3 Steps for Fixing Email Mistakes

Mitch Tarr

So you’ve sent out an email and realized that it contains an error.

Don’t sweat it - everyone makes mistakes now and then. And while it might be tempting to go into panic mode and take immediate action, you’ll soon find that dealing with moments like these is a lot simpler when you have a plan. 

Here are three steps to take if you’ve made a mistake in an email:

1. Assess

Some mistakes are a simple fix. Others call for deeper analysis and a more thoughtful communication strategy to right your wrong. That’s why it’s important to take the time to understand, assess, and triage any errors you make in your email campaigns in order to deal with them effectively.

The best way to do this is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about how your mistake affects their user experience. Some questions you can ask yourself before taking action are:

  • How big is the mistake?
  • How will it affect your business?
  • How soon after sending did you notice the mistake?
  • What is the size of your email list for this campaign?
  • What is the normal open and click-through rate for this type of email?
  • Have your recipients been blocked from fulfilling a CTA?
  • Is this the kind of error that may lose you a customer?
  • What is the most effective way to win them back?

Considering these questions will help you understand the scope of your problem so you can come up with a proportionate course of action. Take a look at the scale below to get a sense of how severe your mistake is in relation to others.

Email mistake

So, for example, if you find a typo or formatting error in your email there’s no need to worry about an action plan. If anything, doing anything might draw unnecessary attention to it or further annoy your subscribers. On the other hand, if your CTA has a broken link, anyone who wants to click on it will be disappointed, and you’ll be disappointed too because you won’t make any sales.

2. Respond

If you’ve assessed the situation and determined that your error merits a correction, there are a few follow-up methods you can consider.

  • Be straightforward: Add a disclaimer to your subject line (such as [LINK FIXED] or [CORRECTION]) but keep your email content as is. This style of fix is pretty straightforward and logical.
  • Be human: Add a relatable message to your subject like (such as “Oops!” or “Our Mistake!”) Then add a short sentence to the beginning of the message and point out the error and the fix. This one is very human and people have to see what they missed. It’s human nature.
  • Be apologetic: Replace your subject like with an apologetic message (such as “We messed up!” or “Let us make it up to you!”) Then explain the problem and maybe even provide a discount as compensation for the customer’s inconvenience.

For all of these approaches, it’s important to keep a few tips in mind:

  • Be fast: If you’re quick enough, you can get your follow-up out before readers see your mistake.
  • Be clear: Don’t make your subject line vague or misleading. You’re already in the hot seat.
  • Be humble: Rather than being defensive or embarrassed, just own up to your mistake.
  • Be on-brand: If humor is part of your brand, use this as an opportunity to champion your brand voice.
  • Be open: Be transparent by acknowledging it on social media and providing accessible support.

3. Observe

Once you’ve decided on your course of action and sent out your follow-up email, don’t forget that there’s still some work left to do! It’s important to keep an eye on how your corrective action performs as this will give you insight into how your subscribers feel about your mistake.

Here are some things to keep your eye on:

  • Opens and clicks: Are people avoiding this email more or less than other emails? Sometimes an error can pique curiosity and lead to higher open rates. Don’t let this fluke mislead you, though. It’s never a good idea to use mistakes as email marketing tactics.
  • Conversions: Does your conversion rate go up or down after you send your follow-up? Maybe your apology reassures subscribers that your brand is trustworthy and legitimate. Or, maybe it serves as a red flag and has the opposite effect.
  • Unsubscribes: Hopefully taking a thoughtful approach to your response will keep unsubscribe rates low, but it’s still worth checking on this metric just in case your mistake is more damaging than you initially assessed it to be. In this case, it might be worth considering reaching out for some help.

Of course, the best offense is a good defense. Before you run any email campaign, it’s always a good idea to have a pre-send checklist ready at hand to reduce the chances of running into any problems. Make a habit of testing and scanning every email before it goes out, and consider having a process for multiple reviews from different people.

The best way to get ahead of situations like this is to work with a professional. Get in touch with us for a free audit of your email marketing strategy.

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Mitch Tarr President ZinMarketing

About The Author

Mitch Tarr is the author of Email Marketing Mastery: Accelerate Your Business Using Email Marketing.