Oops, I did it again! Turn your mistakes into opportunities

We try to avoid them, but mistakes can happen to the best of us. Sometimes, it’s just a pesky typo. Or a small design flaw. No worries… Just add a note to your QA checklist and move on to the next challenge.

But sometimes, the error is more serious. Like a broken link (or no links at all, yikes!), a broken coupon code, a pricing error or sending to the wrong audience. These unfortunately all-too-common errors call for appropriate action: an apology or Oops! email that needs to go out to affected customers.

But who said that your apology email has to be as bland as a tax return? More than simply a boring notification, the apology email can become an opportunity to increase attention and engagement.

Time is of the essence

Significant errors need to be addressed quickly to minimize their impact. Particularly if they prevent the customer from taking action and buying your product. Learn from your mistakes, act fast, but take the time to do a proper QA… Nothing adds insult to injury like a sloppy apology that’s full of typos and errors!

Using a pre-vetted apology email policy, process and template will help you respond within minutes yet ensure that everything is squeaky clean.

Own your error

There’s nothing worse than a half-hearted or vague apology. Get straight to the point. Clearly point out the error, then provide the correct information. Consider leveraging the subject line and preview to do this. An apology email is a great opportunity to build trust, which in itself is the key to stronger customer relationships.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Humor and self-deprecation are your best allies when you’ve made a mistake! When you own your error and do so with a little humor your customers are likely to be more forgiving. It proves that you’re human after all.

The most interesting part is that rather than depress campaign performance, apology emails have a positive impact on email open rates. You know, you’ve done it yourself… It’s human nature. Your customers will be curious about how you goofed and will open the email to see what’s up. And if the message was well targeted in the first place, they may even click and buy more. At a minimum, they’ll appreciate your candor.

But be careful not to abuse this form of email. Not so long ago, there was a rash of “mistakes” as some misguided brands attempted to take advantage of this phenomenon. Your customers aren’t fools. They’ll be on to you quickly and you’ll end up paying the price.

At the end of the day, creating flawless emails is always the best course of action. But when things go awry, as they often do in the time-starved world of email marketing, at least you know that an apology email can be your best friend.


Mark Morin, eec Education & Events Committee Member: Morin brings brands and people closer through relationship marketing, email, cognitive and automation. He is the founder and CEO of strategies.ca, an email marketing collaboratory in Montreal, Canada.