If Back to School Emails Were Reviewed by “The Breakfast Club”
Welcome to the soft-launch of the Autumn season, hard launching September 23rd. Also known to yanks as Fall, it’s not simply a change of seasons, it marks the beginning of many things - The beginning of the end as Winter approaches. (This feeling is especially strong in Chicagoans.) For pagans and ghouls, the launch into the Samhain/Halloween/Harvest season and a spookfest for any reason. For others, likely who happen to be (suddlenly overjoyed) parents, it’s back to school for the kids (hoorah!). Then, there’s the Email Marketer. Back to School marks another sales season which makes us happy and provides an opportunity to send MORE EMAIL!
This opportunity isn’t always met with exuberance and anticipation, much how I felt when returning to school! However, for the Email Marketer, any opportunity is – or should be – an exciting opportunity to increase Email Performance. Let’s look at it from a different, slightly less geeky perspective. If The Breakfast Club characters were reviewing your Back to School email efforts, how would they respond? As a reminder, or a primer for those not in the correct demographic, the characters possessed specific socio-economic demographics and fall into 5 segments:
The Criminal, The Basket Case, The Athlete, The Princess, and The Brain.
Let’s see what the segments think of some Back to School email examples.
Example 1: Poppin
Subject Line: Pack your backpacks + put away your pool toys! 20% off Back to School ends Monday.
The Criminal: Why don’t they have a hot chick on that beach? I’m sure The Brain’s Mommy will get plenty of supplies I can steal… if they’re not dweebie.
The Basket Case: A beach? Seriously? There’s sun and happiness – ick! Everything looks too cheerful… do they have anything in black?
The Athlete: I’m way too cool... besides, what do you need all that stuff for?
The Princess: Cute email! Except that I’d rather be on that beach than in class. If it’s not designer, forget it. A discount means nothing to me.
The Brain: What an awesome offer! I totally need new supplies to overly impress my teachers. What a timely email!
Summary: To an engaged audience this email is either a bit sad because it’s reminding us summer is over (wah!) or timely and relevant as we need to be prepped for school properly. A bit risky to call attention to summer’s decline as it typically is unpleasant for many… but again, that could be the Chicago-Effect.
Example 2: Dick’s Sporting Goods
The Criminal: I wonder how many people I can get to say, “I love (insert store name here)”? [Apologies, it’s difficult to control criminals]
The Basket Case: Seriously? Sports? That’s like, for self-improvement right? Why would I prolong this misery…Do those leggings come in black?
The Athlete: I totally need some new kicks for on and off the court. Some workout clothes too, and cool hoodies. Right on!
The Princess: Sports requires sweating, which is so gauche.
The Brain: Oh, um, yeah, I don’t like to trip over myself more than I need to. But they do have some cool backpacks! I should send this to The Athlete.
Summary: Overall, a solid email. Distinct headline with compelling language and CTA (Call to Action) button. A coupon offer immediately in the forefront. Bold, colorful imagery that is relevant and not ambiguous. However, what would be best is knowing who the email is going to and serving up images that are relevant to their behavior. That said, this covers the general gamut of needs by most shoppers.
One big note however is why would there be a banner for the Weekly Circular when you have a Shop Now button to get to the offers? Seems unnecessary and irrelevant.
Example 3: Chili’s
Subject Line: Teachers and Administrators – Enjoy this Back-to-School Offer from Chili’s!
The Criminal: Why do I care about this? I suppose I can pose as a teacher… a Shop Teacher!
The Basket Case: I shouldn’t be teaching anyone anything!
The Athlete: I should give this to Coach!
The Princess: Ugh, like I would ever eat at a chain restaurant!
The Brain: I’m going to share this with all my teachers! Bonus Points!
Summary: This is a great offer, but a very specific one. If the list is accurate, it could be a great win for the restaurant and drive some solid traffic in-store. But, if the list isn’t accurate and sends to people that are not teachers or affiliated with an educational institution, this could be a huge loss. Accuracy is vital to success.
What do the stats say?
According to an article on Back to School Benchmarks by MarketingProfs, the following open rates can be anticipated:
A decent spike can be seen in August, which is the most relevant timing. But, think if your offer and content were specifically targeted to a certain behavior, segment, or demographic – would that increase your success rate? Very likely it would. Sure, you can blanket email holiday type offers and hope they work, or you can use the data that you probably have to help your campaigns be more effective.
To do, or not to do Back to School Emails?
That all depends on your brand, product, and demographic. That said, many brands can benefit from using this time of year to communicate with a subset, or perhaps all of your subscribers. The key is to remain relevant and make sure your content, imagery and offer make sense for those you’re emailing. At the end of the day, I don’t have kids, but I might respond to a great back to school offer on office supplies, especially if it acknowledged that I don’t have to be going back to school to take advantage of a great offer. Relevancy is key to making your audience dance, dance, dance! (Relevancy = Safety Dance!)
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