FML, My Mass Email Had A Typo. What Do I Do?

So, you made a mistake. You spent a long time making sure your email was perfect. You sent it out to your list, feeling all anxious and victorious at the same time.

Maybe a second later, maybe an hour later, you realize it had a glaring error. Or maybe that glaring error was brought to your attention by some d-bag with nothing better to do than to point out other people’s mistakes.

nitpicking elf

Of course, 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.

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 stupid error in an email does not mean that you are stupid.

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 them.

But before we get to that, I want to share a couple of the really embarrassing mistakes we’ve made with our emails in the past few months.

The Email Mistakes We’ve Made At Mailgun

Because, yes, even email companies can make email mistakes.

The Typo

This screenshot is from a few weeks ago. See what we did?

email typo

Elastic waste bands. Yeah, that’s wrong. It’s elastic waistbands, you dummy.

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 so nice, right?

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?

subject line character limit mistake

We were trying to help our customers use Mailgun’s tagging feature so they could capitalize on our awesome analytics, but the email certainly hinted otherwise.

Luckily, the cut off only happened in one mobile 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.

When to Correct Your Email Errors (And When to Do Nothing)

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

The Minor Stuff = Don’t Sweat It

For the vast majority of cases, we recommend doing nothing or making small tweaks to the things you can control. 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, 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.

Learn from your mistake and review your marketing emails a few more times before sending.

The Big Stuff = Triage

If you had a super embarrassing segmenting mishap or left out a promo code you promised or the design just flat out broke in major email clients, it may be worth sending again. There are three typical ways of doing this:

1. Send to a segment. If the error only affects a portion of your list, 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.

2. Resend as soon as you notice the error. Send to your whole list, adding “Oops!” or “Correction:” or “Let’s try this again” to the subject line and resend the email with corrections. The hope is that subscribers who haven’t opened the email yet will open 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.

3. Write an apology. Save this one 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 them to mark you as spam, so an apology is 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 apology emails for the really egregious errors.

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. Review your emails again and again before sending to a big list. Have another person review your emails. And pay close attention to subject line character limits across popular email clients so people don’t get the wrong idea.

The FML Holiday Series

This is the last post of our FML Holiday Series. Catch up on the other posts in the series here:

  1. FML, I got blacklisted. What do I do?
  2. FML, every email I send goes to Gmail’s Promotions tab.
  3. FML, I didn’t send that! What to do if spam gets sent from your account.
  4. You’re reading it :)

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