Ooops! 5 tips to write a clever apology email

As discussed in one of our previous blog posts, Oh no, I screwed up… Now what?, mistakes in email marketing happen. We’re all just humans, aren’t we? Some errors — like faulty images or dead links — can be fixable. But some are irreversible. In either case, you have to assess the situation to see if you need to take action. A minor typo doesn’t require intervention. Incorrect key information, on the other hand, must be corrected. Make clever use of your apology mail to set things straight. These tips will help you.

Act fast

First of all, be sure to have a template ready to send out as soon as you realise that you screwed up. Take a cue from Justin Bieber: ‘is it too late now to say sorry?’ Well, if you wait too long, it might indeed be. If you’ve decided to send out an apology mail, don’t delay. You could jump your reader’s attention, so he/she first reads the apology email, instead of the incorrect email. If you wait too long, you could point out the mistake to a reader who has already forgotten about it. If you react promptly, your customer will have the feeling that you’re in control of your mistake.

Be clear

Let your subject line speak for itself. Nothing’s more annoying to your contacts than even more confusion. Use straightforward words like ‘Oops’ or ‘Sorry’ to set the right tone. If it’s relevant, you can also explain what happened. But make sure you don’t complicate the situation unnecessarily.

Say sorry

To err is human, and by owning your mistake, you show your company or brand’s human face. You create a personal relationship with your customer, which will make him feel special. Try to keep it on the light side, but make sure that your apology matches your brand’s tone of voice.

Set it straight

Obviously, you have to point out what was wrong in your previous email. But make sure you don’t forget to correct the error with the proper information. After all, your email has a double purpose: both apologise AND inform.

Stay on brand

Focus on the personal approach and explain the situation, as if you’d explain it to a friend. That means, be open and honest. And stay positive, despite the fact that you regret your mistake. You made a mistake, no big deal, look onward with a positive mindset. If your brand allows it, you can underline this positivity by adding a dash of humour. Add a picture of a sad-eyed puppy. Come up with a story about gnomes or aliens stealing your link. Whatever it takes, get creative.


Mistakes happen. It's not the mistake that creates your brand’s reputation. It’s the way you set it straight. Act quick, be clear, apologise honestly, communicate the corrected information and stay on brand. And if you handle it right, you might even win hearts with your apology mail.

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Posted on
Feb 21, 2020