February 13, 2017
Love isn’t just in the air, it’s in your inbox too. Each February, businesses from every industry attempt to win customers with a Valentine’s Day email marketing campaign — but Cupid’s arrow doesn’t always hit the mark.
To make sure you’re on-target, we scoured our inboxes for creative examples from brands who know how to get subscribers to open their hearts and their wallets. Some use proven marketing concepts, while others tap into the power of gratitude. Whatever tactic they choose, you can be sure it’s an effective one worth using in your next Valentine’s Day email marketing campaign.
Email Marketing Ideas for Valentine’s Day
1. Diamond Candles
Why we love this Valentine’s Day marketing email: This is a great example of a company that realizes how it fits into the Valentine’s Day mix. Chocolates, flowers, dinner out — they’re the first things people think of when they hear “February 14th.” Candles, on the other hand, are a gift that’s a little less obvious. With this email, Diamond Candles has thrust their product to the forefront of subscribers’ minds with personalized, “handpicked” gift ideas for the holiday. They’re also offering a generous “buy one get one free” deal on select candles.
What could be improved: This “buy one get one” deal is great. Everybody loves free stuff, especially on a holiday that can cost you a fortune in gifts. So why hide it below the fold?
Biggest takeaway: Nearly any product can be a Valentine’s Day gift. Get creative to figure out how your offer fits into the holiday.
Why we love this Valentine’s Day email: At the sight of a subject line reading “What’s that stain?”, curiosity takes over and you can’t help but want to find out what’s inside the email. And when you do, you’re not disappointed. Before even trying to land a sale, the brand offers valuable tips for cleaning three common Valentine’s Day messes. Thanks, Method.
What could be improved:
Relying on curiosity to get your email opened is a dangerous thing. The best subject lines strike a balance between curiosity and self-interest. “What’s that stain” doesn’t answer the question that every subscriber asks before opening an email: “What’s in it for me?” If they’re not going to get anything out of it, why take the time to open the email and read?
The biggest takeaway: Your offer might be valuable, but no one will see it if your subject line isn’t perfect. Use curiosity, but don’t rely on it to get clickthroughs. Make sure your subscribers know why they should spend their time reading it.
3. Williams Sonoma
Why we love this Valentine’s Day email: Think Williams Sonoma is having a Valentine’s Day sale? With four different mentions of a “25% off” discount, there’s no way it’s missed by anyone. A bar code also makes it easy for readers to print and claim their discount in-store, and the use of scarcity makes it more likely they do. In two days this deal will be over, cue FOMO (fear of missing out).
What could be improved: Filled with busy photos, countless calls-to-action and all-caps lettering, this email feels a little cluttered to us. With so many elements vying for our attention, where do we click?
The biggest takeaway: Make claiming your product easy for your subscribers. Convincing them to pull out their credit card is hard enough — don’t make it hard for them to figure out how to use it.
4. Diamond Candles (again)
Why we love this Valentine’s Day email: They’re back with another great Valentine’s Day email — but this time, Diamond Candles is doing something different. Not only are they offering a discount, indicated by giant title text, but they’re saving their readers the embarrassment of ordering a gift that doesn’t show up on time. “Order by 2⁄7 to get your gift on time with standard shipping” lets procrastinators know the last minute they can purchase online to have their gift delivered by the 14th.
What could be improved: A limited-time offer will trigger the FOMO in your prospects’ heads, but in order to work well, it should have a date attached to it. “Gone in a heartbeat”? The language is a cute reference to Valentine’s Day, but it’s likely made at the expense of clicks. “How long does this flash sale last?” subscribers wonder. “Eh, I’ll shop later.”
The biggest takeaway: Look out for your subscribers. A helpful reminder like the one in this email goes a long way toward gaining their loyalty. Also, “clear” is always better than “cute” when it comes to sending marketing messages. “Heartbeat” would’ve been better replaced with an actual date.
Why we love this Valentine’s Day email: Offering a discount is always a great way to start a product email, but the best part of this message isn’t the $5 off, or the free shipping on orders $50 or more — it’s the subtle insult aimed at traditional Valentine’s Day gifts.
“Better than melted chocolate,” relates to a problem that most everyone has probably run into at least once. The back of a mail truck isn’t the safest place for chocolates. Later in the email, “make a lasting impression” lands one last jab before calling the reader to action. It says, in other words, “those chocolates will be gone in a day, but a subscription box is the gift that gives every month.”
What could be improved: Why is the “Free shipping on orders $50 or more” so small? If you’re offering a discount, no matter what it is, it’s worth making people aware of in writing bigger than size 5 font.
The biggest takeaway: Don’t try to be something you’re not. If you don’t offer traditional Valentine’s Day gifts, don’t try to. Be better than chocolates and flowers.
Why we love this Valentine’s Day email: Right now your inbox is full of deals on chocolate and flowers, and FromYouFlowers knows that, which is why they use a few powerful marketing techniques to get you to choose them over the other guys.
Scarcity: A limited-time credit pressures subscribers into purchasing a gift before February 9th at midnight.
Social proof: Text at the bottom of the email inspires trust in two ways — first by showcasing praise from CNBC, an authoritative and well-known brand, and then by letting subscribers know that FromYouFlowers has satisfied over 5 million customers.
A guarantee: Worried your flowers aren’t going to make it to your Valentine on time? You won’t have to when you order florist arranged flowers. With a guarantee from the brand, you can be sure your gift arrives the same day it’s ordered.
What could be improved: Social proof is a powerful persuader, but its placement in this email could be more prominent. As is, there’s a chance subscribers don’t even scroll deep enough to see it.
The biggest takeaway: If you’re one of the countless brands selling chocolate and flowers on Valentine’s Day, make sure you differentiate yourself from the competition.
Why we love these Valentine’s Day emails: Valentine’s Day isn’t just for retailers…or humans either. LittleThings knows that, which is why they used this email campaign to send subscribers content relating to crafts and recipes for the holiday. This is another great example of both knowing what your audience wants, and how your brand fits into the holiday.
What could be improved: We tried to be picky here, but there’s very little to improve. They don’t even use stock photos for these featured images! Credit where it’s due, this email gets an “A” from us.
The biggest takeaway: Publishers, not just retailers, can get in on Valentine’s Day email marketing too.
Why we love this Valentine’s Day email: The panicked partner who forgot to mark February 14th on their calendar will love this one. Affordable picks from “travel experts” make great last-minute gifts. Instead of saying “oops” when you’re handed that box of chocolates, reciprocate with “I booked us a trip!”
What could be improved: This attempt at scarcity isn’t fooling anyone. “Hurry, deals are going fast”? Are they? Or are discounted rooms filling up? Even then, do you think people are going to believe there won’t be any rooms left in San Francisco or Miami if they don’t book immediately? Probably not.
The biggest takeaway: Offer something your competitors can’t. Free shipping and same-day shipping are great, but they’re not better than no shipping. Trip bookings are the ultimate last-minute gift.
11. Erie Family Health Center
Why we love this Valentine’s Day email: The feels! Oh, the feels! This is the only Valentine’s Day email we found that actually shows gratitude to its subscribers. In a healthcare provider, you’re looking for a team that cares, and this email shows that that Erie’s does. Sure, it was likely sent to every customer, but the thought is what counts. There are no attempts at selling upgraded plans or added policies in here — just a genuine “thank you” from the team.
What could be improved Could the design here be a little more engaging? Sure, but the warm and fuzzy sentiment more than makes up for that.
The biggest takeaway: Customer loyalty greatly impacts your bottom line. Make sure your customers stick with you by showing appreciation for them on a day that’s dedicated to people you care about.
Why we love this Valentine’s Day email: This email does more than sell. Like the Method stain-remover email, it offers genuine help to its subscribers. Finding the perfect date idea is never easy, so these suggestions will be well-received.
What could be improved: This email is packed with a lot of similar offers. A wider variety would likely catch the attention of more subscribers.
The biggest takeaway: Be genuinely helpful to your subscribers. Whether you’re helping them remove a stain or find the perfect date idea, they’ll appreciate it more than when you strictly try to sell to them.
Why we love this Valentine’s Day email: To some couples, the ideal date is a night spent on the town, but to others, it’s a night spent cuddling on the couch eating takeout in front of the TV. Avoid lines and the cold by getting food delivered to your door with a 10% discount, courtesy of GrubHub.
What could be improved: This call-to-action is relevant to the offer, but does it get subscribers as excited as they could to claim the offer? What do they really want, to make reservations or to get 10% off their order on the 14th? Make sure you emphasize in your call-to-action what the benefit of claiming your offer is. This one might perform better if it read “Send My 10% Discount Code,” and not in all-caps like the current one. As is, it reads like it’s commanding the visitor. “MAKE A RESERVATION, OR ELSE!”
The biggest takeaway: Traditional Valentine’s gifts aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Chocolates melt, flowers wilt, and nights out in February are cold. How is your offer better?
Why we love this Valentine’s Day email: This email’s for all the single people in the house. EatWith was the first brand we noticed didn’t forget about all the unattached subscribers on the internet. Shouldn’t they be allowed to enjoy a Valentine’s dinner too?
What could be improved: The CTAs for these events could be clearer. Where do we click to sign up?
The biggest takeaway: Include everyone in your Valentine’s Day marketing — all the single ladies and all the single fellas. In this case, how are they supposed to find someone to spend next February 14th with if they’re sitting at home on the couch?
Why we love this Valentine’s Day email: Not every brand can offer something for everyone, but big retailers like Amazon can. If your shelves are stocked with a range of gifts, let your subscribers know. Kids deserve to be shown some love, too.
What could be improved: The subject line here could be a little more engaging than “Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas.” Even something as simple as “Out of gift ideas? Everything you need for Valentine’s Day inside…” is a more lively alternative.
The biggest takeaway: A box of chocolates is the Valentine’s Day gift choice of most, but some people like to think outside the box. If you offer more than that, let them know.
Make a lasting impression with your Valentine’s Day email marketing
Nail your Valentine’s Day email marketing campaign by keeping the following tips in mind:
Be yourself. If you can’t offer something traditional to Valentine’s Day, then don’t try to. If you do sell chocolates and flowers, then differentiate yourself from the competition creatively the way FromYouFlowers did in the example above.
Show gratitude. Valentine’s day is about offering appreciation to the people you care about, and if you care about your business, you need to care about your customers. Loyal customers are more valuable than new ones. Keep yours coming back with a heartfelt message like the one from Erie Family Health.
Don’t oversell. Yes, the ultimate goal of your Valentine’s Day campaign is to boost your bottom line, but shoving products down your customers’ throats in an email that reads like a desperate car salesman trying to meet a quota? That’s now how to do it. The best examples above contain content that’s genuinely helpful to subscribers. Amazon offers a range of gifts, Groupon compiles date ideas for two, and Method offers cleaning tips. How can you help your customers?
Include everybody. Yes, Valentine’s Day is traditionally for couples, but your single customers have wallets too. They still like chocolate, flowers, and dining out on February 14th. Don’t completely exclude them in your messaging.
Do you have any tips for better Valentine’s Day email marketing? Let us know in the comments, then use Autopilot to start spreading the love with personalized emails based on your customers’ behavior.