The Art of the Oops

The Art of the “Oops” – Email Mistakes and What to Do About Them

When crafting email marketing messages for your veterinary practice, your goal should be to make zero mistakes. It’s a great goal, but we’re all human, and sometimes, errors get through.

What do you do when an “oops” gets through? The answer depends on the type and severity of the error. You obviously want to correct serious errors, but at the same time, you don’t want to annoy people by dumping a bunch of stuff into their already-overflowing inboxes.

Let’s look at a few email mistakes.

Oopsie!

A little oops like a spelling mistake or typo, a broken image, and so on – basically one that doesn’t affect your business or anger your subscribers – doesn’t require any follow-up. A red face and sheepish chuckles if people mention it are fine.

Exception: You’ve misidentified a person.

If you’ve messed up someone’s name or identified the wrong person for any reason, use your judgment about whether it needs to be corrected. If so, you can further decide whether it needs to be an email, can be corrected on your website or social media, or can just be acknowledged in your next email newsletter.

You’ve got to be kidding me…

Your clinic cat flops on the keyboard while you’re getting a coffee and sends an unfinished email to everyone. You accidentally sent a “test” email to your list instead of to yourself. You sent an email about hypothyroid in dogs to your cat-owner list by mistake.

These types of mistakes have the potential to be quite hilarious – but knowing they can happen is good motivation to remember not to use placeholders that could be embarrassing.

Don’t panic and do something impulsive, but definitely follow up on mistakes like these. We will talk about best practices below.

Aww nuts…

A mistake that actually has an impact on your list should be corrected. For example, if you’ve put the wrong date on a promotion or an event, or put incorrect pricing in an email, you need to fix it.

Best Practices

If you do need to send a second email to your list, don’t fret – instead, make it into an opportunity. If done well, a correction email will not only make sure your subscribers get the information they need, but it can generate goodwill and a few laughs.

Here are some tips:

Be prompt

As soon as you notice your error and decide it requires follow-up, get it done. In some cases, people who haven’t seen the original before the correction hits their inbox will skip right over the mistake and only read the corrected version.

In addition, the longer you wait to fix a date or a price or something similar, the more annoyed people can become about it.

But don’t rush it

If the panicky feeling that comes with noticing your mistakes throws you off your game, remember to take a deep breath. You don’t want to quickly fire something off that contains other mistakes and requires a third email – at that point, it isn’t funny anymore, it’s just annoying.

Own up to it

Explicitly state why you are sending another email, beginning with the subject line.

If you are resending the same email with corrected information, use your original subject line, but add a word to the beginning to indicate that this is the email people should read. For example:

  • Subject: Correction – [Original Subject Line]
  • Subject: Oops! – [Original Subject Line]

Then make sure you point out the correction clearly within the message, and apologize. Email addresses are precious gifts of trust from your subscribers. Not pointing out the mistake can make people feel that you are spamming them, and not apologizing can just be annoying.

If you are sending a whole new message, you can use a whole new subject line, but you still want to be clear that it is a follow-up. You can still use a word like “oops,” or “correction,” but you don’t have to if it’s clear it’s a follow-up.

But don’t grovel

A single apology in a single line is plenty.

Use humour

This is a great time to be funny and a little self-deprecating. You’ve just shown that you’re human by making a mistake, so showing some personality is totally fine, and is generally well-received.

Make an offer

If you have freebies from suppliers to give away or decide that your mistake was big enough, you can offer people a little freebie. This is not necessary by any means, but it could build goodwill and even give people an excuse to come to the hospital. Let’s bring all of this together using the example of sending a dog-exclusive article to your cat-owner email list. You might send something like:

Subject: Oops! Nobody’s Purrfect…

If you mess up, you can recover. In fact, sometimes the oops-email will get better open rates than the original! But don’t use that as an excuse to be sloppy. Carefully go over each email, check the subject line, the list you’ve selected, the content and images, and test every link. 


For more articles and tips like this, subscribe to our newsletter.