Parents Want Back-To-School Deals -- Via Email, Study Shows

Want to reach harried parents with back-to-school offers? Email them.

That’s one takeaway from a new survey on back-to-school shopping patterns by Customer Portfolios.

Of over 5,000 parents surveyed, 71% prefer to hear about discounts via email The next most popular channel is digital advertising, cited by 40%.

Only don’t overdo it.

“Too often we see brands blasting customers without taking the time to educate them about why they signed up for email in the first place,” says Denise DeSisto, VP, marketing automation and product innovation at Customer Portfolios. 

Yet email can be an effective tool for back-to-school marketers. 

"When it’s a seasonal campaign – i.e., holiday, Mother’s Day, and in this case, back-to-school, email is crucial,” DeSisto says. But she cautions that marketers should “take a stance against product messaging and acquisition.”

Instead, “they need to take a two-pronged approach,” she continues. “As they acquire customers during BTS, use email to educate them on the brand while still pushing product and BTS specific messaging.” 

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But she adds two cautionary notes. One is that marketers should “create a unique experience for their customers at the point of acquisition and not blast them with content,”

The other is that “BTS marketing should not be exclusive to email alone -- there is a large social component to it as well. As the survey data also suggests, marketers need to take a omnichannel strategy.”

The survey also found that 35% want to learn about discounts through in-store displays, 32% through direct mail, and 19% through text messages. In addition, 63% plan to research products online. But only 51% will purchase online.

Who’s doing the buying? More than 75% of the respondents are female.

What do shoppers want? Most want discounts (96%), free shipping (79%), coupons (74%), and buy-one-get one deals (58%)

Customer Portfolios urges marketers to provide an  “unbroken” experience across channels. This requires proper data collection to turn insights into action.

Of those surveyed, 35% have children in grades K-5 and 24% have kids in college. 

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