Consumers start searching early, especially on mobile devices, and are still clicking on search ads Feb. 13.

With Christmas behind us, Internet retailers will hardly have time to catch their breath before Cupid pierces us with his Valentine’s Day arrow, providing another big impetus to online and mobile shopping.

According to The National Retail Federation, consumers will spend $20 billion on purchases related to Valentine’s Day in 2016. The annual celebration of love on Feb. 14 is now the fourth-largest occasion in terms of consumer spending, following the winter holidays, back-to-school, and Mother’s Day. Consumers who shopped for Valentine’s Day in 2015 spent on average $142.

While candy (in the form of chocolate), cards and flowers might seem the obvious choices for gifts on this special day, a Camp Valentine’s Day survey for eBates in 2015 revealed that 40% of us secretly hope to be given some kind of tech gadget like a smartphone or tablet.

No Valentine’s Day would be complete without hearing about someone in our circle of friends or family getting engaged to be married. Research from American Express shows that in 2015 14 million people made a marriage commitment, representing a staggering 12% of singletons in the U.S.

So what’s the online path to purchase for the modern love-struck American consumer?

Our Bing Ads Insights Team have been digging into the search data from 2015 and have discovered:

  • Mobile searches were the first to pick up around the second week in January as potential customers started researching products, comparing prices and looking up retailer information such as location, store hours and directions.
  • The first two weeks in February were when the bulk of Valentine’s Day-related searches happen, with most happening on PC and tablet versus smartphone. We expect mobile searches to grow in 2016, based on 2015 data.
  • 40% of Valentine’s searches in 2015 used gift as a keyword. Flowers showed up in 16% of searches and jewelry in 15%. Candy, restaurants/recipes and cards were also popular terms.
  • People were still searching for gifts, flowers and cards right up until the big day, as Bing saw the biggest click-through rates on ads on 13th February between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. across all devices.
  • The top 10 searches related to Valentine’s Day accounted for 32% of all search volume and 74% of those were related to specific brands. (Sorry, we can’t say which ones.)
  • Ad quality and click-through-rate improved when ad copy for gifts contained superlatives (best, top, great) coupled with calls-to-action (send now, make someone) and pricing information. Ads for flowers were regarded more favorably if the words implied a good selection or choice of blooms.
  • So whether you advertise your business on Google, Bing or both search engines we recommend the following tactics to ensure you get the very best ROI for your Valentine’s campaigns:
    • Start to advertise in January to capture early-bird researchers.
    • Include Call Extensions in your ads so shoppers can contact you if they have a specific question regarding a product or to make sure a product makes it on time.
    • Include Location Extensions so potential customers can find you if you have a physical store. There’s a good chance they might want to peruse items in person and potentially purchase online to be delivered later.
    • Bid on your brand terms to protect your hard-earned equity, and consider bidding on your competitors’ to garner more clicks and visibility in what is bound to be a competitive marketplace, especially in the final days before Feb. 14.
    • Take a peek at our ad copy heat maps to see what ad copy combinations are most likely to increase the quality of your ads as well as get more clicks.
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