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Jan 14, 2008 | 6 minute read

20 Valentines Day Marketing Ideas for Ecommerce [UPDATED]

written by Linda Bustos

Today is January 14th, which means we’re only one month away from what some believe is the 2nd largest retailing event of the year. Last year, Valentine's Day raked in $905 Million in online sales. Though men are expected to spend the most on Valentine gifts and are stereotypically procrastinators, ecommerce marketers should not run a last-minute Valentine’s campaign. Today we'll talk about ways you can sell lovin' through email, social media and your website.

Interesting Statistics

Last year, Discovery Card conducted a Valentine's Day Shopping Survey and found that:

  • Men expected to spend an average of $127 on their ladies, and the ladies $74. Of the women, 53% said they would purchase gadgets for their men.
  • 65% would make their purchase one week before February 14
  • 10% of men would wait until February 14
  • 39% of women planned on spending nothing
  • 22% of men and 15% of women planned to purchase a gift online

What if you're not 1-800-Flowers -- can you still make Valentine's sales? Sure, you just need to be creative:

  • Kitchen items - sell the practical
  • Chick gadgets - digital photo frames, red or pink iPod accessories
  • Anything red
  • Funny novelty items like Celebriducks or Spider Catchers
  • Anything personalized - photo mugs, mousepads, keychains, gift boxes, initialed bowling balls (okay, maybe not)
  • Gift cards

Email Marketing

RetailEmail already spotted the first V-mail of the season from Oriental Trading on Wednesday, January 8. Last year Oriental Trading was also the first Valentine email -- on January 3. RetailEmail follows the email marketing activities of all of the top online retailers and last year posted a summary of Valentine email volume and found that 2/3 of Valentine promotions were sent in February, with heaviest volume on February 8 followed by the 6th and 12th:

Valentine’s Day Emails 2007

Do check out the entire post for excellent examples of Chad White's favorite campaigns and subject lines. Valentine Email Marketing Tips

  • Valentine's Day offers is one good reason to segment email lists by gender as men and women tend to buy different items
  • Mention shipping cutoff dates in your emails
  • Promote gift cards. Messaging like "always the perfect fit" or "for the woman who knows what she wants - even when you don't" are ideas
  • Create urgency and stress the benefits of getting things done now (and remind guys how annoying malls can be!)
  • Solve their problem in your headlines and email content messaging (like "Valentine's Dilemma? 12 No Brainer Gifts & Guaranteed Delivery")
  • Include gift finder images or links in your email if you have one
  • Slip in some customer reviews for the "don't take our word for it, take hers" touch
  • Promote e-gift certificates for last-minute shoppers or hard to shop for partners
  • If your email solution permits, send reminder emails right up until V-Day to recipients who haven't opened previous messages
  • If you can't segment your list by gender, don't assume your recipient is male
  • OneUpWeb reported last year that the heaviest Valentine's sales days are February 5 & 6 - keep that in mind
  • Most Valentine shopping is done from the office during week days (nearly impossible for sweetie to accidentally spot your browsing history) - keep that in mind too
  • Remember, you're competing with 1-800-Flowers, Harry and David who offer same-day shipping year round. If you can, offer free overnight shipping at the 11th hour
  • Don't forget that your affiliates could use a little help with product suggestions, banners and so on -- don't be a stranger

Search Marketing

It's safe to say not every guy (or girl) is on your email list, so you have to be search engine ready. And that means seasonal keyword research -- but, it's too late in the game to rank tops organically for "Valentine's Gifts" or "Valentine's Gift Ideas" and there's heavy competition in pay-per-click. However, you may find less competition in PPC by adding local keywords to your campaign. For example, "valentines gifts vancouver" shows only 3 results. If you sell anywhere online, doesn't matter. You could also create "tokenized" landing pages that include a sentence "(free) delivery to {city} if you purchase by XYZ." Yes it takes work, yes it's likely worth it. Another trick is to check out sites that do rank well for these popular seasonal terms. A lot of them are actually super affiliates, for example I found this site with a simple search for "valentine gift ideas." Scrolling to the bottom of the page I found a link where to add your products through the merchant center. You can get involved with a site like this right away even if you don't have a dedicated affiliate manager at this time. You'll can also piggyback comparison shopping engines' high rankings, PPC presence and loyal traffic if you're not already.

On Your Website

As with Christmas, you'll want to merchandise your best offers on the home page, provide clear shipping deadline information on every page, show item stock availability if you can, and cross-sell and upsell if your ecommerce software allows. These are the basics. Even better is to include a gift finder tool - either a page of your top picks (gift guide) or a more sophisticated, browsable database that allows customers to narrow results by gift recipient, personality, price or category.

1-800-Flowers Gift Finder

Social Networks (AKA Facebook)

Facebook offers very simple advertising options for online retailers that you can target by gender, location, age, relationship status and even by interests. Because Facebook requires a minimum amount of this information, the ad delivery is pretty accurate. If you're a jewelry retailer, you can filter out the teenagers who can't afford your goods, single guys and females for ads showing gifts for women. And run another campaign for non-single females 24+ showing gift ideas for guys. Facebook flyers are fairly cheap to run, quick to create and appear as Facebook users navigate from newsfeed to profile to applications. Many people believe that Facebook is a useless medium to advertise, but with Valentine's day (or any holiday) - sometimes people need to be reminded even if they're not actively searching for something at the time. So keep that in mind when crafting your creative. "3 Days Until...Valentine's Day. Find The Perfect Gift Today -- Or It Could Be Your Last."You can also advertise on applications themselves. Popular with the males are Flixter, SuperPoke, iLike, Texas Hold 'Em Poker, PetrolHead, Vampires, Slayers and Werewolves. "Meet People" and "Are You Interested" are just as popular - but probably the wrong audience for this one. And let's face it. Most guys check Facebook more often than their email.

The Ecommerce Edge Over Local Stores

There's one definite advantage etailers have over mall stores. Guys hate malls. You are providing an alternative to going to the mall. Run with it.

Is Your Brand Ready To Win Hearts On Valentine's Day?