What to do when real-time marketing mistakes happen

Written by Sita Kalluri on April 30, 2015

Everyone (even marketers) makes mistakes

Real time marketing done wrong can be a big embarrassment. It's not new for brands, big and small alike, to face the flak for their marketing mistakes. The recent marketing gaffe by some brands during the Nepal earthquake drew intense criticism and social media outrage.

It reminds me of the poorly timed email from BackCountry.com way back in 2011, Mother nature hates you. Deal with its that was sent during major tornadoes that spread destruction across the United States. The company immediately took proactive measures and saved its reputation by sending out an apology email.

Brands must quickly put together a response plan to contain the public backlash by sending out an apology message. In this blog we talk about the essentials for brands to respond and manage the complaints.

1. Say it like you mean it

Own up to your mistake and admit you have messed up. Nothing can be more distasteful than receiving a flashy email with fake apology and excuses. Your subscriber will not hold any grudges when your apology is honest.

2. Reach out to the larger audience

Don't just apologize to the people who reacted to your bad marketing. Having assessed the potential impact of your mistake, ensure you reach out to everyone in your network as mistakes go viral very quickly. So you don't just tweet your apology but immediately shift into action via email, too.

3. Be human

We are looking at salvaging the situation and winning back the customer relationship. Make the email personal by having your CEO / top management address the customers. This will show that you really care about the impact that this mistake had on your customers and help win back their trust.

4. Have a clear well defined subject line

Be clear on the intent of your email in the subject line. Keep it brief and to the point, leaving no room for ambiguity.

5. Have a valid reply-to email address

You don't want to offend your subscribers with a noreply@email address. Be thoughtful and keep your communication channels open with a reply-to address like care@ or service@.

What next

Keep your ears and eyes open to see whether your apology is well received. Assess the damage control and closely monitor your social media for complaints/ comments and email marketing customer for opt-outs/ spam complaints.

A good ending

When you respond to your unhappy customers/prospects in real time and show that you truly care, you can turn these marketing disasters into positive customer experiences.


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