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3 Back to School Campaigns: what they’re doing right and not so right…

Back to School is the Christmas of summer. If you’re a small or medium sized online retailer this is a campaign you want to seriously consider since six out of ten shoppers will be shopping online for back-to-school.


Back to School isn’t exclusively for primary and high schoolers, young people across North America are flocking to college and university and many out-of-school adults look forward to Back to School because it signals a new start.

“…many out-of-school adults look forward to Back to School because it signals a new start.”

We’re going to take a look at three Back to School ecommerce promotion pages and dissect what they’re doing well and not so well. Let this get your juices flowing as you get ready for your own back to school campaign:

1. Target 2015-07-15 21-14-15.png

Overall Target’s “Back to College” page isn’t my favourite. It’s a bit lackluster and unexciting. That being said they’re doing some things right. They’ve dedicated relevant categories (bath, bedding, and furniture) to shoppers buying specifically to fill up new dorm rooms. They’ve also got a great promotion going on ($20 off for every $100 spent) that’s visible and will encourage larger purchases.

2. Macy’s 2015-07-15 21-32-00.png


Macy’s current Back to School Campaign is dedicating a unique page to certain categories, here we’re dissecting their shoe’s page. They’ve got witty and clever copy about shoes that entices both young and older shoppers, their imagery is beautiful and fun, and they’re featuring school shoes! The decision to do a feature on shoes probably comes from past data that pointed to a peak in shoe sales during the Back to School season, it’s very clever, as most parents purchase at least 2 pairs of new shoes (school shoes and gym shoes) for their children at this time. If you are shoe retailer or have shoes in your current inventory be sure to spotlight them.

If you are shoe retailer or have shoes in your current inventory be sure to spotlight them.

Macy’s currently has an excellent discount running storewide however, nothing is mentioned on this page. Perhaps they have reasons to keep the discount off of the Back to School Page. Although, in my opinion featuring the discount on their Back to School page would actually encourage parents to buy shoes from Macy’s now as opposed to waiting till the end of summer.

3. REI 2015-07-15 21-46-09.png

The entire team at Now In Store is a big fan of this REI promotion page. They’ve got a big beautiful catalog dominating their Back to University Campus Campaign. This is a really smart strategy and shows how well they know their market, their shoppers are young men and women between the ages of 21-35, many of whom are going back to university in the fall. They’ve created a catalog and called it their “Back to Campus Survival Guide” full of relevant products and fun lifestyle imagery. Their shipping discount and email marketing strategy is also perfectly placed on the page. My one correction would be to make the main “Back to Campus” title bolder and more apparent.

Divya H. Pahwa is the Head of Community for Now In Store, where she builds marketing game plans and authors content to help small businesses grow. She worked and created marketing strategies for Charlie Hoehn, Ooomf and has been featured on Life Hacker, Thought Catalog, and FastCompany. Every morning Divya makes breakfast from scratch and enjoys it while reading animal cartoons. She can be reached at:


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