Roses are red, violets are blue, Valentine’s is around the corner, so what’s an email marketer to do?

Sorry – we couldn’t resist.

As the festive season fades into memory, and with wallets still a little lighter than they would otherwise be, capturing the imagination of the great British public at this time of the year is particularly challenging.

Preferring to stay in or make use of their new gym memberships, consumers are far less likely to be frivolous following the expense and over-exuberance of Christmas and New Year celebrations. And, if you’re an email marketer, this presents something of a problem.

How do you engage with people who are doing all they can to avoid spending money?

Thankfully, there’s a shining light at the end of the tunnel, and it comes in the form of Valentine’s Day. Even if you don’t sell a single romantically-linked product, you can still make use of this day, and in this post, we’d like to show you how.

As ever, we’ll turn to our own inboxes and pick out some examples of stellar Valentine’s email marketing efforts that capture the imagination and do the one thing we all strive for as marketers: drive engagement.

1. The element of surprise

To really capture the attention of subscribers, you need to surprise them, and what better way to do so than by using the word surprise in the opening gambit of your marketing email?

Words are powerful and in the example above, Chef & Brewer have chosen to use a powerful noun as an opener. It immediately tempts you to delve in further and find out what the surprise is.

In this instance, the sender is suggesting that you surprise someone, but that becomes equally clear as you digest the rest of the email (which you’ll almost definitely do given the great opening).

2. Subtly does it…

If your business isn’t renowned for offering romantic services or gifts, you can still make great use of February 14th. For example, the business above is an eCommerce outfit geared towards pet owners. However, they have a travel arm, and they’ve taken the Valentine’s opportunity to pedal that part of the business.

They’ve done so incredibly subtly, too. There’s a love heart emoji in the subject line, and the words ‘romantic’ and ‘Valentine’s’ in the copy, but that’s it – no lavish, romantically-themed design. They’ve therefore avoided shoe-horning anything in and have in turn retained the familiar look and feel of their email campaigns.

3. Ultra subtly does it…

If you think the Pets Pyjamas example was subtle, check out this effort from camera king, Canon. At first glance, this email has nothing to do with Valentine’s, but it has used one very important word indeed – ‘emotion’.

It resides in the subject line and, beyond being another example of a powerful noun, it also has ties with Valentine’s, which is doubtless on the mind of recipients at this time of the year. This will encourage many to open and engage with the email – clever stuff.

4. Hey, cheeky!

If you can’t have a bit of fun at Valentine’s when can you? In this example from Firebox, they’ve used cheeky, spicy text to draw us in, and it really works.

A lesson in how to craft a subject line, this email also demonstrates the importance of the ‘above the fold’ content – i.e. that which is immediately viewable in email clients. As a package, it’s instantly engaging.

5. What’s in it for me?

Your subscribers only really care about themselves. That’s fine, but it also means you need to ensure every email marketing message is sent with one purpose – to answer the question “what’s in it for me?”.

In the example above, the benefit to the recipient is immediately obvious. Thanks to the ‘V-Day beauties’ subject line, they’ll be in Valentine’s mode by the time they open the email, and the opening ‘hear those three words’ instantly confirms that the sender wants to help them out.

Assistance with present buying at this time of year is much sought for, and Not On The High Street knows this all too well, hence their attention-grabbing headline.

Final thoughts

We hope the emails above have given you some much-needed Valentine’s inspiration. Just like any key date, you’ll have to fight more forcefully to be noticed within people’s inboxes, but our examples demonstrate that you only need rely on one or two tried-and-tested email marketing techniques to be successful in gaining the attention of subscribers.