Email marketing mistakesWe’re firmly into the season of goodwill, therefore what better time to consider how best to approach one of the hardest and often most frustrating elements of email marketing?

Every marketer has done this. You’ve compiled what you believe to be the perfect email newsletter. It’s brilliant, vibrant, engaging and the offer contained within will get subscribers clicking quicker than you can say ‘call-to-action’.

So, you send it.

A few minutes pass and a colleague enters your office. ‘You do realise you sent that email with the wrong price, don’t you?’

Your heart sinks.

We’re all human and, as a result, we all end up apologising for embarrassing mistakes more than once. Limiting them is of course absolutely crucial but it is inevitable that you will have to send an apology email at some point in your email marketing career.

Firstly, should you send an apology? The answer is, usually, yes. Hoping no-one will notice is often futile. Doing nothing about your mistake will likely do more harm than the mistake itself. Most people respect those who own up to the odd slip up. On the other hand, some mistakes simply don’t need highlighting. You can get away with them!

Let’s look at some of the most common email mistakes and what you can do to rectify them:

The serious stuff

One day, you may send an email which really messes up. Perhaps it’s a product or service which doesn’t actually exist or a drastically incorrect lead time for delivery.

Let’s consider an offer that has already expired. 20% off your latest lines, only it’s now a month too late.

Resolution: Be honest. There’s no problem referring to it as a ‘technical error’ – that’s just what it was. Use the same template and email structure you used for the original email – subscribers will identify with it instantly. Offer something in return for disappointing them (e.g. another discount!). Be careful, though. Don’t try and get some extra sales out of your error; make the new offer worth their while.

Are you trying to be funny?

A little bit of humour in email marketing goes a long way. Unfortunately, it’s just as easy to get it wrong. April Fools Day is a great example where companies often make a hash of trying to be funny. Unfortunately, a joke gone awry can cause panic and undue retaliation.

Resolution: The response to such mistakes isn’t urgent, and it may take time to even realise the joke didn’t go as planned. When you do find out, don’t use a single email for the apology – tie it in with one of your usual newsletters. Acknowledge you made a mistake and that it was intended to be light-hearted… and move on.

Typos and grammatical mistakes

Poorly-written emails can be an eyesore and damage subscribers’ confidence in your business. A typo can stand out a mile… but it can also hide itself pretty well.

Resolution: It’s likely you (or a colleague) will notice the mistake after sending the email. Before you do anything, assess it. Is it really that bad? Is it noticeable? If not, hold fire. You don’t need to air every error. If you do feel strongly enough to mention it, do so in your next newsletter and be light-hearted about it.

Missed detail

Some emails attempt to pack a lot of information in to one message. Even the simplest of messages may have several elements which must be present in order for the central message to be right. A time, date, place, code… miss one, and the email is essentially useless for the recipient.

Resolution: Fill in the blanks – send another email as quickly as possible. Apologise for missing out the venue address in your first email, but don’t dwell on it. Add the details in the next message and use the opportunity to expand a little on the item you missed out.

Wrong information

Let’s get back to the beginning of this blog: you’ve sent out the wrong price.

Resolution: There’s no doubting you need to get onto this quickly, but you don’t need to grovel. You’ve simply entered the wrong figure – it’s not the end of the world. Place the emphasis in the ‘sorry’ email firmly on the correction. Make sure there’s no mistaking the real price this time.

In conclusion…

If you’re contemplating whether or not to say sorry after making an email mistake, ask yourself two questions:

1) Was it really that bad? Does it need an apology?

2) Would you inconvenience subscribers if an apology wasn’t sent?


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Mark is one of mailingmanager's email experts. His contributions to this blog openly share the tricks, tips and best practices he's learned while running multiple e-marketing campaigns.

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