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Things don’t always go as planned, and as a marketer, you’ll likely find yourself needing to apologize for mistakes. Email is no exception. It’s easy to send out a broken link, get a date wrong, or send an email to the wrong segment.

Most of us have been there. While it’s difficult to own up to a mistake, the best bet is always to mitigate the situation and apologize. Your subscribers are human, too. They know that mistakes happen, and if they’re happy with what you offer, they’ll usually give you the benefit of the doubt.

So, when you make a mistake in an email, how can you apologize? We’re here with tips for how to apologize after an email marketing blunder.

Stay cool and react as promptly as possible.

You might be a little stressed from all the complaints you’ve received. Plus, you’re likely beating yourself up. Before you get to writing your apology email, center yourself and calm down. You want to be calm and rational when you write your email.

But as soon as you feel you’re in a proper state of mind, it’s time to get to work. Not sending out a timely response can cause even more confusion and frustration for your customers. For example, Fab sent out a casual and friendly apology email on the same day they made the mistake, pairing the message with a promo code.


Beat the clock with a premade, mobile-ready template.

There’s nothing worse than spotting a problem moments after sending. Fortunately, there’s a template for that. Try out our apology email template and see how quickly you can customize the message and branding to get a perfectly designed email out the door.

Try the apology email template here.

Try out the apology template. Customize and edit one of our mobile-ready email templates.

Don’t play the blame game.

It can be tempting to put the blame on someone, and maybe there really is an individual person or specific entity that is responsible. But whatever you do, do not blame an individual or another company. It reflects poorly on your organization.

Focus your apology on how the incident should never have happened. You want to be seen as taking ownership, not trying to dodge responsibility. Your customers will respect you accepting responsibility much more than making excuses or finding a scapegoat for what happened.

For example, The Sharper Image made a mistake by sending a coupon available only in San Antonio to every subscriber nationwide. They quickly realized it was a mistake, but they didn’t play the blame game and they sent a coupon to everyone as a way to apologize.


Personalize your messages.

You want your customers to know they are receiving an apology from a real person. Ideally, send it out from a personal inbox, but you can also send it out from your team inbox as long as you sign it with an actual name.

“Never send out an apology email from an unattended email box. Never send out an apology from a ‘no-reply.’ Your customer is already unhappy, and an impersonal email they cannot even respond to will only make it worse,” advises Gary Mulligan, email marketer at BoomEssays.

For example, after Shutterfly sent an email congratulating new moms to everyone on their list, they sent out an apology using the subscriber’s first name and wrote the apology from John Boris, the Chief Marketing Officer.


Put yourself in your subscriber’s shoes.

Empathizing with your customer is key to writing a proper apology email. Ask yourself, if you were the customer, what would you want to hear? What kind of information and updates are you looking for?

Also, think about how you would want the company to make things up to you. Your customer could be wondering why the incident happened, how it affects them, if it will affect them in the future, etc.

Accidents happen. Emphasize that it was not your intention to hurt anyone by your actions. Maybe the offense was preventable, and maybe it wasn’t. But it’s in the past now and what matters is your apology and letting your customers know you did not mean to offend them.

Give them a reason to forgive you.

You’ve apologized for your offense, but now what will you do to make it up to them? Show your customers you care about upsetting them by providing them with a gift or, at the very least, explaining how you will avoid future mishaps.

You could offer them a coupon or a discount code. Reiterate your company values and why their business is important to you. Show them a little love by offering free shipping on their next purchase. Get that bad taste out of their mouth and remind them why they loved your business to begin with.

For example, Lucky Brand sent the following email after a technical glitch caused a poor web experience. The brand offered up a generous 30% discount to give subscribers a reason to forgive and forget.


Use humor if appropriate

Be careful with this one, as a poorly thought-out joke may be the reason for your apology in the first place. However, using humor can help lighten the mood after a gaffe.

When it comes to humor, consider your brand’s tone. Is it out of character for your brand to be humorous, or does it fit with who you are? Brand consistency is important when you are conducting damage control.

Before you engage with humor, consider the degree of seriousness of your offense. If the mistake was not terribly serious or if it was out of your control then humor may be a good tool for you. It shows your human side.

For example, Wistia sent an apology email after sending the wrong link with a familiar face — the company dog. Wistia made light of the situation with a joke and fun image.


Wrap up

Mistakes are going to happen; what’s important is how you react. Remember to keep your cool, respond promptly, avoid blaming, and personalize your messages. If you’re thoughtful, keep your cool, and have fun, mistakes will be easily forgotten and forgiven by your subscribers.

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About the Author Grace Carter
This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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