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Design Inspiration

9 “Back to School” Email Design Inspirations

9 “Back to School” Email Design Inspirations
Originally published on August 14, 2017. Last updated August 19, 2021.

Going back to school ranks as the second busiest time of year for retailers behind the hectic holiday season. Focusing on a clear email marketing design strategy is crucial for businesses to stand out amidst the sales and leverage the back to school excitement. 

The National Retail Federation is expecting a record-breaking $37.1 billion in shopping profits this year, with consumers purchasing everything from notebooks to technology. Promoting your business through email is the best method to gain a share of these profits since about 90% of Americans are email users. There are endless opportunities to reel in your target audience through email.

Explore these email design best practices to stand out in the inbox  during the back to school season.

1. Kate Spade’s elegant going back to school product display email

Part of what makes Kate Spade’s email feel so elegant is that it sticks to a color scheme: millennial pink, gold tones and hints of green. The email pitches back to school products, and it also harnesses the school spirit with an a-b-c product display in the second module. Because the quiz theme is so easily recognized, it doesn’t even require set-up text. The final result is a spirited, minimalistic email that’s easy and entertaining to read.

kate spade back-to-school-email-designs

2. Tarte’s beauty product “pop quiz” email design

It’s not just Kate Spade putting readers to the “test.” Tarte sent a pop quiz email that’s a little more obvious but just as sweet. The video snapshots links to product-promoting videos, while the second module offers quick links to individual products, if you’re ready to move quickly to your shopping cart. 

The whole message is set against a bulletin board background with a wide-ruled paper that appears to be torn from a notebook. Even though its products aren’t school-related, Tarte creates a message that instantly evokes a classroom feel while maintaining its colorful and bold brand style.

tarte back-to-school-email-designs

3. Blue Mercury lists their top products for their back to school email

Going back to school means it’s time for supply checklists, but spiral notebooks and No. 2 pencils aren’t on Blue Mercury’s list. Instead, the brand displays their products alongside playful back to school marketing copy. “A+ exfoliation” for a facial peel, “extra credit hydration” for moisturizer and other creative tie-ins. The design is simple and clever with the lined notebook paper motif and colorfully illustrated checkboxes. This proves that no matter your product, there’s always a way to show back to school spirit with a few smart design choices.
blue mercury back-to-school-email-designs

4. Cook Smarts packs an animated back to school lunch design

The meal plan subscription service Cook Smarts sent a back to school email with the perfect animated GIF:

cook smarts back-to-school-email-designs

In addition to their back to school sale, they also included a flattering testimonial from a parent. This is compelling to subscribers because it provides proof that people love their services. Parents will trust a brand that’s backed by other parents. These great design features will push readers to click, especially parents planning for the school year ahead.

cook smarts back-to-school-email-designs

5. DC is going back to school with a sleek z-pattern product display

Skate and snowboard brand DC maintains a clean and sleek email with a simple black and white email. This back to school email has streamlined simplicity, which is why it caught our eye. Using high-quality images and minimal text, their product display takes on an z-pattern that’s easy to scan. The z-pattern means the images alternate sides from module to module, creating a zig-zag effect. Not many brands pull off this effect so elegantly. This email uses ample white space and minimal text to maintain their polished style.

DC shoes back-to-school-email-designs

6. Grammarly runs a fun-fact themed back to school marketing campaign

Grammarly is a tool that spot checks grammar to help people improve their writing. This brand didn’t take a straightforward marketing approach like: “Get Grammarly, and write better this school year.” Instead, Grammarly launched an email drip campaign that sends fun facts about school. They use a content-enriching approach by sending more emails with valuable content rather than creating salesy back to school marketing campaigns. The content they provide is valuable because teachers, parents and students can apply these fun facts to their work. This meaningful content helps build brand loyalty with users.

grammarly back-to-school-email-designs

7. Poppin animates their back to school marketing ideas with pops of color

Office supply company, Poppin, created a series of brightly-colored GIFs as part of their back to school email designs. Emails with GIFs are best optimized when coupled with plain text.  Layer plain or live text on top of an image or GIF to avoid a cluttered appearance. This balance of image and text will optimize the email for mobile devices and all inboxes. Poppin sets their GIFs up in this way to attract their subscribers without causing overwhelm, which is helpful during such a busy shopping season.

poppin back-to-school-email-designs

8. La Colombe’s back to school caffeine fix is framed in a boxed layout

Even coffee can be an important ingredient on the back to school shopping list. La Colombe created a beautiful photographic email with a grey background color. The grey color gives their central message a “boxed” effect. This limited-width tactic is a popular design best practice to help frame your content for a clearer, more intriguing reading experience.

la colombe back-to-school-email-designs

9. Ban.do is going back to school with millennial pink

Online store, Ban.do, used a gorgeous color palette for their back to school email. The trendy millennial pink is a great way to appeal to a range of subscribers. The collage, layered appearance with different colors, textures, and design elements draw the reader’s eye to each headline and CTA. The email is bright and fun, which differentiates the brand from other emails in the inbox. An image-heavy email like this is a perfect example of one that would benefit from live text layering over background images.

ban.do back-to-school-email-designs

Design with BEE Pro 

You don’t have to sell school supplies to showcase your back to school spirit. Putting thought into your designs will help you stand out and take advantage of the season’s shopping rush. 

Design your going back to school campaign in BEE Pro, the best mobile-responsive drag and drop editor. Start out by choosing a design from our template catalog to create and send out fresh emails even faster. 


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