Apology Emails: the Art of Saying Sorry

apology emailapology email to customers

The famous song lyrics goes that “Sorry seems to be the hardest word,” and these words are proven to be applicable not only to our everyday life but to email marketing as well. Sometimes it is copywriters who messed up with the content, and sometimes it is more complex issues like server breakdowns that may affect your business.

No matter whether it was your minor spelling faux pas or a major tech slip-up, one thing is clear: as a reputation-caring email marketer, you owe an apology to your audience. So read this blog post to discover the main principles of creating a nice apology email.

What is an apology email?

Apology email is a message sent to subscribers after something went wrong in the previous email. What can email marketers apologize for? Here’s a list of missteps to send an apology email for:

  • expired offers;
  • broken links;
  • technical breakdowns that bring some troubles to users;
  • emails sent to the wrong segment;
  • wrong CTAs;
  • offensive content of the email.

While some of these errors are quite forgivable, others can affect your company’s reputation and decrease customer’s loyalty towards your brand; thus they do require a follow-up apology email.

According to research conducted by Litmus, there are 49.4% of lucky email marketers who have sent zero apology emails within a year:

Number of marketeres who had to send an apology email in the past 12 months

apology email stats
Source: Litmus

Hopefully, the above-mentioned 49.4% of marketers never sent apology emails due to their perfectly executed and spotless email campaigns. However, if you think your previous email campaign does need some troubleshooting solutions, scroll down for some tips on how to rock your mistakes with an apology email.

How to write an apology email

We’ve prepared a set of tips on how to construct an apology email and packed them with the appropriate examples.

Say you’re sorry

Although it might seem obvious, the first thing you have to do is apologize. Start your email with a straightforward “We’re sorry” and admit you’re aware of what has happened.

Say, you’ve hit the wrong segment of your database with an email and now you need to apologize. Here’s how you can start:

Hi, valued customer! We’re here to say we are really sorry for an email we accidentally sent to you.

Admit your fault

Your customers will appreciate your honesty if you just admit you’ve done something wrong. No matter how big or small your mistake was, show that you take full responsibility for your actions and prove yourself to be a marketer who cares for the customers’ feelings.

Yesterday you got an email saying you had been removed from our Premium database for not prolonging your pricing plan. But you so totally did! And that email is our bad ;( We do realize how confused you might have gotten, so here it is again — sorry!

Explain the situation

No more excuses at this point; instead, come up with a thought-through explanation of what had happened. Not driving away from your setback in an email calls for respect and empathy, so devote a line or two clarifying where you went wrong. Use your preferred tone of voice to talk to subscribers.

The thing is our email wizard was unwell yesterday, pressed the wrong button, and you received what you weren’t meant to receive.

Come up with the solution

Sometimes saying you’re sorry or that’s not gonna happen again is enough to fix the problem. If there’s more to this, offer a consolation prize — a discount or a limited offer — to show you care about the relationship with your customers.

We promise we’ll triple-check our campaigns next time before hitting the ‘send’ button. Hope you’re not mad at us. And if you are — here’s a for-you-only 15% off promo code for your next order.

Have a great day!

However, not all of your slip-ups are worth constructing an apology email. For example, if you included a broken link or a wrong promotional code to your email, you can fix this at the back end through redirecting the user to the correct URL. In case of a typo or an email sent twice, decide whether or not this oopsie will affect your email marketing and actually matter a lot to your audience.

Apology email examples

Technical issues

What if your website or the whole server went down? You will hardly predict this, but when it happens, you need to react.

Take a look at such an email from Chanel. The brand hurried to explain what was wrong with the website before their customers got frustrated.

apology email example
Apology email from Chanel

Joules, in their turn, came up with a similar email but included a discount to make amends for possible inconveniences.

apology email example
Apology email with a bonus from Joules

Wrong target segment

Using segmentation is a real lifeline for personalizing your emails. In case you happened to choose the wrong part of your database, follow the Pluralsight’s example. The company previously sent an email to the wrong key group of users and decided to reconcile that misunderstanding by sending an apology email and offering to purchase the subscription cheaper than usual.

apology email example
Apology email from Pluralsight

Copywriting errors

In case it is the text which wasn’t aligned well enough, create a corresponding email admitting your fault. Celebrate your database if it was them who noticed the bug.

Methodical Coffee, for instance, kept it simple and classy: they admitted the mistake, explained what they meant, thanked everyone who spotted the error, and, of course, apologized for the bummer.

apology email example
Apology email from Methodical Coffee. Source: Really Good Emails

Forthcoming maintenance

In case you can predict the circumstances which might confuse your customers, be so kind as to inform them in advance and apologize, to be on the safe side.

That’s what we did in SendPulse before going for the planned server maintenance. We explained when and why we were going to be unavailable, apologized for any possible inconveniences, and came up with the suggestion on what to do.

apology email example
Warning email from SendPulse

We sincerely hope you will save the tips from this post for a rainy day, which, we wish, never came. Yet in case you do need to send an apology email, SendPulse is at your disposal to deliver your campaigns. Be sure we’ll make your ‘Sorry’ word not so hard to say.

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