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How to Recover From Broken Personalization in Email

How many times have you received an email that started with a variation of “Hey {First_Name}”? The answer is probably a lot.

Since testing personalization requires an extra step in the quality assurance process and varies across email service providers, it’s often forgotten. This results in frequent errors, and broken personalization in email is one of the most common mistakes we see in our inboxes.

What should you do if you send an email that contains a personalization fail?

In our report, How to Recover From Email Marketing Mistakes, we recommend not doing anything at all. Errors like this are often overlooked, ignored, and quickly forgotten, so why draw attention to it?

However, if you choose to take action, then do it the right way.

Magic Beans, a children’s clothing and toy store, sent a Thanksgiving email with a personalization fail—and responded to the mistake gracefully and personally. Let’s take a look at how they successfully handled their error.

Personalization error: Everyone is “Kate”

To thank their subscribers for their continued support, Magic Beans sent an email on Thanksgiving promoting a $100 gift card for only $75. It’s a great offer—and it came with a nice note from Eli Gurock, the founder of Magic Beans.

However, there was a pretty evident error in the message. The email started off with “Dear Kate” in big, bold orange letters.


Click here to view full email

Hmmm, that’s not my name! The error is not offensive and didn’t prevent anyone from partaking in the offer, but it is very noticeable. While no response was necessary, Magic Beans did so successfully.

Recovering with grace

Hours after the original send, the following email was sent by Eli Gurock:


Click here to view full email

This is a great apology email. Here’s what we love about it:

It was sent in a timely fashion: This apology email was sent only hours after the original send. Though sent quickly, it was well-thought out and didn’t include any additional errors (yes, we’ve seen that happen before—more errors in an apology email!).

It’s plain text: When you’re going for sincerity, plain text is the way to go because it makes the email look like a personal, one-to-one email. If Magic Beans had used the original email’s template and just swapped out the content, it would have looked like another promotional email. By nixing navigation bars and other offers, the focus is on the content of the email—which is a sincere apology.

The content is sincere and lightweight: Our favorite aspect of this email is the content. By referencing his Thanksgiving plans with his family and showering their email marketing manager, Kate (hey, that name sounds familiar!), with such kind words, he brings a human touch to the email. There are actual people behind this mistake—and they’re genuinely sorry for it.

In addition, it’s the perfect length and the tone is casual, but respectful. Since the mistake wasn’t offensive, there is no need to go into a deep apology, or be overly serious about it. He gets to the point and keeps it short and sweet. And, with the amount of emails subscribers are receiving over the holiday season, there is no time for them to read lengthy emails!

It ties in well with the season: From the subject line, “What I’m thankful for and apology,” to the content of the email—referencing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and that he’s thankful for Kate—Magic Beans ties in the holiday season really well within the email. And, they do so without being over-the-top and cheesy. While the email itself is relevant due to the error made, it’s even more relatable due to the tie-in with Thanksgiving.

Like we said, an apology email for a minor mistake like this isn’t necessary, but the thought and sincerity put into this apology puts the Magic Beans brand in a positive light. It helps their brand image, it doesn’t hurt it.

What do you think of the response? Should they have responded? Do you have any other examples of great responses to errors in emails? Share them in the comments! We’d love to see them.


Recover from Mistakes

This free report shares advice and real-life examples that help you recover from any email marketing mistake quickly and with grace.