How to Identify and Avoid a Major Email Marketing Meltdown

Not everyone is eager to talk about their marketing mishaps.

The reality, though? Mistakes happen to everyone!

It’s a hard pill for email marketers to swallow, especially for those perfectionists who’d rather hide away forever than issue an apology.

Whether you’re a newbie or a multi-billion dollar business, none of us are immune to messing up.

That said, that’s no excuse for email mistakes to become business as usual.

Because consistent mistakes can damage your credibility in the eyes of your followers. No matter who you’re targeting, nobody wants to be seen as the business that’s always shouting “Oops!”

Whether you think you might in the midst of an email crisis or want to avoid a nasty “what-if” situation, we’ve got you covered.

In this guide, we’ll break down some of the most common email marketing mistakes. You’ll also learn how to correct them with grace and ensure that you avoid ‘em in the future.

First Thing’s First: Did You Actually Make a Mistake?

When it comes to marketing mistakes, we’re usually our own worst critics.

But bear in mind that not all mistakes are created equal. For example, there’s no need to issue a full-blown redaction for forgetting a comma in a sentence. 

Below is a quick breakdown of some of the most frequent mistakes we see and how bad they really are.


Fingers slipped? Forgot to run spellcheck again? Don’t freak out! These are usually the most harmless mistakes marketers can make.

However, that’s not to say you can sweep all of your typos under the rug. As evidenced by this message from Musicians Friend, typos can sometimes result in pricing errors or messed up links that could discourage your contacts from making a purchase.

Missing or Broken Links

f you’re an email marketer, you’re quite literally in the business of scoring clicks. Letting those clicks go to waste is definitely a big deal, especially if you’re promoting a webinar or event for your contacts. When in doubt, double-check your links!

Broken Landing Pages

Note that not all email mistakes are confined to your inbox. If you point someone to a product page or piece of content, you need to make sure that everything’s on the up-and-up there as well. 

Formatting Errors

When your email is jumbled or broken because a formatting error, it feels like having egg on your face. 

Considering how easy it is to preview your messages via your email marketing platform (hint: Sendlane can do this!), this one’s totally avoidable. It’s also one the easiest to remedy as you can just re-send the message with a quick correction.


Sending your message at the wrong time could impact your engagement rate, especially if your list is used to receiving messages on a certain date. Even so, having a message go out a few hours early or late isn’t the end of the world. Some brands might feel the need to acknowledge such a problem, though.

Messages sent out of order

Sending messages out of order for a drip or onboarding campaign can cause major confusion among your contacts. Similarly, you never want to be in a situation where you’re blasting messages to the wrong list. This is exactly why creating your own workflows is so important!

Inaccurate Information

Get your dates mixed up? Cite a bogus source? In a day and age where it’s so easy to get called out online, a quick correction is oftentimes enough to do the trick. 

Acknowledge Your Mistake, But Don’t Panic!

Based on the severity of your screw-up, you have a choice to make: acknowledge it or let it slide.

And no, it’s not always an obvious choice.

First of all, relax. Prior to going into panic mode, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are people actually going to notice my mistake?
  • Is this going to damage my reputation or result in a call-out?
  • Is this going to impact my bottom line?

If the answer is even the slightest “yes” or “maybe” to any of these, you should err on the side of sending your list some sort of correction or apology to set things straight.

Remember: You Can Keep Your Mistakes on the DL

Let’s say you’re in a situation where you need to issue an apology.

The good news? You don’t have to advertise your screw-up to the world.

For example, let’s say you messed up an email for a small sect of your contacts. In that case, there’s no need to bug your whole list about it. Instead, simply address those impacted and move on.

The Art of Owning Your Mistake

Spoiler alert: nobody likes issuing an apology.

One of the best ways to diffuse the tension of an apology is to inject some humor into the situation. This message from Loot Crate is an awesome example of how humor can work wonders when addressing a problem.

Additionally, there’s no need to write a novel-length message when issuing a correction. As noted in our guide to writing short emails, most contacts have microscopic attention spans.

There’s a reason why most of the apology emails featured throughout this post are so straightforward. Keeping your apology short and sweet keeps you from making the problem seem like a bigger deal than it really is. 

And in some cases, you might want to “get real” with you contacts about a screw-up. That’s exactly what we did a few years back during an outage. Although apologies aren’t ideal in any case, they are a way to reinforce how much you care about your contacts.

There is no “right” way to apologize, granted you own your mistake and are sincere about it.

Rethink Being Be the Bearer of “Bad News”

Beyond actual email mistakes, let’s briefly talk about how to take a “bad” situation via email and keep it from getting worse

So much of avoiding email meltdowns comes down to how you frame your messages and respond to your contacts.

Let’s say you have to inform your contacts of “bad news” such as a change in your pricing or products. Don’t assume that your readers will be contacts will be hostile – just approach them positively!

Look at how Netflix informs customers about a price increase as a prime example. The subject line of “Why our monthly prices are changing” sparks curiosity rather than rage. Additionally, Netflix stresses the benefits of their new service and provides a reasonable justification for why prices are going up.

See how that works?

Never Feed the Trolls!

Let’s say that somebody flames you via email or is completely unreasonable about one of your messages.

Your gut instinct might be to tell them off, but it pays to just be the bigger person.

Why? Because we live in a call-out culture, especially on social media. From poor customer service to unresponsiveness to rudeness and dishonesty, there are plenty of reasons why people might put you on blast. 

A poor response could land your brand on Twitter and result in a mess of trouble if you aren’t careful.

Whether it’s a troll or someone trying to get a rise out of you, it’s best just to let it go. Only give your time of day to customers with legitimate concerns for their sake and the sake of your sanity.

Turning a Negative Email into a Positive

Finally, in certain cases you can actually turn a screw-up into an email success story.

For example, some brands issue apology discounts to say “sorry” and patch things up with their readers. Other brands go the extra mile as in the case of Chewy, who was recently acknowledged as putting out the best customer service email today.

In short, the brand has scored some major love on social media for acknowledging poor service and using email to make things right. This sort of proactive and positive approach to email not only keeps you in good graces with your customers but can help you score good press as well.

How Do I Cut Down on My Email Mistakes Once and For All?

In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to worry about these sorts of snafus at all.

But while email mistakes can’t be avoided completely, you can take steps to cut down on them significantly.

As noted in our guide on how to stop stressing before you hit “send,” third-party tools can make a huge difference in avoiding email meltdowns.

In addition to tools like Grammarly or Litmus, features baked into Sendlane can help prevent some of the worst mistakes we see marketers make.

For example, Sendlane allows you to work within templates and work within an editor that allows you to monitor what your messages look like in real-time.

Not only that, but Sendlane double-checks more technical details such as your tracking links and formatting. Sendlane’s automation features eliminate many of the errors that occur when humans try to do too much “by hand” in their marketing emails.

The end result? Peace of mind and fewer mistakes!

That wraps up our guide on how to spot and deal with email marketing meltdowns before they spiral out of control. 

And whether you’re looking to fine-tune your future emails or see what our email automation solution has to offer, make sure you check out Sendlane 3.0 and our latest features!

[the_ad_group id=”220″]

Caitlin Hutchinson

Caitlin Hutchinson

A native of San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative and engaging marketing content. She is primarily responsible for overseeing the development, execution and delivery of digital content across all of Sendlane’s channels as well as maintaining an online presence of Sendlane's team culture. She has enjoyed being a part of a powerhouse team where she has had the opportunity to wear a variety of hats and take her knowledge and creativity to the next level. When not focusing on increasing Sendlane's online presence you'll find Caitlin playing music on her guitar or piano and spending time with her Husband and their rescue dog, Piper.
Caitlin Hutchinson