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How to Woo Valentine’s Day Customers

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026homespunweb.jpgRISMEDIA, Feb. 6, 2008-As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, nearly half of U.S. small businesses (46%) anticipate strong holiday sales according to Constant Contact’s 3rd Annual Small Business Valentine’s Day Outlook survey. This represents an increase in optimism for the holiday over last year, when 37% of survey respondents that anticipated strong Valentine’s Day sales. Constant Contact®, Inc. is a provider of e-mail marketing and online surveys for small organizations.More Small Businesses Plan to Woo Customers This Valentine’s Day

With signs of a slowing economy, a majority of surveyed U.S. small businesses (68%) plan to reach out to their customers this year with special Valentine’s Day promotions in an effort to capture more business, a marked increase over last year’s 53%.

“Even with a slowing economy, many small businesses recognize Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to attract customers and it’s not surprising that more of them are relying on cost-effective ways to market themselves to current and prospective customers this year,” said Gail Goodman, CEO, Constant Contact. “While tools like e-mail marketing can have a large impact on businesses during any economic climate, they are particularly important when consumers are faced with many choices for their Valentine’s Day spending.”

Nearly half (44%) of respondents consider Valentine’s Day an important holiday for their businesses and are relying on cost-effective marketing methods to get their promotions out. E-mail marketing (42%) was identified as the primary marketing method, followed by online marketing, including paid search and banner ads (20%). These methods far exceed other more costly traditional methods such as direct mail (nine percent) and print advertising (seven percent). Forty-two percent of respondents also credit e-mail marketing as having the greatest impact on driving sales, an increase from 38% in 2007.

Valentine’s Day Purchasing Trends

According to surveyed U.S. small business owners, Valentine’s Day consumers are last-minute shoppers. In fact, 46% expect their customers to shop the week of Valentine’s Day, with 11% waiting until the final day to pick up gifts. In terms of anticipated spending, Valentine’s Day shoppers are not expected to be as thrifty this year as they were last year. In 2007, 53% of small businesses said their customers would spend less than $25, whereas in 2008 only 39% expect their customers will spend this total on a token of their affection.

Small businesses also expect online sales to play a large role in this year’s Valentine’s Day sales. More than half (59%) expect online sales will increase this year.

According to U.S. small businesses, consumers can expect to receive traditional gifts from their loved ones this year. Although still the most anticipated gift, flowers dropped in popularity from 51% last year to 41% this year. “Dinner” ranked next in popularity at 23% – up five percentage points from last year, and jewelry was predicted to be the most purchased item by 18% of respondents, followed by chocolate at 14%.

Sample questions and results from Constant Contact’s 3rd Annual Small Business Valentine’s Day Outlook include the following:

Is Valentine’s Day an important holiday for your
business?
Yes 44%
No 56%

Do you anticipate a strong Valentine’s Day season in
sales for your business?
Yes 46%
No 54%

Are you planning any promotional offers for Valentine’s
Day?

Yes 68%
No 32%

What marketing methods will you use to promote your
Valentine’s Day offerings?
E-mail Marketing 42%
Online Marketing 20%
Flyers 12%
Direct Mail 9%
Advertising (TV, radio, or newspaper) 7%
Other 8%

Which of the below methods has the greatest impact on
driving sales for your business?
E-mail Marketing 42%
Online Marketing 15%
Flyers 9%
Direct Mail 7%
Advertising (TV, radio, or newspaper) 4%
Other 23%

Do you think that, in general, consumers will be making
more purchases online for Valentine’s Day in 2008?
Yes 59%
No 41%

The 2008 U.S. Small Business Valentine’s Day Outlook survey was conducted through targeted online distribution to U.S. small business owners, who are current customers of Constant Contact, recording results from more than 600 respondents. The survey was conducted from December 31, 2007 through January 9, 2008.

For more information, visit www.constantcontact.com or call (781) 472-8100.

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