Practical Ecommerce

Email Marketing: 3 Tips for Recovering from Content Mistakes

The email send button and the content of the message it represents are powerful marketing tools that launch a message directly to thousands of potential customers at once. But when there is a mistake in the email message — a broken link, misspelled word, an incorrect date — an emergency may ensure.

Recently, a multi-channel merchant sent an email to its audience of tens of thousands of registered subscribers. The email announced a special single-day sale that offered a deep discount on everything in its stores. Unfortunately, the date in the email was incorrect — in spite of three different reviews editing the email.

Within five minutes of the email being sent, dozens of customers began to call the merchant with questions or complaints about the sale and its date. This is an email-marketing emergency, and what follows are three tips recovering from just this sort of situation.

Admit the Mistake and Send a Correction

The most obvious solution — although for some reason not always the most used — is to very quickly admit that a mistake has been made and send a replacement email.

The email should clearly state that a mistake was made, include an updated and correct version of the content, and apologize for any inconvenience. It may also be a good idea to actually use the word “correction” directly in the subject line. For those marketers that love to use all capital letters, this might be the one time it is acceptable: “CORRECTION, …”

The merchant above responded within minutes with a correction email. The customer concerns stopped almost immediately, and there were no further issues.

Turn Your Mistake into an Opportunity

Writing on the Blue Collar Agency blog, Matt McCabe, an email marketing specialist, recommends trying to transform email marketing mistakes into opportunities to better engage and endear customers.

“There’s a reason why they call it ‘pulling the trigger’ on an email campaign,” McCabe wrote. “A slip-up in an email is permanent and irrevocable. When a website launches with an error it’s a simple matter to get it fixed, but when and email launches there’s no turning back. This puts a lot of pressure on the team responsible for your email campaigns, but there are some simple precautions that can be taken as well as some hidden opportunities that can be leveraged should an error occur.

“So what happens when the inevitable mistake email goes out to the masses? The ‘oops’ email declares to consumers that you’ve made a mistake, you’re sorry, and you’re prepared to make it right. Oops emails have hidden opportunities for improving your brand image, creating more sales in the long term and earning the respect of your subscribers.”

If you’ve offered too much, McCabe suggests honoring the overly aggressive offer, earning respect in the long run. If a coupon code failed or was wrong, McCabe suggests sweetening the deal further to make up for the error and any inconvenience. Bottom line, demonstrate that your company is willing to do whatever it takes to own up to any mistakes. This sort of overt willingness to serve can earn respect for your brand, and ultimate result in more sales long term.

Do Nothing

Finally, there are some email mistakes that don’t need any sort of response. For example, if the issue is a minor typographical error, it may make sense to communicate with individual customers as they call attention to the error rather than alerting your entire subscriber base to the fact that you used “effect” instead of “affect,” or used a split infinitive. This may also be true for misspelled words.

A marketer will need to use good judgment, but there are times that simply doing nothing is the best choice.

Summing Up

Email marketing is a great way to communicate with customers, drive site traffic, and boost sales, but from time to time a marketer may send an email with errors or typos. These email emergencies are never good, but recovering from them is relatively easy thanks to the tips described above.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. allstarjd74 December 15, 2011 Reply

    Good tips but it is hard to take this article seriously when there is a grammar in the first sentence.

    _Editor’s Note: @allstarjd74, thank you for pointing out our error. We’ve corrected the typo._

  2. Elizabeth Ball December 17, 2011 Reply

    Depending on how drastic the error is, sometimes you can send out an email which is merely ‘revised’ ie "Your revised December 2011 newsletter".
    The open rates are often almost as good if not better than the original one with the mistake (people are curious about the revision) – and you can sometimes use the opportunity to provide updated info on a new development which hadn’t occurred at the point the original email was sent.