Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching, and whether you personally view it as the most romantic day of the year or an annual ordeal splashed with tacky red and pink decor, there's no question it can have a positive effect on many small businesses.
One of the best ways to take advantage of this potential bump in profitability is through e-mail marketing. E-mail, after all, is a very effective way to bring highly tailored messages to specific audiences. And since many people are prone to read into the gifts they receive from a significant or semi-significant other, it gives you an opportunity to target your customers and prospects in order to move them to action.
What follows are 12 things you should do, beginning today, to ensure your Valentine's Day doesn't pass with a lot of empty promises and wilted dreams:
1. Start now. We're mere weeks removed from the big day, so it's best to start compiling your copy, imagery, offers, and so forth immediately. While you obviously don't want to inundate your recipients by e-mail, a rough schedule could look something like this:
E-mail 1: Wednesday, February 3 (initial offer).
E-mail 2: Monday, February 8 (offer reminder).
E-mail 3: Friday, February 12 (second reminder).
E-mail 4: Wednesday, February 17 (follow-up e-mail thanking all customers who took advantage of the offer, and extending another offer to them).
2. Use a Valentine's Day template with a nice balance of valentine-specific copy and imagery to get people thinking about the occasion.
3. Segment your list. Split out your list by gender. Send female-oriented offers to the guys and male-oriented offers to the ladies. Do, however, think about your audience before doing this sort of segmentation; your offer may not be appropriate for all audiences.
4. Make sure your offer is compelling. Most people are still paying off their bills from the Christmas holiday season, so make sure the offer is affordable and is compelling enough to encourage them to act.
5. Partner with companies that offer complementary services or products for an offer that can't be ignored. Sample pairings: Spa services and a floral shop; a restaurant and a flower shop; a jewelry shop and spa services; a boutique hotel and a highly recommended restaurant; and so forth. Get creative, as the possibilities are endless.
6. Target a special e-mail to people who bought from you last year around Valentine's Day, presenting them with an even better offer. If the offer is right, they'll most likely buy from you again.
7. Make it super-easy for people to take advantage of your offer. If fulfillment is to come to the store, give clear directions or a store finder link. If by phone, make phone numbers prominent. If online, make the button or text link stand out in the e-mail. Best to place it as close to the upper-left corner of the message as possible. Printable coupons or promo codes always work well.
8. Use testimonials and reviews. Most people will buy if they know if another person has had a positive buying experience with your product or service. Highlight great reviews and testimonials in your e-mails to bolster the offer.
9. Give people Valentine's ideas in your next newsletter. How many times have you wondered what you're going to do for your significant other for Valentine's Day? Guys in particular often have a hard time coming up with ideas. Do the work for them—for example, provide a list of the top 10 best Valentine's Day dates or gifts.
10. Help spread your message to more people by using forward-to-a-friend functionality. Encourage people to forward your offer on by including forward-to-a-friend links.
11. Use e-mail to promote a special Valentine's Day draw to win a prize, thus collecting e-mails and growing your subscriber list.
12. Send a Happy Valentine's Day e-mail postcard to show customer appreciation. Thank loyal customers by providing complimentary redeemable points (if you have a points program) or a free gift for Valentine's Day. This supports customer retention.
The Valentine's Day colors may officially be red and pink. But follow the tips above and you're sure to be seeing green by the end of the day.
Wendy Lowe is director of product marketing for Campaigner, an e-mail marketing solution provided by Protus. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.