email marketing mistake

How to recover from an email marketing mistake.

Making an email marketing mistake, it is not a case of ‘if’ but a case of when. Email is too dynamic, too complex and most of all too instant. You press that send button and your communications start being delivered right away.

I once heard a story of one of the big banks wanted to send a mailer to their premier most well off customers. The creative department came up with the message content. At the start of the letter it was going to be mail merged, so Dear bob for example. Before they mail merged the communication, the creative department jokingly wrote ‘Dear Rich B*****d’.  It went unnoticed and it got sent out to their customers.

So how do you recover from that?

Ok, so lets imagine  you have really made a email marketing mistake, like the dear rich b*****d scenario. What do you do?

1. Well first off, has the mailer started sending? and has it finished sending? Contact your email service provider right away to see what they can do. Can the send be stopped?

2. If it is something like a broken image or broken web link. You may be able to recover. A broken web link, can you setup a re-direct on your web server taking the user from the incorrect URL to the correct one? A broken image, you uploaded a pic of bob when you wanted to upload a pic of tony. Can you swap the files behind the scenes on your web server? if so, known will ever know your mistake.

Ok, if you cant do any of these. Initially. Give your customer service reps and social media managers a heads up and what to expect. Prepare a quick statement for them, so you don’t get caught on the wrong foot. And most of all. Take a deep breath. We are all human and make mistakes.

Saying sorry

When things settle down, consider sending a mailer to say ‘sorry we got it wrong’. Infant Ryanair did this to me last week. They messed up a mail shot, and emailed me a few days later to apologise for the email marketing mistake.

Come back with your hat in hand and say sorry we got it wrong, this is what we are going to do to fix it. Known likes someone that tries to argue their way out, the worst thing you can do is get defensive.  accept your mishap and apologise.

If you are lucky, you may be able to get your subscribers to see the funny side of it – that can actually have the reverse affect and build loyalty! – we all like to see companies are real people. Not faceless brands.

What comes next?

Ok, you have sent your email apologising. The next think to do is learn from our mistakes. The worst thing you can do is repeat your mistake – keep doing that and your subscribers will think you are pretty useless and probably unsubscribe.

The question you need to ask, what systems can i put in place to ensure this does not happen again?

  • Do you need to improve your testing checklists? Send multiple proofs to yourself before sending.
  • Sometimes when you have been looking at a design all day you go a bit what our coders call ‘design blind’. Ask a co-worker with a fresh set of eyes to proof your campaign before sending.
  • Spelling mistakes are easy to make. we sometimes focus on the design and don’t read the text. Read your text again and again! Print the text off with a cup of coffee away from your computer and double check it all.

But remember this, my old man would always say, when cutting a bit of wood – measure twice and cut once. Use this same approach with your email marketing, check your campaign twice, and you’ll only need to send it once.

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