Every so often, something slips through the pre-flight or testing process for an email campaign that needs to be acknowledged and sometimes corrected. When an email mistake happens, it’s important to have an action plan. Some mistakes require a full-throated correction, while others don’t require much attention at all. Some have a very simple solution — for example, if you use web cropping — while others take a more fundamental effort.
But how do you know the difference? And how do you correct the mistake when you do?
Step 1: What’s the nature of the error?
Some errors are simple fixes, while others require much deeper understanding and even multi-level communication to correct with your subscribers. A simple typo or grammatical error may not be worth sending a list-wide correction. But a call to action (CTA) linking to a site that’s not working properly or experiencing an outage would require a correction, apology and possibly an incentive by way of compensation for customer inconvenience.
The truth is, however, if you’re following a solid testing regimen, there’s a short list of errors you’ll need to correct. The most common mistakes are in the information you’re communicating to your audience. This can include everything from spelling or grammatical errors, or including a description of the wrong offer. Beyond that, you could accidentally send out an email with a coding error, incorrect or broken link(s) and, less frequent, but often more serious — a technical problem like a missing page, a problem with an e-commerce application or a full site outage.
Taking the time to identify, assess and triage any errors you come across will enable you to deal with any problems successfully. When you understand what’s happened from the customer perspective, you may even be able to turn a negative around into a positive outcome for your brand. Customers often understand, and appreciate when a brand makes up for a mistake.
Step 2: What’s the scope?
Errors are always unintended, but whether it’s a missing comma or a message sent to the wrong list, it’s important to understand the scope of what happened so you can respond to any potential liability appropriately.
A coding issue that impacts the way an email renders in Lotus Notes, for example, will be a minor problem if only 3-4% of your list views emails in that client. If your campaign goes out at the same time your e-commerce platform goes down for several hours, however, this could cause a significant irritation to your subscribers. Worse, if the wording of one of your offers is too ambiguous or wasn’t the copy approved by legal, you could unintentionally expose yourself to a financial liability.
Historically, once an email left your system destined for your subscribers’ inboxes, there was not much you could do to fix an error short of sending another list-wide correction. Recently, however, email technology has evolved to offer better alternatives.
Step 3: How to recover
First, ask a series of questions to determine what kind of correction, if any, is required.
- Does the mistake rise to a level that requires a correction? As embarrassing as it might be, a missing comma or small typo probably doesn’t justify a list-wide correction email.
- How deeply has the subscriber been impacted? Has your reader been blocked from fulfilling a CTA? Is it a major inconvenience or did you only mildly confuse them?
- Is this the kind of error that may lose you a customer? What is the most effective way to win them back?
If an error managed to get through that could affect your customer’s opinion of your brand, a correction to the affected portion of the list is certainly justified. But it’s important to be crystal clear when issuing a correction or apology. Be sure you correct the error, but remember, you don’t want to confuse them further.
The key is to understand the nature and scope of the mistake and make the most of the correction.
The Web Cropping Solution
Web cropping allows you to pull live information from a website into your emails. Each time a reader opens your email, the web-cropped content is updated with the latest content from the source page. This enables you to always feed the most up to date price, offer or expiration date to your readers.
But it also enables you to correct any errors in your original send on the fly, without the need to send a full-scale correction campaign. All you need to do is update the information on the website and it will automatically populate into the inbox of your readers the next time they open the email. Taking this approach lets you minimize the impact of any unfortunate mistakes.