6 Refreshing Valentine’s Day Ecommerce Campaigns (that will boost your online sales).

You can’t deny that Valentine’s Day is an emotive holiday, meaning very different things to different people.

Primarily, there is the obvious divide between those in a relationship and those who are not, however there are so many other variations of how people will respond the holiday which are often overlooked by retailers in favor of giant red love hearts and rose petals.

It’s a forgivable faux pas, however, given that the holiday has been eclipsed by cliché for decades.

It’s hard to think outside the box when everywhere you look the boxes are heart-shaped.

Over the years we have seen some incredibly effective TV and social media ad campaigns around this period, which undoubtedly tug on the old heartstrings and bring household brands even further into our affections. We know that not every retailer has the budget or resource to run prime-time TV ads. Luckily, you can have tremendous success if you develop a targeted digital campaign. We’ve devised some ecommerce campaign ideas that (we think!) are pretty refreshing and may just help you gain that competitive edge this Valentine’s.

When it comes to ecommerce campaigns, many retailers head down the route of finding all Valentine’s Day inspired merchandise and offering a discount with a fittingly conventional promo code. Don’t get me wrong, discounts and promotions on holiday-appropriate products are great, however this strategy instantly throws you into the mix with (pretty much) every other retailer. The likely outcome? Non-brand loyal customers will simply shop around and spend their money with the retailer offering the best discount.

This strategy also means you are only targeting those who are already looking to spend on holiday-related merchandise. Unlocking both these customers AND those who may either need a little persuasion or may not be in the market for ‘traditional’ purchases is where the power of the holiday campaign truly lies.

1. It’s a Date.

Valentine’s Day lands on a Tuesday this year, which means that people may be celebrating the weekend prior, midweek and the weekend after. This means you need to be running your campaigns well in advance, as well as ensuring you have delivery options available that mean customers can shop with you even up to the 17th February and still receive their goods in time for exchanging gifts or treating themselves.

In addition to knowing when people will likely to celebrating the holiday, you can also easily assume what they may be doing to celebrate.

Most couples will be heading out for a meal, to the cinema or weekend away for Valentine’s Day. If you are a fashion retailer, why not promote ‘date’ outfits with free express delivery when you spend over X, or BOGOF offers on weekend away luggage or matching dressing gowns.

Two-thirds of people say they are planning to eat out on Valentine’s Day, but only 28 percent will spend more than £50 on the occasion according to a survey by daily deals website Groupon (Emma Eversham, Feb ’15).

But remember, it’s not just about the couples! Valentine’s weekends are also extremely popular with people heading out for girls nights, or family day trips. Target these customers with ‘party wear’, cocktail making blog posts or you could even sign up with local family attractions to offer discounted vouchers if a customer spends over a certain amount with you.

Now that you’re thinking about what people may be doing over this period, it’s time for you to get creative and stand out from your competitors with relatable promotions.

2. Ice-cream with a cliché on top.

Not everyone will be celebrating this holiday and not all those shunning the holiday are lonely females weeping into their Ben and Jerrys. It’s time to ditch the clichés and focus on how your core message can be adapted to meet unconventional demands that the holiday brings about, rather than shoe-horning a campaign that bears marginal relevance to what you are actually selling.

If those who are avoiding the holiday are staying at home instead, why not run discounts on ‘night in’ favourites such as popcorn bowls, console games, pampering products or board games.

You can pretty much guarantee that everyone visiting your site will know that Valentine’s Day is approaching and they may or may not have plans with a romantic acquaintance – this is something you won’t know for sure, or will you? Consider running an email campaign to your database at the beginning of February running a competition with two distinct prizes – a couple’s weekend away or a gourmet night in. Use the data collected from this email campaign to segment your database and personalize what your customers see when they next visit your website.

For new visitors or those who did not choose to enter your competition – let your Valentine’s deal speak for itself, without going overboard on the holiday specific marketing.

3. The Greatest Gift of All.

One of the biggest concerns when shopping for gifts is the worry that you’ll ‘get it wrong’. Sometimes knowing which brands or retailers the giftee likes isn’t enough, and the overwhelming choice available on many sites may prove too much and result in complete abandonment.

If you have the resources and capabilities to do so, why not set up a campaign whereby the gift recipient is invited to create their own gift box or bundle on the website. Perhaps allow the gifter to configure the total spend, choose which products can be added to the bundle or even the ability to choose how the gift box is gift-wrapped.

While this example may require a little thought and forward–planning, vouchers and ecards still make fantastic gifts and with the clever use of onsite and offsite marketing to target those who may have never visited your site before, but do so in the run up to Valentine’s, or those who have abandoned their carts, it can be an extremely effective way of quickly converting those who are keen to take the pressure off the search for the perfect gift!

4. #SpreadtheLove.

Utilize the power of social sharing, gamification and ‘novelty’ campaigns and spread the word of your Valentine’s campaign or promotion via social channels. Add more power behind the message by incentivizing potential customers (and their friends) to share and spend with you by offering discounts, rewards or the ‘chance to win’.

These days, Valentine’s Day doesn’t always have to refer solely to romantic love, with people publicly expressing their love for their friends, family, pets and even themselves!

Take note from previous successful campaigns like Revlon’s ‘Love Is On’ TV ad and social campaign, where people uploaded pictures of themselves blowing a kiss to the camera alongside the hashtag #chooselove. The participants’ photos were then featured on the website, raising the brand’s profile and driving traffic to the site.

Take this one step further by setting up a ‘share the love’ campaign, with each party receiving a reward for their custom, such as £10 off when you spend over X for the friend and a £10 voucher to spend online as a thank you for the referrer.

Further encourage customers to share content with their friends and family by giving them a way of personalizing the share and relating it back to their friendship. For example, why not ask them to complete the sentence ‘love is…’ with one word that sums up their friendship. This could then be used when the promotional content is shared, adding much more value to the engagement.

5. Lead the Revolution.

There is increasing apathy toward the commercialised campaigns that are frequently rolled out during various holidays, as in actual fact they bear no resemblance to the social climate the rest of the year, and therefore won’t resonate with your audience.

Why not try a completely different angle this year, especially if your previous Valentine’s Day campaigns have not proved overly effective or if your product offering doesn’t lend itself to the traditional merchandise associated with Valentine’s Day.

Have a little fun with alternative, or even anti-Valentines, messages and see if doing so opens up a whole world of opportunity to promote items that wouldn’t typically be associated with the day itself. For example, ‘Love is not just for Valentine’s Day’ could make way for a promotion focussed on items that are completely appropriate for the everyday relationships and quality family time, and not just as gifts for the holiday. Outdoor activity clothing and equipment for day trips and picnics in the countryside, home media tech for movie nights, board games for ‘offline’ family fun, dining tables and dinnerware for family meals together, kitchen accessories and recipe books, arts, crafts, sports and so on.

Alternatively, running a campaign with a message like ‘Get them what they really want this Valentine’s Day’ allows you to be really flexible and fill in the gaps with whatever is appropriate to your store. For example, ‘finally get round to fixing…’ would work really well for DIY, home and garden stores.

6. Put the Passion Back in Compassion.

Studies show that consumers have a much more positive image of company or brand when they demonstrate corporate social responsibility, and by implementing charity donations at checkout, you’re also more likely to see a reduction cart abandonments and increase in sales as a result.

This Valentine’s Day, why not partner up with a charity to run a campaign over the period, during which you’ll donate a portion of each £ spent with you online.

It may not seem like the obvious choice for a Valentine’s campaign, however showing you care and encouraging others to help you spread the love in support of local or national charities will inevitably get people talking and sharing your content over social media, and most importantly, spending on your store.