Every marketer has sent an email campaign with a mistake. Here’s what to do about it, along with examples from Google and Facebook.
I used to save emails from major companies that had major mistakes in them. My intent was to share examples for an article like this. After a while, the number of emails with mistakes grew to be too many and the frequency was every few days. I realized that whenever I chose to write this article, I’d have a few handy email goofs nearby… as recently as yesterday, and today.
The purpose here is not to point out the mistakes of others. The world is full of those kinds of people. I’m not one of them. The purpose is to help you decide what to do, if anything, after an email marketing campaign has been sent with a mistake. Another purpose is to help put things in perspective.
Make no mistake (pun), I am passionate about perfection, and “good enough” is never good enough, until has to be. I’m transparent, so I’ll tell you right now that I’ve been part of writing, revising, editing, or carefully reviewing an email campaign that I’ve approved with a mistake as plain as day. No one is ever happy about that — not the client, not me, not my team. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. You might read this and wonder if marketers have a process in place to prevent this. Of course. We follow the same process, every single time, for every single email. Processes can be derailed by imperfect humans. While great processes make the world go round, my near-cold coffee from Dunkin’ two days ago proves that none are foolproof. Did your luggage ever land in a different city than you did? Humans.
Here are real emails I’ve just received that had a correction:
Subject Line: Exact same as the first send
Message: Oops! Let’s try this again. :-) Here’s the email again with the correct link.
EMAIL 2 (Overly Apologetic)
Subject Line: “Oops, we made a mistake!”
Message: I wanted to reach out and extend my sincere apologies.
You received an email from our marketing team regarding an upcoming (company) workshop that you had not RSVP’d for. Ooops.
This email was sent as part of human error and while we’re all human, we have put steps in place to ensure this type of accident will not happen again.
If you have any questions, please reply to this email and I will answer you directly within 24 hours.
“Ensure this type of accident will not happen again?” While I agree they made a mistake, they didn’t accidentally spill boiling coffee on my lap. It’s ok. Give those overly-busy marketers a break.
Subject Line: Apologies for the accidental email delivery
Message: “You may have accidentally received an email from (publication name) regarding our (upcoming, unnamed) event. This email was sent to you by mistake, and we apologize for any confusion it may have caused.
EMAIL 4, FROM FACEBOOK
Subject Line: Exact same as the first send
Message: “Email sent in error. We mistakenly sent you an email with the subject line ‘Upcoming criteria update | Facebook Marketing Partners for Creative’. That email was intended only for partners who are presently going through an annual badge review. We apologize for any confusion or disruption this caused for you and your company.”
EMAIL 5, FROM GOOGLE
Subject: (Clarification): July 15 as effective date on tax changes for Google Play purchases in Louisiana and Mississippi, in the US
Message: “Hello Google Play Developer, we recently sent an email stating Google will be responsible for determining, charging, and remitting state and local sales tax for all Google Play paid apps, and in-app purchases made by customers in the Louisiana and Mississippi states, in the United States from July 1st, 2020.
The date in this email was incorrect. This change will instead take effect on July 15th, 2020.
We apologize for this error. For more information on tax rates visit the Google Play Console Help Center. If you have any other questions, please consult your tax advisor.
Human Error is Very… Human
I trust if you’re reading this, you care about creating great work. Excellence matters to you. Delivering without flaw is part of your character. Yet, it doesn’t always happen that way, because you happen to be human.
When those errors happen, there is a simple filter to determine what to do next. Feel free to share this with your clients. You may know this, your clients may not.
- Does the error include material information that will cause problems? If yes, send a correction. Example: Please join us in person on Saturday, October 3 for dinner and entertainment. If the event is Friday, October 3, you should correct that to avoid confusion.
- Is there a technical issue, such as a link not working to purchase a product or register for an event? If so, re-send with a correction.
- Is there an image missing? If the image is missing and it’s highly relevant to the message, you should resend. If the image is like those in most B2B email campaigns, meaning, they are supporting the message, do not re-send. You may have wanted that image you carefully chose to be viewed by all. Re-sending is for your benefit, but annoying to your recipients. It’s ok, they get it, and life goes on. Your business success doesn’t rest on one image. At least I hope it doesn’t.
- Is there a typo?
- Please visit us at booth 3747 at the Javits Center (if the booth number is wrong)
Do not, under any circumstances, re-send in these cases:
- Watch our Director of Business Development, Michael Ruffled-Feathers, present his wisdom at the show.
- Oh no, Michael Ruffled-Feathers was promoted to SVP Business Development three months ago. Should you send a correction so the world knows his new title? No. Please, no. No one cares about titles but Michael, and if you re-send an email to appease him, you will alienate your audience. Ask Michael to get over it, kindly, of course.
Our company is pleased to exhibit at the event in beutiful Chicago.
Most people won’t notice, or care, that you misspelled beautiful. Move on.
The filter questions you should ask must be based on making the lives of your recipients easier. We all get too much email. If resending a campaign makes the life of your recipient easier, resend it. If resending an email is simply to show the world you’ve caught your own mistake, don’t do it.
Most marketing errors are caught and corrected long before they are made public. In the case of email marketing campaigns, once they are sent, you can’t unsend them. If your company offers a valuable product or service, one minor mistake won’t make your business fall apart.
Should you have a process in place to prevent future mistakes? Yes. Continually refine that process.
Should you put an email mistake in perspective so you can put your limited energy into more important things? Absolutely.