Integrating holidays into your marketing provides an opportunity for businesses of all sizes in all industries, to creatively attract their target and hopefully generate some sales.
Valentine’s day is just around the corner! 2016 saw a record Valentine’s spend of close to US$20 billion, however, the National Retail Federation predicts a dip in spending in 2017.
According to their annual survey conducted in conjunction with Prosper Insights, American consumers are expected to spend an average $136.57, down from last year’s record-high $146.84. This will translate into a total spend of $18.2 billion, down from $19.7 billion last year.
What caused the record-breaking Valentine’s spend in 2016?
50% of consumers surveyed by the NRF last year, said they planned to spend on candy (US$1.7 billion). 40% of those planning on celebrating were treating their loved ones to a night out – be it at a restaurant or tickets to a show, equalling US$4.5 billion.
Another $4.4 billion will be spent on jewelry items, with nearly one in five (19.9%) planning to treat their significant other or family member to something precious; nearly half (47.9%) of those celebrating will spend $1.1 billion on greeting cards. Additionally, it is estimated $2 billion will be spent on apparel and $1.9 billion will be spent on flowers. – NRF 2016 Results
A notable change in consumer needs in 2016 was spotted by NRF, as they asked survey participants if they hope to receive an ‘experience’. 24% planned to give an ‘experience’ gift, whilst close to 40% wanted to receive one. This demonstrates a trend being witnessed by marketers across industries.
Consumers are increasingly looking for experiences. This trend has led to the birth and growth of Experiential Marketing. This is the act of creating unique, face-to-face experiences, instead of just sending messages to potential consumers. This trend is enabling marketers to communicate and interact with their consumers. Valentine’s day provides a perfect opportunity for experiential marketers.
Experiential marketing has become a feature of Valentine’s Day. In 2014, Coca-Cola created a virtual vending machine for couples. Hidden in a wall, a special sensor detected if a couple walked past. The machine would then appear, ask the couple their names to dispense two free drinks for them. Romantic music, fireworks, and a personalized experience.
Heineken is another company that has used Valentine’s Day to its advantage. Not considered a traditional player in the Valentine’s Day marketing game, the beer brand has used the day to change perceptions that this is a day for female-targeting brands only. Over the past few years, they have smartly combined digital and experiential marketing to pull off some of the most memorable Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns. One of our favorites was “The Serenade” campaign, a Facebook app that let people ask each other out on dates via a personalized message, sung by Paul “Kiss” Kissaun. The lyrics of the serenades were based on answers from a survey. Once completed they had to post on facebook if they got a yes or a no. In total, Heineken put together 640 different versions of the serenade in over 20 languages.
But, this was not just limited to facebook. A few days before the big day, Heineken hosted an eight-hour YouTube event, “Serenade Live”. During this eight-hour period, you had the chance to create live online serenades for your (or desired) Valentine.
In 2015, Ford created a unique campaign that saw several guys being pranked. Bringing whole new meaning to the idea of ‘Speed Dating’, Ford asked unsuspecting guys to meet up with a stunt driver for a date. Unsurprisingly, the video went viral recording over 15 million views.
This year, you can experience a date with Idris Elba who is raising money for Omaze’s “W.E. Can Lead” initiative. This initiative is working to ensure that girls get access to equal education opportunities in Africa.
What to watch out for with your Valentine’s Day marketing campaign?
Valentine’s Day is a feature of many a marketing campaign these days. Your inbox, favorite blogs, twitter feeds are likely to be filled with “Top 10 gift ideas for your guy”, “Get your last minute V-Day gift ideas here” or more recently, “Celebrate galentine’s day”.
If you’re planning a Valentine’s Day campaign, make sure its co-ordinated. Whatever channels you use, make sure to integrate your marketing platforms creatively and get them working together. Here are just a few ideas.
Firstly, Social Media is an obvious tool as a marketer to generate buzz around your Valentine’s Day campaign. Use a smart, short hashtag that attracts the attention of your target. For example,#loveRyanair. Ryanair, a famous Ireland-based low-cost airline company launched a competition on Twitter for their Valentine’s day campaign. They asked people to post pictures with their loved ones, asking them to pick their dream destination for a romantic holiday. The winner won tickets!
Smart imagery will make or break your social campaign. Think about the message you are trying to get across. If you are encouraging others to share their own imagery, make sure it’s easy to do, just like Ryanair’s campaign detailed above. Want to avoid all the hearts and roses? Many companies have turned away from the traditional Valentine’s Day imagery to great effect. Ford and Heineken are not traditional players, and yet both companies have used this holiday to boost brand recognition and sales over the years.
Don’t forget your calls-to-action in your social media messaging. As always, clear action is vital to ensure that your target moves through your marketing funnel. Use humor as well. The most successful social campaigns evoke an emotion, preferably a positive one. Jokes and humor work well for Valentine’s Day.
Email campaigns are always a great way of getting your message in front of your target if you have the right data and the right message. Inboxes will be flooded with cheesy subject lines, heart emoticons and romantic messages tomorrow. Creating original layout and copy, and most importantly an original subject line will be key to a successful Valentine’s Day email marketing campaign. Not only should the copy and layout be original, but it should also be personalized.
As with social media messaging, don’t forget your calls-to-action.
Most importantly for email marketing (especially on a holiday), sending the message at the right time is important. Consider when you are sending other emails to avoid sending too many messages at the same time. Also, consider at what times of the day are best for your target. You don’t want to be sent to spam or deleted!
Dedicated mailings can be a great way of cutting through the noise of holiday marketing. Although snail mail can be expensive and difficult to track, it is unique and can be personalized. Be smart about who you mail and what you mail.
To reinforce your mailing, social media and/or email Valentine’s day marketing campaigns, consider creating dedicated landing pages. This will help close the loop. You can continue the design elements throughout, add consistency to your messaging and also provide SEO value. Timely holiday campaigns can generate a lot of traffic, and boost your SEO as it will have high search volume.
Combine marketing channels, but also don’t forget to effectively measure the results of your Valentine’s Day marketing campaign. This will help you make smart marketing decisions in the future.
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