Unfortunately, in life, everyone makes mistakes. While the majority of mistakes we make are fairly minor and insignificant, in business, even the smallest error can be extremely costly. So, how can we prevent these little slip ups from angering customers and damaging your reputation?

Whether you’ve sent out a factually incorrect email or experienced technical problems on your website, an apology email can go a long way towards rebuilding the relationship between you and your customers. If you deal with the problem quickly, your apology email can help to keep your customers engaged with your brand and (if you include a discount or incentive) could even encourage them to make a purchase.

Do You Need to Apologise?

Knowing when to apologise is almost as important as the apology itself. There are certain errors that your subscribers may not even notice. Drawing attention to them will be unnecessary and will just harm your reputation. For example, a minor spelling mistake or layout issue may be embarrassing to you, but it is unlikely to cost you business.

On the other hand, there are various errors that definitely warrant an apology. These include:

  • Incorrect personalisation
  • Incorrect pricing
  • Emails sent to the wrong list
  • Website downtime


If any of these things happen, it’s best to send an apology email as soon as you can. Take your time to plan your message – you don’t want there to be any mistakes in your apology email!

The Subject Line

If put together correctly, an apology email can outperform a regular email in terms of opens and customer engagement. If you include the word ‘sorry’ or ‘apology’ in your subject line, your customers are likely to be curious to see what the mistake was and if it effected them.

This example from Yves Rocher is particularly effective because it both includes an apology and is personalised:

Subject Line

The Content

In apology emails, you can be more ‘human’ than in regular marketing emails. This is because mistakes are usually caused by human error! It will also seem more endearing to the reader.

You don’t need to spend time constructing a fancy design or swathes of copy. First and foremost, you need to state what the problem was and apologise for it. This example from Photo Hippo illustrates this perfectly:

Photo Hippo

The email has obviously been put together quickly in response to the downtime, but it does everything it needs to. It clearly explains to the customers what the issue was, what’s being done to rectify it, and how they can keep updated on the problem. They even manage to inject a bit of humour into the email!

You can also use your apology email to make up for the error with your customers. Many companies use the opportunity to offer their customers an incentive to make a purchase, such as in this example:


In this email, Yves Rocher are offering their customers a free gift to make up for technical problems on their website. Here, they are using the offer to show their customers that they are important to them, but they have also added urgency by making the offer time limited.

Although your aim should be to eliminate mistakes from your business, sometimes errors happen. By sending a clear and professional marketing email, you should keep your customers happy and engaged.