I know a thing or two about screwing up. With almost 10 years working in email marketing I, or the people who work for me, are bound to make mistakes once in awhile. I have nightmares about it. I have anxiety about hitting “send.” Inevitably mistakes happen. As the legendary physicist Nils Bohr said, “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” If that’s what it takes, call me an expert. Let me share with you some of those mistakes and, in my expert opinion, the best way to handle them.
1) Wrong or dead email link: Whether the link is dead, or goes to the wrong landing page, most email service providers (ESPs) can switch the redirect post send. Call them. If first level support can’t help you, escalate. It can be done; sometimes it’s just a pain to do it.
2) Bad image: If the image is wrong in any way, replace it on the image server post-send. All it needs is to match the path of the wrong image in the email. This can also be useful if, say, the email features a product that is now sold out or an offer changes and you want to make an update. Just tread lightly here. If your email is forwarded or archived, the subscriber might want the original content.
3) Misspelling in text: In general, I say let it go. Unless it’s obscene or leaves open some kind of legal liability, leave it alone. Sending an apology email will only make it worse and bring attention to the mistake. Some might not even notice the misspelling. However, if the misspelling is within an image, fix the image and refer to #2.
4) Inadvertently leaving out an opt-out link. Turn it into an opportunity. Send an “Oops” email, with a prominent opt-out or better yet, a subscription center link to allow for opt-down instead of opt-out. Use the email to bring attention to your subscription center or to ask people who really don’t want to receive your email to opt out. Be sure to include social media links to allow people to keep up with your company in other channels.
5) Send to the wrong list: This depends on what was sent and to whom. If, from the viewpoint of the subscriber, it seems a little strange but innocuous, let it go. For example, you send a version of your retail email to the girl list with guy products. If it’s altogether wrong, doesn’t follow best practices or subscriber preferences, an apology email is probably the best route, but again turn it into an opportunity if possible. If the mistake was to send the wrong brand creative to the wrong branded list, then use the apology to send a discount offer that can be used for either brand.
The big caveat of course is, you have to be true to your brand. Every industry is different, and BtoB differs from BtoC. You know your business better than any so-called “expert.” Be mindful of social media and any mentions of the mistake. If there’s a scenario where you decided to let it go, but its getting tweeted all over the universe, you probably want to address the issue either in social media or with an apology email. And remember, next time it happens, you’re one step closer to becoming an expert yourself.