Mass E-mail mistakes, what to do when you make one

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Photo : Joaquin Villaverde

So you made a mistake on an email, no big deal. That email went to 10,000,000 recipients?  Now may be the appropriate time to panic. The severity of the mistake is up to you to decide. If you made an error in pricing on the email or an issue of the wrong dates for a promotion the right solution may be to change your promotion to honor the mistake. This is not to say that If your email promised customers a new car for $1.00 that you need to put a set of wheels in a million driveways, but if the promotion was supposed to be 5% off and your email said 7% you may need to talk to the bean counters. Is this larger discount feasible? Can your company take the loss easier than the embarrassment? This is for you to decide. But this article is less about pricing issues and more about the ones that make you look uninformed, uncaring or careless.

That being said, the most common mistakes are those that are simply embarrassing and make you or your organization look bad. These issues are the hardest to know what the right course of action is because this is generally not a discussion to have with accounting but with the CEO. Damage control.

” The most important thing you can do is not panic. The first reaction would be to apologize to everyone but this in most cases is the wrong decision.”

The good news

You must consider the open rate; most marketing emails are opened by less than 50% of the people who you send them to. Sending a blanket apology to everyone means drawing attention to the at least 50% that would have never opened it. Prepare a standardized response email and stick with the template. Say the same thing to every person to control spin and keep everyone on message. This is critical if you are a larger company and your email error went to a large number of people.

Top Tip:
This may be a good time to schedule a meeting for next week to create a company wide error response plan to be ready for the eventuality of when this may happen again. Being prepared with a response plan gives you power when a mistake brings your reputation to it’s knees.

The Better news

Most people never read an email in its entirety. This means that depending on where in your email you made a mistake will dictate the number of people who ultimately see the error. The likelihood of a reader seeing your email mistake decreases greatly as you move down the page. Errors made “below the fold” (meaning one has to scroll down to see it) may never see the light of day. If your emails are this long, we have more to talk about in another post to come later about how to write a marketing email.

The next most important thing to consider is the response rate. It is inevitable that with a large email you are going to get a few people who will notice your error and let you know about it. You have to handle these individually and apologize to them. Do this quickly and cordially. No muss no Fuss. If you make a big deal about it, it is a big deal. If you act like it is not the end of the world, it’s not. Control is key. If you are in control your mistake is not.

The Best News

If the error is an image and the image lives on your server, fix the image immediately. Most emails simply call on images to be displayed in the email from a remote server leaving you the ability to change what is called to the recipient after the email is already sent. If the error is an image, and the image is on your server, the error can disappear like MAGIC!

Whatever you do, the key to navigating the choppy waters of a crisis is always to remain calm. Don’t react. Plan your moves and calculate the risk of everything you do and don’t do. Then once you have the data make your decisions based on the facts.

What if the proverbial “poo” Hits the “Twirler”

Ok, so this is a huge mistake and it costs you your job. bow out with grace, find a competitive company and crush the firm that let you go in to dust. If this error was small but it still costs you your job just think about how much you learned and how great it will be to not have to work at a company that takes itself too seriously.

If you don’t get fired right away, use this crisis moment to show the higher-ups how cool you are under pressure. Who knows, you may be just what they are looking for in a cool-headed, crisis mitigating manager!

Has any of the above happened to you? If so, let me know in the comments and tell me how you handled it.

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About Author

Owner at @HarperInc, CRM and sales Automation evangelist, Daddy, Maker, Photographer, and Blogger. Joe loves novel things and nuanced ideas. If you have one share it with me and i just might post about it! Location: Atlanta, GA

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