Ksenia Pryalukhina
How to Say Sorry to Your Subscribers
An article on how brands should correct mistakes in their mailings.
Do you remember that time you made an annoying mistake in a personal chat? Maybe you typed a message to one person and sent it to another. Or you embarrassingly misspelled a name. Or you didn’t write what you wanted at all due to autocorrect. Something like that has certainly happened to everyone.
If you make a mistake in the correspondence, it will be polite to apologize for it. This rule applies not only to chats with friends, but to big brand mailings also. After all, brands, or rather, the people who work for them, make mistakes too. Here's how to correct them in the right way.
Mistakes in mailings can be divided into three groups.
Deal with the Mistake
Typo. Double space. Extra comma. Missing suggestion. There are mistakes of any kind. And what do you do with them? There is only one answer: to read the email more carefully next time before sending.
It’s not worth apologizing for every typo, so sending an apology mailing is superfluous. You can play a joke on yourself in the next email if the typo came out funny. By the way, this can also raise the Open Rate—if the reader hadn’t noticed the mistake and wants to check it now.
Minor Oversights
Look at the apology that Outbrain Europe sent. It’s interesting that in this email the marketing director of the brand takes some of the blame, even though the problem was purely technical.
Broken link. Button leading to the wrong page. Website that does not open. These things are worse because with them you can not only upset the subscriber, but lose potential profit. For example, if the link on the button leads to another product.
Yes, those who want the product badly will get it [usually they can easily find it through the search]. But others will think: “Oh, I didn’t really want to” and close the website. Such mistakes can cost your company a lot of money.
Further communication depends on where exactly the link broke. It’s quite ok to send an email with the correct link once again and focus on the offer. How to avoid mistakes in the future? To test emails.
Technical Difficulties
Fake information. Important factual inaccuracy. Ignoring socially significant events. Everything of its kind instantly affects the reputation of the brand. So, such mistakes can be called critical.
This is a risk of losing not only current customers, but potential ones also. You know how quickly rumors and screenshots spread through chats nowadays. Just look how The Daily Carnage, a newsletter of the best marketing content, apologized for quoting Woody Allen in one email. It can be dangerous today!
This is the case when sending an email of apology is a must-have. It’s the only way to adequately get out of this situation. Here's how to do it.
Critical Errors
7 Tips for Sending Apologies
Send Fast
Usually it takes three days to prepare a regular mailing. But a “we-are-so-sorry”-email can’t wait that long. You need to act quickly and decisively.
The speed of an apology is more important than its design, so rush the copywriter first, not the designer. Efficiency will even help you to make amends. And to prevent dispersing of your mistake through chats of marketers [though no one is safe from this of course].
Pick a Theme that Says It All for You
Immediately explain that you are working with the mistakes in this email. This will help customers understand why they should open it. A cheerful “Oops, we screwed it up”, an intriguing “Oh, there was a mistake” and a sincere “Forgive us” are always good options.
Here’s how Urth (also known as Gobe) does it. The folks sincerely admit that they were so happy because of launching their new website, that they rushed to send an email—and sent the wrong one.
Explain to Subscribers What Has Happened
Simply describe the situation—was it a system failure or some of your colleagues made a mistake, anything can happen.
Are you sure that everyone saw the email with a mistake? You can’t be, so you need to talk about it. This will make everything clear to all of your customers.
Admit the Mistake and Apologize
Just look how Framebridge company tried to unsign all its subscribers. The brand apologizes in the following email, tells the subscribers that they are awesome and asks for any ideas on improving.
Actually, it’s the most important part of the plan. Don't put the blame on someone else. You made a mistake and you ask for forgiveness. This will be remembered by your customers.
Tell Customers How You Solve the Problem
Look at Airbnb telling us how their service suffer from COVID-19 — and how company helps the hosts in this difficult time.
Some mistakes, unfortunately, are not so easy to fix. They take a lot of effort and time. If you let such a mistake happen, then tell your customers how you work with it. And how you make sure that it does not happen again! This will put the customers at ease.
Add Humor If Its Appropriate
For inspiration, see how a clothing shop Eloquii apologized for sending one email two times. The brand says their office dog is responsible for the mistake—and that he will no longer be in charge of coding emails.
Of course, you can not make fun of any mistake. If clients lost money because of you, and their feelings were seriously hurt, you certainly shouldn’t be ironic about it. But other times, the jokes can cheer your customers up.
Need help with writing an apology? Сontact us!
There is nothing wrong with apologies in general. They can even be presented as excellent cases of gaining customers' loyalty and improving the brand's reputation.
Look at the cool apology that Fab marketers made for a mistake that, in fact, was made by the technical specialists of the brand. The email contains a description of the current situation, a nice bonus in the form of a discount, and a funny cat. This looks like a forbidden punch: brands should understand that it is impossible to resist funny animals!
Apologizing is not only a way to show that you understand that you made a mistake. It is a confirmation of the integrity of the brand. A manifestation of its sincerity and humanity. So, it is a way to increase the loyalty of the audience also. Are you afraid of losing subscribers because of a mistake? Apologize correctly and then you will not only keep them, but gain new ones also.
Make Amends
So, for example, they did it on Amazon. The brand not only apologized for the delayed delivery, but also gave the buyer one month of Amazon Prime membership for free. The apology everyone dreams of.
If a problem happened because of your fault, offer little more than a solution. Give your customers a bonus that will make them happy: a promo code for a discount or a few extra days of the promotion. It is unlikely that this will make them expect new mistakes from you. But who knows!
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