February 8, 2017, 4:51 PM

Be a smart marketing Cupid in February to maximize sales

Campaigns optimized for smartphones will capture more last-minute sales and keep in mind that shoppers often buy non-gift items with the chocolates and candy they purchase for their lovers.

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While Cupid is the god of desire, retailers need more than hearts and romantic sentiments to maximize sales in February. The opportunity is already massive: in 2016, flower and gift sales increased 220% during the period of February 1-16, while health and beauty sales spiked 47% and fashion and luxury were up 20%. However, in a very competitive marketplace, it’s not enough just to shoot a few arrows and hope for the best. Marketers need to rely on smarts as well in order to take advantage of the Valentine’s Day bonanza. A smart marketing cupid shoots early and often, working from multiple directions – and most definitely strikes through the airwaves (because mobile is so key these days).

Here’s a heart-warming Valentine’s strategy that relies on three fundamental tactics:

  • Start early, and be bold: Plan to increase cost-per-click targeting aggressively at the beginning of the month to stay competitive.
  • Embrace mobile: Campaigns optimized for smartphones will capture more last-minute sales.
  • Cross-sell for bigger baskets: Valentine’s Day gift items are often purchased with non-gift items, and greeting cards are most often cross-purchased with candy and chocolate.

The thing about maximizing sales for February 14th is, if you aren’t shooting arrows right now, you might miss the target entirely. It’s important that retailers looking to build upon the Valentine’s Day opportunity start their campaigns at the beginning of February. Criteo data shows elevated user activity—even in early February—across all the categories associated with this amorous holiday: flowers, gifts, beauty, fashion and luxury. Marketers who target a specific return on ad spend or cost-of-sale metric should be able to apply a larger budget and/or higher cost-per-click during February to take advantage of the greater underlying propensity to purchase.

Timing is critical, but so too is the channel. Cupid’s arrows travel through the air and this is truer now than ever before. Thinking about mobile campaigns first is a winning strategy when it comes to Valentine’s Day, particularly in capturing last-minute sales in the days leading up to the holiday. Our findings indicate that over half the sales of flowers and gifts will come from mobile devices, with smartphones used up to three times more than desktops for purchases. That said, desktop still drives sales too, with desktop add-to basket rates increasing by 64% on average during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.

Finally, taking aim from different angles will help to ensure that you hit your target. Cross-selling is critical for retailers around Valentine’s Day in order to grow total sales. Although some items like flowers, massages and watches are typically bought by themselves, jewelry and chocolate are likely to be purchased in tandem with additional items, driving higher numbers of items in customers’ carts. In particular, rings not only have the highest price points but also drive the highest basket value. 

These insights should help you use both head and heart to maximize sales during this critical period for retail. Start early, prioritize mobile and be sure to cross-sell, and you will be certain to fall in love with your Valentine’s Day results.

Criteo specializes in digital performance marketing.

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