Email

Help! My Email Needs a Correction: What to Do After You’ve Already Hit Send

So you made a mistake. You spent a long time making sure your email was perfect, only to mess it up. Here’s how you go about fixing it –

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So you made a mistake. You spent a long time making sure your email was perfect. You sent it out to your subscribers, feeling a little anxious yet victorious because you checked that task off your to-do list.

Maybe a second later – or maybe an hour later, who’s counting? – you realize that it had a glaring error. Or maybe that glaring error was brought to your attention by some super lovely person with nothing better to do than to point out other people’s mistakes.

The frustrating thing about these mistakes is that once the email has been sent, you can’t unsend it. That typo or other error will sit in people’s inbox until they read it or delete it. It’s not like a website where you can instantly make the correction and no one will be the wiser that you messed up.

If this happens to you, try to remember you’re not an idiot. (Way easier said than done. I recommend counseling.) The fact that you made a silly error in an email does not mean that you’re careless or lack intelligence. It happens to all of us, sometimes. It’s not the end of the world.

Still, we know the thought of an erroneous email dancing around your subscribers’ inboxes is enough to make you want to crawl into a hole. We get it. But you have to come out into the sunlight again at some point. 

And once you’ve got a good grasp on your own self-worth – which could take years – it’s time to decide whether or not you should do something about fixing your errors. 

But before we get to that, I want to share a couple of the really embarrassing mistakes we’ve made with our emails that will hopefully make you feel a little better. 

What are some common email mistakes? 

As hard as we all work to quality check emails and do things right, like in life, we all mess up from time to time. Some kinds of errors happen more frequently than others. Here are the email mistakes we see most often:

The typo 

Yes, even email companies can make email mistakes. We’ll own up to this one we made a little while ago. Take a look at the screenshot. See what we did?

Elastic waste bands. Yeah, that’s wrong. It’s elastic waistbands. Duh!

In my defense, they sound the same, and I was really tired that day. But it did happen, and someone did correct us. People are just so thoughtful to take the time to point out the error of our ways, don’t you think? I’m not bitter or anything.

For this kind of typo, we just moved on and hoped only a few people on our list noticed.

The cut-off subject line 

Apparently, the word “analytics” is the worst possible word to use at the end of an email subject line. Who knew?

We were trying to help our customers use Mailgun’s tagging feature so they could capitalize on our awesome analytics, but the email subject line certainly hinted at something else altogether. 

Luckily, the cut off only happened in one mobile email client.

Poor Josh. He didn’t even write that subject line – that was all my bad. But Josh took the fall for it on Twitter, and everyone in the office was cracking up about Mailgun’s better anal. Facepalm, indeed.

The secure info leak

This one can be a bit more serious and wind up with you having to sit through the cybersecurity equivalent of an HR harassment seminar. 

Every organization should have an email review and quality check process. And if you’re in a regulated industry, you probably already know all about privacy and data security – like HIPAA compliance in email marketing for the healthcare industry.

But it might also be as simple as using a product or marketing mockup that hadn’t been approved by the legal team or sending out an item that hasn’t been released yet or a pricing update that hasn’t been announced. Maybe you used a screenshot or image and forgot to blur someone’s real-life credit card number.

There are hundreds of other equally horrifying scenarios. They do happen, and you can recover.

The broken image

Nailing the perfect imagery in email is difficult, especially when trying to cater to the needs of dozens of email clients.

Sometimes, our images don’t always come through clearly. Maybe there was a placeholder <img> tag in the code that didn’t get replaced before sending. Maybe you used a GIF and forgot to set a fallback image for clients that don’t support GIFs.

No matter the cause, when images are broken in our emails, it looks unprofessional and can be a bit of an eyesore. If it’s critical to the message or goal of the email, you might fall far short of your KPI goals. Why were there no conversions?!?!

Pro tip: Image validation tools for email can ensure your message shows up perfectly for every subscriber, regardless of the email client they’re using.

If the missing images were essential to the message content, we’d send out a correction email right away. If it’s just a social media image in a signature line or something, though? Let it ride and fix it for next time.

The missing link

For many email marketers, getting that link click is the goal. That’s why it’s such a fun time when you spend several hours putting together an email to promote something important, only to hit send and realize you didn't manage to link to said important thing.

Talk about a record-low CTR.

It’s the best.

Pardon the sarcasm. It's actually quite easy to forget links and that can be a big problem, especially if the email is meant to drive people towards an action. You've likely done it (and we have, too). But you're not alone in your link-less email remorse. And you should definitely fix it so your subscribers can get where they need to go.

Three steps for deciding to send correction emails

Now that we’ve shared our mistakes, let’s address what the heck you should do about your email gaffes, if anything. Here’s our advice for correcting mistakes in your marketing emails.

1. Was it a major error?

Before you decide to correct an error, ask yourself if it was a major one. If the mistake is trivial or only applies to a few people, chances are it’s not worth correcting.

However, there are a few ways to determine if the error is a biggie. Just ask yourself the following:

Will it affect your business?

If it’s a major mistake, ask yourself if it will have any measurable impact on your business. Sending out a faulty promo code, for instance, could lead to major losses. The same goes for sending out the wrong date for a sale or a broken link. It might be worth it to send a follow-up email with the correct information.

Did it misrepresent your company?

Similarly, if the email's content misrepresented your brand in any way, you may want to consider a correction email. Or, if the mistake is likely to be damaging or harmful, don’t hesitate to send out an oops email. This is especially important if you’re dealing with sensitive content that could potentially hurt your reputation.

Did it include basic wrong information?

Another situation where email correction may be warranted for the good of your business is if it included the wrong name, image(s), or content in some way. Or, if the design just flat out broke in major email clients, it may be worth sending again.

In general, you should save sending an apology for the really serious mishaps. They gave you permission to email them, yes, but whatever you sent was really not what they signed up for. If you somehow violated their trust or deeply offended them, send an apology email to repair the damage. You don’t want subscribers to mark you as spam, so an apology may be needed to restore their trust in you.

Use your discretion when deciding whether or not to take action. We suggest taking a conservative approach and saving resends or correction emails for the really egregious errors.

2. How much time has passed since sending?

If you noticed the error of your ways right after sending the mass email, it's best to send correction emails as soon as possible. And don't sugarcoat the message. Send it to everyone on the email list who received the mistake, adding “Oops!” or “Correction:'' or “Let’s try this again” to the subject line.

The hope is that subscribers who haven’t opened the email yet will see the corrected version instead of the first one. Resending isn’t an ideal situation for your engagement and list hygiene, but if you must, it’s okay.

And by all means, make the corrections brief. A correction email is not a marketing email, so keep it simple. It should just have a straightforward apology and explanation of the mistake, as well as a call-to-action to note the corrections, specifically.

If it's been a week and you’re just now realizing that you made a mistake, most of your subscribers (and your boss, fingers crossed) probably didn’t notice, either. Take a deep breath and whistle through that graveyard. Don’t send a correction and draw attention.

Nothing to see here!

3. Who is your audience?

Look at who the original message was sent to. Was it sent to all, or a segment of subscribers? If it was sent to a segment, is that segment engaged? Open-rate metrics can help you determine how important it is to send a correction email.

If the segment is engaged, send the corrected email to just those folks. You can also use this strategy to only send to people who have opened the email. That way, you’re not bothering the rest of your list.

Pro tip: Minimize disruption and embarrassment by using your engagement metrics to only send corrections to those who opened the email.

Want to know more about mass email best practices? Check out our Email Growth Playbook, a database of 60+ tactics to help you increase the performance of your email campaigns.

When not to correct mass email mistakes

Errors like typos, misplaced commas, minor formatting issues, missing content that’s non-essential, and the like aren’t worth freaking out over. You’ll have some people on your list point it out to you, others will see it and say nothing, and the rest won’t catch the mistake. 

If you misrepresented an offer or gave the wrong time, you can clarify it on the landing page the email pointed to. If you sent the wrong image, replace it on your server with the correct one. If someone calls you out on social media, tweet an apology.

We recommend this approach because sending an “oops” email usually draws more attention to the mistake and blows it out of proportion. Plus, these emails can get more unsubscribes and lower engagement. 

Of course, you should learn from your email errors and be sure to review your marketing emails a few more times before sending them out in the future. Or, better yet, put an email campaign precheck system in place.

Final thoughts

Email marketing mistakes happen to the best of us. The only way to avoid being embarrassed by your email typos is to not make them. So review your emails again and again before sending them out to a big list. Have another person review your emails. Your next door neighbor, Karen, maybe? I hear she’s quite a proofreader.

And pay close attention to subject line character limits across popular email clients so people don’t get the wrong idea.

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