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Oops! emails: Apology lessons for the email marketer

Having an oops email strategy in place is highly essential. Read on to find out how to plan well ...

The fact that everyone makes mistakes is often repeated but not always understood. Just like everyone else, marketers too make mistakes. Sometimes negligible, sometimes catastrophic. That’s all we are here to talk about today – mistakes made by email marketers and Oops emails. 

If you conduct some research about Oops emails online, you might find out that there are marketers who send ‘fake’ Oops emails just because they are known to have better open rates. That is how valuable these emails are. We are not encouraging you to send such fake emails, but we want to break down Oops emails and help you strategize them better.

Common Oops! moments for email marketers 

These are some of the common reasons that call for Oops! emails.

1. Incorrect links:

These could cost you a lot and need to be fixed immediately. In order to avoid these mistakes before they could happen, test emails are the way to go. You must check all the links in your test email before sending the final set.

2. Technical glitches:

This happens a lot with eCommerce websites due to increased traffic on the website and other technical issues. Since these issues can’t be foreseen, it is best to send out Oops emails immediately after recognizing them.

3. Mailing the wrong segment:

Imagine sending out an email about childcare to a segment of consumers who are not parents. When a glitch like this happens, it needs a good PR fix.

4. Sending the incorrect version:

If you are to send an email based on the outcome of a game, you usually prepare for both teams. What if you send a congratulatory email to fans of the wrong team? Or, what if you send it before the game has even ended? You might have to apologize on public platforms as well.

Oops! email moral checklist

These are the basic tenets to be followed while framing Oops emails. 

  • Accept your mistakes: Be straightforward with your subscribers. Call yourself out for your errors. Don’t make it seem like you are giving excuses. Provide the correct information quickly. 
  • Respect subscribers’ feelings: Be careful not to adopt a ‘woe is me’ tone. The modern consumer is good at telling sincerity from insincerity. Put yourself in their shoes and send communication that they would expect and deserve. Empathy goes a long way.
  • Express how you plan to fix it: In most cases, this works. It shows that you are making immediate and active efforts not to repeat your mistakes. Ask sincere questions such as: What else can I do to fix this slip-up? Just asking for forgiveness seems incomplete, so find ways to make it up to them as well.

Oops! email strategic checklist

Now that we are over the empathetic needs, let’s dive into strategy and check out the bare basics of an Oops email strategy:

  • Make a list of potential glitches: You know what they say about being prepared for a rainy day. Every time you execute an email campaign, make a list of potential issues that you could face and outline a plan of action for dealing with each of them. This will help you respond to errors promptly without your team panicking over them.
  • Create a response strategy based on intensity: The magnitude of a mistake decides the level of response it needs, or whether it needs a response at all. Serious errors that hurt your conversions and ROI are to be placed at the higher levels. Make your lives easier by creating levels of errors and a rough response strategy for each level.
  • Decide the creative approach: The creativity required for an Oops email might be more than what was needed for the original email with a glitch. Here, you not only have to repair a mistake but also have to achieve the objective of the original email. Brainstorm it with marketing, copy, and design teams. Add a dash of humor if it suits the situation. But don’t forget to show empathy.
  • Make a template: There are quite a few apology email templates available on the internet. Find out if these suit your situation in times of need. Otherwise, you could design and code a well-thought template before your campaign is live. As the strategy for different levels of glitches, make email templates of different levels.

When you can avoid sending an Oops! email 

Just as it is crucial to be apologetic when you commit a mistake in your campaign, it is equally important to know when you don’t need to do so. Here are a few instances:

  • Typos: Everyone makes typos from time to time. If your mistake is such that readers will still understand what you actually meant, you need not worry. An apology email for something as small would only mean another unnecessary email in subscribers’ inboxes. 
  • Broken links: Many a time, broken link errors can be fixed at the backend. Instead of spending time framing an apology mail and explaining yourself, correct the root of the mistake and actually fix it. Remember that one too many emails from the same brand are never desirable for customers.
  • Sending the same email twice: Even the most advanced of email tools can lead to you sending the same email twice to your subscribers. When this happens, sending a third email to apologize for the second email makes little sense. Instead, you can include a brief apology in the next campaign email itself.
  • Wrong coupon/promo code: This is another error that can be fixed at the backend. Instead of sending an email and making people use another code again, you could make the existing one functional. This would actually erase your mistake as if it never happened at all.

Oops! emails for inspiration

Here are some of the best Oops! emails we have come across. You can derive inspiration from their strategy, themes, and creativity and make your own effective Oops Emails.

1. Gobe:

In just a few lines of copy, this email explains what exactly happened, throws in some humor, announces a new website, and attempts sales. It is a very wholesome Oops! email.

2. FilterEasy:

Filter Easy, too, does a good job at displaying very light humor in its apology email. It very carefully slides in the reason for the goof-up and assures subscribers that it is only in their best interests at the same time. The best part is that the email is concise and to the point.

3. Methodical Coffee:

This email is very plainly apologetic, which is what you need sometimes. The error could or could not have been glaring for different people, but it is one that could have hurt a community’s sentiments. It is thus essential to know when and when not to be humorously apologetic. It is also important to mention that the design of this email is neat, no-frills, and allows space for the copy to shine.

4. Shipt:

This is a classic example of a throwback to an earlier email that had a glitch. Subscribers receive regular emails from a lot of brands. They might forget the glitch in your last email. But if you remind them in this way, they are more likely to acknowledge it and appreciate you. Notice the little bit of wordplay that they have added in the copy. It only adds to the appeal of the email. Overall, this is a fine email strategy in play.

5. ShhhowerCap:

This ShhhowerCap email tries to take empathy and social proof to the next level by displaying a consumer complaint above-the-fold. It tries to show that the brand has been listening and working to solve consumers’ problems. The long speech that follows as a copy might seem too long, but when you read it, it doesn’t look drab. It comes across as a sincere apology.

Final Thoughts

Oops! emails are one of the core parts of email marketing strategy. Knowing when and when not to send them is crucial. Knowing how to send them is also vital. As much as the copy matters primarily, the design does too. Have a look at the examples above, and you will understand.

Essentially, you ought to treat Oops emails like any other important campaign email and put in the same amount of strategy, creativity, brainstorming, and effort into them!

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Kevin George

Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing full-service email marketing companies. He is an email enthusiast at heart and loves to pen down email marketing content. You can reach him at or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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