We’re coming up on the end of 2018, and that means it’s time for online retailers to start thinking about how they’re going to position themselves for Valentine’s Day sales — and yes, it’s worth planning this early. In 2018, Valentine’s Day was responsible for injecting more than $19.6 billion into the United States economy, nearing the record $19.7 billion spent in 2017. It’s a massive opportunity for online retailers, and if you want to make the most of it, you’ll need to start now.
Why think about Valentine’s Day sales now?
Why is it important to start this early?
Brand equity and familiarity
The longer you have to market your online retail company in line with Valentine’s Day imagery and themes, the more you’ll be able to develop customers’ associations with your brand. Given enough priming, eventually your followers will think of your brand whenever they think of Valentine’s Day sales, giving you an advantage over your competitors.
If you’re interested in increasing your site’s search rankings for Valentine’s Day-specific keywords and phrases, you’ll need at least a few weeks — if not a few months — of prep time. It takes time to cultivate content and develop your relevance for specific keywords, so having the few extra months of momentum can really pay off for you.
Starting your marketing campaigns early can also give you more information about what’s going to be popular this year. Sending out a handful of different test emails to your core demographics can inform you which of your products seem to be most popular, and how people may respond to your specials. If your initial ideas fail to catch on, you’ll have plenty of time to change them. If they generate lots of interest, you’ll have time to flesh them out further, and integrate them into more marketing channels.
Ample shipping time
If you’re anticipating a flood of orders for Valentine’s Day sales, starting early can relieve some of the pressure on your company. You’ll get a more even distribution of orders leading up to the big day. This gives you more time to ship, more time to make up for mistakes, and less chaos in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.
The art of escalation
Starting early also gives you plenty of time and flexibility to escalate your campaign. Two months out, you can start sending teasers about the upcoming holiday, hinting that it’s just around the corner without explicitly announcing any sales or specials.
As it gets closer, you can rotate in some of your best deals and increase both the frequency and spending of your advertising campaign. Then, when the holiday is only a week away, you can start pushing for last-minute gift advertising, and catering to procrastinators with things like free expedited shipping.
Marketing ideas for Valentine’s Day sales
If you need help getting started with some marketing and advertising ideas, here are a few to get your wheels turning:
Build a separate category
First, consider creating a new page or a separate section of your site, specifically dedicated to Valentine’s Day sales. Not only will it help your site rank for Valentine’s Day-specific keywords, it will also give visitors a chance to check out your best offerings all in one place.
Tell a story
Valentine’s Day is a romantic and emotional holiday, which means people will likely respond better to emotional, personal stories than they will a generic marketing campaign. Integrate storytelling into your advertising however you can; that may mean asking for stories from couples in your target demographics, or telling a hypothetical story about a customer purchasing your products. Just make sure it’s relatable, and that it ties into the holiday in some significant way.
Don’t forget about singles
It’s easy to focus almost exclusively on romantic couples during the Valentine’s Day season, but don’t neglect the single people in your audience. Celebrating self-love, or themes like “Galentine’s Day” is a perfect opportunity to ensure that all segments of your target demographics can be a part of the holiday.
Use messaging that encourages self-esteem and self-care, and offer products that an individual could use to spoil themselves — it will distinguish you from your competition and ensure your brand remains seen in a positive light.
Highlight your most original gifts
You won’t be the only online retailer marketing and advertising for Valentine’s Day sales. If you don’t take specific measures to ensure your brand stands out, you’ll blend in as white noise and customers won’t see you as being any different than your competitors.
Any step you take to be different will be rewarded with more memorability, and a greater likelihood of winning sales over the competition.
Play up “his and hers” sets
Valentine’s Day sales are the perfect opportunity to upsell people with “his and hers” sets of your most popular items. Selling your best-selling products in pairs could instantly double your sales, while encouraging customers to celebrate their loved ones at the same time.
Think outside the box
People aren’t confined to spending money on themselves or significant others for Valentine’s Day. Research suggests that people increase spending on friends, classmates, coworkers and even pets. In addition to celebrating couples and singles, experiment with sending out emails and creating advertisements that encourage people to buy gifts for the other special people in their lives. Again, testing this concept early can provide you with sufficient data to adjust your strategy in time for the big push leading up to the holiday, so start brainstorming ideas now.
It may seem too early to start planning for Valentine’s Day sales, but it’s almost never too early to plan your strategy. The better prepared you are, and the more time you have to ramp up your campaign, the more people you’ll reach, and the stronger your online retail brand will become.