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.

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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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