Imagine you just sent 100,000 emails to your list.
But the email had the wrong date and time. People are already registering for your event.
Or the white paper link is a test page and people are clicking and bouncing off your site.
Don’t Panic! You can save face and help people at the same time!
If you use any type of marketing automation tool, you’ve probably encountered a similar situation at least once. So how do you fix the error?
The Golden Rule says to treat others the way you would want to be treated in the same situation. Your audience has the capacity to forgive mistakes–if you treat your leads the way they want to be treated in that situation. The principle is to be as open and apologetic as possible without overstating your case or sending more emails than you need to correct the error. Let’s take a look at three scenarios:
Scenario 1: Correcting a Typo, Date, URL, or Wrong Email
Sending an email before it was ready is a common error. Maybe a URL was wrong, perhaps the email name changed, the dates needed to be corrected, etc…And you’re under pressure to get campaigns out the door to pull in more leads to your insatiable funnel, right?
A typo can be embarrassing. Fortunately, not everyone will notice a typo because email is scanned before it is read. If the typo is trivial, do nothing. Sending a second email or apology will only draw attention to your mistake. A second, similar email within a short amount of time will lower your email reputation because spam filters will view a repeat email as potential spam. Your leads will be annoyed with a second email and may ignore, spam filter, or unsubscribe you.
Great, you say, but what about the big invitation with the wrong date? What do I do now?
There are three options depending on how far the bad email went:
- Stop the campaign running right now, if you can. Then you can send the correction to the group who received the wrong email.
- Send a corrected email to anyone who may have been directly affected, including people who Opened, Clicked, or Registered.
- Send a correction to everyone.
My preference is for 1 or 2 unless there was something far worse going on (see Scenario 3).
If you can, stop the campaign process now. Here is how to do that.
Step 1: Deactivate or Stop the Next Run
Go to the campaign schedule tab and deactivate it, which also includes deleting future Runs. If you were able to cancel the Run before its activation time, great! Go ahead to fix your email and rescheduling this one.
Marketing Automation Best Practice: schedule your email campaign at least 10 minutes in the future. – Click to Tweet
Step 2: Press the Big Red Button to Delete the Flow Step in the Campaign
If you campaign is already running in Marketo, you might be able to kill further mistakes by deleting the next flow step. Deactivation does not stop the Send Email flow step. Marketo recommends then Deleting the entire Campaign flow step to ensure the process ends. If there are more than 10,000 Leads, please call Marketo Support for immediate help.
Since some or all of your target leads were sent the email, you need to handle a possible correction, go to Step 3.
Step 3: Create a new email with corrected text
If you believe it is necessary, add an apology. If you made an error on the date, time, or location of something, be sure to make it clear that you are correcting this.
Step 4: Schedule the Email
Wait an hour or two if you can because you will likely want to restrict the second email to leads who Opened or Clicked in the email. While apologies are great, you may only want to send a correction to the people who actually saw the email.
Of course, if you were sending a follow up email for an event, you may want to send the correction to the entire list.
Step 5: Sending Corrections to Affected Leads
The difficulty here is that not everyone allows images or html, so you may lose quite a few people who did see the typo, but who blocked you from tracking them.
- Create a new campaign in the Program: Invitation – Correction
- In the Smart List use filters such as Member of Campaign and (Opened Email OR Clicked Link in Email). Depending on the situation you may want to use Was Sent Email or Was Delivered Email filters.
- Test the Email. Really. Use the Test button. Use it at least 3 times to different email boxes, which will force you to actually read it this time.
- Schedule the email. When you schedule the campaign to run, tell it to run in 10 minutes. That way you will have time for your brain to realize any other mistakes.
Scenario 2: Duplicate Email Sends
If you accidently sent the same email twice in a short period, there is not much you can do about it. Ideally, if you caught your mistake, cancel the seond run. But in Marketo, it is possible for a Default Action in a Flow step to send the email again if you chose your Choices poorly.
Sending a third email to apologize for a second email is not going to help your reputation. The third email will be viewed as yet another annoyance. Ask, “Would I want to receive a third or fourth email explaining a silly error like this?” I bet you said “No.” So don’t do that to other people.
In most cases, there is nothing to do other than apologize to anyone who complains. This is why it is critical to monitor generic email boxes as well as persona boxes each day. A quick response to an annoyed lead will soothe them fast. Ignoring someone will make their irritation turn into possible anger, which can only cause them to become net detractors.
Scenario 3: The Massive Apology
The massive apology should be reserved for the total mess up. You will know when this moment arrives. It could be that auto renew message for 500 people which went to 8 million. It might be a cancellation notice intended for 200 deadbeats that instead went to all of your best clients. Or perhaps, God forbid, a malicious person swapped your copy (or spoofed your domain) and sent out terrible messages to everyone.
In any case, you need to use crisis management techniques.
- Find out what happened.
- Be honest with what you know and don’t know.
- If it was your fault, admit this quickly and unequivocally.
- Offer corrected information.
- Offer compensation if appropriate.
- Review your email campaign process and adjust the procedures to avoid such an error again.
In this situation, you should email everyone who was on the list as well as post details on your website just as Boingo and the New York Times did.
Use Checklists and the Buddy System to Prevent Errors
Computers can do things fast, including amplify errors you make. When you build a workflow, make sure you test it well so you avoid mistake emails; wrong list sends; and 100,000 emails to one person.
To avoid future errors, build a process with redundancies using checklists and the buddy system. Use my Marketing Automation Checklists to help get started. Marketo has paired marketers to help catch each other’s mistakes before they leave the service. Also, ask questions like
- Database selects: does this number make sense?
- Am I sure that I selected the right list: eg: Has Opportunity = True AND Status=Closed/Won vs. Has Opportunity=True AND Status=Closed/Lost? Inverse select errors are easy to make and can be avoided.
- Is this an email I would want if I were my target audience?
Mistakes do happen and they can be corrected deftly using the steps above. If you are ever in a situation like this, you can always fall back on the Golden Rule: “What would I want if I were my audience?”
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Image: Striatic flickr