Can a Mistake Have an ROI?

PropelGrowth Blog - Financial Services Marketing

Sometimes, email marketing mistakes can deliver unexpected return on investment

Last week, we made an embarrassing email marketing mistake. We had just migrated to a new email service provider and were sending out an email about our upcoming webcast Feeding the Content Beast in the Real World. We ran into a little problem with the salutation code. Phil contacted technical support. After looking into it, they assured us it was fixed and that everything was fine. So we sent the message.

But it wasn’t fine. The HTML for the salutation code contained an error. As a result, every message started with “Hey [[firstname fallback=”Friend” mode=”uc”]] , you’re invited to attend this informative webcast:”

Since Phil and I were included in the list, we noticed the mistake immediately. Phil got back on the phone with tech support, figured out what went wrong, and corrected our template. We decided to quickly send out a “mea culpa” email with the subject line “Oops!”. That email was short and sweet – just a quick note from me in plain text:

You may have noticed a recent email from me that began with gobbledygook code. We’ve recently moved over to a new email service and are working out the kinks. So sorry that you had to be subjected to that. I’ll make sure this doesn’t happen in the future.

Warm regards,

A few minutes after we sent the first email, I started receiving responses. That email delivered a whopping 42% higher open rate than the first email. But more importantly, nearly 10% of the people on our list responded with encouraging notes, which quite frankly, turned our day from bad to great.

I received notes from people I have not talked to for a couple years, words of encouragement from people I admire, and got opportunities to catch up with a number of former clients, colleagues, friends and subscribers.

I wanted to share a few of the notes that I found funny or encouraging. I’ve left off sender names, because I didn’t ask senders for permission to share. But you know who you are…so thank you for your encouraging words!

  • No apologies required at all!  It looks like an interesting interview!
  • Not to worry, Candyce. We’ve all been there!
  • Yep I got it.. saw the gobbledygook – one of my favorite words of all time – and ignored it.  Did I need to read it?
  • Thanks for clarifying that… I thought I had drunk too much whiskey ..
  • I never would have noticed the garbled code!  🙂
  • No worries – i know you are usually the queen of mail shot mktg  😉
  • No worries. We have all done it. The first time I subbed in for the guy who publishes the newsletter, the subject line read <Enter Email Subject Here>
  • I think it makes us all feel human to see others making a mistake that we’re all scared of making 😉 So not a bad thing at all.
  • No worries, Candyce.  If that’s the worst thing you’ve done today, you’ve had a good day 🙂

I replied to every response, getting into dozens of email conversations. In one, I found out a former client has had a baby. She sent me ADORABLE baby photo. Other clients and prospects I’d been out of touch with reconnected, and I booked two sales calls.

Who knew an email marketing mistake could actually deliver an ROI? After discussing this outcome with a client, he sent me this note:

“It’s the first law of customer service.  It’s not about never making a mistake.  It’s how you handle them.  When you do that well, the end result is better than never making mistakes at all.  That’s the ROI on mistakes.  And, people like you, mistakes make you human.”

I think this comment carries the most important lesson of the day. Mistakes are human. Owning up to them can actually increase trust and improve relationships.

So, now it’s your turn. Have you gotten an ROI on a mistake?

3 responses to “Can a Mistake Have an ROI?”

  1. I believe as long as the “mistakes” are made from a fully well-developed plan and detailed steps with well-thought and good aim in mind, no matter how bad the problem is, as long as they rectify the problems, it’ll still eventually have the chance of recovering back the cost or even make exponential profit! Great post thou 🙂
    Singapore Maid Agency

  2. […] This year, we’ve been doing a lot of work to improve your experience with our content. We migrated our blog RSS feed from Google’s Feedburner to Feedblitz.  We re-designed our landing pages to be more mobile-friendly, and we changed our email service. It didn’t all go smoothly, as our email subscribers experienced back in February — yet even that mistake had a silver lining! […]

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