It hap­pens every year, but some­how it always comes as a sur­prise. Right on the heels of the hol­i­day rush, the sec­ond win­ter gift­ing event creeps up on us. Valentine’s Day may not have the scope or fan­fare of Christ­mas, but it presents a valu­able oppor­tu­nity to savvy mar­keters. Gen­er­at­ing $18.6 bil­lion in esti­mated sales last year, the roman­tic hol­i­day prompts peo­ple to spend an aver­age of $130 on loved ones.

As Cupid takes aim, let’s recap some tried-and-true ways to tar­get your Valentine’s Day campaigns.

Know Who You’re Courting

Unlike Christ­mas, when peo­ple are buy­ing for every­one from moth­ers to mail­men, Valentine’s Day is a much more tar­geted, one-to-one shop­ping expe­ri­ence. Most peo­ple are look­ing for the per­fect gift for a spouse or sig­nif­i­cant other. When plan­ning your mar­ket­ing cam­paign, con­sider these key segments:

  • Age: A shopper’s age will impact the type and amount of his or her pur­chases. For instance, whereas a middle-aged cou­ple may have the money to spend on a roman­tic get­away or sec­ond hon­ey­moon, young adults are more likely to pur­chase flow­ers, cards, candy, or other smaller gifts.
  • Gen­der: Men typ­i­cally spend twice as much as women on Valentine’s gifts, so con­sider tai­lor­ing your cam­paign to fea­ture higher price points for male cus­tomers. Gender-specific cam­paigns may also use dif­fer­ent con­tent strate­gies because men and women tend to respond bet­ter to par­tic­u­lar types of messaging.
  • Activ­ity and inter­est: Con­sider tar­get­ing sub­scribers based on recent inter­ac­tion with your emails and web­site. You can base this on broader data, such as cus­tomers who clicked on an email link or searched for a cer­tain key­word. Also, nar­row your focus based on which prod­ucts or pages users viewed, both within the same ses­sion and in sub­se­quent vis­its as they inter­act with the site in real time.

Aim for a Mov­ing Target

You already know that cus­tomers are shop­ping with mobile devices, and that trend con­tin­ues with Valentine’s Day. Shop­pers often use their smart­phones at brick-and-mortar loca­tions to hunt for online coupons, check for lower prices at other stores, or read prod­uct reviews before head­ing to the check­out counter. Are you tai­lor­ing your mar­ket­ing cam­paigns accordingly?

Don’t make the mis­take of using the same cam­paign to tar­get all devices. Instead, cre­ate sep­a­rate ver­sions that tar­get spe­cific devices, such as PCs, tablets, and smart­phones. Mes­sag­ing should vary for mobile, too. Shop­pers on smart­phones are primed for pro­mo­tions and price com­par­isons, so give them what they’re look­ing for. And if you’re brick-and-mortar, be sure to con­sider geolo­ca­tion for tar­geted push mes­sag­ing or iBea­con tech­nol­ogy for in-store marketing.

Tim­ing Is Everything

Cus­tomers like to be wined and dined. Plan an extended cam­paign that slowly warms up the recip­i­ent, deliv­ers per­son­al­ized gift ideas, and then pro­vides a smooth, flaw­less shop­ping experience.

Here’s an exam­ple of one strat­egy to consider:

  • Cupid’s Com­ing: First thing in Feb­ru­ary, remind shop­pers that Valentine’s Day is just around the cor­ner. Pro­vide some sub­tle prod­uct sug­ges­tions with links to var­i­ous areas of the site.
  • The Courtship Begins: Based on click­throughs from the first email or onsite pro­mo­tion, fol­low up with more overt gift sug­ges­tions. Lever­ag­ing data from pre­vi­ous site vis­its, start romanc­ing your prod­ucts to appeal to buy­ers’ emo­tions. You can incor­po­rate a tool like Adobe Target’s Rec­om­men­da­tions to serve up rel­e­vant cross-sells or upsells.
  • Clock’s Tick­ing: Early to mid-February is a key time in a Valentine’s cam­paign, with 50 per­cent of Valentine’s gifts pur­chased the week before the hol­i­day. Until now, you’ve been adjust­ing your aim—now it’s time to release some arrows. Offer an entic­ing dis­count, pro­mo­tion, or perk to win over even the most skep­ti­cal cus­tomers. To avoid bom­bard­ing active shop­pers, tar­get only those who haven’t pur­chased yet.
  • Save the Day: If you offer elec­tronic gift cards or prod­ucts that can be pur­chased at a local retail store, send a last-minute email or mobile app push noti­fi­ca­tion as a reminder to buy before it’s too late.

Wrap It Up

Con­clude the cam­paign by thank­ing buy­ers for their pur­chases, ask­ing for feed­back, and offer­ing post­sale sup­port. To deter­mine over­all cam­paign per­for­mance, look at the data holis­ti­cally, and use it to make smarter mar­ket­ing deci­sions and to more effec­tively opti­mize future campaigns.

Lever­ag­ing these tar­get­ing tips, you’ll be sure to win the hearts of more cus­tomers this Valentine’s Day. Have fun and be creative—but, as always, keep the data well within your sights as you take aim.