How to Bounce Back From a Failed Email Campaign
Would you like to learn how to bounce back from a failed email campaign? We’re not just talking about when a typo slips through, but when one has epically failed. We’ve all been there! You’ve spent countless, precious hours creating a brilliant, well-thought through email campaign that flops – low opens, even fewer clicks, and little-to-no results. Even worse, you may have caused a customer service nightmare by putting in content that did not sit well with your audience.
Take a breath. It’s ok. It happens. It comes with the territory.
The truth is – If you are running a regular email program then you are bound to run into one tragic mistake or epic fail. And if you haven’t yet, you will – and that’s okay. We’re human. And while we strive for perfection, it’s not possible.
So your campaign failed – now what?
God news for you – an email campaign that didn’t stack up the way that you planned isn’t the end of the world. With the right strategic approach, you can bounce back from a failed email campaign and keep your positive momentum going (and learn – learnings are always a WIN).
Whether you are in the midst of dealing with a failed campaign or want to be prepared for the future, here are some tips to get you moving back in the right direction:
1. Think about what made your email campaign fail
It’s important to determine the root cause as to why your campaign failed. Failure is relative, so you’ll need to determine exactly what the problem is:
- Low open rates
- Poor engagement
- Brand damage
- High unsubscribes
- Increased spam complaints
- False information
- Broken links
- Deliverability flags
- Dynamic content rendering issue (i.e. you didn’t include the default content)
Some fails are easier to spot than others.
These typically result in a customer service overload. Examples are:
- Sending an email to the wrong list.
An example of this is sending a “Restart your membership” to your active members. EEK! This will cause customers to reach out to the service team confused, asking why this was sent to them. Why did their membership get cancelled?
Some mistakes are harder to spot
- Sending an email with a broken product link.
- Terrible subject lines
- Dynamic content fails
- Content that really didn’t resonate with the recipients.
Regardless of what went wrong, you must recognize where your email lagged so that you can find out why and bounce back from a failed campaign.
2. Identify why the email campaign failed
Why a campaign failed is just as important as what went wrong. If you experienced and of the fails listed above, you’’ need to identify why it happened:
- Bad timing
- Forgotten pre-header text
- No editing
- No testing
- Design shortcuts, likely not mobile friendly
- Poorly-maintained email list
- Inappropriate humor
- Lack of content strategy
- Wrong audience
Pro Tip: I love having my clients create an “Ooops” list. This serves as a public doc that the team will share.
Here we can list out the things that went wrong and why. So we can learn and be more cognizant to never repeat them. If you can identify the why then you can learn.
3. Find a fix that won’t make things worse.
These moments of failure are all situational and thus, so are their solutions. In some circumstances, you’ll need to send a follow-up correction email, but in others, that would only add fuel to the fire. Here are some fixes, but it will be up to you to apply them appropriately.
Send a correction email.
If your original email contained broken links, false information, or something that you need to correct, it may be appropriate to send a follow-up correction email. Be careful of email fatigue, though – too many emails in a short period of time can be just as damaging as a mistake.
Change the subject line.
Like I have mentioned in several other videos, your subject line may be the most important factors in getting your email opened. If you have a high-priority campaign with low open rates, experiment with changing the subject line and resending it to those that didn’t open the first email.
A/B test different elements.
It’s not alway easy to identify what went wrong and why. A/B testing different variables to find out what works best is a great next step. Remember to only test one variable at a time for accurate results.
Let it go.
Yes, like the favorite Frozen song, sometimes this is the only action itm. Learn from your mistake, tighten up processes, place it on an Ooops list, and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
4. Proactive planning to prevent these types of email fails is key.
Ahead of sending an email, make sure you go through the following checklist:
Test & QA your emails.
You need to have sent test emails, checked them across browsers, sent for proofing, double check the links, check on mobile, send to a site like Litmus.com to ensure there are no issues across all devices.
There is really no excuse to not do proper testing and QA ahead of a send except if you are rushing and are trying to build and deploy the email in an hour.
Again, even in that scenario it may not be worth the send due to the mistakes you could cause.
A/B Test ahead of important campaigns.
One thing I always work on with my eCommerce clients 8 weeks ahead of the holiday season is a forma testing plan. It is really important to have a log of winning test results so that you can implement those during key business moments.
Proofread, wait a day, and proof again.
If you created the email, proofing is going to be really hard. Ideally, send it to someone else that can proofread. If you don’t have that person, give it the night and return to the email the next morning. You will be more able to see typos and grammatical errors after being away from it for a bit.
Mistakes will happen, guys. Like I said, it is part of the territory. But set up a plan to be proactive, learn, and triage as needed. Please let me know if I can help in any way. Until next time, happy emailing!
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