From the 'Arsenal of Oops'

In last week’s newsletter, Jeanniey confessed that she’s no deployment expert: “I am notorious for sending emails with typos, links that don’t work, image hosting paths that only work on my PC, messing up segments and more.” She shared her favorite oopsy and said that the mistakes that she’s made have all taught her phenomenal lessons. And then she asked if anyone had a “disastrous email story” to share—and many brave souls stepped forward to share their lesson-learned.

My two-cents on this is that mistakes in emails are difficult to avoid because of the complexity of the medium and volume involved. All you can do is try your best and learn from your mistakes—and the mistakes of others. That’s why I started the Oopsy Hall of Fame (I’ll be inducting the 2007 class in January). It allows marketers to see what kinds of mistakes are prevalent and try to avoid repeating them. It also touches on apologies—when they need to be made and when they don’t. I also just recently did a post on apology emails after I heard David Baker say that apology emails have higher open rates than even welcome emails.

Anyway, without further delay, here are the oopsies that our subscribers shared with us.

—Chad White

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You are definitely not the only one! I have an arsenal of ‘oops’ but I’ll share my favorite of all time. I was adding the physical mailing address and associated contact details to the bottom of an email for a B2B campaign. The phone number I needed to add was spelled out and as I was translating the letters to numbers by looking at my phone and using my keyboard (forgetting that the layout of the numbers are different) – I inadvertently transposed two numbers. The correct number would have pointed someone to a help desk for product support; the incorrect number pointed to a phone sex line. There were only a few reports of people actually calling that number. I believe one was a CEO.

Naturally, I learned from this and physically dial all of the phone numbers on anything I ever send out! (And I learned that phone sex lines are not limited to 900 numbers!)

—Amy Gabriel, BT

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We develop our clients’ newsletters on a development server and then switch them to the live server before deployment. We have individual user names and passwords for the development server. We once sent out a “live” deployment to our client’s entire list from our development server, which means that everyone who received it would have been prompted for a user name and password before they could read the email! Oops!

—Jenni Fox, Miles Media Group

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You are not the only one who sends email disasters! I work with volunteers and was sending an email to a large group to arrange a conference call, including several I had never worked with before. I listed the possible dates/times, including “am” and “pm” options. My email was set up to spell check before sending. I wasn’t paying attention, and instead of clicking ‘ignore all’ on the am & pm options, clicked ‘change all.’ They were all changed to “Pam”—unfortunately, that’s also my name! We’ve had a good laugh about “Pam time.”

I frequently request bids from vendors via email. I usually copy and paste the details, and just change the greeting. One day a message to “Mike” began with “Hi Brian”—his main competitor!
Needless to say, I’m not responsible for hitting “send” on the real campaigns!

—Pamela Asfahani, Oncology Nursing Certification Corp.

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I sent out a weekly article alert on a Monday not knowing that the URL structure for the articles linked from the email was going to change on Tuesday. The old URLs were not redirecting to the new URLs, so none of the links in the email worked. I now double check every link before the weekly alert goes out and make sure that there won’t be any changes affecting those links taking place.

—Kari Rippetoe, GoWholesale

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Well, I’m not sure it was a *disaster*, but it wasn’t good. Within a regular monthly update we do on our virtual learning classes, we were also announcing our first digital download product created from one of our most popular teleclasses.

I had just started inserting links a bit differently than in the past. I had gotten out of the habit of checking every link because they had always worked, but when I added tracking codes to the 4 links in the email that had to do specifically with the new product, it broke them all – every single one.

For whatever reason, I thought to check them just *after* I hit the send button (of course). Another 20 minutes later and I had the links fixed and a new email sent out. I think everyone got the fixed-link email before they had a chance to find the broken links in the first. And, this email went to our most loyal customers, graduates of our programs, who tend to be very forgiving. But still. . .not my favorite moment! :-)
—Sara Avery, Newfield Network Inc.

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Your post about email goofs is timely. I wrote an email promotion yesterday [Oct. 24] in which I used my own experience being evacuated due to SD fires to promote a teleseminar about legal issues and how we can’t be too prepared or cautious. Two people responded they thought it was a bit insensitive. Maybe the fires are too hot to talk about yet in a marketing context. So I blogged an apology.

—Patsi Krakoff, The Blog Squad

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Love it! Struck a note in my world….. I’m also supposed to be an expert and every time I try to do tactical things, I screw up too…..

—David Baker, Avenue A | Razorfish

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My worst flubs are pretty much the garden variety; once forgot to change the old link to a sale page (very woops), and a few typos…

I’m writing because I thought it was very ironic that the very first link after your article (the one to update my profile) didn’t work! I was very entertained, nearly fell off my chair in fact.

Thanks for brightening my day :)
—Rachelle Johnson, iSpectrum Marketing

[Rachelle was one of three people to catch that intentional error. We like to keep you on your toes. :) ]

One thought on “From the 'Arsenal of Oops'

  1. Love these!

    I have a good one, but didn’t get around to sending it in. But I’ll share it here…

    It was before my time, but years ago, at the company I used to work for, (an email marketing professional services firm, as it were) sent out a holiday greeting. With the holidays being a very busy time for client work, the greeting was a little rushed, so no one caught that instead of a personalized greeting, it just said "Dear Kate"…OOPS!

    However, the team made a great recovery, sending out a follow up that said:

    "To save hours of time this holiday season, the elves hoped they could convince Santa to address everyone on his list with "Dear Kate". Being more than just another white-bearded face, Santa contacted us to test this short-cut approach to personalization.

    Over the last 24 hours you received a holiday greeting addressed "Dear Kate". While the greetings were sincere, the salutation was part of our fact-finding mission.

    In just 24 hours, here’s what we’ve discovered:
    74% opened the email
    23% replied with "Who’s Kate?"

    These stats confirm personalization gets noticed. Thanks to our test, Santa is now back "on track"!"

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