Have you ever instantly regretted hitting the send button on an email? Of course you have. But how about 50,000 emails all at once?

There’s no “undo” button for an impressive blunder of that magnitude.

I know where your brain is going with this, but no … fortunately this email was not a collection of scathing comments about a coworker. It was merely a duplicate of our previous week’s newsletter, sent to our entire list again. Not horrible, but also, not great.

Brafton Managing Editor Sam Gordon was so grief-stricken she nearly committed harakiri right on the editorial floor.  Fortunately, all five stages of grief breezed by, and cooler heads prevailed.

No Sam! It’s only a newsletter!

 

In all honesty, we didn’t panic too much, because this presented a unique  opportunity to talk to our audience. You know, like a human.

A human that makes mistakes, then makes fun of herself.

I told Sam, “This is a good thing! Nobody likes hanging out with that friend who never messes up. That person is intolerable.”

But there really is something to that statement. I’ve read studies that compared customers who had poor experiences with a company, followed by the company making up for their mistakes, versus customers that had a positive experience with no issues whatsoever. Turns out, customers who had an issue that was rectified valued the brand more than customers who never had an issue with their service.

So customers value mistakes? What gives?

To explain, I reckon there are three different courses of action companies can take when they make a mistake:

  1. Act stiff as a board and send out a rigid apology.
  2. Ignore the mistake and keep pretending they’re perfect.
  3. Make light of the situation in a self-deprecating way and fix the mistake.

 

 

I would argue option three resonates best with customers. Here is why:

We don’t see businesses as the collection of human beings that they are. We see  them as  rigid entities more like a cold brick-and-mortar structure rather than a human. Or humans.

For that reason, companies can benefit from showing customers they do indeed have warm blood coursing through their veins. They are humans with mismatched socks, goofy drawings on their refrigerators, and families that shout too much at the dinner table (I’m projecting here). It’s in our nature to connect with people over similar quirks and, sometimes, mistakes.

This is why mistakes are opportunities – opportunities to show genuine character.

So when we sent out the same newsletter two weeks in a row , I’m sure our readers were flummoxed, maybe even annoyed. Most companies fail to identify this moment as an opportunity rather than a mistake.

But why? It’s a damned newsletter. We aren’t talking about mixing up someone’s X-rays here. You had better have a sense of humor if you aren’t saving lives, because otherwise you’re just another boring company.

So we sent out a second newsletter (with the correct content) and a subject line that read, “Easy there tiger…we got a little eager” This was followed by a short explanation:

“We were so excited to share this week’s newsletter, we accidentally sent you last week’s again. But even though we had a bit of a mix-up on our end, we still wanted to make sure you have access to the latest content from Brafton.com.”

The result of our “oops” email was staggering:

  • Our highest html open rate of all time, 22% higher than the second best, and 42.9% higher than our average open rate.
  • The most forwards in three weeks.
  • A request to contact sales for a demo.

Mistakes aren’t what make or break your reputation; your response to the mistake is. Just make sure you don’t “create” mistakes for the sake of taking advantage of people’s good nature. Because, ew.

Jeff is the AVP of Marketing for Brafton's marketing team. He specializes in SEO research and testing. In his personal time, he is a woodworker and jogger. He hosts a podcast that can be found below: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/above-the-fold-by-brafton/id1413932916