In a 24×7 world of marketing automation, it is easy to push marketing information anytime to your clients, monitor their interaction with your marketing around the clock and react in real-time.  It’s also really easy to screw up.

I remember the first time I setup an automated campaign using a marketing automation system.  Fortunately we had a very small sample test list since we were just learning the system.  The campaign was supposed to send an email offering a whitepaper, wait some period of time, then send another email to people who didn’t download the whitepaper offering it again.  What the program did (due to incorrect setup) was send out the first email and then immediately send out the second email noting that they hadn’t downloaded the whitepaper yet.  My boss was very forgiving about this, and assured me that most people probably thought it was an error and they just got the same email twice rather than us being very impatient.  So we decided to do nothing and just fix our error for the next round.

I’m sure you all have examples of emails sent to you addressing you by the wrong name (I was once called Bill in a marketing email) or with spelling errors or no content at all.  Despite our best attempts at testing everything before it goes out, there is always a chance that you can screw it up for the world to see.  Here are a few suggestions I have for fixing and avoiding those errors:

  • If it is a small error (like the one I described above) it is sometimes best not to address it at all.  That might call attention to an error that no one noticed in the first place.
  • If it is a big glaring error, you should own up to it.  First rule in PR is to be up-front – people are pretty forgiving and it will blow over quickly if you just fess up.  A cover-up is way more interesting and will stay in people’s minds for years to come.  I’ve seen emails sent out that say please disregard the previous email as it was sent in error.  Short, sweet, and you probably put it out of your mind immediately after it happens.
  • When you are automating things, start simple and make sure small parts of the program work before you add complexity to it – that way you will avoid some big fat hairy mistake just because you were unable to test out every possible scenario.
  • Build in plenty of time for testing.  Just because you could create and send that email in the next 5 minutes doesn’t mean you should.  Be realistic and give yourself a day or two in your timeline to test and make sure it all works.  Get someone that’s not involved at all in your project to help with
  • Be really vigilant about data quality.  Put some system into place, whether it is internal or through a third party, to do data cleansing and auditing on a regular basis to avoid embarrassing errors that could cost you a lead. I certainly didn’t respond to that email that called me Bill 🙂