February 5, 2014, 2:41 PM

For Valentine’s Day, e-retailers should get personal

59% of shoppers say they prefer to buy their Valentine’s Day gifts online. And 58% say that retail web sites and online ads will influence their Valentine’s Day purchase decisions. One way to attract shoppers is by personalizing online ads.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

Valentine’s Day looks like it may prove sweet to online retailers that offer consumers tailored online experiences and free shipping, according to several surveys.

Roughly three in five—59%—of consumers prefer to purchase their Valentine’s Day gifts online, according to an online survey of 1,000 shoppers by advertising firm Adroit Digital. Online shopping is particularly appealing to men, 68% of whom said they prefer to do their shopping online. That compares with 53% of women.  

Much like the 2013 holiday season, consumers are looking for discounts and free shipping offers when shopping online. 81% of respondents say they will look for a deal or discount online before making a purchase—either online or in a physical store—and 83% say free shipping would lead them to buy from one retailer over another, according to the Adroit survey.

But those shoppers don’t plan to do a lot of shopping around. 59% will visit only one to three sites before making a purchase. That means retailers should focus on finding ways to draw shoppers to their sites, the Adroit report suggests.

One way to attract shoppers is by personalizing offers. For instance, a retailer might retarget a shopper with an ad that shows him a product he recently looked at on a retailer’s site. That type of personalization works, finds an online survey of 1,000 consumers by Maxymiser, a testing, optimization and personalization marketing technology vendor. 32% of men and 30% of women say they are more likely to click on a personalized offer than a non-personalized one, the survey found.

Personalization also seems to work on retailers’ sites, the survey suggests. 73% of men and 78% of women say a personalized offer might lead them to make an additional purchase while on a retailer’s site or mobile app.

"Bombarding shoppers with irrelevant, one-size-fits-all messaging and offers will be the death of retailers this Valentine's Day,” says Daniel Toubian, a Maxymiser principal consultant, U.S. retail and consumer brands, Maxymiser. “People not only choose brands on the basis of experience, they also spend more with brands that offer better experiences."

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