In 2018, 29 percent of Valentine’s Day shoppers planned to make a purchase online.

Marketers are upping their game with “love letters” on Valentine’s Day that offer gift-givers more personalized and relevant messaging.

According to estimations by the National Retail Federation, consumers will dole out $19.6 billion on Valentine’s Day-related gifts, products and experiences. Last year, 29 percent of Valentine’s Day shoppers planned to make a purchase online and are in line to do more this year. This online spend “has been increasing each year,” according to Sean Brady, president of Emarsys Americas, a B2C marketing automation platform servicing clients such as eBay, Mytheresa and Cosabella.

This presents a challenge and an opportunity for retailers and brands. According to Brady, companies are “under more pressure than ever to deliver personalized marketing experiences.” How does a brand stand out amongst a swell of hearts, roses and stuffed bears?

This Valentine’s Day, brands and retailers are appealing to customers by creating meaningful, “seamless and personalized” messaging across channels, while highlighting lifestyle orientations through social media.

Seeing seasonal spikes as a data-driven lingerie brand, Adore Me invests in email marketing and Messenger to drive engagement during Valentine’s Day. Driven by AI-powered, retention marketing platform Optimove, Adore Me is seeing three-times more customers and 3.5-times higher order amounts, Valentine’s offers superior value over heavily discounted holidays such as Black Friday.

Parlaying marketing messages of evening romance and otherwise, food product categories such as wine and chocolate elicit mindshare for Valentine’s Day, but even so – the messaging is strategic.

“For Valentine’s Day, we wanted to build a marketing strategy that would engage with our existing subscribers while also connecting with new customers,” said Angela Allison founder of WineSociety. For Allison, this means reliance on email marketing and social media to “reinforce the lifestyle” and versatility of their wine for a date night in. It also means organic social media giveaways and subtle reminders of long-term brand value.

Exploring the emotional and personal resonance of products such as candles, kimonos and aptly titled “nice things,”(sage bundles, crystals, beaded patches), Ashli Stockton, founder and chief executive officer of Sunday Forever agreed social media is key to V-Day marketing, citing an authentic, emotional connection with their customer as crucial.

While Sunday Forever taps “self-care” as a core message year-round in its brand ethos and product assortment, their approach to the holiday also warrants a “personal” and meaningful connection that outlasts the brief season of candy hearts.

Utilization of Instagram and Instagram stories is top-of-mind for digital-first brands such as Sunday Forever to “speak directly to [their] most-engaged audience.”

Also, speaking directly to their audience, Dirty Lemon, a digital-first beverage brand under the parent brand Iris Nova, engages SMS as their primary selling platform that maintains consistency. No outbound communication occurs outside of special offers.

Dirty Lemon sent a Valentine’s offer via chat bot.  Kaley Roshitsh/WWD

Promoting the launch of their limited-edition white rose beverage for Valentine’s Day, Dirty Lemon forges a philanthropic message, partnering with Equality Now, for its limited-edition launch.

This Valentine’s Day, the focus is on forging long-term relationships with customers – and not just putting them in a heart-shaped box.

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