Content Oopsies!

I recently received an email from my local Honda dealer. Knowing I was in need of an oil change, I clicked it open to see what it had to offer. The email checked a lot of boxes: eye-catching image, clean design, minimal text, clear call to action. But there was one glaring problem: the subject line, preheader, headline, subhead and text all made reference to getting my car ready for summer. Hmmmm … it’s almost October.


While the three coupons included in the offer all had a Sept. 30 expiration date, it’s clear that this email missed some key checks and balances somewhere along the line. You might say, “No harm, no foul.” It’s true that in the big scheme of things, this isn’t the end of the world. But it’s also true that what you send to your customers – in print and digitally – reflects on your business. Don’t risk eroding your customers’ trust due to carelessness.

Since there’s no magic button that allows you to undo your mistake, what are your options? Depending on the severity of your blunder, you have options. In the case of my Honda email, I did not receive any kind of follow-up correction. This was probably the appropriate response, since the coupons – the most important element – had the correct expiration. You don’t want to possibly annoy your customers by sending yet another email to their already crowded inbox. If your error is minor, doing nothing is probably the best course of action. Console yourself that minor errors are likely going to go unnoticed or quickly be forgotten.

If the problem with your email is technical – links that don’t work, links that direct to the wrong page – fix those immediately. Act quickly so as few recipients as possible are affected.

But what if your mistake is more egregious? Say, sending an email to the wrong segment, which could potentially confuse or offend the recipients. Depending on your error, tailor your action accordingly. Here are some considerations.

  • Send an apology email with the correction
  • Act quickly – as soon as possible
  • Admit your mistake up front – be honest
  • Apologize
  • Use humor if it’s appropriate
  • Offer an additional incentive – such as an extra percent off or free shipping
  • Make sure everyone involved – client, management, etc. – knows what happened and how the situation is being handled

So, you figured out which course of action to take and have moved on. Now what? If you already have a plan, see what went wrong and where and take necessary steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If you don’t have a system of checks in place, now is the time to develop one. Here are some things to consider:

  • Review content for typos and grammatical errors
  • Ensure the intended content is what is actually in the email
  • Make sure the offer is correct
  • Make sure there are no placeholder images or copy
  • Check the subject line for accuracy and relevance
  • Check all links for accuracy
  • Check prices if included
  • Confirm emails will be sent to the correct segment
  • Check the images

You can also use this time to discuss and develop a detailed and thoughtful plan for how you will respond if, despite all of your efforts, the unfortunate happens again.
Above all, remember that we are all human!

Amy Fischer • September 27, 2018

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