What Should You Do When You Screw Up An Email

Andrew Donovan
4 min readMar 7, 2022

If you’re sending emails — whether it’s a personal email to a friend or a newsletter to thousands of subscribers — here’s one thing that’s guaranteed to happen to you…

You will make an embarrassing mistake.

There are so many reasons why mistakes happen in emails:

  • Typos
  • Missing links
  • Sending at the wrong time
  • Forgetting to attach your file(s)
  • Forgetting to suppress contacts

I know someone who put “asses” in the subject line as opposed to “assess”. A hilarious, yet honest mistake.

These things happen.

And because you can’t edit an email once it’s sent, they’re quite common among brands big and small.

If it’s a silly typo that’s sent to one person or a small group of people, you can probably just have a laugh, remember to be more thorough next time, and move on with your life.

But how about if the mistake is on behalf of a business and it’s sent to thousands of people?

There’s only one wrong answer here and that’s to DO NOTHING.

Recently, Dan Oshinsky shared a story on his brilliant Google Doc-based newsletter, called “ Not a Newsletter “, about the time Oakland University sent an email to 5,000 students telling them they won a massive scholarship:

Carnell Poindexter looked at the subject line of the email — “Congratulations!” — and opened it immediately while in a debate class at his high school in West Bloomfield, Mich.

Mr. Poindexter, an 18-year-old senior with a 3.8 grade point average, thought that perhaps this was the scholarship he had hoped for from Oakland University.

“You worked hard and it paid off!” read the Jan. 4 email, informing him that he had won a $48,000 academic scholarship over four years. Mr. Poindexter, who wants to be a lawyer, and his parents were elated.

But then, more than two hours later, came another email with a subject line that read, “CORRECTION.”

This is nightmare fuel for anyone managing an email list — especially when money is involved.

Andrew Donovan

I’m the lead email marketing specialist for a boutique marketing agency in Ontario, Canada.