The flowers are wilting and the candy wrappers are crumpled at the bottom of the box, which means it’s time to analyze Valentine’s Day gift-giving trends. Data from five million clicks, tracked by search marketing company NetElixir from Jan. 25 to Feb. 14, 2016, highlight lessons that retailers can use to maximize results on other gift-buying occasions, from Mother’s Day to graduations as well as birthdays and anniversaries:
• Start communicating with customers early: Nearly 70% of Valentine’s Day purchases were completed prior to Feb. 5, indicating that shoppers have become better planners, and/or were not waiting for last-minute deals. In contrast, holiday 2015 saw a major trend toward last-minute shopping;
• Identify and target different customer groups: Purchases by men peaked until Feb. 3, then slowed down, while purchases by women didn’t peak until Feb. 10. Women may have been waiting for those last-minute deals, and they did spend less on gifts than their male counterparts: men outspent women by 31.2% this year.
• Concentrate mobile offers close to the event date: More “late” buyers used mobile devices to complete their purchases; mobile orders increased 49% during early February 2016 compared to late January.
• Don’t forget about SEO: Organic search is still powerful; it represented the largest portion of “last channel clicked prior to purchase,” comprising 39% of the total. The next-nearest channel was paid search, at 19%, followed by affiliates (15%), direct (12%) and email (11%).
• Analyze online vs. in-store sales trends: e-Commerce continued to gain ground this Valentine’s Day; shoppers spent 6.4% more online this year compared to 2015, reflecting the overall trend of digital sales growth.
While each gift-giving occasion has its own unique aspects, retailers may want to focus early promotional efforts on male shoppers, reserving messaging directed at women for closer to the day itself. All marketing campaigns today need to include a well-thought-out mobile component, but retailers may want to focus their mobile communications on the final weeks and days approaching the gift-giving event.