In some major American cities the number of same gender couples approaches a quarter of all pairings, and it is this statistic which should give email marketers a chance to reflect very carefully on a central aspect of their Valentine’s Day campaigns: Are you essentially locking out or even outright alienating an inordinate number of your subscribers by portraying the traditionally idealized V-Day concept of love as being an exclusively heterosexual phenomenon?

Make your February messaging more inclusive

A mainstay of Valentine’s Day emails is the imagery of the happy couple which almost invariably consists of a man and a woman. While that is the way Valentine’s marketing campaigns have been crafted from time immemorial, the valiantly progressive strides made by non-traditional couples in achieving widespread public acceptance across America have created a situation whereby email marketers should be actively exploring ways to make their February messaging more inclusive.

Skip the couple altogether

A very traditional Valentine’s Day image is that of the happy and surprised woman receiving a special V-Day gift, whether it be a box of chocolates, a bunch of flowers, or best of all a huge wonkin’ diamond ring. If you want to maintain the continuity of this form of imagery you can certainly do so as long as you avoid displaying the other party in the couple. If you have what is clearly a man’s hand holding out the gift for the woman it will inject the traditional heterosexual overlay into the message which is not strictly necessary. Frame your image so that the giving party is not seen in any way, and then the imagination of the subscriber will be able to fill in the blanks as to whether the giver is a male or female.

Males like gifts too

Granted, it would look too much like a Valentine’s Day parody to turn the stereotypical imagery on its head and show a man getting all teary-eyed when presented with a V-Day gift, but there really is no reason why guys can’t be shown receiving gifts. Not only that, but the gift doesn’t necessarily have to be given by a male partner, it can also be provided by a female. As in the previous example, the email marketing campaign could benefit considerably by deftly eliminating the other party and leaving that to the determination of the viewer.

Is showing same-sex couples positive or not?

Your analytics provide all sorts of data about your consumer but their perspectives of same-sex couples may not be among your most evident results. Many of your subscribers may embrace and champion your celebration of same-sex couples on Valentine’s Day while others will see that approach as a violation of traditional family values and hit the unsubscribe button. That is why unless you are marketing to niches which are very clearly in one camp or the other (Fundamentalist Christians on one side or Gay Activist Groups on the other) your email campaign is probably better off by avoiding the image of two men or two women strolling lovingly hand in hand under a glowing moon. Of course you can avoid the entire hetero-homosexual minefield on Valentine’s Day and focus on the very essence of the commemoration and that is the pure factor of Love with a capital L. The heart of any V-Day campaign truly should be the beauty and wonder of Love and if you concentrate on that aspect to the exclusion of the determination of who that Love is dedicated towards, you’ll find that your email messaging will appeal to the greatest number of people.

At a time in human history where we have all been finally granted the freedom to openly explore the full breadth of relationships between consenting adults email marketers have to tread a fine line between enthusiastically embracing the newly de facto status quo while stopping short of offending those millions of customers who are being forcibly dragged while kicking and screaming into this new era. As an email marketer it is not your job to pontificate or advocate the benefits of one view over another, but only to appeal to the greatest number of consumers.