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11 Secret Back to School Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses

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Discover top secret back to school marketing ideas for small businesses. Learn how to attract, convert and retain ready-to-pay customers this back-to-school season 2023.

Schools are now in session but how do smart businesses leverage this season to drive more sales?

Well, let find out.

But first, let’s take a look at a few statistics.

In 2018, back-to-school spending was expected to reach $510 per household from $501 in the previous year.

The total k-12 spending in 2017 for schools and college combined was $83.6 billion and this was projected to reach $82.8 billion; 0.96% less than the amount spent the previous year.

Perhaps, you might find it interesting that 50% of dads with kids under 18 years plan to take part in back-to-school shopping.

I guess, this sounds counter-intuitive.

The same study found that when compared to mums, dads spend 10% more in back-to-school purchases than mums.

These stats were compiled from SocialToast and some of the other stats in the latter part of the article, you might want to check out the full statistics here.

But what do the above stats mean for businesses today?

Of course, continue reading…

In today’s post, after briefly explaining what back-to-school marketing is, I’ll walk you through amazing ways you can skyrocket your small business using 6 incredible back-to-school marketing ideas and then, I’ll go ahead to answer the question.

So, let’s get started,

If you find this article useful, kindly share to friends and I will be super grateful.

What is back to school marketing?

Back-to-school marketing is a marketing campaign that aims to create awareness and drive sales from students and parents preparing for school supply purchases for the upcoming school year.

11 Secret Back to School Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses 1

Back to school period varies according to countries depending on the time of the year their new school sessions begin.

In Nigeria, the USA, Europe and Canada, back to school period usually start from August to early September. In Australia, this usually occurs in February while India and Japan have theirs around June and March respectively.

What I find particularly impressive about this period especially in the US, is that many states offer a tax-free period; usually for about a week for school supplies and children clothing.

Of course, this usually leads to…

  • Crazy rushes for school supplies by parents as a result of the free tax
  • Cut-throat competitions among retailers who compete against each other for the attention.

But, how will your business stand out from the rest of the competition?

Let’s find out…

Get instant access to free business templates + 12 months marketing and social media plans to grow your business in 2023.

Use these Back to School Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Business

Here are our 11 favorite back to school marketing ideas. Action them to skyrocket your small business this season. 

1. First, create a back to school tie-in

Of course, you don’t have to deal with school supplies or children clothes to attract back to school shoppers.

Though traditionally it has always been associated with those that deal on products that are school-related, the truth, however, is any discerning business can partake in this excitement.

With a bit creativeness, you’ll certainly find a way to associate your business with the back-to-school season.

Of course, this might require you stretching your brain but here are a few tips to get you inspired.

  • A hair salon might offer special prices for back to school haircuts.
  • Packed lunch shops could offer back to school discounted prices for the first 50 purchases.
  • Businesses selling alarm clocks can focus on running a “be on time for school” social media campaign.

But whichever one you decide to go for, the most important thing is finding a relevant tie-in to the back-to-school buzz that will resonate with your audience.

2. Leverage social media

11 Secret Back to School Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses 2

If you go through all my post on this blog, you will certainly notice that I am an avid fan of social media.

Perhaps, these few stats would help you appreciate my reasons for that.

A lot of data has shown that there are over 3 billion active social media and a recent study revealed that average users spend about 142 minutes daily there.

This means that 1 out of every 3 persons in the world spends about 142 minutes every day on social media.

Of course, this shows that social media holds boundless opportunities for businesses.

In one study, Buffer found that 73% of marketers believe that social media marketing has been very effective for their businesses.

So, leveraging this could help you to send your back-to-school messages across and connect with the right audience.

Let’s take a look at few other stats.

A study shows that 25% of parents consult Facebook for back to school shopping inspirations while 27% of BTS shoppers use Pinterest to organize their shopping lists.

I guess these have said it all.

3. Give special discounts

Do you know that 89% of parents say that the availability of mobile coupons will determine where they shop?

I guess not.

In the same study, 33% of parents say they will be actively searching for coupons shopping in-store.

So, always leverage special discounts to drive in more back-to-school sales.

4. Use Influencers

Almost a third (30%) of parents are willing to spend more on an item of clothing for their child if it has been endorsed by an online influencer and more than a quarter (27%) of parents have bought an item after seeing a celebrity’s child wearing it (Source)

The truth is the role of influencers in shaping perceptions cannot be over-emphasized.

To get started with influencer marketing, research teen influencers that students are following and collaborate with them to give your brand shout-outs, publicity or endorsements.

You could get them to use your product and share the images or videos on their social media channels.

A study shows that 70% of teens trust influencers over traditional celebrities, 40% of consumers trust influencers’ recommendation and 6 out of 10s teens follow advice from influencers over celebrities.

A different study revealed that 67% of marketer promote content with the help of influencers and 71% of them believe that influencer marketing is good for business.

Luckily, platforms like HYPR, Scrunch and others can help you to find influencers.

5. Get the kids involved

Back-to-school is all about the kids, so make it fun by getting them involved.

And one amazing thing is the kids have got the magic touches to push things around for good.

A study by Deloitte revealed that children will likely influence over $21 billion in back-to-school spending while Citigroup found that parents that bring their children with them to BTS shopping spend almost 33% more.

If there is anything these stats show, it is, of course, the need to involve the kids in the campaigns.

You can start by organizing kid-related contests.

Pick a theme that is school-related and get as many kids as possible involved. It could be online, it could be at your storefront or anywhere, just make it fun.

And don’t forget to hand over flyers with coupon code to the kids when they are leaving.

6. Give away branded gifts for purchases

This is perfect for businesses that don’t sell products that are related to back-to-school.

You can join the buzz by giving out branded back-to-school related gifts for every purchase. Communicate clearly to your buyers that the gift is your little way of supporting their kids’ back-to-school preparations.

You might tie this to a social media campaign that will promote this effort.

Another amazing thing with this type of campaign is apart from the excitements it would give to the kids and their parents; the branded gifts would also generate organic and free advertising for your businesses.

And I am also sure that extremely happy parents or kids won’t mind recommending you to friends without you asking.

7. Leverage Social Proof

Social proof is an essential conversion driver.

It’s all about influencing prospects’ purchasing decisions by providing pieces of evidence that demonstrate your product’s popularity or wide acceptability. Leveraging this practice can skyrocket your conversion rate, driving more back-to-school revenues to your coffers.

Begin by sharing videos and testimonials of happy customers to create interest in your products.

Share them on social media to reach a wider audience. Also, embed the videos on your website and landing pages. In addition to this, use hard data to show prospects how far you have gone, such as your number of happy customers, total purchases, years of experience, and awards won.

We love how Gleam.io does it.

11 Secret Back to School Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses 3

The social proof passes a powerful brand message in a very simple way. 

Who wouldn’t want to have marketing software used by over 45,000 businesses, including world-leading brands like Hubspot, Beardbrand, and SitePoint? The fact that these successful businesses trust it is a strong indication of its quality.

We also recommend using influencers and creating quality, helpful content to build industry thought leadership. We have written extensively on social proof marketing and you might want to check it out. 

8. Get More Leads With Collect Chat

Your back-to-school marketing success depends largely on the volume of sales made within the period.

Your results will not be impressive if you find it difficult to generate leads. And to be frank, it is not an easy task. About 85 percent of B2B marketers said that generating leads is their most important marketing goal. And in a different study, 68% of these businesses admitted that they struggle with lead generation.

However, you can improve your lead generation rate by up to 451 percent with marketing automation software. And our favorite tool for this is Collect Chat.

The software lets you automate lead generation with AI-powered chatbots. Over 25,000 businesses use it worldwide. For us, we create a lead-gen conversational chatbot with the tool and then embed it as an iFrame on our landing page or high-traffic pages.

Here is an example we did for an ISO certifying body in Lagos.

11 Secret Back to School Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses 4

Try this lead generation hack for your back to school marketing and thank us later.

9. Drive Engagements With Contests

Social contests are one of the most effective back to school marketing ideas.

They help you leverage interactive content to drive brand engagement, build customer loyalty, and generate quality leads. Studies found that contests result in over 34 percent of new customer acquisition. They also have a 3.75 percent higher conversion rate than other CTAs.

So, leverage this channel to generate excitement for your offerings.

Incentivize the contests with free branded back to school supplies to drive engagements and results.

Here are some of the social contest ideas we recommend:

  • Refer a friend 
  • Sweepstakes
  • Tag a friend
  • Submit an essay contest
  • Post a video challenge
  • Comment to win contest

Promote your back-to-school-themed social contests with Facebook and Instagram ads to reach a wider audience. We also recommend using Gleam to plan, run and manage the contests. 

It also lets users redeem their rewards quickly. Additionally, the software comes with over 100 integrations that help you automate your tasks and connect with your favorite tools.

You can start for as low as $10 monthly. This package lets you set up and run giveaways, contests, and sweepstakes without needing to buy the full package which goes for $97 monthly.

11 Secret Back to School Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses 5

10. Go Viral with Press Releases

Press releases are your best bet to make your marketing go viral quickly.

A well-executed back-to-school promo PR can get you placements on over 5,000 reputable news outlets and media platforms. And this means massive visibility for your products.

Another advantage of PRs is that they are solid sources for referral traffic and backlinks.

And one of the good things about referral traffic is that it returns one of the best conversion rates. You’d probably agree with me that prospects coming from high-authority platforms like Forbes, BBC, CNN and FOX, ABC News, and NBC are more likely to trust your brand than those coming from paid ads.

Also, backlinks from these sources are high quality, and can significantly boost your search rankings, improving your search visibility.

So, with PRs, you’re sure to kill three birds with a stone.  

For us, we use 24-7 PressRelease to achieve wide distributions and placements. This software allows you to track your media placements in one place. And it’s also one of the most affordable.

11 Secret Back to School Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses 6

You can email us (sam@smartentrepreneurblog.com) for assistance on how to tie PR campaigns to your back-to-school marketing for massive results. 

11. Connect With WhatsApp

Leveraging WhatsApp is a no brainers.

It’s one of the most used instant messaging apps with over two billion monthly users as of 2023. These guys spend about 38 minutes on average, sending over 100 billion messages daily, that’s over 80 billion messages more than the 13.5 billion calls made daily worldwide.

Some of your active customers, with schooling children, are on this platform.

So, use WhatsApp for your back-to-school marketing. Most businesses utilize the built-in group, status, and broadcast features to update their contact and for mass marketing. These are powerful features.

But for us, we connect WhatsApp and Omnisend with Zapier or Workload to make the most of it.

11 Secret Back to School Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses 7

Doing this allows us to leverage Omnisend’s other channels, like SMS and email to reach customers across multiple platforms. These tasks are automated based on triggers, allowing us to personalize and scale our marketing campaigns.

11 Secret Back to School Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses 8

 You can integrate Omnisend with several software, including loyalty and rewards, shipping and logistics, email capture, and customer review apps. Omnisend has a free plan. Try it to see how the app works.

Check out our WhatsApp marketing blog post to learn more about this omnichannel marketing software. 

65 Back to School Marketing Campaign Phrases

Use these back to school marketing phrases to kickstart your campaign:

  1. “Back to School, Back to You, Back to The Things You Love!”
  2. “Start The New School Year In Style!”
  3. “Your One-Stop-Back to School Shop!”
  4. “Back to School, Back to Learning, Back to Having Fun!”
  5. “Back to School And Looking Good!”
  6. “Your New Semester Essentials!”
  7. “Save Big This Semester!”
  8. “Stock Up On Your Favorite Back to School Essentials!”
  9. “Gear Up For Success With These Back to School Essentials!”
  10. “Back to School, Back to Friends, Back to Making Memories!”
  11. “Ace Your Back to School Look!”
  12. “Go Back to School In Style!”
  13. “Back to School, Back to A New Year, Back to A Fresh Start”
  14. “Return to School In Style With Our 25% Discount!”
  15. “Back to School, Back to Learning, Back to A Brighter Future!”
  16. “Gear Up For A Successful School Year!”
  17. “Back to School, Back to Style!”
  18. “A+ Savings for a New School Year!”
  19. “Smart Deals for Smart Shoppers!”
  20. “Elevate Your Education with Our Products!”
  21. “Make this School Year Unforgettable!”
  22. “Empowering Students, One Product at a Time!”
  23. “Step into the Classroom with Confidence!”
  24. “Tools for Every Scholar’s Journey!”
  25. “New Year, New Supplies, New Beginnings!”
  26. “Learning Made Fun with Our Products!”
  27. “Equipping Minds for Excellence!”
  28. “Upgrade Your Learning Experience Today!”
  29. “Fueling Curiosity and Creativity!”
  30. “Inspiring Success with Quality Supplies!”
  31. “Ignite Learning with Our Back-to-School Collection!”
  32. “Shine Bright in the New School Year!”
  33. “Start Strong, Finish Stronger!”
  34. “Unleash Your Potential with Our Back-to-School Deals!”
  35. “Supplies That Spark Imagination!”
  36. “Set the Stage for Academic Achievement!”
  37. “The Path to Success Starts Here!”
  38. “Your Source for Back-to-School Essentials!”
  39. “Top-Notch tools for top-Notch Students!”
  40. “Preparedness Meets Style: Shop Now!”
  41. “Discover the Joy of Learning with Our Products!”
  42. “Empower Learning, Embrace Growth!”
  43. “A New Year of Learning, A New World of Possibilities!”
  44. “Stock Up and Stand Out in the Classroom!”
  45. “Back to School, Back to Savings!”
  46. “Elevate Your Study Space with Our Products!”
  47. “Shop Smart, Learn Smart!”
  48. “Navigate the School Year with Confidence!”
  49. “Bringing Excitement to the School Supply List!”
  50. “Equip Yourself for Excellence!”
  51. “Quality tools for Quality Education!”
  52. “Learning Essentials Tailored Just for You!”
  53. “Empowering Students to Excel!”
  54. “Where Education and Innovation Meet!”
  55. “Your Journey to Success Begins Here!”
  56. “Invest in Your Future with Our Back-to-School Deals!”
  57. “Upgrade Your Learning Game with Our Products!”
  58. “Setting You Up for a Year of Achievement!”
  59. “Unlocking Potential, One Supply at a Time!”
  60. “Start Strong, Stay Strong!”
  61. “Curating Supplies for a Stellar School Year!”
  62. “Making Learning Irresistibly Stylish!”
  63. “Your School Year, Your Way: Shop Now!”
  64. “Fueling Dreams, One Product at a Time!”
  65. “Empowering Every Student’s Academic Adventure!”

Customize these phrases to fit your brand and offerings.

Complete Back to School Marketing Checklists

Use this comprehensive checklist to launch your back to school marketing ideas. Check them as you complete tasks for each campaign phase.

Let’s begin.

Pre-campaign Planning

  • Define your target audience
  • Set campaign objectives
  • Establish KPIs and metrics
  • Specify your budget
  • Research key competitors and their strategies
  • Determine campaign timeline

Campaign Strategy

  • Develop a compelling campaign theme 
  • Outline your messages and value propositions
  • Define your marketing channels
  • List all the tools you need based on your budget
  • Determine discounts and exclusive offers to use
  • Collaborate with influencers, partners, and schools
  • Set up your back to school marketing team

Content Creation

  • Brief your content creation team
  • Design and build your campaign landing pages
  • Create a content calendar
  • Create marketing collaterals for your campaign
  • Start creating content based on your calendar


  • Send out your pre-launch messages
  • Launch a countdown to the campaign start date
  • Create hashtags for the campaign
  • Launch and schedule your paid advertisements
  • Commission your influencers

Engagement and Interaction

  • Respond promptly to comments, messages, and inquires
  • Run social contests to drive engagements
  • Host polls and surveys to gather insights
  • Encourage satisfied customers to share their stories and experiences
  • Ask for referrals

Measurement and Analysis

  • Set up tracking tools
  • Track performance metrics
  • Compare performance metrics with established KPIs
  • Measure the impact of special promotions and discounts on sales
  • Collect feedback from customers
  • Share performance reports and feedback with teams 
  • Brainstorm ways to further improve performance 

Post-campaign Activities

  • Evaluate overall campaign success
  • Review data to learn how to improve subsequent campaigns
  • Launch a “thank you campaign” to appreciate your audience
  • Offer post-campaign discounts to drive customer retention

Best Back to School Marketing KPIs

Use these metrics to track your back to school marketing campaigns

Engagement metrics

These metrics are ideal for learning how the audience engages with your campaign:

Click-through rate (CTR)

Use this metric to learn the percentage of people who clicked your campaign content, CTA, or ads after seeing them. Make your content more compelling if you have a low CTR. 

Conversion rate

This metric measures the percentage of website visitors that took your specified action, like signing up or making a purchase. Use a more solid social proof, visuals, and value proposition to boost this number.

Social media audience growth

Track the rate you gain more social media followers with this metric. Do this for each of your social media platforms for more in-depth insight.

Social media shares and comments

Monitor the number of times your followers comment or share your social media posts or ads. Low engagement indicates that your content is not valuable to them.

Website visitors and user behaviors


This metric indicates the total number of people who have been exposed to your campaign. Use it to track how viral your campaign is going.

Brand mentions

Track the number of times people mention your brand on social media platforms or other websites. Keep an eye on this metric to monitor your online brand reputation.

Website traffic

Use this metric to track the number of people who visited your website during the campaign period. High traffic means your campaign is attracting a lot of prospects.

Session duration

This metric allows you to monitor the average amount of time that visitors spend on your website during a single visit. Your conversion rate will decrease if people spend less time than is required for a typical shopper to complete a purchase.

Sales and revenue metrics

Use these metrics to learn how the campaign impacts your sales and revenues.

Total sales

Monitor the total revenue generated from products and services related to your back to school marketing. Track how each campaign impacts this number and then prioritize the top performers.

Average order value

What is the average amount each customer spends in a single transaction? A high average order value boosts your ROI. Cross-sell buyers during checkout to improve this number. 

Returning purchases

Track repeat purchases from old customers to monitor your customer lifetime value. Loyalty programs and upselling are two of the best ways to drive returning purchases.

Back to school marketing ideas: Getting started

One huge mistake you would be making is taking this list to be exhaustive. The truth is, I have only scraped the surface.

However, the tips are enough and battle-tested to get you started immediately.

Nevertheless, you might still want to consider other options and if yes, then below is a round-up of other options you might want to consider.

  • Partner with local schools for school supplies.
  • Run giveaway campaigns targeting the parents and teachers.
  • Put together a school supply project to support kids who don’t have access to what they need.
  • Use brand activation campaigns to drive brand connections
  • Or get in touch and we will help you develop ideas that will resonate with your audience.

Now to answer the question I raised at the introduction.

Back-to-school is a fantastic time to drive foot traffic to your store through promotions, events and other BTS-themed engagements

And don’t ignore fathers in the marketing efforts. Of course, the data clearly showed why.

So, that will be all for today.

Please don’t forget to always check back for related posts. But, in the meantime, share this post to your friends and I will be super excited!

Back to school business ideas FAQs

How do you market back to school campaigns?

There are several back to school marketing ideas you can leverage. They include:

  • Content marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Social media
  • Social contest and Sweepstakes
  • WhatsApp marketing
  • Use of social proof

What is the concept of back to school marketing?

Back to school marketing is about running targeted campaigns to drive sales from parents and schoolers preparing for the new session. The season is often tax-free in many states. And shoppers often try to leverage it and the heavy discounts to get school supplies and children’s clothing.

When should you promote your back to school campaign?

Promote your back to school product and services after planning your campaigns and sorting out your strategies. We recommend social media, email, and WhatsApp for back to school marketing ideas.

How do I come up with a new marketing idea?

Your best bet is to brainstorm with your teams to come up with feasible, budget-friendly back to school marketing ideas. Also, look at what your competitors are doing and refine them.

What is the best back to school campaign 2023 ideas?

All the back to school marketing campaign ideas here will work for every business. However, find the ones that resonate most with your audience and stick with them.


  • Chinasa Ferderick

    Ferderick is a highly skilled marketing expert with a passion for helping small businesses thrive in today's competitive landscape. With his comprehensive knowledge of the industry and expertise in marketing and SEO strategies, he has successfully assisted numerous businesses in achieving their goals.

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