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.