American Marketer


Cross-channel marketing must-do’s for Valentine’s Day and beyond

February 7, 2014

Raquel V. Cadourcy is vice president of business development and strategic accounts at HelloWorld


By Raquel V. Cadourcy

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the impending date has us all watching brands’ tactics for creatively grabbing customer attention to encourage rich engagement and purchases. But take note as these clever and interactive ideas are not limited to Valentine’s Day.

Consumer engagement activations should occur year-round, especially during major holidays where the market is saturated with products, advertisements and an abundance of must-have gifts. The key to success? Using your brand’s personality to make a connection and build loyalty.

One under-examined niche market is luxury retailing. These brands do not rely on discounts and last-minute flash sales to drive purchases. They rely on name recognition, emotional ties and, now, digital campaigns to stay top of mind.

There are a few specific tactics every luxury brand should look to when planning marketing efforts for big holidays to not make luxury gifting a faux pas.

Get customers voting on their faves
Finding and selecting an item you love is hard enough on your own, not to mention shopping for someone else.

What if there were a better way to know which item is perfect for your loved one or friend? This is where voting and polling programs come into play. Having consumers vote on and share their favorite items provides a third-party endorsement for gift shoppers.

David Yurman created a Facebook application where customers could vote for their favorite items to be featured in its Valentine’s Day gift guide.

Not only does this allow current customers to feel like experts, but it also makes the decision process easier for someone who may be on the fence about whether or not to purchase a piece of David Yurman jewelry. Just pick one of the favorite styles and buy it online. This eliminates the need to go into the store and agonize over the many options and ultimately leads to a more confident purchase.

Polling also provides a great opportunity to leverage engagement across social media platforms, creating a dialogue with customers by seeking out their opinions.

Once customers have voted on their favorite item, they can then share it across various social media channels, acting as a form of word-of-mouth marketing – one of the strongest platforms for brand affinity and customer acquisition. It can also serve as a not-so-sly hint as to what consumers want as a gift receiver.

Let personalities do the choosing
Personality quizzes allow brands to better understand their consumers and create a personalized shopping experience for them, thus creating an emotional bond between brand and customer.

This online activation also helps gift buyers select the perfect item through a set of simple questions that narrow down product choices.

Ultimately, quizzes are fun and engaging but also give customers or gift buyers more motivation to make the purchase, which is ultimately what the brand wants.

Donna Karan Fragrances created an interactive Facebook quiz for its fans to discover the perfect fragrance based on their personality.

Scent Finder is an interactive quiz, encouraging Facebook fans to choose from a variety of scent choices by sentiment around which fabric, scent, musical, culinary experience or luxurious vacation speaks most to them or to their gift recipient.

Once participants were paired up with their scent, they could pin, tag, post or share the contest across social media channels for a chance to win the fragrance.

The opportunity to win took it a step further from simple engagement by encouraging fans to share personal preferences and insights with their social groups leading to larger awareness of the program and promote new people to play.

Consumers are always on their phones – talk to them on it
Major gifting holidays such as Valentine’s Day are the perfect time to connect with consumers via mobile customer relationship management (CRM).

With 2014 under way, it has been reiterated to retailers that mobile is integral to customer engagement, which is why luxury brands should take note on best practices.

Here are a couple unique ideas to incorporate into Valentine’s Day and other gifting holiday marketing strategies.

Education: To combat confusion at shelves, Eucerin offered consumers additional information through mobile SMS outreach.

Shoppers were given a variety of “keywords” to use in a text to a five-digit number. Each line of Eucerin products had its own keyword. The return SMS message offered a link to the mobile Eucerin site where specific information on that particular product lived.

This motivated browsers to not only learn more about the best product for their skin type, but created an in-store shopping assistant tool for customers at their fingertips.

The link also led shoppers to a mobile site destination with a larger variety of products than were in-store – which could all be purchased via mobile phone.

Reminders: Your consumers are now sharing their mobile numbers. Now, you need to keep connecting after the first hello.

Sending simple yet relevant texts with special offers, nearby store locations and, maybe even a new item they might love, will drive customers in-store and encourage purchases.

Loyalty: Customers like feeling special and remembered. Offering shoppers a loyalty experience that can travel with them at all times via mobile is one of the best ways to engage and delight customers.

Take note of Bare Escentuals’ FAB program, which not only offers discounts and surprise-and-delight campaigns, but continues to educate and engage with fans with frequent notifications of new products for them to try.

Pick an interactive option and run with it
When it comes to luxury marketing, voting applications, personality quizzes and mobile CRM are all-essential to incorporate into marketing campaigns, especially around major gifting holidays. They increase customer loyalty, encourage confident first-time purchases and differentiate luxury brands from their competitors.

Looking beyond in-store, mobile sites or multichannel campaigns, we are also likely going to see new innovations such as augmented reality being used more frequently.

Not for interactive skeptics, augmented reality is a great way to take advertising, in-store displays and other branded visuals to the next level in terms of an integrated experience.

For example, CoverGirl continues to shine as a brand using this tool to the best of its abilities.

CoverGirl is currently using augmented reality in its March Cosmopolitan print ad to encourage readers to scan the page and find their perfect “Tru Blend” makeup color.

Once scanned, they can hold their mobile camera over their skin to see which shade matches their skin tone.

After their shade number is properly selected, they can purchase the product via a mobile site or save the shade number to purchase later.

Using augmented reality for interactive, mobile try-on solutions can be applied across various luxury brands, not just cosmetics. It makes it a highly personal experience, something for which the luxury sector is already known.

RICH CONSUMER engagement is for every luxury retailer and essential to staying top-of-mind in a crowded marketplace.

Next time you are looking at a major marketing push, see which of these examples you think will best differentiate your brand and resonate with your audience. They are all sure to be a success.

Raquel V. Cadourcy is vice president of business development and strategic accounts at HelloWorld (formerly ePrize), New York. Reach her at