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  • December 18, 2010

Season Finale: Back to school 2010

A look back on seasonal trends, email activity and standout B2C marketing:

Start to finish: The first reference to the back-to-school season was on June 16. The final reference was on Oct. 24.

The biggest day for back-to-school emails was Friday, Aug. 6, followed by Wednesday, Aug. 11 and Friday, Aug. 13. Retailers sent the majority of their back-to-school-themed emails after Aug. 9.

Click to view the back to school 2010 retail email distribution curve larger

Most interesting emails: In the same way that some retailers offer military service men and women Memorial Day and Veterans Day discounts when they present their military IDs, in this Aug. 19 email, Sony offers students a free PS3 with laptop purchase when they show their student ID. Besides being targeted, these “show your ID” discounts also bring people into stores.

Click to view this Aug. 19, 2010 Sony email full-sized

In an Aug. 11 email, Kohl’s makes a strong viral call-to-action in connection with a campaign that gave away $10 million to the schools with the most votes on Facebook. The message was clear: Get your friends to vote on Facebook. The subject line, “We still have all this money to give away.‏” did a great job of supporting that call-to-action.

Click to view this Aug. 11, 2010 email full-sized

In an Aug. 1 email, JCPenney used this great banner design. It breaks the margin on the right-hand side and the spiral notebook edge on top gives it some great texture. JCPenney has been churning out super designs that stand in sharp contrast to the boxy email designs used by most retailers.

Click to view this Aug. 1, 2010 JCPenney email full-sized

In an Aug. 3 email, Walgreens took a unique approach to the back-to-school season, connecting wellness with performance in school. In past years, I haven’t seen a retailer make that connection so explicitly.

Click to view this Aug. 3, 2010 Walgreens email full-sized

Standout subject lines:
Barnes & Noble, 9/9 — Lighten your Backpack! Get Digital TEXTBOOKS Instantly.
Office Depot, 8/11 — Pop Quiz! How Much Can You Save on a Laptop Bundle? Answer Inside.
Office Depot, 8/3 — $15 Buys All These School Supplies + Other Great Back-to-School Deals!
Target, 7/11 — College savings: Great offers on what they'll need for dorm life.‏
Finish Line, 8/3 — Do You Have Your Homework Hauler? Free Shipping on all Backpacks!
Kohl’s, 7/8 — Your school could win $500K. Dream Big. Act Now.
Old Navy, 7/23 — School Uniforms at Our Lowest Prices + a Gift for the Grownups!
Art.com, 7/26 — $4.98 Posters + 25% off SITEWIDE = A+ Back to School Sale!
Barnes & Noble, 9/14 — How Unoriginal - A Back-to-School Sale. Or is it?

Subject lines that stand out for the wrong reasons:
Sam’s Club, 7/26 — Savings on dorm room digital: laptops, printers and more‏
It appears that a word is missing after “digital.” That adjective is just hanging there.

Target, 8/25 — Wired for school: Electronics the'’ll want to take with 'em.‏
Looks like the y in “they’ll” was accidently replaced with an apostrophe.

Hanna Andersson, 8/19 — New Hannas + Early Savings In Time For BTS!
It’s possible that this subject line intrigued folks by using the cryptic BTS acronym. It stands for “back to school,” but that was news to me. No other retailer used that shorthand.

Read previous back to school Season Finales: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

Explore back to school tag.
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