What to Do When Your Email Program Gets a Black Eye
If you did not recently complete a migration, you’ll still need to put your best foot forward in order to repair damage to your sending reputation. Here are a few things to consider:
- Front load each deployment with your most engaged subscribers so they establish positive engagement patterns for the send.
- Only send to your most engaged subscribers for the first few sends and avoid sending to those who have a prolonged pattern of inactivity. When you do start adding in less engaged subscribers, do so over several mailings rather than all at once.
- Avoid any big jumps in volume.
- Keep your sending cadence steady and avoid ramping up frequency until you see your inbox placement even out.
- Avoid any major changes to your email program or tests that may disrupt the subscriber experience. This is not the time to update your template, launch new emails, or try out subject lines that are outside of your typical approach.
You Sent the Wrong Message or Offer
If the message or offer that you sent will confuse or annoy subscribers, and/or will have a negative impact on your bottom line and the link will be directed to an error message, you’re probably going to have to send an apology email. You can check out this post and this post for examples of apology emails as well as the results they drove.
I should add a caveat: you may not need to apologize to everyone. If your subject line doesn’t explicitly highlight the error and you don’t want subscribers to take action on the erroneous message/offer, you may be able to be more selective with the audience for your apology. At this stage in the game, most sending infrastructures allow marketers to automate the deployment of a targeted follow up. By automating the deployment of an apology email to those who opened or clicked the erroneous email, you can focus your apologies on those subscribers who may need it and avoid pestering those who don’t.
There Was an Error in the Subject Line
It’s not uncommon to see an email come through with a snippet of code instead of copy, a spelling error, “Insert subject line,” or even a completely blank space. While embarrassing and unfortunate, this is another scenario where the best bet is typically to just move on. Sending a second email will only call attention to the error, potentially annoy subscribers, and provide another opportunity to complain or unsubscribe. Take a deep breath and move on to the next campaign on your marketing calendar.
You Included a Broken Link
This is common occurrence but painful nonetheless. It can also be a very frustrating experience for engaged subscribers who want to take action on your message. If the intent of the email was to drive action via the broken link, it’s probably in your best interest to mail an apology email to the same list. This will put the new, clickable email at the top of the inbox and give subscribers a chance to click through immediately and avoid frustration. If you were to employ the automated follow up approach, subscribers would have to fail, wait for a secondary email, then try again. The more hoops you put in front of a conversion, the fewer subscribers you’ll convert. Make it easy on your list, be transparent with your error, and get that apology email out the door.
When in doubt, pause the deployment! I should note that if you catch any of the above errors immediately after hitting send, you may have time to pause the deployment and fix the error — especially if you’re sending to a large list. As an example, if you’re sending a message to 2 million subscribers, clicking send starts the deployment but it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours for all of those subscribers to receive your mail. Many mailing infrastructures and mailbox providers limit how many messages can be sent or received during a specific timeframe. These rates aren’t always consistent and can depend on default settings, reputation, and other factors. When in doubt, if the option is available, pause the deployment and assess the situation.
As a Senior Email Strategist with Return Path, Casey specializes in driving increased engagement and boosting deliverability. Casey has a healthy fixation with helping marketers realize the potential of their email programs by addressing human needs, building better relationships, and ultimately driving improved results for the business. Her nine years of experience and obsession with evolving the email space helped land her a spot on ExpertSender’s list of “25 Email Geeks to Help You Get Your Geek On.”