Email 911: Where's the "Oh S**T" Button?

It happens to the best of us. We hit "send" on the world's best email, see that glorious piece of gold hit our inbox, and our heart stops because there’s a mistake and now it’s too late to fix it.


When the mistake is so bad, it hurts to look.

This week, one of my best friends texted me a screenshot of the email she had sent out to her carefully curated list of over 1,000 leads. She’s a real estate agent, and a beautiful presentation is everything to her, so I know that there isn’t a chance in the world that the mess in that screenshot was what she designed.


Somehow between the inbox test and clicking the send button, the email must have hit a tornado because everything was scrambled. She was devastated, and called me immediately to figure out what to do.


The bad news: There is no “Oh S**t” button that can take a mistake like this away. Once it’s sent from an email marketing platform, the email is in your audience’s inboxes and can’t be recalled.


The good news: The world will not end because of this mistake. You can still remedy the problem with a little creative thinking. Here’s how.


  1. Find the root of the problem. Figure out what exactly the problem is, and why it happened. Most of the time, the cause is simple oversight, such as a broken link or a typo that was missed. But if it’s technical, such as the entire email layout displaying incorrectly, there may be deeper issues that need resolved.

  2. Assess the damage. How critical is the issue, and will your audience notice? While a low-resolution image or a misspelled word may be something that goes unnoticed, my friend’s case was a 911 situation. Her email list is full of warm leads in a competitive market, and she needs to showcase a professional, polished presentation in all her communication efforts.

  3. Find the solution. For non-critical, probably-won’t-notice issues, the solution may be to just let it go and commit to a better review process for next time. Some things you may be able to sneakily find a band-aid solution for, like a URL redirect for what was once a broken link. However, more severe problems may call for a re-send.

  4. Make sure the solution actually fixes the problem. There is nothing worse than making the same mistake twice within a matter of minutes in front of 1,000 people. If you’re going to re-send an email, make sure that it’s completely error-proof. I like to go beyond the preview feature and send it to a segmented audience of my own email addresses to ensure that the final is absolutely perfect, and do a double check from my phone, tablet, and desktop.

  5. Don’t apologize unless it’s necessary. The chances are that you didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings with your mistake, so don’t give an awkward apology. Keep it lighthearted and on-brand. For this situation, we added a simple “oops” message, made a joke about this mistake summing up 2020, and encouraged them to read on to the clean and polished email. Dust off shoulders, done. However, if there was something inappropriate or hurtful in your email, then the remedy will need to be much more strategic. I suggest in that case that you contact someone who specializes in reputation management.

  6. Don’t do it again. Here’s where the tough love comes in! Find a way to keep the problem from happening again. Maybe that means cleaning up your email list, assigning a second pair of eyes to review the draft, or switching marketing platforms if the problem is really severe. Whatever the case, use your mistake as a learning experience.


In the end, the world will continue to spin despite this roadbump. Hers certainly did, and she even got quick responses to BOTH emails with interested home buyers.


Need a little assistance with a your holiday emails or a marketing 911 situation? We’re here to help! Schedule a free consultation with 218 Creative, we’ll come to the rescue and tell the firetrucks to stay put.



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