What to do when it goes wrong

We've all been there. You’re really busy but you just have to get your email out today. You write it, proof it, everyone’s happy and you send it. Then you spot the mistake.

In this article we'll cover a few typical situations where things could go wrong and how to react to them in a way that gives you the best possible outcome.

Spelling mistakes

It’s very easy to forget to spell check your email. We know you'll read what you think should be there when you’re up against the clock.

To avoid this happening make sure you always use the spell checker once you have finished your email and you're ready to send yourself and colleagues a proof copy. If however, your email does go out with spelling mistakes in it, we would recommend letting it go.

If it’s not obvious, you can get away with it as most subscribers won’t spot it either. There is no need to bring your subscribers attention to small things like this - sometimes these things happen.

If you do send the email again, make sure you add a note at the top of the email explaining the reasons, otherwise you could potentially annoy your subscribers by seeming to send them the same email twice.

Wrong subject line

Correcting this kind of mistake can be damaging to your brand rather than doing it any good. Subscribers are an understanding bunch so if you don’t make a big issue out of it, they won’t, especially if it’s a monthly newsletter and all you normally change is the month.

It’s not the end of the world if you send an email entitled April in May, but this type of mistake highlights the importance of sharing the proofing process with at least one other colleague, particularly those who haven't been involved in the copy writing process.

If your subject line contains important information and you choose to send the email again, make sure you add a note at the top of the email explaining the reasons why. Another way of managing this is to write an addendum on your next email communication, noting the error and correcting it accordingly.

Incorrect or broken links

This is a common problem and can be either a link that takes your subscribers to the wrong place or links that just don't work. The best thing to do in this situation is send the email again, with the right links, including a short note at the top explaining the links have been created.

A note in the subject line would also be advisable. For example:

From Name: NewZapp Email Marketing

From Email Address: marketing@newzapp.co.uk

Subject: (Corrected Version) Previous subject line
"Hi there! Your eyes aren’t deceiving you: Yes, we are sending you the same email twice. Yesterday’s issue contained a broken link and we thought it was important to deliver the information to you correctly. Please accept our apologies for the confusion."

It's important to resend your email quickly and to explain why you are appearing to be sending the same email twice. This example is friendly, explains exactly what has happened and apologises for any inconvenience.

Your email has gone to the wrong subscribers

Have you sent a special offer to the wrong group of subscribers? This mistake can have the most impact on potential revenue so you'll need to provide the most considered but timely response.

If the offer is on an image then delete the image from your account. This will then display as an empty white boxes in the recipients inbox. This gives you time to send a corrective email, whilst ensuring as few subscribers as possible have seen the offer. Bear in mind though that if the image was hyperlinked, that the link will still be active should anyone be inquisitive about the white empty space!

If the offer is in the text, then there’s nothing you can do to stop it from being out there.

When you build your corrective email, here are some best practice tips to follow:
  • Make sure your subject line carries information about the previous email being incorrect.
  • Apologise.
  • Explain what the error is.
  • Move forward.
You can also give something back. It doesn't have to be the same offer, but as part of your apology you can provide extra value which could turn some subscribers into paying customers. This can provide additional revenue you wouldn't have tapped into otherwise and can improve your brand awareness.

Do’s and don'ts

Do schedule your campaigns. This will give you at least a 15 minute window to spot anything and cancel the send. You can then correct the mistakes, send yourself and colleagues a new proof copy and re-schedule the send.

Don't react too quickly. Consider the situation and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What effect did this have on the recipient? 
  • What’s the worst that can happen? 
  • Does the worst that can happen justify any action?

Don’t write “oops!” anywhere in your email or subject line when you're sending a corrective email. It’s not very professional and you can come up with something far more relevant.

Overall

Take your time. If an email is sent that you're not happy with, don't send out a response or corrective email straight away. Have a think about it and call us for advice and best practice guidance if you want to. Your first reaction won't necessarily be the right one, so plan a structured and considered response.