Holiday Sale Emails: 7 Dos and Don’ts to Keep in Mind This Season

When I first got my new smart phone, I thought that it was a wonderful convenience to have all my e-mails come straight to my phone. HA! Well, thanks to this Christmas season I have begun to rethink my feelings: all because of the constant, day-and-night bombardment of commercial sales emails.

HUGE sales

Could THIS be the biggest sale of the season?

On a daily basis, I receive around 15 to 20 emails from places that I frequently shop (or places that I was stupid enough to provide with my email address). And, just like the previous email I received the day before, they claim that it is their biggest sale of the season and I must take advantage of it because it only lasts for one day. They use slogans such as, “Bigger than Black Friday,” “The Perfect Gift for Everyone on Your List,” “12 Days of Deals,” etc.

More HUGE sales

Or perhaps THIS is actually the biggest sale of the holidays?

Unfortunately, I think the reason I loathe these emails so much is that they work on me. For example, the other day I received an email about a one-day-ONLY American Eagle Outfitters discount — orders would be 25% off if ordering online with free shipping. I’ll give you one guess what I did that night when I got home from work! Yep, I went online and ordered a variety of things; some that I had planned on buying for Christmas gifts and of course a cute sweater that the little voice in my head told me I had to have. In my mind, it was somehow justified because everything was marked down. Sales always get me! This is not the first time that this happened to me, either. I can think of at least 5 other times I went impulse shopping because of e-mails promoting “HUGE” sales.

Well, as my wallet is shrinking, I can say for certain that e-mail campaigns are working this holiday season. However, I think there are a few things that marketers have to take into consideration in this new technological age.

Don’t overdo the e-mails. Now that most of Americans own a cell phone, and a large percentage of those have smart phones which enable them to receive and view emails almost anywhere and at any time, email marketers need to be aware of how many promotional emails they send. It can become pretty annoying when your phone is consistently beeping with new notifications, and when you take the time to look at it you discover it’s only The Limited or Victoria’s Secret again.

Be aware of the timing. This is the most annoying to me. Since I’m a light sleeper and refuse to turn my phone on silent in fear that someone will need me, I often wake up to my email notifications at all hours of the night. I got an email from Amazon last night at 4:32 AM and unfortunately couldn’t go back to sleep for over an hour!

Don’t make the same claim over and over! Please refrain from saying in every sales promotion that yours is the biggest sale of the season, because I know that the last email I got said the same thing. It becomes confusing…which one is really the biggest sale? This can deter people from shopping at stores because they don’t know if retailers are being honest or simply trying to hook them with a line.

Now, I’ll stop complaining. I just reviewed a few past sale emails I received and was able to find some positive marketing ideas, too!

There are ways to hook us with your emails!

There are ways to hook us with your emails!

If you’re going to send holiday emails to clients, here are some recommendations:

  1. Suggest presents for the hard to buy for type or specific interests, gardening, cooking, techie, etc.
  2. Have a special deals purchase price. Everyone has a limited budget, and when you make it simple as to how much a product is, the buying part doesn’t seem so hard.
  3. Promote shipping by Christmas for the late shoppers to ensure they have the presents before the big day.
  4. Emails advertising new products or lines are always a favored relief after all the sales emails. Christmas is a great time to advertise and test run new products to see if customers are interested in the new brand or items.

Does anyone else find all the sales emails to be annoying? Have any suggestions regarding how email marketing can be redefined during the holidays?


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Eric

    Your timing on this one’s way too good, Ellyn.

    For me, it’s not so much the e-mails (I never give my address at stores and I always unsubscribe from the ones coming from online orders)…but the catalogs.

    You know, some make sense. Did I order something from J.Crew? Why, yes I did…I’d expect them to send me a catalog.

    But lately, I’ve gotten a whole slew of random merchants and companies sending me them. If this didn’t mean clearing out a few forests’ worth of paper, well, I wouldn’t mind it so much. But I’ve received two or three catalogs this months alone from ONE company, in some cases.

    Now’s actually a good time for those e-mails, but having worked retail myself? Wait until the holiday’s especially close, and those stores need to CLEAR OUT all the crap they thought they’d sell, and still have yet to. That’s when they’ll bust-out not only the discounts, but the free, in-hand-by-Christmas shipping, too.

    Good stuff, Ellyn!

  2. Mandy Kilinskis

    I’m getting the same volume of e-mail from Toys-R-Us. I swear, they send – at minimum – four e-mails per day. And they manage to have different offers every single time. It’s really quite obnoxious. I’m all for a good deal, but when I see your name in my inbox three times, I get angry.

    Also, some companies really need to get their automated software updated. I had a company e-mail me that I would be interested in the Disney Princess Once Upon a Slipper Ornament Set because in the past I have purchased the Disney Princess Once Upon a Slipper Ornament Set. …really? You think I was interested in that? Then again, this is the company that I ranted about in my customer service post, so I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised.

  3. Alex Brodsky

    I get the EXACT same emails from Amazon! Even worse, I’ve “unsubscribed” from their mailing list at least twice!

    I use a fairly simple method to avoid most of these emails coming to my phone. As I have a Google phone, I only get my GMail sent there. Anytime I have to enter an email address (whether it be shopping, ordering food, etc…), I give them my Yahoo e-mail that I only use for my Fantasy Sports nerd-ing out. I’ll usually have a couple hundred new emails when I log in, but I just leave them sitting there.

  4. Rachel

    I have a love-hate relationship with these kinds of advertising emails. They can be really annoying, as you’ve explained, but at the same time I often find deals that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. For example, Amazon recently sent me a buy-one-get-one-free deal for the Sims 3 and its expansion packs. And I’ve totally been wanting to buy Sims 3 forever — so I caved and bought the base game and one of the expansions. Of course, like you mentioned, it’s easy to get sucked into buying things you WEREN’T planning on getting, too! Stupid effective marketing. 😉

    Great post, Ellyn! Your dos and don’ts are equally spot-on. Hopefully some email marketers are listening … 🙂

  5. Jen

    Ugh, Ellyn I get the “best-deal-of-the-year” e-mails all the time, but I have it set up to go directly into a junk folder. It’s just too tiresome to go through every time I open my e-mail. Every two or three months I open the folder and just click delete all. It feels pretty good.

    Sometimes they send good coupons and deals, but it’s very rare. I have even unsubscribed to almost all of the junk I get a few times, like Alex mentioned, but they just keep coming.

    Also, I don’t have a smart phone, but I can totally understand what your getting at about the great annoyance the e-mail cause because I now get junk texts! I hate it so much!!! When my phone vibrates, I think “oh cool someone I want to hear from is texting me”…nope it’s just me Pay Day Loans, and I wan to give you $500 for your holiday shopping!!! Stop calling me PAY DAY LOANS I don’t want your dirty money ever!!! I don’t even know how you got my number!?!?

    Great post Ellyn 🙂

  6. amy

    On my phone, which isn’t technically a “smart phone”, I can read my emails on it. At first I was so excited that I opted-in for alerts when new emails came in. Then after a day and a half I opted out for alerts. Seriously, it was like once twenty minutes my phone would beep, buzz, and shout at me (okay, not literally but still).

    I hope companies are reading and taking notes, because you hit everything right on the head. Thank you!!

  7. Jill Tooley

    I couldn’t even tell you how many sale emails I receive in a day…this month and last month have been THE WORST. It’s even better when they sell/give your email address to their sister and parent companies and then spam your inbox even more!

    I’m sort of like you in the sense that I’m often suckered into clicking on deals, though. It really depends on the store…Think Geek usually always gets me to click through to their site because they have such amazing stuff. But Kohl’s sends me so many emails that I can’t even keep up anymore! Don’t get me wrong, I love that store, but why would I click on a 20% off coupon if I know they’re just going to send me another coupon in two days (that could be even better)?

Leave a Comment

Copyright 2003 - 2016 Quality Logo Products, Inc., Registration No. TX7-524-201. All Rights Reserved.