Share this article

Commerce blog | Email Marketing

We <3 Valentine’s Day Emails

Valentine’s Day isn’t all hearts and flowers; it’s also a time for perfecting your email marketing messages

One marketing school of thought is that you should take advantage of holidays and other special events whenever possible, as a way of creating disruptor messages that will command your audience's attention. Of course, much depends on how meaningful those special occasions are to your audience.


Is Valentine's Day one of those occasions? A number of companies seem to think so, judging by my email inbox this past week. Here, takeaways from a few of the more notable ones.



Bedding and home goods cataloguer The Company Store:


image: Company Store email

image: Company Store email


Subject line: Get your gifts by Valentine's Day


When my husband and I were first dating, I bought him sheets and a breakfast tray as a gift; rather than taking it in the romantic spirit intended, he thought I was disparaging his housekeeping (okay, I might have been doing that as well). So it's reassuring to see that I'm not the only person who considers bedding a sexy gift. The Company Store's subject line doesn't play cute; it comes right out and presents a solution. The email creative features a sophisticated image and a free-shipping offer, which I was surprised wasn't mentioned in the subject line. Perhaps the company shouldn't have been so coy about that.


Takeaway: In marketing as in relationships, honesty—in the form of a straightforward subject line—is usually the best policy. But if you have a sexy offer such as free shipping, perhaps you should flaunt it. Which brings us to...



Lifestyle brand Cath Kidston:


image: Cath Kidston email

image: Cath Kidston email


Subject line: Treat your Valentine with free P&P—ends midnight tonight


Takeaway: If you're presenting an offer, be loud and proud about it. And if you can add a sense of urgency, do so. Even if you sent previous emails about the offer, send a final reminder the day the offer ends. For one thing, you can't assume recipients saw, let alone opened, your previous messages. For another, the threat of a looming deadline is a great motivator (ask any writer or designer!).



Indie marketplace AHAlife:


Subject line: They won't expect THIS on February 14th


AHAlife sells a wide range of products from an equally wide range of global makers and merchants. Communicating that in a sexy yet concise way can be daunting—and maybe not even effective. In this instance, given the lack of a clear offer or solution, a to-the-point subject line probably wouldn't stand out in a crowded inbox.


Takeaway: A subject line that's a bit of a tease can be more intriguing—and encourage more opens—than a just-the-facts message.



Football club West Ham United:


image: West Ham email

image: West Ham email


Subject line: Valentine's ideas for your Hammer


In a million years it would never have dawned on me to buy my husband a West Ham shirt, book, or other team merchandise for Valentine's Day... even though I did give him a West Ham jersey several years ago for his birthday. Presumably I'm not the only spouse who would have overlooked this perfect gift were it not for this timely reminder.


Takeaway: Enthusiasts love to receive gifts related to their specialised interests. Maybe you or I wouldn't want to receive scrapbooking supplies, garden tools, or a bicycle repair kit as a gift—but certain hobbyists would. Even if you sell primarily b-to-b, consider whether some of your smaller or niche items might make ideal gifts to a targeted audience.



Women's apparel line Yumi Kim:


image: Yumi Kim email

image: Yumi Kim email


Subject line: Find The Perfect Valentine's Day Outfit


Holidays such as Valentine's Day aren't just about gifts; they're also about dressing up and entertaining. That's good news for sellers of clothing and cookware, candles and condoms... you get the drift. Like The Company Store, Yumi Kim uses its subject line to let recipients know it has a solution to a common vexing problem. The email copy includes a few Valentine's-theme turns of phrase ("Steal hearts this Valentine's Day...") but maintains a sophisticated tone in keeping with the brand.


Takeaway: On gift-giving occasions, people do spend on themselves as well.



Curated packages subscription provider Quarterly Co.:


image: Quarterly Co. email

image: Quarterly Co. email


Subject line: It's our "Obligatory Valentine's Day" sale!


Quarterly is appealing to its savvy audience's sense of humour. This message wouldn't work for all markets—but a different type of humour might.


Takeaway: Consider a humorous, whimsical approach—though make sure it's in keeping with your target audience.



Apparel brand Joules:


image: Joules email

image: Joules email


Subject line: Valentine is in the hare


Given the subject line, I expected to see at least one rabbit in the email. But nope; the theme instead seems to be flowers: "This Valentine's Day choose flowers that last... New season florals—no water required," with photos of apparel adorned with flowers. "This Valentine's Day, choose flowers that last" would have made an intriguing subject line, I think. I wonder if this was simply a mix-up with the wrong subject line being tagged to the email.


Takeaway: Perhaps the most important lesson of all: Check and double-check all aspects of your email before hitting "send."


author: Sherry Chiger

Sherry Chiger

The editorial director of Your Commerce, Sherry Chiger is an award-winning writer and editor. She was formerly editorial director of Multichannel Merchant and Catalogue e-business magazines.


Share this article

Commerce blog

A selection of catalogue covers

Direct Marketing

Cover Stories