I Didn’t Mean To Send That: The Dreaded Sent-By-Mistake Email and How To Fix It

Categories: Email Marketing

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As far as embarrassing workplace mistakes go, sending an email in error might take the cake.


You just spent the last few days creating an email newsletter that’s going out to your growing contact list of 65,000+ recipients. Your newsletter only goes out once a week, but you get extremely high open and click-through rates, which tells you that your recipients usually open your emails. Now that you’ve perfected every piece – the font, the spacing, the color scheme – and run through an extensive quality control process, you schedule the final result for the next morning.

You wake up a few minutes before your alarm to a handful of emails, more than a dozen slack messages, and 3 missed calls from your boss. Turns out that perfect email wasn’t so perfect and your scheduled newsletter went out with your working subject line, which unfortunately reads, “I NEED A DRINK!!” Oops.

Complete and total panic ensues. You and your favorite coworker love using funny subject lines when you send out the test version of your newsletter. It makes the monotony of an otherwise boring workday just a little bit more fun. But today, that extra dose of fun just went out to 65,000 unsuspecting email subscribers.

What do you do?

How do you fix a situation that seems beyond repair?

How can you convey a professional but apologetic message to your company’s entire subscriber base without shining too much light on the situation?

Here are some of the best ways to send an oops email

Lucky for you, we have a few correction email strategies in mind. 

Blatant Honesty

You messed up! It happens, and for the most part, other people can relate. While you might feel a sense of impending doom, shame, and guilt, remind yourself that it’s just an email.

Taking ownership of your mistakes is actually a great way to connect with your audience. It gives your customer or subscriber base a sense of humanity behind the screen.

Taking full ownership without sugarcoating the reality makes you respectable. Hiding or burying your mistakes as a company can lead to more problems in the future.

Depending on the severity of your oops email, you might want to consider adding a letter of apology for bad behavior. Reserve these types of niceties for situations where your mistake may have offended people. Conduct like accidental curse words or inappropriate photos can be offensive, so do your best to gauge whether or not your audience deserves a formal letter of apology.

Asking Nicely

For simpler mistakes, feel free to lead with “disregard previous email” as your subject line or opener. This shows your recipients that you recognize a mistake has been made, and maybe you’ve provided the correct information in a follow-up email.

“Disregard previous email” or “sorry for the typo” are two great ways to call attention to mistakes that might have caused inconvenience but don’t require a full-fledged apology letter. If your mistake was sending out an email early or pressing “Schedule Now” when you meant to click “Delete Draft,” these are both excellent options.

Make it Funny!

In our example above, there’s a bit of room to have a laugh. Some mistakes can be resolved by shedding light on the obvious ridiculousness of a situation, like sending out oops email subject lines like:

  • Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3!
  • Is it 5 o’clock yet?

Sending out a mass email with any of those subject lines might feel like the end of the world. Instead, think about it this way: your mistake might be the best part of a person’s Monday morning. In a sea of promotional and subscription emails, a funny subject line could call attention to your company’s message. When something looks out of place, it usually draws our attention, so look at the mistake as an opportunity to hold that attention. Your recipients might also be waiting for a follow-up email that explains the mistake! Make the best of it. Use this moment of extra attention for sharing something important.

Oops Email Teen Vogue

Be quick with your response time

Sending out a correction email subject line or a letter of apology should happen pretty quickly after your oops email. The longer you wait to provide an explanation, the longer people have to complain, call customer service, post on social media, and in general just become more confused.

Damage control should happen quickly, so it might be wise to have an oops email procedure in place when these things do happen.

Take a look at this example by teenvogue. 

Consider using your oops email response as a promotion

Depending on the severity and nature of your mistake, you’re likely to generate some heightened interest. Consider offering a discount to your subscribers as recognition of the inconvenience or offense you may have caused. If you sell products or services, offer a limited-time promotional discount or additional item. Though this isn’t necessary, it’s a way of recognizing your customers and putting a positive twist on an otherwise unfortunate situation.

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