Practical Ecommerce

Email Marketing: 5 Ways to Sabotage Your 2014 Holiday Campaigns

Email marketing is one of the most powerful promotional tools available to online sellers. When done well, a good holiday email marketing campaign can increase sales, which in turn will require ecommerce businesses to pick, pack, and ship many more orders than usual.

But all of those extra orders will likely increase customer service questions, emails, phone calls, and chat messages. If this is too much hassle, you might want to sabotage your 2014 email marketing before it is too late!

So, rather than list tactics to improve holiday email marketing, in the post I’ll rely on sarcasm — and, hopefully, humor — to list what not to do. Here are five tips for encumbering, constraining, and, perhaps, disabling an otherwise excellent marketing vehicle.

1. Write Bad Subject Lines

Several factors — including list quality, message relevance, email frequency, time of day, or even day of the week — can impact open rates for holiday email marketing campaigns, but almost none of these things will get a potential customer to click “delete” faster than a crappy subject line.

To write a truly wretched subject line, consider the following.

  • Use more than 150 characters. Both MailChimp and the Maximizer CRM blog recommend using fewer than 50 characters for a subject line. Subject lines with about six to ten words perform the best.

  • Misspell something. Nothing says spam like misspelled words.

  • Capitalize every letter. Open source spam blocker SpamAssassin considers excessive capitalization to be an indication of spam, so do this and your messages might not even make it to the recipient.

  • Include poor performing keywords. In 2013, digital marketing technology firm Adestra sampled about 2 billion emails to learn which subject line keywords improved open rates. For retail and ecommerce the words “latest,” “free delivery,” “new,” and “% off” all performed well, while “cheap,” “free,” “win,” and “buy” all tended to scuttle open rates.

2. Don’t Bother to Proofread Your Email Messages

If some over-zealous Christmas shopper gets past your sabotaged subject line, consider making your actual email message incoherent.

Perhaps, the simplest approach would be to write a stream of consciousness. As an example, imagine that a particular holiday email was supposed to promote a sale on toys. Rather than coming right to the point and explaining the offer, type out the first few hundred words that come into your mind when you think about toys, including anecdotes about unfulfilled Christmas wishlists from when you were eight are fair game.  Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar. When you’re done typing, call it good and click send.

Concise, properly punctuated email messages that have a clear call to action will likely get shoppers to click through to your site and, perhaps, even make a purchase, so if your aim is to subvert holiday email marketing success, you definitely don’t want to bother proofreading your holiday email messages.

3. Bombard Your Customers’ Inboxes

Email frequency is something of a balancing act. If you don’t send subscribers regular email messages, they might forget that they even subscribed. But send too many emails, and they are likely to unsubscribe.

In fact, according to a 2013 survey cited on the Econsultancy blog, email frequency was the most common reason that former recipients gave for unsubscribing from an email list. Also mentioned in the Econsultancy post is a MailChimp study from April 2013 that found that as a marketer sends more emails, customer engagement drops.

With this in mind, bombard your customers with email messages. Consider scheduling messages for every 30 minutes from now until at least New Years Day. And don’t try to reinvent the proverbial wheel, just send the exact same message over and over again.

4. Treat Everyone the Same

Your customers are individuals. They have different needs, wants, and reasons for buying. So treating them like generic lemmings should pretty much cripple your holiday email marketing.

Personalized email messages improved open rates by 29 percent and unique click-through rates by 41 percent according to a 2013 Experian Marketing Services study. So for poor email performance, don’t even come close to mentioning the recipient’s name, local, or similar.

Also send the exact same message to everyone on your list. Segmenting an email list around customer type, known shopper interests, sales history, or even geographic location might significantly improve email performance.

5. Don’t Actually Send Any Emails

Email marketing, according to a recent INC Magazine article, is mobile friendly, easy to customize and integrate with other marketing tactics, inexpensive, and a real sales driver.

A holiday email marketing campaign is likely to boost site traffic. It can be automated so that messages are sent in response to particular customer actions, and it is very easy to measure and optimize.

With all that it has going for it, perhaps, the best way to sabotage an email marketing campaign is to avoid actually sending any email messages — no sale notifications, no gift suggestions, no reminders, nothing. Even just an average email campaign would likely improve sales and create far too many annoying orders to process.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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Comment ( 1 )

  1. Timo October 28, 2014 Reply

    A wonderful reminder on what NOT to do with email marketing, thank you! We recently posted an article with 16 tips that will contribute in making email marketing an effective tool for online businesses. Find it here!