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How to craft an apology email that puts out fires quickly

You just realized there’s a massive mistake in your email… but you’ve already hit “send.”

Your stomach sinks into your shoes while your error lands in thousands of inboxes.

Believe it or not, this happens to the best marketers too. And while you can’t turn back the clock, you can make amends with a good ol’ apology email.

According to email expert Kath Pay, an effective apology email can maintain customer trust. It can even amplify brand loyalty and add personality to your business!

Of course, do it wrong and… well, that’s two mistakes in a short time. And that may cost you.

So Kath recommends a few essential things every apology email should do:

  • It should go out quickly, preferably as soon as you discover your error.
  • Apologize and explain the mistake clearly and sincerely.
  • Correct the error and offer reassurances if needed.
  • Use your original email template to match your brand tone and keep consistent.
  • Give customers a reason to click regardless of the mistake.

And most important of all… get the subject line right.

Kath recommends against putting “Ooops” in the subject line. It may seem friendly, but it won’t make your customers feel any better.

Also, avoid mentioning the error in the subject line without explaining the problem. Customers may think you’re trying to push another campaign through.

Kath also shows how a few brands nailed their apology emails:

  1. Just Eat resolved an issue in a timely manner with a concise, on-point copy and a juicy discount.
  2. VisionDirect used a clever pun (“turtle-y sorry”) and a concise explanation, and they extended their deadline to appease users.
  3. Secret Escape sent their entire email in Norwegian so they had to apologize… in Norwegian! Clever way to introduce the rest of the email.

Hopefully you never need these tips. But if you do, as long as you’re sincere and quick, a good apology email can help customers move on—and even make them like you more.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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