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How To Recover From Email Marketing Mistakes: Decision framework

“That doesn’t look right…”

Your heart drops. Your career flashes before your eyes. Anxiety ensues.

Email marketing mistakes happen to the best of us. Whether you’ve made one recently—or dread the thought of it happening—it’s important to remember that you’re not alone.

As gatekeepers to the highest performing marketing channel, email marketers have to hold themselves to a level of perfectionism. But that doesn’t mean we’re perfect.

Email is so complex. Turn-around times are short, and volumes are high. And with more than 15,000 potential email renderings, it’s impossible to avoid mistakes completely.

And when they do? See how you should respond (if at all) using our decision framework below. Also, to prove you’re not alone, we’ll share some real-life examples we’ve seen along the way.

How To Recover From Email Marketing Mistakes

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Learn how to respond and recover from email marketing mistakes using our decision framework. Dive into real-life email faux pas and how you can recover with grace and ease—all while maintaining your brand reputation.

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How To Recover From Email Marketing Mistakes: Decision framework Decision Framework Recover from Email Mistakes

1. Is the error minor, inoffensive, and easily understood by your subscribers as a mistake?

If your answer is “yes,” then it’s best to let this mistake go. These mistakes are understandably embarrassing, but they don’t offend or affect the ability of your subscriber to understand the message and act on its call-to-action.

2. Is the campaign automated or is the send still in progress?

Even after your email is deployed, depending on the timing and audience size, you may be able to halt the send.

If an error is found in an automated campaign, it can be turned off, fixed, and then turned back on.

3. Can you fix the error or eliminate most of the confusion post-send?

Although you can’t edit the code of an email after it’s sent, there are a few things you can do to correct the content in the email including updating image files, adjusting live content, redirecting URLs or links, and clarifying messaging on the landing page.

4. Does the error affect all your subscribers?

Depending on your email program, some errors might not affect everyone. In this case, targeted correction or apology emails might be the best solution.

Most often brands accomplish this by prefacing their subject line with something along the lines of “Oops,” “Sorry,” or “Correction.”

5. Does the mistake warrant wider damage control?

Some email marketing mistakes go well beyond subscribers. In scenarios where there is a large impact, you may need to get your public relations, legal, call center, social media, and other teams involved.

6. Can I change my email workflow to reduce the chance of this mistake happening again in the future?

Although mistakes are inevitable, they can be avoided with the right safeguards in place.

Anytime your organization is working through a significant email marketing mistake, it’s worth reviewing what went wrong and determining whether any changes in your process are needed.

Turn panic into productivity

While we wish there was an “unsend” button, the best we can do is reflect and learn from our mistakes. Take a deeper dive into exactly how you can recover from email marketing mistakes and maintain your brand reputation, with examples from email marketers themselves.

Download How To Recover From Email Marketing Mistakes →

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Originally published on September 20, 2018, by Chad S. White. Last updated April 19, 2021.