By Sarah Bailey, Product Marketing Manager, Zoho

It’s the time of the year to let people know you care about them. And this shouldn’t just been limited to soppy messages written inside heart-shaped cards, it’s also the perfect time to reach out to your customers.

Valentine’s Day and its ilk are a time for soppiness. But they’re also a crucial time for businesses to generate new leads. Sending out email campaigns can be a great way to communicate with valued customers. And a well-planned and well-articulated email campaign is an effective way to ensure you stay the apple of their eye.

Our top tips for a seamless email marketing campaign will help woo your potential customers this Valentines.

Keep it targeted
Everyone has their little black book of email marketing, and you may have hundreds, or even thousands of contacts who you email on a regular basis. But how well are you targeting your content?

There’s no secret formula that will work for every email campaign – you have to keep it personal.

Segmenting each mailing list is the most efficient way to ensure that your campaigns are just going to the people who need – and want – to receive them. If you’re planning on sending out special offers or promotions, customise each list by the city or demographic that will benefit from it.

You can take this a step further and send out product promotions to very select groups based on their previous buying behaviour, if you track this information. Identifying your customers’ interests and creating segmented emailing lists for each campaign will result in a more relevant and successful campaign.

This doesn’t all have to be a laborious process. Lots of marketing software now allows you to set up automated workflows which let you define rules for your email marketing based on different subscriber criteria. This could mean something as simple as ‘his and her’ emails to a ‘if you liked (last purchase), you might like…’

Humanise your content
Beneath the heart-shaped glitz and glamour, Valentine’s Day expresses an ultimate desire to connect with people – whether that’s colleagues, family and friends. It’s no different on email. Establishing a more personal professional connection from your inbox is essential to effective communication.

There’s plenty of ways to humanise your content without masses of effort. Merge tags can help you achieve a personal touch by personalising subject lines and greetings, not just with a name but with a reference they will relate to, for example about their city or a previous product they have bought.

A light-hearted video or animated GIF can be a great way to show you and your company have a sense of humour.

Humanising your content should go beyond specific emails if you’re to successfully show your brand has a personality. As you send out your email campaigns, your website’s likely to get more hits. Don’t think of your websites as static. Instead think about how your can reflect that fun spirit you used in your email on the site. Tweaking your ‘About Us’ or temporarily modifying your logo to reflect your topical flare helps to humanise your brand and make you memorable.

Planning your content
The best campaigns have a bit of thought put into them – there’s no point coming up with a great idea if it’s too late to implement or you have rush through something second rate. Create a calendar – complete with all major holidays – and choose the days when each email campaign will be sent.

Timing is everything, and that doesn’t just mean having everything ready on time. When sending out email campaigns to capitalise on special dates and events, don’t just send it once. Come up with a plan to send out promotional offers at least one week in advance, then follow up with a reminder a day or two before the offer date.

Valentines is busy enough – you don’t want to be working late sending out email marketing campaigns rather than enjoying your own special evening (whether that’s with your loved one or Netflix). If you plan your campaign in advance, you can automate the process to save both time and energy.

Most email marketing programmes will let you set up automated responses based on a subscriber’s behaviour, and they’re particularly useful for following up on limited time offers. For example, automated replies to customers who click to receive a voucher code, lets them receive their discount instantly without you sitting watching your emails all night.

Learn from your mistakes (and your successes!)
Knowing what works for your audience is important – that’s as simple as finding out what they like and what they don’t. Learning what went well and what didn’t is the best way to help you better engage your subscribers and improve future campaigns.

Analytics are readily and available on most programmes now to help you find out what content your subscribers are responding to and which recipients in particular open and click on your campaign. A/B Campaigns – email campaigns trying various subject lines and content to get the best response from your subscribers – can be a great way of working out what gets that all-important click!