For retailers trying to win in the make-or-break holiday shopping season, no digital channel is arguably more important than email.

By some estimates, email drove a quarter of all visits that produced a sale this Black Friday, putting it ahead of organic and paid search and direct traffic.

The holiday season presents some unique challenges for email marketers, and there are a number of pitfalls that can dent email campaigns. Here are the seven deadly sins email marketers need to avoid during this period.

1. Sending too many emails

The last two months of the year are important ones for many businesses, particularly retailers. But your company's desire for a strong year-end doesn't give you permission to launch an email assault.

Instead of moving the needle, overaggressive email marketing in November and December is more likely to annoy subscribers and encourage them to unsubscribe from your list.

2. Being oblivious to key dates

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green and Giving Tuesday. While it seems that the number of key dates in the holiday shopping season is growing, marketers shouldn't ignore these dates as timing is everything during this period.

This is particularly true for non-retailers who need to be especially strategic to reach their targets when retailers are so active on the email marketing front.

3. Trying to engage customers you neglected

Email is one of the most effective tools for winning back customers. But while it might be tempting to try to communicate with customers you haven't touched in months or years, the reality is that the holiday season is rarely an ideal time to effectively engage past customers you have neglected.

If you haven't been in contact with a former customer via email for months or years, be aware that asking them to remember you at the same time they're being courted by companies that have done a better job at maintaining a relationship can be a tough act to pull off.

heartbreak

4. Promoting too much

Thanks to marketing overload, attention spans are short during the holiday season. To cut through the clutter, email marketing campaigns must be clear and compelling.

Even if you have a lot to offer, promoting too much in an email can increase the likelihood that no action will be taken.

5. Not using personalisation

One of the best ways to create clear and compelling email campaigns is to apply data to personalise messaging. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to put their data to good use and instead send messages that are of less interest to recipients than they could be.

The cost of impersonal messaging during the holidays is especially high.

6. Ignoring inventory

Retailers are losing hundreds of billions of dollars annually because of out-of-stock and overstock inventory. Failing to connect the supply chain to marketing during the holiday shopping season is a particularly deadly sin.

When faced with an out-of-stock item, most consumers take their business elsewhere, something retailers can ill-afford when competition is at its fiercest.

out of stock

7. Trying to be politically correct

Email marketers shouldn't be afraid to develop campaigns around traditional holiday themes, including those that may be associated in some way with a religion.

While there's nothing wrong with a "Happy Holidays" campaign, for example, there's nothing wrong with, say, a drawing of a Christmas tree or menorah either.

Patricio Robles

Published 3 December, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2590 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (2)

Avatar-blank-50x50

Camilla Zajac, Copywriter at Green Light Copywriting

Great post and some important reminders for businesses here!

about 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Paula Johnson, Strategic Accounts at JangoMail

Great article! Sometimes the "common sense" theme is often forgotten!

about 2 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.