYO MY DORM IS FIRE CHECK”), grabbing their mobile audience’s attention. The brand’s college-age demographic shops on their mobile phone more than any other generation, making their FaceTime stylist appointments the perfect option for their customers—and text messaging the ideal mobile channel to promote it on.
Students are looking forward to shopping in-person for dorm room design ideas. So Dormify is using SMS to drive in-store traffic to their pop-up stores before the start of the school year. The brand segments their subscribers based on their location to send relevant announcements on showrooms and pop-up stores near them.
Paper Source: Engaging back-to-school shoppers with seasonal deals
Stationery and gift shop Paper Source is capturing back-to-school demand both in-store and online by sending seasonal promotions to their engaged SMS audience. The brand’s Senior Marketing Manager, Izzy Darby, is optimistic about this sales period, stating “we anticipate there will be more enthusiasm and excitement for this school year after last year’s was interrupted by COVID-19.”
Before summer ends and schedules fill up, students and teachers want resources that will help them prepare and stay organized. Last year, Paper Source sent a text promoting a 20% off deal for purchases that include an organizational planner or calendar. Not only did their campaign drive these products’ sales, but it also encouraged mobile shoppers to check out other categories, like notebooks and craft supplies. This year, they plan to promote buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) options, and will focus more on product launches and less on being promotional.
Get more 2021 back-to-school marketing strategies and advice from 16 e-commerce marketing leaders and be sure to explore our SMS gallery, Texts We Love, for hundreds of text messaging campaigns sent by our customers.