In our early MaxCDN days (Halloween 2010) I screwed up pretty badly…
I emailed all our MaxCDN customers and instead of using the proper “first name” variable in our email marketing tool mailchimp, I wrote: “Hello <<First Name>>”… Instead of using the proper variable, “*|FNAME|*” (this happens when you have somebody proofread your email and you copy paste the email into MailChimp without paying attention.)
Mass Email Gone Wrong
Here is the mass email that went out:
Subject: Massive Savings with the MaxCDN Halloween Special
Hi << Test First Name >>,
In this email:
– Special Halloween Bandwidth Pricing.
– New Joomla CDN Plugin
Halloween Bandwidth Special
The following pre-payment specials are available until the end of the month (October). Respond to this email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to place your order and save now:
$375 for 5 Terabytes, savings of $170
$700 for 10 Terabytes, savings of $290
$1400 for 25 Terabytes, savings of $1075
$4999 for 100 Terabytes, savings of $5001
New MaxCDN Integration Plugins:We are constantly adding new Plugins to make the integration with MaxCDN easier for customers. Recently we released a Joomla! CDN Plugin. And next week we will be releasing a VBulletin Plugin! So stay tuned!
The result was that thousands of people had this in their inbox… It took just a few seconds and I had the first replies that were pointing out my mistake… My initial reaction… Pulse at 180, adrenaline rush… How the heck could I make such a noob mistake?!
The challenge was how do I fix this without looking like an idiot and without hurting our brand?
Undoing the Damage
After I had calmed down and reminded myself that every mistake has the opportunity to turn things into something positive, I came up with this follow up email:
I know your name, David! I’m sorry! How Embarrassing!
I accidentally sent it out without your proper name filled in. I guess I should not do anything prior to my first coffee…
I’ll give you an extra 10% Bandwidth on top of our Halloween Special:
$375 for 5.5 Terabytes, savings of $169.50
$700 for 11 Terabytes, savings of $389
$1400 for 27.5 Terabytes, savings of $1322.50
$4999 for 110 Terabytes, savings of $5891
The end results were incredible… I received 20 x the replies I usually get. Most people were comforting, understanding, and a lot of them thought it was very funny. The subject line worked very well too. The opening rate of the oops email was 23.8%, which was 5% higher then our usual open rate of 18%, which is already pretty damn good if you compare it with the average opening rates.
The best thing – this email outperformed every previous email campaign we ran in terms of revenue generated and I learned an important lesson:
I used to hide behind the brand when I did email marketing. I always used an “anonymous” email address like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and in the signature I always used “The xyz Team”.
The reason was I simply didn’t want everybody to have my email address, and I did not want to respond to every single question. In other words—I did not want to be “bothered” by the customer. I am almost ashamed to say this today.
Even though I had a gazillion emails to answer after every email that went out, it is well worth it.
You get great feedback from your customers and since you are building up this personal connection, your customers will email you if there is a problem with your service vs tweeting about it or complaining on forum or writing blogposts about it 😉
The moral of the story is… be transparent, be accessible, be human as you have nothing to lose.
PS. One of my colleagues has taken over our End of the Month newsletters. Thank you for this Justin, I know how much work it is.