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Making the Most of Your Mistakes - A tale of defeat, but mostly triumph

Posted by Simone Nabers on
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So, yesterday morning I had an "oh crap!" moment (that's the PG-13 version). You know, when you send out an email blast to 11,000 people and realize that you forgot to review the subject line that still said "NEEDS TITLE"? Email Fail? Better Own ItYeah, one of those. Most marketers have experienced this kind of flub at some point. In fact, I had a few replies assuring me that they had 'been there, done that' and were hoping to give me a heads-up so I could potentially catch the rest that hadn't gone through yet. Y'all are so nice, seriously! There are a few things that I've learned from my mistake, so I'm hoping to make the most of it and pass it along to you:

1. First and foremost, I think it's phenominal that for the majority, marketers have each other's back. It would have been easy to send back a snarky reply (I'm sure I got a few of those too), but honestly, most of the immediate responses were, "Hey, just wanted to give you a heads-up..." and ".. in case you’re able to fix before another send," and "I don't think you intended for this...don't worry, we've all been there". After that initial sinking feeling and 'gulp', this made me smile. So, thank you fellow marketers for the prompt words of encouragement and advice on fixing.

2. On to the fix - you gotta know when to fold 'em. People know when you goof - especially smart people. You can't pull one over on most of your audience (and I hope that's never your goal). But I've found that it is far better to fess up to the mess up than try to cover up your tracks. So what did I do? I sent out a new email to the same audience letting them know that 'Oops, we messed up..." (literally - that was the new subject line) and asked them for their best advice on creating attention-grabbing invites (not like mine). And guess what? I got even more replies of understanding and appreciation for taking ownership. Here are a couple snippets from the before and after emails:

First email send

'Oops, we messed up' Email

 

 

          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I simply added a line that most of my audience could probably relate to. Yep, I made a mistake. So here's the fix and also ask for their expertise. People love it when you ask for their help - it's authentic. Isn't that what marketing should be about anyway?

3. What's the damage? Believe it or not, the damage was far less than expected (phew!) Like I mentioned before, I recieved some great responses to the second email - one gentleman even told me that my first subject line did actually grab his attention and he thought we handled the situation well (although I wouldn't recommend this approach to anyone on a regular basis). Another woman replied, "Nice angle!" and another, "I like the way you fixed your mistake..." and she also gave me her suggestion for coming up with a catchy subject line like I had asked for.

If you make a mistake, you might as well learn something from it in the process.Two birds with one stone.

Also, because I'm a marketer and enjoy digging into the metrics, I pulled reports on each email and here's the break down:

Initial Email -

7480 sends

1485 opens

7.04% unique open rate

3.9% CTR

"Oops, we messed up..." Email -

7430 sends

756 opens

5.38% unique open rate

3.5% CTR

Do you see what I see? We got almost twice as many opens on the intial email, a nearly 2% increase on the "NEED TITLE" email - go figure :) Maybe that subject line was enough to grab people's attention to open it. Also registrations for that particular webinar, doubled!

So what can we all learn from my mistake?

  • We've all made a similar mistake at one point or another. Lending a quick word of advice or encouragement creates some common ground and that's the beginning of creating a community - both with your peers and prospects.
  • Fess up to the mess up, and then see if you can't get something useful out of it. People appreciate the human factor. Asking people for advice shows authenticity and that goes far.
  • ALWAYS have someone double-check your email before hitting the send button.

Ok, time for confessions - what's your biggest email fail? We'll give the best blooper a $25 Starbucks or iTunes gift card. It's for the common good, go on....

 


Name: Rob
Time: Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I once sent an email to 25,000 recipients in which all the links to my company's website (there were several) directed to a non-existent page. Because the email's copy was so compelling (of course!) we received a lot of clicks. However, because all the clicks were throwing errors on our site, it was interpreted as a major attack and security violation and took the site offline. The issue was resolved quickly. We fessed up to the mess up, got the site back online, sent out an "oops" email to all the recipients, and it never happened again.

#HonestyFTW

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