SMS Marketing for Valentine’s Day 2021: Original Data, Strategies, and Advice from Ecommerce Brands and Experts

Corinne Watson

Reading Time: 8 minutes

January is considered a bit of a respite for online shoppers. Still enjoying their gifts from the winter holidays, consumer spending slows down — if only for a few weeks.

But February is a different story — especially for people in relationships. February 14th 2021 will be different for many people: take-out instead of sit-down restaurants, cooking classes instead of a night on the town, or virtual celebrations with those who are distanced. Even though many of us are still staying home and not socializing as often as we used to, people still are finding ways to show appreciation to their near and far loved ones.

As we saw during Cyber Week 2020, online shopping is in it’s biggest heyday as more and more consumers swap in-store visits with website clicks.

While it’s a bit irresponsible to make predictions after the wild year of 2020, there are a few ‘knowns’:

People have increasingly spent more on Valentine’s Day year over year for the past 4 years. In 2020, NRF reported that shoppers planned on spending 21% more on Valentine’s Day compared to previous years.

Source: Statista

People are shopping online more than ever, especially due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The frequency of online shopping increased more with Gen-Z and Millennials.

Source: RAND Corporation

Valentine’s Day promotions may focus on percent off, special products, or something else.
A marketing strategy isn’t complete without a way to let customers know about these special deals.

That’s where SMS marketing comes in. SMS is still a relatively new channel for a lot of ecommerce brands — and we predict that 2021 will be a year where a lot of people will start to use SMS to communicate with their customers around holiday promotions.

Here we’ve gathered a list of best practices for using SMS for Valentine’s Day messaging. You’ll find quotes and examples from leading brands who have aced their SMS strategy in addition to a few takeaways you can use if you want to craft a Valentine’s Day SMS strategy of your own. Consider this your one-stop shop for Valentine’s Day SMS marketing ideas.

Let’s dive in.

Valentine’s Day 2020: A Recap

One easy way to determine what you should do for Valentine’s Day this year is to look back at what happened last year.

We took a look at brands on the Postscript platform in February 2020 and discovered some fun facts:

  1. The ❤️ emoji was by far the most popular, accounting for 17% of all emojis used in Valentine’s Day-related campaigns.
  2. Other popular emojis? ❤️, 😍,🎉, 💞,💓,💕, 💘, 🎁, 😘, 💗, and 💖 were all used frequently as well.
  3. The overall top store categories sending Valentines’ day campaigns were Apparel (48%), Home Goods (22%). The third-most popular category shifted during the transition from “early-bird” campaigns to week-of-holiday campaigns. The earlier campaigns were more focused in cosmetic/beauty products (9% of early campaigns), while there was a spike in campaigns sent from supplements/herbal/fitness stores week-of-holiday (18% of Valentine’s-week campaigns). These later campaigns seemed to be less focused on gift-giving, and more on self-care.

5 Different Types of Valentines Day Promotions

While percent-off discounts are still very common during Valentine’s Day, they’re not the only way to entice customers.

1. Early Access.

Ellie and Piper uses a fun GIF and offers an on-brand password for customers to use and shop early. This creates urgency and exclusivity.

2. Special releases.

A hit for both repeat shoppers and new customers, special releases not only help keep your inventory fresh — they create urgency because last-minute shoppers won’t want to miss out on a product that will be gone after a limited time.

The Solid Bow uses a simple SMS message to let subscribers know that their Valentine’s Day collection is live and on sale.

3. Discounts.

A classic, tried-and-true promotion strategy, discounts are an easy way to incentivize customers. But be careful — if your brand constantly discounts, you risk losing the perceived value of your products. Basically, you don’t want customers to think that everything will always be on sale.

This example from Inherit Clothing Company notes the sale price as well as the promo code.

4. Buy one, get one. 

Who says you can’t buy yourself a gift? Encourage self-love by letting customers double their purchase with no extra charge.

Honest Paws gives shoppers the chance to score double the amount of dog treats in the spirit of the holiday. Pets need love, too.

5. Special bundles

Special bundles (nicely packaged gifts made up of several products or with partnering brands) are a great way to introduce customers to new products while also increasing your bottom line.

In light of the pandemic, brands can get creative with bundles that help create fun experiences at home — like a virtual date night.

Brand Spotlight: SendaFriend

A staple of Valentine’s Day gifts, stuffed animals are an easy and timeless way to show your love for someone.

We chatted with Tyler Macke, the founder of SendAFriend, to hear about their plans for the upcoming holiday.

How are your Valentine’s Day strategies shifting from 2020 to 2021?

Every year, month, and week, website traffic gets more and more expensive to acquire. With this in mind, we’re always focused on unique ways to get people engaged and involved with our brand. For Valentine’s Day this year, we decided to develop a custom gamified email/SMS capture. This custom popup will be a Tinder-style game where customers can swipe through our different stuffed animals and find their “new best friend.” We think this will be a unique way to engage traffic on our site and get them hooked on our cute little animals!

What role does SMS play in your Valentine’s Day strategy this year?

We’re finding SMS to be a very lucrative channel, so part of our strategy is to just acquire SMS users at a higher rate than our standard popup. This should allow us to do more on the remarketing fronts if that customer does not end up purchasing right away, as well as send campaigns in the future for more deals, launches, or promotions.

What types of promotions are you running and why?

We have found that our customers are not extremely discount motivated, so most of our holiday and seasonal promotions revolve around new product launches. For Valentine’s Day, we’re introducing a Valentine’s Bundle upsell that will add a mini bouquet of roses, heart socks, cute stickers, and little candies to our stuffed animal care packages!

How to Use SMS During Valentine’s Day [Featuring real examples]

1. Cross-promote with email or social.

Connecting with customers on more than one channel helps you remain top-of-mind and reach them when they are most likely to purchase.

The below example from NanaMacs encourages subscribers to visit their Facebook, where they host very successful live shopping events.

The below example from Simple Blessings not only uses a fun picture of the team it also cross-promotes their app where shoppers can participate in a live shopping event.

2. Make it personal.

Tailor your products to each and every customer by offering them a quiz. Not only does a quiz help you collect information about your customers — it also guides them through a unique process that helps them discover exactly what they want.

3. Consider a partnership.

Even if your products aren’t typically given as gifts, you could always team up with another store to promote your products to each other’s audiences. Double the audience = double the amount of potential revenue.

Brand Spotlight: Original Grain

Original Grain, a handcrafted steel & wooden watch brand, knows how important this season is for gift brands.

We sat down with Danielle Tackoor, Customer Relationship Marketing Manager, to learn more about their plans for Valentine’s Day 2021.

How are your Valentine’s Day strategies shifting from 2020 to 2021?

As a gifting company, we see a majority of women buying watches for their husbands/boyfriends/family members/etc during the Valentine’s Day gifting period. Over the past year, we launched new and improved line of womens watches and are targeting men buyers who are looking for a unique gift for their wives/girlfriends/mothers/etc. This year, we’re launching matching watches made for men and women because, what doesn’t say “love” more than couples wearing a his & hers watch this Valentine’s Day?

What role does SMS play in your Valentine’s Day strategy this year?

SMS performed extremely well for us during the holiday season and we’re excited to continue developing campaigns on this platform in 2021. This Valentine’s Day, we’re updating our holiday gift guide to help users find the perfect gift for someone special, using campaigns to offer subscribers early access to new products, special offers, and get detailed in our segmentation.

What types of promotions are you running and why?

This year we’re running a sale and offering customers a free gift with purchase. Over the past year we’ve A/B tested various types of sale messaging (percentage off vs. dollar off, buy more, save more, etc) and tested various free gifts with purchase choices. After a year of testing, we’ve finally found the promotional messaging that resonates best with our customers. One of our goals in 2021 is to be more thoughtful in choosing the free gift with purchase and focus on our core product offering in order to increase conversions.

4 Expert Tips For Your Valentine’s Day SMS Strategy

Wrap up your text marketing campaigns with these smart tips from the Postscript team.

1. Start your campaigns earlier than usual.

“There are still global shipping delays affecting ecommerce retailers everywhere. While a late gift is better than no gift at all, set your customers up for success by letting them shop your special Valentine’s Day merchandise earlier than last year.”

– Christina Hackley, Customer Success, Postscript

2. Don’t limit yourself. Market to everyone.

“Valentine’s Day is not just about loving someone else — it can also be about loving yourself. Let customers decide who they’re shopping for by using a “respond to this text” keyword automation flow to segment subscribers and send a product collection or discount. An example of this could be asking subscribers if they’re SOLO or TAKEN and tailoring the flow from there.”

– Bryan Dickey, Customer Experience Advocate, Postscript

3. Don’t default to discounts.

As we heard from Original Grain, brands are shifting away from discounting in favor of more unique promotions.

“Create bundles of different products for couples, or create a unique ‘self-care’ offer for those who are spending the holiday solo.”

– Joe Vela, Customer Success, Postscript

4. Don’t forget about inclusivity.

“Love comes in all shapes and sizes. Remember to be inclusive in your marketing and not only celebrate straight cisgendered couples.”

– Rally Stanoeva, Product Marketing Manager, Postscript

Conclusion

While many of us are staying at home, Cupid is still in business. The unprecedented year that was 2020 left plenty of us excited to reconnect and re-engage with the people we love — whether that’s through a virtual hug, a sweet phone call, or a physical gift. Customers who are shopping for a gift for their significant other will take advantage of special deals and limited product releases.

One way to communicate these deals to your customers is through text message marketing. While it is a new channel that brands are still working to master, these strategies and tips will help set you up for success

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Corinne Watson

Corinne is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Postscript. After working at an ecommerce brand straight out of college, Corinne made the roundabout journey to leading content at BigCommerce, afterwards joining the Postscript team in March of 2020. When she's not researching and writing about all-things-ecommerce, she's exploring Austin, enjoying time with her 4-month old, and not waiting for the dough to chill before putting it in the oven. Follow her on Twitter at @corinnejuliette.