Independence Day is this week, which means a fair amount of mobile marketers will likely be sending holiday-themed promotions for their app. Some of those campaigns will be smart, relevant and a boon to their brand. A lot, though, would be better off not being sent at all.

Holidays have a special cultural resonance that not many other experiences have. That means that when a holiday campaign works well, it can work extremely well, driving higher user engagement, increased conversions and positive word of mouth about your brand. But when they go wrong, they can go very, very wrong, causing counterproductive results and raising the risk that your app could become a national (or international!) laughingstock.

Want to make sure you’re doing holiday campaigns right? Here are a few things to keep an eye on:

You’re Linking Your Outreach to an Obscure or Nonexistent Holiday
If it’s International Beer Day (August 1st!) and your app allows users to have alcohol delivered with a single tap, then by all means, send out a multi-channel messaging campaign tied to the holiday. Even if people haven’t heard of the holiday, they’ll understand intuitively how it’s relevant to your app and if your campaign is clever, the odds are that your audience will respond. On the other hand, think twice about sending out a campaign about a holiday that people are unlikely to have heard of and isn’t obviously related to the service your app provides. This kind of campaign feels desperate and isn’t likely to get you the results you want.

You’re Sending Out a Campaign Connected to a Regional or National Holiday
Lots of mobile marketers target U.S. holidays like President’s Day or regional holidays like Boston’s Patriots’ Day for mobile campaigns, which makes sense when you’re trying to reach users in the areas that celebrate these occasions. But what about the rest of your user base? People will get annoyed if they receive a bunch of messages about a holiday they don’t celebrate and may not have ever heard of.

You Want to Use a Potentially Sensitive Holiday to Promote Your App
Tread carefully. If your app provides a service or experience that genuinely supports the environmental consciousness and action that Earth Day promotes, it makes sense to highlight it in a campaign to your users. But if your app’s success depends on shipping products in high-emission diesel trucks and wrapping them in hard-to-recycle materials, you should expect an Earth Day campaign to trigger some blowback. In most cases, the benefits that result from this kind of campaign are going to be eclipsed by user bewilderment and negative publicity, so think very seriously about whether a particular holiday is really a good fit for your outreach.


A similar version of this post originally appeared on the Appboy blog.