Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Cupid approved: lessons from six memorable Valentine’s Day emails

by Blake Jackson, Global Head of Marketing, Dotdigital

Developing an effective Valentine’s Day email campaign can help you strengthen the bond with your audience, generate interest in your products or services, and ultimately, drive sales during this love-filled season, and with up to 52% of consumers celebrating Valentines Day, I’m seeing brands showing their audience love and appreciation in a myriad of ways.

In 2023, the number of online orders for Valentine’s Day-related items increased by 14%, demonstrating the real opportunity marketers have if you plan to incorporate Valentine’s Day into your marketing strategy. But, with average order value simultaneously decreasing, you have to adopt smarter tactics to get results.

Here I’ve found six of my favourite Valentine’s Day email marketing campaigns that are using different techniques to evoke the spirit of the season. Alongside some of my top tips for success, this article should give you the inspiration you need for fresh campaign ideas for other calendar dates to come. 

MAC Cosmetics showcased top-selling products 

Nothing speaks volumes about your brand’s offerings more than your top-performing products. Take inspiration from the well-known MAC Cosmetics Valentine’s Day campaign that displayed a range of lipsticks perfectly matched for the romantic occasion. With a captivating email design and on-theme copy, the email campaign directly addressed the desires of its audience, inspiring them to indulge in the perfect lipstick shades to make its Valentine’s Day celebration even more special. Besides, who can resist the appeal of a 30% off special offer on their favourite makeup products?

My top tip: According to Dotdigital’s Mastering moments-based marketing whitepaper, automated, real-time campaigns have a 175% higher click-through-rate. So to save yourself time and money, plan your Valentine’s Day campaigns in advance. Consider what actions reveal customer intent and set up your triggers accordingly. This could be registering interest in a Valentine’s collection or visiting a gift guide landing page.

BarkShop created a Valentine’s Gift Guide

Gift guides have become a popular and effective way for brands to showcase their products and help customers make purchasing decisions during special occasions. BarkShop, an online store for dog lovers, created an excellent Valentine’s Day email campaign that offered a curated collection of Valentine’s gifts for dogs.

BarkShop’s pawsome gift guide combined eye-catching visuals, playful copy, and persuasive calls to action to both amuse and entice its subscribers. By highlighting an assortment of Valentine’s Day-themed toys and treats, BarkShop made it easy for dog owners to choose the perfect gift for their furry friends.

Whether your brand caters to pet owners, gadget enthusiasts, fashion lovers, or any other niche, a well-crafted gift guide is invaluable in driving conversions and boosting your brand’s reputation during this season of love.

Moosejaw used engaging interactive content

If you’re looking to strengthen the bond between your brand and customers during Valentine’s Day season, you can learn from Moosejaw’s email marketing strategy. The brand’s captivating email campaign featured a quiz that revealed customers’ love language. The visuals were custom-made and told a heartwarming story that made it difficult for customers to resist taking the quiz. Give customers engaging interactive content to encourage them to engage with your brand.

Charity: Water expressed gratitude beyond promotions

While promotional emails have their place in your Valentine’s Day marketing efforts, it’s essential to remain authentic and remember that this occasion is about fostering emotional connections and showing appreciation.

Charity: Water exemplified this approach with its personalised Valentine’s Day e-cards for donors, supporters, and fundraisers. By expressing heartfelt gratitude for its community’s efforts and making each card unique, it inspires people to continue supporting the brand’s cause and strengthen its connections with existing supporters. 

From sharing heartwarming stories and testimonials to offering valuable content such as love-themed recipes or DIY gifts, these messages can show your audience that you care about more than just selling products or services.

By embracing this powerful method of expressing gratitude and affection, brands and organisations can reinforce their connection with email subscribers during Valentine’s Day. This approach not only strengthens the bond with existing customers and supporters but also showcases the thoughtful and caring nature of your organisation to potential new audiences.

My top tip: Empathy and authenticity in your marketing is essential for success. A brand’s values are an increasingly important factor in the decision-making process, especially for Gen Z and millennial shoppers. Dotdigital’s Customer Loyalty Report found that today, 20% of Gen Z shoppers consider a brand’s values when choosing a new brand to connect with. 

Warby Parker told a visual love story

Valentine’s Day is an ideal time to create an email campaign that shares real-life love stories or memorable moments related to your brand and customers. Warby Parker, known for its stylish eyewear, created an impactful email campaign that merged visual storytelling with a touch of romance and humour. 

You can encourage subscribers to share their unique love stories using a dedicated hashtag to foster organic social buzz. By doing so, you not only raise brand awareness but also strengthen social media engagement in a heartfelt way.

Remember, you don’t always have to focus on selling a product or service through your email campaigns. Instead, invest in creating an emotional connection with your audience that’s sure to leave a lasting, positive impression on your brand.

Beardbrand got creative with copywriting

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to let your creativity run wild with your copywriting. Beardbrand, a premium grooming brand, seized the opportunity to get creative with its Valentine’s Day email campaign. Playfully acknowledging the more traditional marketing techniques, Beardbrand crafted its email subject line and email copy to pique curiosity and grab attention.

Your brand can follow Beardbrand’s approach and incorporate clever copywriting concepts for your Valentine’s Day emails. Think of unique ways to address your audience, showcase your products, and perhaps even make them laugh. By being imaginative with your copy, you can leave a lasting impression and make your brand stand out in a sea of promotional messages during the Valentine’s Day season

My top tip: There are many ways you could and should be incorporating AI into your marketing and generative AI is a great place to start. Generative AI can help even the busiest of marketers get creative with their copywriting.

Whether your audience consists of hopeless romantics or practical shoppers, remember that a successful email campaign is a balance between presenting your offerings and showing appreciation for your customers. By adapting these examples to your brand’s tone of voice and values, you’re on your way to deepening those customer connections and making the most of Valentine’s Day and other celebrations this year.