This article was co-authored by Ananda Farge and Keri Brooks.

Think the holidays are over? Think again! Heart-shaped chocolate boxes have already replaced Christmas decorations in major stores in preparation for Valentine’s Day. This year, an estimated $20 billion dollars is projected to be spent on Valentine’s Day in the United States alone, and businesses across all industries are finding ways to leverage the holiday to drive revenue. 

While email marketing for Valentine’s Day should definitely be on your agenda this quarter, there are plenty of additional opportunities to connect with your audience, provide value, and increase your conversion rate throughout Q1. 

Read on for recommendations for your V-day planning, as well as other holidays and seasonal moments you should consider incorporating in your marketing plans. 

Hit your February goals with these top Valentine’s Day Strategies:

Why you should send Valentine’s Day Campaigns

Consumers are spending more, especially on themselves. Look for opportunities to connect your brand to the concepts of ‘Treat Yourself’ and ‘Galentine’s Day’, along with the traditionally romantic gift-giving messages usually associated with Valentine’s Day. Broaden your reach—and your share of wallet—by marketing to gift-givers and self-gifters alike. As Leslie Knope put it, “It’s only the best day of the year!”

How to adopt Valentine’s Day if your company doesn’t provide traditional gifts:

Think of this holiday as a reason to show your subscribers some love. Inboxes will be overflowing with promotions, so ensure you’re capturing your slice of the heart-shaped pie. This can be achieved by sending a special offer to reward your VIP customers, providing curated content featuring “most-loved items”, or highlighting any work done by your company in the community. Valentine’s Day is more than a romantic holiday; it can also be a good opportunity to incorporate feel-good messaging into your campaigns.

Worried about the sensitive nature of this holiday? Utilize a preferences campaign:

Any holiday can be a painful period for a subset of your audience, and taking steps to allow subscribers to opt out of particular messages can go a long way toward building brand loyalty. Weeks prior to Valentine’s Day, start asking your contacts if they want to be excluded from receiving holiday messaging (and notating Valentine’s Day specifically). This can be easily accomplished by sending out a dedicated campaign that routes your contacts to a preference center where they can opt out of Valentine’s messages. Simply add these contacts to a Valentine’s Day suppression list, and make good on your promise by leaving them off of the distribution list for holiday-themed campaigns.

If you need more ideas, consider the following messaging tactics: 

    • Promote the sale of gift cards by highlighting how quick and efficient the process is for both the gifter and giftee.
    • Make it meaningful. Share what makes your brand or product unique to help connect the dots between your offerings and the special someone in your customer’s life.
    • Create one less step for the gifter by highlighting how you can enhance the experience of opening the gift with customized messages or gift wrap.
    • Promote your customer service team as ‘gift buying experts’. Open up a chat line via your existing support channels, Facebook Messenger, or SMS.
    • Utilize Gift Guides to make the buying process easy. Pick up the concepts used for Holiday Gift Guides from November and December.
    • Don’t forget the dog! Pets are part of the family and are becoming more and more important. In fact, the National Retail Federation reported consumers planned to spend $886M on their furry family members last year, a number that’s expected to increase in 2020.

Valentine’s Day not a fit for your brand? Think outside the box with campaigns or promotions centered around these holidays and events:

January

 

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 20) presents a prime opportunity for marketers to replace promotions with tributes to MLK, which provides a chance to express your brand’s origin story or community impact. If your brand doesn’t have a meaningful connection to Dr. King’s work, proceed with caution. Using the holiday for marketing purposes can come off as tone-deaf. When it doubt, proceed with a more generic “Long weekend sale”.

 

February

 

  • Groundhog Day (February 2) is an underutilized holiday that offers a fun opportunity to get creative with your promotions and messaging. Did the Groundhog see his shadow, or is spring coming early? Consider geo-targeting your list based on location to serve weather-specific content and product recommendations based on the Groundhog’s behavior. 
  • Mardi Gras (February 25) is another obscure holiday that gives brands an excuse to jazz up their email campaigns. Consider indulging your audience in a festival-themed Flash Sale.

 

March:  

 

  • March brings with it the end of Daylight Savings (March 8); it has “savings” right in the name, so the promotions pretty much write themselves. Brands can also craft messaging around the extra hour in the day, i.e. “more time to shop!”.
  • March also signals the start of Spring (March 19). This theme is a perfect tie in for brands launching new seasonal collections, but also offers the opportunity to promote cleaning/refreshing for the changing season, and to begin featuring content and products appropriate for warmer weather.
  • March also brings us the NCAA Tournament, aka March Madness (mid-February through early April).  The tournament spans multiple weeks, but luckily there’s no shortage of messaging options: ‘bracket busters’, ‘underdogs’ and more. For brands with local teams in the tourney, there are even more storytelling options. No matter what angle you take, be sure to avoid using the phrase March Madness in any promotional campaigns as the term is trademarked and actively policed.

While it can seem daunting to celebrate a holiday every month, take the time to plan ahead and incorporate holidays that best fit your brand.  Keep in mind that it is important to bring your subscriber value beyond just a promotion; use your email copy and brand mission to accomplish this. Embrace what the new year has to offer, and aim to become your subscribers’ favorite emails to open!

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