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What would you think would be the most annoying thing in the world? Spam or the Vuvuzela? Actually I think they both take a shared first place. Especially when directed straight at you. Well, we have some bad news. Very bad news that is: Their forces are combined now. Making the ultimate most annoying thing there is in the world: Vuvuzela Spam.

(Thanks to the great @dtboyd of Eroi for first posting this on his twitpic)

This article was originally published on Blue Sky Factory’s blog.  View the original article.

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We’ve all experienced technology fails and know that they can unfortunately strike at any time. And while it’s the job of an email marketer to test, test, and test email campaigns to ensure that they deliver as intended, you’re still bound to commit some form of human error at some point in your career. So, how do you handle it? Well, you have a couple of options:

  • Option #1: Never tell your boss and sweat out the next 48 hours hoping that no one else notices.
  • Option #2: Resend the campaign in the manner that it was intended, but without any note of the correction(s) within the email.
  • Option #3: Man up and admit the error to subscribers, and if you can, make it up to them.

Now I know that option #3 may initially put you in the dog house with your executives because they’ll be aware of a pretty big mistake you made, will feel as though their bottom line may suffer through how you “make it up” to the subscribers, and may have to spend more on the additional email volume for the apology email. Although I’ve got to tell you, an apology email really gives you a chance reach out to your subscribers, show your transparency, and show proactive customer appreciation. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Address the “Oops” in the Subject Line

When San Luis Obispo County Visitors & Conference Bureau realized they had forgotten to add important tourism ads to their monthly email, they promptly sent out a correction email. Unfortunately, they may have rushed the correction email just a bit, as they only made note of the correction within the subject line, as they changed it from the original “Special Offers and Events from SLO County” to “Correction for Seacrest Ad and One More Special Offer from SLO County”.

San Luis Email Creative Screen Shot San Luis Email Correction Creative Screen Shot

Don’t get me wrong – making note of the error in the subject line is probably the most important notification to make in correction emails. When an email looks like a duplicate email in the inbox, it will almost always be immediately deleted. Although, a brief message at the top of the email copy would reinforce that the second send does have added ads/offers that are worthwhile for the subscribers to scroll down and see. Removing the repeated image and welcome message that fills the “above the fold” area would also help subscribers understand that this email contains new, worthy content as well.

Send Subscribers an Offer as Your Apology

Email marketers in retail who need to send an apology email can actually get a leg up by offering a special promotion, coupon code, or other offer to make up for whatever blunder occurred. Take this Blue Sky Factory client, Russell & Mackenna. They made a pretty big mistake with an email they sent through their internal resources right before they came on as a client, so they sent the below apology email out as their first email through our services. (Click image to enlarge)

Russell & Mackenna Apology Email

They did a great job at keeping this email simple and from the voice of the Founder and CEO to show its sincerity. Not to mention, the increased discount they decided to give their subscribers made them feel so valued and appreciated that they observed a 50% conversion rate from this apology email! I’m pretty sure that after the way Russell & Mackenna handled this mistake, most of their subscribers walked away thinking, “I just got a great deal on furniture!” as opposed to, “I can’t believe they violated my trust and exposed my email address to everyone on their subscriber list!”

Clearly State the Error in Detail in the Email Copy

Another great example comes from the “email marketing famous” Daily Candy. Their sole product is their daily emails, so yea, there’s a decent amount of pressure on them to execute email marketing without any mistakes. Unfortunately, they recently endured a mishap of their own, by sending out the wrong information on an important promotion. See the original and correction emails below: (Click images to enlarge)

Daily Candy Email Creative Screen Shot Daily Candy Email Correction Creative Screen Shot

They do a fantastic job addressing the correction they needed to make and taking full responsibility for the error. The subject line also entices the subscriber enough to open the email because clearly, something is awry, but without being too dramatic or wordy.

Use the Apology Email to Further Show Your Brand Personality

Even those of us who specialize in the email industry have hiccups from time to time. See below an example from the Email Experience Council and another from Blue Sky Factory: (Click images to enlarge)

Email Experience Council Correction Email Blue Sky Factory Correction Email

With both of our emails being purely informational, we can’t make any awesome offers to make up for either of our goofs. But we can admit to it, make the correction, and spin the whole situation with a corky and conversational voice that only enhances the human quality we give our brands.

Now I’m not trying to promote email marketing blunders, but if it happens and you begin feeling that heart-dropping-into-your-stomach, face-turning-bright-red, my-boss-is-going-to-kill-me-feelings, just breathe and remember this happens. Then, stir up the courage to tell your boss and begin moving forward with a wicked correction email campaign. Not only will you survive the work day, but by tomorrow, you may actually be a better email marketer.

Elena Hekimian
Client Services Manager, Blue Sky Factory
@ElenaH13

I’ve been thoroughly impressed by my home state’s online marketing lately. The VisitPA website is colorful, fun and showcases not only a lot of the great things to do here in Pennsylvania, but also the numerous ways that potential visitors can get information about what PA has to offer.

So while I suppose it shouldn’t have been surprising, the email I recently received from them was startlingly well-done:

VisitPA Vacation Ideas Email

(Click image for full size)

Nailing The Basics

  • The “from” line is highly recognizable. Bonus: spelling out Pennsylvania – especially since the subject line uses the abbreviation “PA” which some subscribers (especially outside of the USA) might not recognize immediately.
  • The subject line – PA vacation ideas. Get ’em while they’re hot. – is simple, direct and fun, while managing to imply some urgency.

The Fun Continues in the Body

This is awesome copywriting for a tourism email.

It sells the sizzle (not the steak) right from the get-go. “Bumper cars, funnel cake, and screaming your head off. It’s what summer is all about.” It’s all about the reader, and it’s all about fun (and isn’t that what vacations are supposed to be?).

Just below that, the call to join the VisitPA Facebook page keeps the fun going with a playful (and direct) headline – Friends get benefits – and supporting copy – Let’s be friends. Facebook friends, anyway. (Aside: how awesome is the Facebook icon using the PA keystone?)

The next section uses phrases like inside scoop and get in the loop to push the deals page of the VisitPA site without, well… being pushy.

Short and Simple Sells Social

The clean design and short length of this email not only make it easy to read and act on, they draw out the “Find us” links toward the end of the email.

(Oh, and the last one on the right there? I had to click on it since it was the only one I didn’t recognize… turns out it goes to VisitPA’s well-designed “Savvy Grouse” blog.)

Throw in the fact that whoever made this email dotted just about all the i’s and crossed all the t’s (I could quibble about the ALT text usage, but that’s relatively minor), and this email is one that a lot of other tourism boards – and businesses in general – could learn a lot from.

Looks like Comcast subscribers to DSW’s email program have had some issues getting to their site.