Hey… we all screw up – Part 1

October 29, 2006

Last week was hell. At my work I’m responsible for the design, implementation, testing and sending of all email marketing communications sent to customers and prospects. Although the average size of send is small due to list segmentation and targeting, a send can range anywhere from 10 to 100,000 contacts. As I’ve already sent dozens of email blasts and communications in the past, that day last week was was no different – except that I was clearly overtired, overworked, had my mind elsewhere, and quite frankly a bit bored

So what happened? I accidentally sent an email campaign that was targeted to 5 DMA tradeshow follow-up contacts… to 50,000 contacts (our entire active subscriber base).

The moment I realized what I had done was when my co-worker and my boss both mentioned across the floor that ‘the mailer looks great’. It took me about 1.2 seconds to (quietly) realize the full calibre of the situation. The reaction from the customers was instant – what’s an email marketing company who preaches a strong privacy policy, touts permission, relevance and intelligence as their tagline, and markets their products as targeting your reader before sending… doing sending a totally erroneous and blatantly un-targeted email campaign to both prospects AND paying customers? The backlash was serious, the office tension was palpable, and it was all my fault. The customers were pissed, my bosses were pissed, the VP who’s personal name and email on the faulty mailer was pissed, and I thought I was going to get fired or just walk out and preempt the insanity.

Anyways, my point? Is that for so long I’ve always been too cautious with anything I do, to a fault. So when I made this mistake that was so public, so obvious, so downright a clear ‘fuck-up’, I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. But you have to remember something that’s truly important. Anyone can screw up. Some screw ups are worse than others, sure, but it’s how you DEAL with the mistake that counts. People remember the mistake, but they’ll also remember the way you dealt with (or not dealt with) the situation at hand. So, at risk of sounding like all the other marketing blogs out there that give checklists and education, Part 2 is what happened and what we did to alleviate the problem – and the results were stellar.

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