A Pitch-Perfect Back-to-School Marketing Email

How one music brand cut through the noise

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For many industries, back to school is the Super Bowl of the fall. Which means that tons of brands will be doing outreach and customer messaging around this same time of year, with the same underlying theme. How can a brand stand out, while still taking advantage of this moment?

iHeartRadio is a music site and app that makes thousands of live radio stations available to listeners, plus custom artist stations users can build and control. Recently, they sent a seasonal email promoting a “perfect class schedule” list of stations, which went about back-to-school promotions in a way that was unique, put the value to the user first, and nailed the tone for their target audience. Check out this newest addition to our messages that nail it file.

iHeartRadio’s “perfect class schedule” email

iHeartRadio Email

On top of the stresses folks deal with during this time of year—the burdens of the back-to-school season, the end-of-summer change of pace—it’s a time of intense marketing noise. So it’s a marketer’s chance, as well as challenge, to do messaging so well that users are inclined to open one more back-to-school-season email.

This email hits the nail on the head by reaching into the user’s world to encourage engagement, and build relationships and trust.

It’s attractive

Nothing says back to school more than a crumpled piece of yellow notebook paper with doodles and highlights. We know right off the bat, visually, what this newsletter is about, and who it’s meant to speak to. Aesthetically, the header image lands hard in its own identity without patronizing the reader (no Dakota handwriting or chalkboard font here).

Beyond that, the layout was executed with clarity. From titles, to numbers, to station logos, the designers took a clean approach, but didn’t skimp on details.

Emojis in the subject line

Everyone (okay, almost everyone) loves emoji. Especially younger demographicsthe exact target audience of this newsletter. The stack of books and the apple for the teacher in the email subject line give a little we’re-with-you wink to the recipient.

It steps into the user’s world

Marketers think in terms of quarters and month-over-month. Kids going back to school think in terms of class periods and subjects. To that end, this newsletter got very clever. Its creators demonstrate a clear understanding of the back-to-school mindset by stepping into the user’s world to describe their wares.

Each radio station is given a class subject title, which is tied cleverly to its own radio station. For example, the math class station points to the iHeartRadio countdown, which is iHeartRadio’s own weekly countdown of top songs played. We see what you did there, iHeartRadio! The science class suggestion points to the Evolution station, which is all about dance music, and so on.

iHeartRadio has taken their own marketing interests (an awareness of their top stations) and tied them smartly to user interests (class subjects, during back-to-school season).

iHeartRadio doesn’t miss a beat

iHeartRadio created a new season-appropriate approach to marketing existing content. In other words, they found a new and highly relevant way to discuss not-so-new topics. They essentially rebranded some of their radio stations, temporarily, to reach a certain subset of users, by understanding not just what users are thinking about, but how they’re thinking about it.

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