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Back To School Relationship Marketing

Back-to-school 2023: 5 relationship marketing strategies for a successful campaign



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March 4, 2024 | 5 min read

By Kristen Ettinger, VP of customer success at MarigoldWhile parents of school-aged children are spending the summer months gearing up for vacations, camps, and teens’ first-time jobs, savvy marketers are already focusing on crafting their back-to-school campaigns for 2023

By Kristen Ettinger, VP of customer success at Marigold

While parents of school-aged children are spending the summer months gearing up for vacations, camps, and teens’ first-time jobs, savvy marketers are already focusing on crafting their back-to-school campaigns for 2023. Back to school shopping is traditionally the second-largest spending event after the winter holidays. And with the remote learning/shopping baseline of the pandemic lockdown era now long past, this year in particular is a good time to plan ahead.

According to Deloitte, while the overall back-to-school market this year is expected to fall to $31.2bn from $34.4 last year, "most parents are also willing to splurge on specific items for their children, signaling an opportunity for retailers heading into the back-to-school shopping season."

That means ensuring all your digital properties are connected with your in-store experience. If your customers are migrating between Instagram to your website to your emails, you need to ensure all your channels are seamlessly integrated.

For marketers seeking top-of-the-class results, implementing relationship marketing strategies is the best opportunity to deliver this integrated customer experience. Marigold’s recently released special report The Relationship Marketer’s Guide for Back-to-School 2023 highlights the key macro trends and actionable tips for success.

1. Leverage the power of email

Email remains the most effective channel for driving sales, with over half (52%) of global consumers making purchases as a direct result of emails they received. Take the time to review last year's email marketing performance, analyzing what worked and what didn't. This data will serve as a starting point for optimizing your 2023 campaigns, including subject lines, content, offers, call-to-actions, and send times. Email marketing not only delivers excellent results but is also a cost-effective approach.

2. Embrace data-driven strategies

With web browsers phasing out third-party cookie tracking, it's essential for marketers to invest in their own database and adopt a first- and zero-party data strategy. These sweeping changes in the martech and adtech industries reinforce the need to rely on your own data for driving awareness and sales. Start building a strong database that provides valuable insights into your customers' preferences and motivations, enabling personalized experiences and targeted marketing efforts.

3. Deliver true personalization

Consumers expect personalization that goes beyond simply using their first name or referencing previous purchases. True personalization involves offering products based on explicit customer preferences and interests. This zero-party data allows you to enhance revenue and customer retention during the back-to-school season. Consider polling your audience to capture their style preferences or utilizing a product picker with branching logic to help them find the perfect apparel.

4. Embrace omnichannel experiences

Omnichannel strategies place the customer at the center, ensuring all touchpoints and channels revolve around their needs. Consumers interact with multiple touchpoints when engaging with a brand, from social media to email and more. To provide a consistent and seamless experience, it's crucial to integrate these channels effectively. Break down organizational barriers and implement a unified commerce approach with the help of a reliable tech partner who can provide a single, accessible view of customer data.

5. Enhance customer loyalty

Loyalty programs play a significant role in appealing to customers' financial considerations. However, modern consumers expect more than just points-for-prizes. Engage your customers with interactive experiences like polls and questionnaires to capture and store preferences. Offer exclusive access to products based on loyalty tiers, provide personalized product recommendations, and leverage zero-party data collected from interactive experiences. These strategies foster lasting loyalty and retention.

Back to school countdown & checklist

Brands should align their back-to-school countdown based on each region’s actual first day of school timing (i.e. August vs September).


  • Clean up your email database to improve deliverability
  • Review last year's campaign performance and identify areas for improvement
  • Utilize interactive experiences to gather data and opt-in customers
  • Re-engage lapsed customers and reignite their interest (try retargeting them on social media)


  • Progressively profile customers to understand their preferences better
  • Tailor your value-exchange strategy to offer personalized incentives
  • Ensure your IP is ready for increased email volume
  • Determine the optimal timing for your email outreach


  • Prepare a zero-party data personalization plan to enhance the customer experience
  • Differentiate your SMS and email messaging strategies to maximize their impact
  • Communicate last-chance shipping days to create urgency
  • Continuously evaluate and replicate successful tactics, and elaborate on them

Implementing these relationship marketing strategies will allow you to position your brand for success during the back-to-school season of 2023. When you put the customer at the heart of everything, you can ensure straight As (as well as lasting relationships) from your target audience.

To learn more about these steps, and read case studies for how individual companies have successfully applied them, click here to download the free report The Relationship Marketer’s Guide for Back-To-School 2023.

Back To School Relationship Marketing


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