Email Marketing: What to Do About a Mistake

A social media post or a webpage can be immediately updated or removed if a mistake is present. Email, however, presents a unique challenge when an error is sent out.  If an email platform has a retract feature, the results are typically spotty at best.  This means that once an email is sent, there’s really no going back.  When a mistake happens it’s usually a scramble to rectify the situation.  A quick analysis and assigning an action plan is critical for an appropriate timely response.

The first step to dealing with an email marketing error is to stay calm.  Analysis of the error is needed to assign an appropriate response.  When boiled down there are essentially three options when an error occurs:

  1. Ignore It – This is a viable option.  Just don’t make it a default option.  If the error is minor like a misspelled word or grammar error it’s probably best to let it go.  Yes, a few sticklers on your email list might respond but by and large it’s not going to have an impact on your ongoing campaigns. If it’s a small mistake that’s likely to go unnoticed then it’s not worth hitting your lists inbox again.
  2. Targeted resend – If an error affects a subset of your list then a correction needs to be sent only to the affected recipients.  This is often the case if a link is broken or referencing the wrong page.  It can also be the case if you have lists broken into versions (like html layout and text layout).  If you can isolate a group or list then do so.  No sense sending an update to everyone about a broken link.  Rather send the update to the recipients that clicked the link.
  3. Resend – This is the final and most drastic action.  If there is a major problem or the wrong content goes to the wrong audience then a resend is necessary.  Basically if the body of the email contains a significant problem, then everyone who received it will need a replacement.  The resend should be done quickly and include a note in the body or the subject line explaining that this is a corrected version of the flawed email.

Mistakes happen.  Of course reviewing for errors beforehand is the best course of action but every person running an email marketing campaign will have an error go out sooner or later.  The difference between it having a lasting effect and being a barely noticeable issue depends on what the error is and how efficiently the mistake is corrected.