Cupid’s big day is second only to Christmas for many retailers. If you’re a florist, it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and Boxing Day all rolled into one six-week season.

Maybe that heavy sales pressure explains why the subject lines of so many Valentine’s Day email messages rely on price- and deadline-driven promotions instead of emotional appeals.

We wanted to see how marketers approached this Valentine’s Day with their email marketing, so we looked through the FreshAddress Email Creative Archive for trends in subject lines. What we found was not particularly encouraging, although some clever and eye-catching copy did make us want to click into the emails.

Why focus on subject lines?

Because the subject can be the deciding factor in whether your customer opens your email message or passes it by.

The “from” name factors in, especially among your highly engaged customers, who will open anything you send even if you forget the subject line. For everyone else your email needs an engaging subject line that’s different from all the other Valentine’s messaging surrounding it in your customer’s inbox.

What’s popular this year

Frankly, we didn’t find that much variation in subject lines. We also didn’t see much evidence that retailers are using customer data to personalize or target subject lines, which can give you fodder for more distinctive subject lines.

These are the three most common kinds of subject lines our queries turned up:

  • “20% discount on all Valentine’s Day merchandise!”
  • “Shop Our Valentine Gift Guide”
  • “Hurry! One More Day to Ship Valentine’s Day Gifts!”
  • “Show her/him the love this Valentine’s Day”

Maybe each one by itself isn’t so bad. But put 20 to 30 of them in a single inbox every day for a couple of weeks, and you can see how they lose their impact, especially for customers who have checked out emotionally from a brand but just haven’t unsubscribed yet.

12 creative subject lines

But we did find some senders breaking out of the discount-deadline box with their subject lines. A few use icons called “emoji” to add color and pizzazz to their inbox presence – mainly hearts and smiley-faces, although we spotted a few high-five emoji sprinkled here and here.

Below is a sample of some notable subject lines. Would any of these work for your brand? *

  1. Valentine’s Day is on us (Diane Von Furstenberg): Another way to say “free shipping.”
  2. Printable Valentine’s Day Cards in Minutes (Better Homes and Gardens Holidays & Celebrations) Not a retail email but a good model for putting the benefit in the subject line.
  3. Earn 1,750 points on Valentine’s Day flowers & gifts! (JetBlue Airways) How to do a price promotion without mentioning price.
  4. Gifts from the for your Valentine, plus enjoy 15% off your first order (Mark and Graham) Example of emoji in the subject line.
  5. Love is the Ultimate Form of Bravery – Get your Crew Ready for Valentine’s Day! (Sport Kilt) Nothing says loving like tossing the caber in a tiny tartan skirt, no matter what gender you claim.
  6. All Love is Love – Valentine’s Day Gifts (Versace) Promotes a unisex bracelet with an inclusive message.
  7. Valentine’s Day Date Night Solved. [Hint: Movie Tickets Included] (Edible Arrangements) Irresistible for the date-night-challenged lover.
  8. My most memorable Valentine’s Day (Victoria’s Secret) This brand’s subject lines usually rely on price or discount promotions for Valentine’s Day, so this content-focused one stands out. Plus, it’s Victoria’s Secret, which makes you wonder just what it’s all about.
  9. Valentine’s Gifts, Hold the Mush (Uncommon Goods) On-brand and clever.
  10. Valentine’s Day Survival Guide ( Echoes the mixed feelings many have about Valentine’s Day.
  11. Valentine’s treats because we love you (Wallis) Aww! Naturally the brand wants to sell you something but it’s a nice sentiment to see anyway.
  12. You can hurry love. THE chocolate sale is here (Virginia Diner) One of several retailers who appropriated popular songs in subject lines.
  13. Runners-up: We found love (Abercrombie & Fitch) and Crazy little thing called love (Park Avenue CDs).

* Based on creativity alone. We don’t have testing data showing whether they drove higher open, click rates or conversion or how they fit into the brand’s messaging strategy.

Check out the Archive for yourself

Create your free FreshAddress Email Creative Archive account now, and plug some terms into the search engine. See what your fellow emailers are doing with their subject lines, message copy and design, or spy on your competition without subscribing to their programs. Let us know the names of brands you’d like to see that aren’t listed yet.

It’s our Valentine’s Day gift to you, and it won’t wilt, add calories or come in the wrong size.

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