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If you have ever gotten away with last-minute holiday shopping or even boast of your retail cramming skills… sorry to burst your bubble. Being the seller on the other side of the fence won’t be as easy.

While it’s common behavior for shoppers to chalk up their holiday rush as “normal” shopping experience, retailers cannot afford to make the same mistake.

Holiday season sales for e-commerce businesses are on a steady rise, with 2017 drawing $108.2 billion in online sales—up by almost 15% from the previous year.

Knowing that a lot is at stake, how do we make the most out of the upcoming holiday season?

Aside from keeping in mind the basics of a marketing plan, below are the nine worst holiday marketing mistakes to avoid and what you should do instead:

1) Assuming killer sales 

All the statistics may point to the holiday season being the big boost retailers anticipate. But with over 1.3 million e-commerce companies in North America alone, don’t fall into the trap of getting careless with your presumed profits.

You still have a bottom line to worry about, so make sure not to lose sight of it amid all the holiday preparation.

What you should do instead:

Don’t try to compete with Walmart, Costco, Sam’s and other big bulk company stores. Avoid going overboard with promotions. An increase in online purchases also means an increase in competition.

Plan strategically and carefully when and how you will offer your products and services in a way that won’t negatively affect your bottom line and leave you reeling the rest of the year.

2) Equating a visit with a sale 

It’s easy to get caught up with trying to draw as much traffic as you can for the holiday season. But remember: not all visits convert into sales.

You may see a spike in clicks, likes, comments, web visits, and app downloads. But if there were no purchases, then these prospective customers need to be retargeted.

What you should do instead:

Carrying out a successful retargeting campaign involves reminding your already warm audience why they were there in the first place—that is, your awesome products!

This includes retargeting previous website or Facebook page visitors, customers over the past months, first-time/frequent visitors, and other audiences in the same demographic or location.

3) Thinking discounts are the (only) way to go 

Bargain prices aren’t always the answer. Discounting may be the go-to game plan to attract new customers, but it can actually hurt your holiday profits and business in the long run by reducing the ‘perceived value’ of your product or service.

What you should do instead:

Unless price is your only unique selling proposition, no brand wants to be known as simply the place to buy the cheap stuff.

Instead, make it all about customer experience. Whether you run a brick-and-mortar store and can smile and greet your shoppers, or by simply making sure your platform has extra bandwidth and 24/7 customer support for online shopping troubleshooting—good service will make all the difference.

4) Sticking with a year-long generic website design and UX 

Just as mall displays, music, and decoration contribute to the holiday cheer, so should your website design and content. This isn’t just a simple red-and-green plus Santa hat aesthetic revamp–we’re talking going all out.

What you should do instead:

Although design can boost conversions, it also involves a well-thought out strategy for a curated holiday section—from a Christmas catalogue, present ideas, a wish list feature, or even a gift receipt and wrapping option. Make sure that these are well-communicated in your ads and across your social media platforms to maximize reach.

Take your cue from U.S. outdoor brand L.L Bean, which adopted a winter theme for its overall look and featured complementing images of their apparel shot outdoors. Their website also highlighted a ‘holiday favorites’ section that provided gift ideas and extra services such as monogram personalization.



5) Not investing in mobile responsiveness

You may think you have everything down to a T—great products, a holiday campaign and a website that’s up and running. But you’re missing out on a huge opportunity if you ignore your mobile pages.

What you should do instead:

With over 61.2 percent of people worldwide projected to access the internet from their smartphone or tablet this 2018, you can’t simply make mobile design and UX an afterthought.

Irish pizza company Four Star Pizza took advantage of optimizing their mobile landing page for Black Friday and boosting it through an SMS campaign. With this tactic, Four Star Pizza experienced a 30% boost in conversions, claiming that their only issue was that staff couldn’t keep up with the demand.



Aside from ensuring that your landing pages are optimized, especially for the holiday surge, bear in mind that all your website’s functionalities should be mobile-responsive. To make sure your site achieves this, see to it that the images you use are of high quality, calls-to-action are properly emphasized, and payment channels are seamlessly operating.

6) Skipping the ‘minor’ events 

It’s likely that you have your Black Friday (November 23) and Christmas dates circled in the calendar as big as you can. There is nothing wrong with that as Black Friday alone has a forecasted growth rate of 47% per year.

It’s just that everyone else does this too. And while you will probably make a lot from those ‘big days’, disregarding the minor ones might be a costly mistake.

What you should do instead:

Cyber Monday (November 26) is now gaining traction more than ever. In fact, Cyber Monday last year outdid Black Friday sales and was touted the ‘largest online shopping day in US history’ with a whopping $6.59 billion in sales recorded.

Are you also aware of Small Business Saturday (November 24), Giving Tuesday (November 27), Free Shipping Day (December 14) and Green Monday (December 10)? If you aren’t, better mark them in your calendar too.

Take, for example, this Giving Tuesday promo from Tennessee-based botanical garden and art museum, Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. Not only was a clear call-to-action provided, the email also highlighted the act of giving twice—giving the gift of membership to family or friends, and contributing to Cheekwood’s mission to give back to its community.



Develop social media campaigns for these so-called ‘minor’ days during Cyber Week and see how people respond. Who doesn’t love free shipping—especially with the hectic pace of the holidays?

Giving Tuesday and Small Business Saturday, on the other hand, both add another layer of compassion to your brand, giving the impression that your business is an active member of your community with a heart.

7) Forgetting about your (and your business’) humanity 

The holidays are supposed to be full of love, care, kindness, and all those feelings that make you warm and fuzzy inside. Everyone wants to feel special.

But what can bring the Grinch out of anyone is receiving an online newsletter or homogeneous card that says, “Dear ma’am/ sir, happy holidays!”.

Nothing says “you’re-just-another-name-I-have-to-tick-on-the-list” when sending out these greetings without a trace of human detail— or even the effort to customize (at the very least) to your customer’s name.



How to avoid it:

It may cost more and take a little longer, but invest in producing warm greetings to your customers that communicate genuine concern for them.

While automated messages can be effective during other times of the year, people will not respond well to that during this time of the year. They’re inundated and sick of it. Don’t activate your ‘robo-care’ bot during the holiday season. If they feel that you don’t take the effort to treat them humanely during this time, they might not come back at all.

8) Going all out on traditional advertising 

This should be a no-brainer, but many still make the mistake of not investing enough in digital advertising and marketing.

96% of B2C marketers already vouch for Facebook, saying that the social giant plays a vital role in their marketing. If people don’t see you online, they will surely see someone else who spent well in ads.

What you should do instead:

Check out American Electronics Company GameStop’s Christmas Facebook campaign that utilized creative video ads and straight-to-the-point images with a powerful copy.  Overall, this holiday run gave them a  7.5x increase in incremental return on ad spend and 4% incremental lift in customer purchases.



Don’t forego traditional print advertising altogether, but allot a significant budget for online advertising.

Distribute your investment in different platforms and channels so your brand is readily available for willing (and holiday-desperate buyers). Create pay-per-click ads with the right combination of keywords and attractive design. Also, don’t forget to target the right locations and customer segments.

9) Making your customers feel bad 

Everyone is okay with spending (and overspending) during the holiday season—just don’t remind them that they are doing it. Make sure your ads don’t make your customers feel bad about their spending, especially not during the holidays.

What you should do instead:

Focus your marketing on the good things about the holidays. This includes highlighting how your customers are making the most of their shopping, thanks to your great products.

Then in January, subtly remind them how much they spent during Christmas by offering them amazing deals, so they can make smart financial decisions after the lavishness of the previous month.


While the most wonderful times of the year may boost your sales, it also stands to be the most stressful occasion for many e-commerce retailers.

Don’t just survive the holiday seasons; thrive. Equipped with these surefire strategies to prevail over common holiday marketing mistakes, use the downtime now and start gearing up for Black Friday and beyond.

Author Bio:

[thrive_testimonial name=”” company=”” image=””] Aaron Chichioco is a digital PR / business columnist. He has a vast experience in overseeing daily operations of several online businesses since 2011. He is currently employed with You can follow Aaron on twitter at @Aaron_Chichioco[/thrive_testimonial]

DSIM Blog is created to help you to know all aspects of Digital Marketing ranging from basics of Digital Marketing to Advance Level Topics, Read our posts and feel free to reach our team for any queries.

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