Before sending an apology email, try to correct your newsletter

What If you accidentally emailed 8 million subscribers instead of just 300 churned customers? You would probably owe someone an excuse. That is what happened to the New York Times at the end of last year as described on The NYT sent an apology email exactly three hours later. It said, “This e-mail [which you received earlier] was sent by us in error. Please disregard the message. We apologize for any confusion […]”.

Mistakes in email marketing are always annoying. They can never be completely avoided. However, you do not always have to set up an apology email. On the contrary, each additional email might be one email too much resulting in an unsubscribe. In addition, some errors can be corrected (or at least reduced) even after the send out, especially if they are detected instantly. Therefore, don’t fall into blind actionism. Depending on the severity and on how many readers were affected, you could instead consider the following five ideas (no claim to be complete):

  • Incorrect information (graphically encoded)?
    Images in emails can be replaced. That means typos or errors in pricing information in images can be corrected by editing the visual and swapping it on the webserver. This of course only works if the corresponding image has not been attached or embedded into the email itself.
  • Incorrect information (HTML-Text)?
    Text cannot be adjusted after emails are gone. But, not all is lost then. Depending on the severity of the error and on the availability of free image space, you could re-purpose a picture by adding a notice concerning the mistake. A better solution would be to place a prominent notice on your dedicated email landing pages, if you use them. The same goes for your website if you have ways to identify clicks from the newsletter (e.g. by looking at Google Analytics tracking code or referrers and user agents).
  • Broken Links (e.g. “404”)?
    If you are using an email service provider (ESP), which I hope so, it probably replaces email links automatically with tracking links before the emails enter the send queue. Those ESP-links register every click. Then they redirect the user to you original URL. The good thing is that you can replace and therefore correct the URLs behind each tracking link after the emails have been delivered. They are stored in a normal database.
  • Broken image or attachment link URL?
    Got a typo in an important image URL or file reference, such as “http://mydomain/keyvisuall.jpg” or “…/doccs.pdf”? No problem. Just rename the file from “keyvisual.jpg” (docs.pdf) to “keyvisuall.jpg” (doccs.pdf) on your server and everything should be fine.
  • Wrong image dimensions?
    If you specified a wrong image height and/or width in your HTML code and see a stretched or clinched image, maybe resizing, re-uploading and overwriting it on the server one would be an option.

You see, these corrections are based on (1) replacing or renaming images on your webserver, (2) placing error notices on email landing pages, and (3) adjusting URLs within the tracking link database. Any useful adds from your experience?

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2 Responses to Before sending an apology email, try to correct your newsletter

  1. Pingback: Handle Your Oops: 5 Types of Email Mistakes and How to Fix Them - GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

  2. Pingback: Handle Your Oops: 5 Types of Email Mistakes and How to Fix Them | Email Rebel

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