Heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and huggable teddy bears have already filled the aisles. Shoppers have shifted away from searching for the perfect gift to put under the tree to hunting for romantic gifts for that special someone. While Valentine’s Day shopping does not reach the fevered pitch of the major fall and winter holidays, it is still a major gifting event that deserves a solid strategic plan. In 2014, online sales jumped 8% during the week of Valentine’s Day, according to IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark report. With conveniences such as in-store pick-up and inexpensive rush shipping options, shoppers no longer feel as much pressure with last-minute shopping and may wait until close to Feb. 14 to buy lovey-dovey gifts.
A first step to developing your Valentine’s Day plan of attack is to review what worked for your brand during the 2014 holiday season. You undoubtedly tried several promotional tactics, featured new services and amplified your marketing messages across every channel to try to bring in holiday sales. The good news is you won’t have to pull out all the stops to capture Cupid’s arrow. By focusing on the strategies that increased engagement and drove holiday sales, you can charm your shoppers into saying “I do” to buying from your brand.
Here are a few of the top tactics from the holidays that can be adapted for your Valentine’s Day promotions:
Many Valentine’s shoppers could use a little help to find the perfect gift for their special someone. The pressure to impress can lead many shoppers to stress out over finding the right way to show the other person how much they care. Assist these overwhelmed shoppers by offering shopping tools that help them hone in on a narrower selection of items. Give shoppers a way to shop by price, but don’t undercut the order value by focusing on low dollar amounts. Use ranges that cover a variety of products but explore higher-dollar options and leave the final dollar amount open ended, like “$500 and up” rather than “$500 or less.”
Many Valentine’s shoppers will be interested in buying items they would not typically buy for themselves. Gather your product experts – everyone from fashionistas to stylists to gourmets to gadget gurus – to showcase which products are on-trend. Rather than just featuring a standard product image, enlist your experts to show how a product is used or list their favorite features. This can help the shopper better understand how your product will be loved by their other half.
Heighten the urgency to buy by reminding shoppers about shipping deadlines for Valentine’s Day delivery. Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday in 2015, which could impact you if your shipping options are restricted to business days. While featuring these deadlines can help drive sales, you can make the message even more powerful by coupling the dates with other fulfillment options, such as scheduled delivery, expedited shipping and in-store pick-up. With so many shoppers scrambling at the last minute to buy Valentine’s Day gifts, you could see a boost in online conversions for in-store pick-up during Valentine’s weekend.
Help your Valentine’s Day shoppers buy with confidence by reinforcing your commitment to customer satisfaction. Feature your return and exchange policies to calm the nerves of shoppers who aren’t sure if their gift will be a hit or a miss. Dedicate more space to customer service contact options such as live chat, phone numbers, and FAQs or let them know how they can reach out to their nearest store to get answers. Other services, such as gift wrapping and reorder reminders, could give undecided shoppers a reason to submit their order.
Your Valentine’s Day strategy should not be limited to these three tactics. Explore the top-performing campaigns from the holidays to see how you can translate them from fun and festive to cute and cuddly. Strategies like targeted re-mailings to subscribers based on how they are shopping or buying can boost sales. Design choices, such as animation or love-themed navigation elements, could help your shoppers start feeling the love. Don’t be a fuddy-duddy and wait until the last minute! Now is the time to put some sugar on top of your Valentine’s Day plan.
Jim Davidson is Head of Research for Bronto Software