9 Valentine's Day hacks to drive more sales for your small business

Valentines Day

9 Valentine's Day hacks to drive more sales for your small business

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It’s the start of a new year and while we might have only just gotten around to taking our Christmas lights down, this means the marmite of annual celebrations is just around the corner: Valentine’s Day. 

Of course, it’s not for everyone. In fact, in a recent poll, 52% of respondents had no intention of spending money on cards or gifts for February 14th. 

But make no mistake: Valentine’s Day is still a goldmine for businesses big and small — and definitely something you’ll want to cash in on. 

How much is spent on Valentine's Day in the UK?

Despite claims that Valentine’s Day is dying off, Brits spend a lot of money on the most romantic day of the year. 

According to predictions by Finder, as much as £1.37 billion was spent on Valentine’s Day in 2022, up nearly 50% against the £926 million spent in 2021. This jump in spending correlates with the opening up of brick-and-mortar stores in 2022, in contrast to the 2021 lockdowns. This suggests consumers are spending more at local businesses for their romantic gestures.

Last year, customers made nearly 216,000 purchases through takepayments systems in the week leading up to Valentine's Day, a predicted spend of almost £5 million (based on Finder's estimated average spend per person). Of that, almost a quarter (22%) of all transactions were made at restaurants and bars, which were the clear winners on the most romantic day of the year.

But it’s not all about cafes and restaurants. Online sales have seen some excellent results too; research from performance marketing experts Wunderkind found that online traffic to UK eCommerce sites was up 33% against 2021 in the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day — up 39% vs pre-pandemic levels.

And it looks like there are still plenty of last-minute shoppers taking advantage of next-day delivery, with Wunderkind reporting a 76% jump in sales on the 13th of February.

So, whichever side of the fence you sit on personally, as a small business owner it’s time to start planning ahead to help make Valentine’s Day 2023 a success. Here are 10 top tips to help make it the best one yet.

1. Show your emails some TLC

What better way to build interest and get attention than through a Valentine’s Day-themed email marketing campaign? Widely hailed as the most crucial communication method for businesses — in no small part due to the fact that 99% of people check their emails daily. It goes without saying that a well-made email will do wonders for your engagement and can encourage sales. 

Not sure where to start? Here are some pointers:

  • Create an irresistible subject line to draw consumers in — and don’t forget to play on the season! For example ‘Valentine’s Day gifts they’ll love’, ‘We’re in love with our new range of [product]’, or ‘Feeling the love?’.
  • Consider using an emoji where relevant — they’ve been shown to increase open rates on emails by up to 56%. Just make sure you don’t go overboard though, that can have the opposite effect.
  • Make your content appealing and informative — If you’re running a campaign or offer, make sure you include all the details your customers need (and don’t forget to include links!)

Don’t be afraid to have fun with your wording — For example, you could change your regular call to action from ‘shop now’ to ‘show me the love’.

2. Leverage social media to mingle with prospective customers

There’s no hiding from the fact that social media has become a juggernaut of the online marketing world, so to really build momentum as well as engagement ahead of February 14th, you need to be optimising your content. Here are a few ideas on how:

Be a great listener with polls

Polls are a fun and cost-effective way of building engagement with consumers, and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, the three giants, all support them. A study by Buzzsumo found that posts that asked a specific question to users had the best engagement rates (i.e. clicks and likes) of any type of post, so polls are a fantastic way to engage with your audience.

If you’re running a poll remember to make them relevant to your business, for example, a restaurant could list four meals and ask users to choose which they’d eat on Valentine’s, or a clothes boutique might pair together four outfits and ask which would be best for a date. 

Top tip: Facebook and Instagram allow for imagery in polls, whereas Twitter doesn’t, so if your polls need visuals bear this in mind. 

Catch their eye with hashtags

Hashtags are not only great for boosting brand awareness, but they’re also a nifty way of being discovered via common trends. Research from Buffer revealed that tweets with at least two hashtag got twice the engagement than those that didn’t.

It’s up to you whether you opt to create your own hashtag or go for the more widely used options like #ValentinesDay2023, but if you go for the former, be sure to make it memorable and post enough content that it sparks interest in your business.

Spruce up your images

When it comes to social media — particularly on Instagram — it’s all about the visuals. A Buzzsumo study found that Facebook posts with images received 2.3 times more engagement than those without. A picture paints a thousand words!

So, ahead of the big day, post appealing, captivating, and irresistible photos of your offerings to put yourself on consumers’ radars. This can be anything relevant to your business — a Valentine’s Day cocktail, gift ideas from your shop, a Valentine’s Day-themed manicure, and so on — but just don’t forget to use the pictures to drive consumers to your business.

Here are a few tagline ideas:

  • Want to look your best on Feb 14th? Don’t forget to book in with us!
  • Show her how much you care with our delectable Valentine’s cocktail.
  • Looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift? Shop our new range of candles. 

3. Flirt with a nice offer

Since it’s designed as a celebration of love, Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to offer a 2-for-1 deal or buy-one-get-one-free offer. Why? Well, a study published in the Economist previously found that users prefer to get something extra for free than just saving money on an item: in fact, offering free extras in a bundle could boost your sales by up to 70%.

Put some thought into making sure your promotion doesn’t feel like any old BOGOF and market the offer specifically for the day itself.

Top tip: Select what you’ll include carefully so your efforts attract consumers to your business without leaving a dent in your profit margins. But remember: a stingy offer is more likely to dissuade customers than no offer at all!

4. Try on a gift guide for size

Valentine’s Day is the ideal event for creating a gift guide to encourage sales. Consider arranging your products by price, by theme or in a more traditional fashion like this:

  • Price - ‘Gorgeous gifts under £10’, ‘Valentine’s treats for £50 or less’, etc. 
  • Theme - ‘Gifts for craft-fans’, ‘Presents for baking-enthusiasts’, etc.
  • Traditional - ‘Gifts for her’, ‘Gifts he’ll love’, ‘Presents to share’, etc. 

Once created, include a link to your gift guide on your website by either creating a dedicated set of pages or including the guide as part of a blog post. Don’t make the mistake of assuming shoppers will stumble across your guide, it’s important you market it across your social channels as well as through email.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming shoppers will stumble across your guide: it’s important you market it across your social channels as well as through email.

5. Send them a Valentine's card

And now from new-age ideas to something more traditional: the humble card. The most old-school aspect of Valentine’s Day is sending a card to the one you love, so why not adopt the idea to benefit your business? 

Send an e-card to everyone on your marketing email list with the subject line ‘to the one we love’ and keep the content of your email simple: ‘Our customers are the heart of our business — Happy Valentine’s Day!’.

By doing something as simple as sending an email you’ll be boosting brand awareness, strengthening customer loyalty, and encouraging repeat business. If you want to take it one step further, you could include a discount code within the email to be used before Feb 14th, for example, ‘to say thank you we want to offer you 10% off a product of your choice’.

Top tip: If you opt to include a discount code, be sure to make the terms of the offer clear by including the end date within the email. 

6. Make them feel like a winner with a competition

Social media competitions are an excellent way to grow your brand presence ahead of Valentine’s Day. In fact, an original study by Tailwind found that Instagram contests and giveaways can grow your account up to 70% faster than it would if you didn’t use competitions.

Give your audience an incentive to get involved by offering a prize for the best entry. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a handful of ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Use your social media feeds to ask users to share their most embarrassing date stories, the winner gets a £20 voucher.
  • Run a drawing competition for children, the winner gets a free slice of cake (this one’s a great option for cafes and restaurants).
  • Heading back online, ask your followers to share images of the worst Valentine’s gifts they’ve received, with the winner receiving a hamper full of your goodies for themself or their partner. 

Not only will a light-hearted campaign boost consumer engagement and build brand awareness, but it’ll also be more likely to get shared online which in turn will open the door to new audiences.

Top tip: Running your own campaign is the perfect time to create your own hashtag!

7. Be charitable

What better time to show your care than during the celebration of love, and demonstrating a bit of social responsibility is always good for business — it’s a big draw to consumers, particularly younger generations. In fact, a whitepaper by Enthuse revealed that people under 40 are a lot more likely to donate to charitable causes than their older counterparts, and likely expect the same of the businesses they shop with.

There are loads of ways you can go about this and you can go as big or small as you please, but to get you started, here are a few ideas:

  • Select a few items in your store (those that are most likely to be bought as gifts) and let consumers online and in-store know you’ll donate a percentage of profits from those items, bought before Feb 14th, to a local charity.
  • Host a Valentine’s meal for residents of your local care home. 
  • Ask shoppers for a donation to a charity of your choosing at check-out, with the promise that you’ll match every donation. 

If you want to tie your charitable efforts to the theme of love, consider a charity such as Silver Line, which helps older people struggling with loneliness and isolation. 

Top tip: Don’t forget to let all your online followers know about your charitable efforts.

8. Be spontaneous with impulse buys

With the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s not surprising Valentine’s Day slips the minds of many, so use this information to your advantage and place some gift ideas next to your till with a nice big sign (or you can even get your shop assistant to ask ‘can I interest you in any of our Valentine’s gifts?’). Inevitably, and especially as the day draws closer, this will elicit some extra last-minute sales.

You can also encourage more impulse buys by strategically positioning your on-offer items near the entrance of your shop or near the tills — or, if you’re online, as a banner during checkout.

9. Show some love to the singletons

Last but by no means least, remember that not everyone is (or wants to be) coupled up, and there’s money to be made from acknowledging that. How? By encouraging consumers to buy for themselves. You could offer a pamper package for singletons with the tagline ‘treat yourself this Valentine’s Day’, or if you’re a cafe or a bar put on a ‘singles table’ and encourage consumers to mingle with others in the same boat. 

Now you’re armed with all the ideas to make Valentine’s Day 2023 a success, be sure you’ve got the tools to accept the payments it’ll bring. We're specialists when it comes to card machines for small businesses. We also offer POS till systems, card machines, or online payments, let us help you keep your customers feeling the love by providing the latest payment options. 

Our team of experts will hold your hand every step of the way, so get in touch today on 08082 393254.  


Jodie Wilkinson

Head of Strategic Partnerships

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