A 3-Step Plan for Writing Back-to-School Subject Lines that Get the Grade


Reading, writing and … subject lines. Yes, it’s time to start sending back-to-school emails, newsletters and offers. To brush up on school-themed subject lines, we’ve created a mini lesson plan just for you – So take notes.

Here are three steps to capitalize on the back-to-school season along with examples and takeaway tips for the perfect email subject line.

1. Offer savings
Sending kids back to school isn’t cheap. Have you seen the list of school supplies that they need these days? Pencils and paper is only the tip of the supply iceberg; now kids need $ 100 geometry calculators and fancy laptops. And let’s not forget the stylish new clothes that go along with a new school year.

In your emails, help parents out by offering a discount. Mention the savings right in the subject line. For example, JCPenney sent an email to its subscribers with a subject line, “Get Down With Our Low Prices-School Styles Starting at $ 6.99.” Any budget-savvy parent is going to jump at the chance to save money.


Even if your business doesn’t sell back-to-school necessities, you can still have a school-themed sale. A car dealership did.

Email marketing specialist Laura Baugh with Team Velocity Marketing specializes in automotive marketing. She says people expect back-to-school sales. To capitalize on the anticipation of the season, she created the email below with the subject line, “Back to School Specials This Weekend Only!” 


Subject line takeaways:

  • Get to the point. Tell recipients that you’ve got a good deal for them.
  • Be specific. Don’t just tell recipients about an offer, tell them exactly how much they can save.
  • Mention back to school. In some way, you need to connect the school season with the deal.
  • Create a sense of urgency. You want recipients to open your email and act now; so use active language to get a reaction.

2. Market to college students
College students are headed back to dorm rooms, too, and they buy entirely different items than those in grade school. College students need small appliances, bedding, groceries, car supplies, electronics, etc. The email below, for example, works for college students. Tiger Direct’s subject line, “5 New Laptops Under $ 500” grabs attention and gives recipients several choices in one email. Try creating a shopping guide that highlights your college appropriate items. 


Subject line takeaways:

  • Be creative. Think outside the text book and market items that are relevant to college students.
  • Offer deals.  Many college students have a shoestring budget, so appealing to their wallet won’t hurt.
  • Be hip. You’re marketing to a younger crowd, so make sure the words you use reflect that.
  • Mention college. Your subject line should mention a college buzzword like “campus” or “dorm.”

3. Educate your recipients
Promotional emails are a great way to capitalize on the back-to-school season, but you can do more than offer $ 10 off a purchase. You can also educate your recipients, by creating subject lines that promote stellar school-related content. For example, a craft site sent out an email with the subject line, “18 Dorm Décor Ideas.”


It’s an easy way to educate your readers and promote various products without seeming overly salesy.

Subject line takeaways:

  • Tease the title. If you create a “Top 5” list that’s connected to a back-to- school theme, you should mention the title of the post in your subject line.
  • Mention back to school. Again, you have to use the appropriate back-to-school buzzwords so the recipient knows the purpose of the email.
  • Keep it short. Tell recipients what the article is about without getting too wordy.

What kind of subject lines are you planning to use this back-to-school season? Tell us in the comment box below.

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