Valentine’s Day: how can ecommerce brands keep the love alive with content?

Valentine’s Day remains one of the most lucrative periods of the year for retail, with sales reaching approximately £650 million in the UK alone last year. But despite rising digital purchases (mobile sales for the romantic holiday grew 79% between 2016 and 2017), Valentine’s remains a primarily bricks-and-mortar affair: research from the National Retail Federation found that 85% of total sales in 2018 were by retailers with a physical presence.

We explore how online retailers can use digital content to reach consumers this Valentine’s Day.

Transform your category hubs into Valentine’s landing pages

Specific ‘Valentine’s Day’-themed category pages are now common practice for many retail verticals (in particular, online flower and chocolate vendors). Despite this, comparatively few of these brands are making the most of these pages with strong, search-optimised content that boosts search visibility for Valentine’s-related queries.

The key is in the copy. For maximum benefit, category descriptions must be substantial in length and offer genuine informative value to the customer. They should also feature relevant, naturally-integrated Valentine’s-related terms and relevant internal links to other pages, improving SEO and encouraging visitors to delve further into your site. Finally, it’s crucial to optimise category pages with SEO-boosting metadata, such as meta titles, meta descriptions and <H1> tags.

Celebrate single consumers with self-gifting content

Singles’ Day – the Chinese holiday celebrating single customers – has spread through the world in recent years, becoming a global extravaganza; western brands from L’Occitane to Urban Outfitters now typically offer Singles’ Day bargains.

The holiday’s success proves that, for the many millennials who don’t have a ‘significant other’ to buy for, self-gifting has become a popular alternative. In a survey from the National Retail Federation, half of all 25-34-year-olds who claimed not to be celebrating Valentine’s said that they would self-gift for the occasion.

Try targeting these shoppers as they browse the net with search-optimised guides focused on ‘me-time’ or self-gifting – for example, in the vein of this guide from the Daily Beast. Category pages focused on Valentine’s self-gifting will also help to draw in valuable organic search traffic.

Draw in young romancers with social-targeted interactive content

China’s version of Valentine’s Day, ‘Qixi’, occurs in August. In 2018, western luxury labels moved heaven and earth to appeal to this ready and romantic market, with brands from Dior to Stella McCartney producing dedicated China-aimed product collections.

Burberry, however, went one step further. Posting a Valentine’s-themed quiz on social media platform WeChat, the brand encouraged customers to answer seven questions. From their responses, it determined the respondents’ desired qualities in a perfect romantic partner, before giving them access to Burberry’s latest collection.

Interactive content like this is a great way to engage younger consumers, especially when deployed via appropriate social channels. Focus on creating timely, interactive content, such as ‘shareable’ polls, contests, interactive infographics or shoppable videos. With millennials currently spending the most money on Valentine’s gifts, it pays to target this lucrative demographic where they are: on social.

Woo gift-shoppers who research online, buy in-store

According to Retail Dive’s 2017 Consumer Survey, 67% of consumers habitually research products online before buying in-store, with millennials by far the most likely to behave in this way. As a result – even if they’re converting in-store – most young consumers are getting their product information via digital channels.

This means that, to maximise chances of conversion and court the lucrative 25-34 age group in-store, brands must first develop informative, authoritative product descriptions online. These product descriptions must be detailed and engaging, offering comprehensive information on product features and benefits, as well as being presented in a web and mobile friendly format, combining persuasive prose and digestible bullet points.

Reduce product return rates with informative buying guides

Returns are a big Valentine’s problem. A 2017 study from Worldpay revealed that return rates rocketed by 95% in the three days after Valentine’s Day, with clothing constituting 99% of refunds.

It’s clear that Valentine’s gifts – especially those that veer into the underwear, clothes and body care categories – can be a risky business. 10% of men and 14% of women planned to gift perfume and cosmetics in 2018, while 23 and 13% respectively opted for jewellery and accessories and a further 10% and 15% for clothing or shoes. These kinds of highly personal gifts are traditionally difficult to get right.

The key to reducing product return rates often lies in providing helpful buying guidance. Research from Quill found that 19% of consumers would be influenced to buy a different item from that which they originally planned after reading an informative buying guide. This suggests that buying and how-to guides play a vital role in helping consumers find the item that’s right for them.

Produce informative, straightforward buying and how-to guides that can genuinely help lost customers along, and foster all-important band trust. Consistently informative product descriptions will also help consumers understand exactly what they’re buying – and, with luck, get it right the first time.

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