Marketing no-goes this Valentine’s Day: How brands can woo customers without “love-bombing” them

Excessive and unwanted communications can stifle brand relationships

Sam Richardson

Customer Engagement Consultant Twilio


“Love-bombing” may be an unhealthy tactic we’ve come to understand in the dating world, but it eerily reflects how some brands are engaging with their customers today.

Whether it’s excessive emails, poorly targeted ads, opt-out requests falling on deaf ears, or hard sell tactics that simply don’t resonate - ‘courting’ customers with this level of intensity is a sure fire way to turn them off.

Just as in the dating world, this excessive and unwanted behaviour doesn’t create genuine long-term relationships. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, we look at how brands can ditch “love-bombing” tactics to build better relationships with their customers. 

The challenges facing marketers 

Twilio’s latest Relationship Economy report, highlights the top-down business pressures impacting marketing strategies. In fact, 51% of marketers said they have felt increased pressure to ramp up communications.

With wider macroeconomic business challenges dictating marketing strategies, it’s easy to see why companies are dialling up marketing activity to drive leads and sales. However, the payoff simply isn’t there. Not only do these practices create a frustrated customer base, but 92% of UK marketers believe they have eroded consumer trust, too.

Over-targeted adverts (45%) were identified as the leading contributor to this decline in trust, followed by inconsistent pricing (38%), over-communicating (35%), use of third-party cookies (33%), and non-personalised communications (28%).

The research also showed that marketers want their brand to be perceived as honest and reliable, over being fast and transactional. So, what can brands do to create more authentic and meaningful interactions with their customers?

Personalisation, personalisation, personalisation…

The crux of this answer lies with personalisation. Not all brand-customer relationships are the same; brands need to understand and respect the different dynamics they have with their customers, as well as consumers’ individual preferences and needs. If brands focus on getting to know every customer and their needs, they’ll have the data to personalise their communications accordingly.

Brands should shift to first-party data collection. This data has been obtained directly from consenting consumers in the process of interacting with a brand, providing invaluable insights from data the brand directly owns. The Relationship Economy Report found that over half (56%) of UK marketers believe that use of this data will enable more accurate personalisation, as well as building greater trust with consumers (50%).

Then there’s Artificial Intelligence (AI), which can up the personalisation game. AI has the capacity to run potentially millions of marketing campaigns all at once that are hyper-targeted to the intended recipient. Gone are the days when generic mass marketing emails go unread and clog up inboxes – AI can enable personalisation at scale.

‘Love bombing’ practices are on the out… thoughtful gestures, and authentic brand-customer relationships are taking centre stage.

Sam Richardson, Customer Engagement Consultant at Twilio

With AI freeing up time and making suggestions, marketers also have greater capacity to think differently and creatively about how they can deliver original, targeted marketing, rather than relying on generic content that fails to resonate.

The ‘new rules’ of marketing etiquette

A shift towards more considerate and respectful customer engagements – and a move away from ‘love bombing’ tactics - is needed to establish greater trust between brands and consumers. Just as in the dating world, there are ‘new rules’ that need to be followed:

  1. Respect boundaries and move on when someone’s not interested: Respect the boundaries of consumers who have shown a lack of interest or have opted out of communications by acknowledging their decision and gracefully moving on. Not only does this provide customers with that much desired control, but respecting boundaries will ultimately better your reputation as a business.
  2. Keep things interesting: Avoid repetitive marketing messages that may lead to disengagement. Pre-empt this by thinking of new ways to talk about products and services, offering related stories and content, or other entertaining experiences to keep consumers interested and coming back for more.
  3. Be unexpected: With countless brands all vying for consumers’ attention, surprise and delight them by going beyond their expectations. Unexpected gestures, personalised interactions, and exclusive perks can leave a lasting positive impression on consumers.
  4. Prioritise important communication: Focus on the resolution of customer issues and queries before trying to engage your audience with marketing messages. Marketers should be agile enough to tap into their knowledge of a customer’s existing or previous interactions with the company to inform who, when and how they target a customer.
  5. Continuously improve and adapt: Regularly assess and analyse consumer interactions and feedback from marketing campaigns to identify both successes and areas for improvement. By being proactive in evolving your approach, brands can ensure they retain relevancy, and marketing resonates with the target audience.

The takeaways

In a world where ‘love bombing’ practices are on the out, thoughtful gestures, and authentic brand-customer relationships are taking centre stage. Although marketers face a conundrum of getting cut through in such a challenging landscape, they will reap the rewards if they can successfully embrace practices that foster trust and build more powerful, personalised customer engagements.

The answer lies in respecting boundaries and preferences, and prioritising consent. Personalisation, not persistence, will ultimately win customers over. And it’s not just about Valentine’s Day; it’s about building lasting connections all year long.

Guest Author

Sam Richardson

Customer Engagement Consultant Twilio


With over 20 years of experience helping organizations improve their customer engagement strategies, Sam is passionate about the power of great conversations to drive transformation. As a facilitator, event host, and CX expert, she’s worked with leaders across EMEA and APAC to create engaging, impactful discussions. She consults with organisations from the latest tech startups to global household brands on their engagement and CX strategies, and is a sought after contributor on the future of customer engagement.